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> The fundamental problem is "player benefits from minimizing risk", which is usually boring.

I remember playing the entirety of Doom, and IIRC, Doom II, in a careful, methodical manner, and I never found it “boring”.

It's called "playing to win". Staying safe behind a chokepoint might be unexciting (usually not boring, given the satisfaction of aiming and hitting and the sense of accomplishment of clearing enemies), but rushing forward and getting shot is on a different level: it's simply a mistake, and players learn to avoid it.

Personally, I tend to play Doom cautiously, engaging as few enemies as possible, retiring eagerly, and often running through exposed areas instead of stopping to shoot. Other FPS games, particularly PvP ones require a different approach: if the main challenge is to keep moving to find enemies and ambush them, or to aim and dodge well enough (or better than the opponent) during brief one on one encounters, the "door problem" simply doesn't exist.

> Staying safe behind a chokepoint might be unexciting

I didn't understand the main solution the article offers. We'll solve the problem that the door is a safe chokepoint by putting another safe chokepoint "inside" the arena, right in front of the door. Now everything is fine, because you have the same gameplay, but you've labeled the floor the player is on "good" instead of "bad".

What did I miss?

(I also didn't really understand why this was supposed to be a problem in the first place, but I put that down to the fact that I hate the entire genre under discussion. As pointed out elsewhere in the thread, roguelikes can suffer from a similar problem. Angband gets very repetitive:

1. Some monsters appear in groups. At low levels, you need to fight them in a hallway. This is basically fine with me. Later versions made group monsters unwilling to leave rooms, which made them no more dangerous than before, but much, much more tedious.

2. Some monsters can summon other monsters. If you fight one of these in a room, you'll die. The solution is one of two things:

2a: If the monster moves, dig out a corridor and wait for the monster to come to you. With no empty spaces around you, summoning can't do anything.

2b: If the monster doesn't move, use wall removal effects to open a path that allows you to target it with ranged attacks while staying out of its line of sight. In general, it will also be out of your line of sight, so this means memorizing a few common flight patterns for ranged attacks.

3. OK, some monsters can hit to cause earthquakes, opening empty spaces where you were expecting the safety of walls. And some monsters can move through -- and incidentally destroy -- walls, completely wrecking the idea that you might not get surrounded.

The answer to this one is to use a Destruction effect to automatically kill summoning wall-destroying monsters as soon as you see them, because even for a maxed out character, they're too dangerous to fight. So the game is about luring uniques into special diagonal-only corridors and grinding it out against them there (Hit! Hit! Hit! Heal! Hit! Hit!), carefully conserving all your healing potions for the fight against Morgoth, who causes earthquakes and summons everything.)

I think the article's abstraction of the problem was overly mechanistic.

Similar to parent comment, fighting from the hallway is a legal and strictly dominant strategy.

The MGS-style counter was to have enemies notice you, communicate your location to other enemies, who would then approach from behind your location, mooting your advantage.

The Half Life et al. counter was to have enemies telegraph an attack strategy shift, which would again moot your advantage. E.g. "He's hiding in the hall, tossing grenade!"

I think this is the fundamental difference between Doom-likes and HL-likes. The former sees level design as a primary focus, and the latter sees AI behavior as a primary focus. Borderland-likes probably fall somewhere in the middle.

Also, re: "playing to win", Sirlin's masterpiece, for those who haven't read it.


> What did I miss?

Well, the player would still presumably have to cross the door's threshold to trigger the checkpoint. The article's problem case is that the player doesn't even have to move through the door. The article's solutions (a dividing wall, hiding enemies) would actually work with your proposal. And having a mechanism like the door closing behind the player is more of a blunt, niche solution than one that makes the game feel dynamic for the player.

Another problem is that putting a checkpoint in the middle of action isn't always what you want. By ensuring there are multiple viable approaches to an encounter (instead of one overpowered cheesy solution), you're solving a more general problem that now doesn't depend on checkpoint location. In fact, now you can place the checkpoint in the spot with the most decision-branches for the player instead of the spot that forces their hand.

Angband gets very repetitive

One of my favourite roguelikes is an Angband variant called Sil. It cleverly manages to overcome the door problem in myriad ways:

1) Corridors are dark and the player's light radius is small, so being in a corridor surrounds the player with hidden information at all times.

2) Stairs spawn groups of enemies who travel in a circuitous path before exiting the level by a different set of stairs. Since there are multiple stairs up and down in each level, this creates the sense of being in the middle of an enemy supply line.

3) Enemies communicate with one another and employ group tactics. If enemies stumble upon the player in a corridor, they'll retreat to the safety of an open room and lay siege to the doorway. Additionally, since Sil's levels are full of loops and branches, there is almost always another way in/out of the room where the enemies are; they will send some orcs around behind the player to drive him into the open.

4) Some enemies are territorial (leashed to a pole, as described in the article) while others are aggressive, ignoring group tactics and blindly charging at the player. All of the enemy behaviour types concord perfectly with the creatures that employ them. Spiders, wights, and dragons are territorial and usually guarding treasure. Trolls, giants, and balrogs are aggressive and will relentlessly pursue the player into danger. Orcs communicate with one another, have scouts all over the place, are cowardly alone but bold in large groups, are attracted to strong leaders such as captains or named uniques, and love to press in on the player as soon as they know he's under attack from behind.

5) The player's stealth score is calculated based on the number of adjacent walls around the player. This makes corridors the best source of concealment (6 adjacent walls), but the concave corners of an open room are almost as good (5 adjacent walls). Of course, with the aforementioned enemy patrols, corridors are a high traffic area whereas the corners of large rooms are low traffic. This creates an unbelievable sense of tension when the player is hiding in the shadowy corner of a room, waiting for the huge orc patrol to pass, hoping none of them will wander into the corner and bump into him.

Of course, none of that would be fair without some positive incentive to fight in the open and Sil provides for that in spades. Your character can learn a number of abilities that let him move and attack at the same time. Combat in Sil gives large penalties to the player's evasion when multiple enemies are adjacent, so the player is further encouraged to keep moving in order to avoid getting surrounded.

All in all, I think Sil is a fantastic roguelike which solves the door problem in an elegant fashion.

> but rushing forward and getting shot is on a different level: it's simply a mistake, and players learn to avoid it.

Or you are good enough to rush and kill everyone before they kill you, which is quite satisfactory.

A clever thing Doom (2016) does is rewarding the player with health and ammo for engaging enemies in melee combat.

They also made it look really cool, which I think is also a factor.

Ditto quake, and quake II, in my case.

Same here. For reasons which now escape me, I decided to play through the whole [1] of Quake II without ever getting hit or otherwise taking damage. I don't remember it making the game easier, just differently difficult. I spent a lot of time reloading.

I get very irritated by game designers who decide that I'm just not having the right kind of fun. Enemies spawning right behind me in an area I've just cleared, or infinite spawns, usually trigger an immediate uninstall. The Deus Ex games got this mostly right, mostly. (Those abysmal boss fights being the exception; I gather they were done by a completely different team, and my god it showed.)

[1] Right up until the final boss fight, anyway. I think I made an exception for that. I think I swore off consumables like the Quad Damage too, but don't recall the details.

> I spent a lot of time reloading.

Mike, the saveaholic:


Ha! Firstly, that's spot-on. Secondly, you have remarkable powers of recall when it comes to 18-year-old observational humour.

In my defence, it was only that one playthrough. Most games I approach more normally (albeit with a sneaky-snipey style wherever possible).

> you have remarkable powers of recall

I’ll tell you my secret. It’s called… <whispers> Bookmarks:


That doesn't really help, it just replaces the intimidating powers of recall with equally-intimidating powers of managing twenty years of bookmarks without drowning under them.

I currently have 1324 bookmarks, many of which are obsolete and/or dead. One might reasonably argue that I am drowning under them.

> (Those abysmal boss fights being the exception; I gather they were done by a completely different team, and my god it showed.)

Those were indeed done by a different studio that was otherwise not integrated into the development at all. The Director's Cut somewhat works around these areas.

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