Symmetric level

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How much does complete level symmetry bother you?

Not at all
7
50%
A little - but it's pretty minor, rarely impacts enjoyment much
2
14%
Moderately - but if it's well designed I still enjoy it
2
14%
Significantly - it's rare for me to enjoy such a level
3
21%
Extremely - generally a complete show stopper for me in terms of enjoyment
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 14
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Symmetric level

Post by MegaDescent » Sat Jun 14, 2014 11:21 pm

I guess this is an offspring from another forum section but I wanted to ask it in poll form. Also note that when I say 'complete level symmetry', I am only referring to levels that are 100% or nearly 100% symmetrical in layout (i.e. many Entropy series levels); I am NOT referring to levels that merely contain areas that are designed symmetrically (for instance, Level 3 of Phobos Encounter would not be included in the types of designs I'm thinking of, despite having a fair amount of partial/areal symmetry).
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by vision » Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:10 am

Level symmetry is a bummer in single player if you are going for 100% kills and the robot positions are also identical. However, there symmetrical levels where the bots are in different positions, which is much better. Descent is a shooter, but exploration is half the fun. If the level is symmetrical, then you only explore half as much. :/
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by Naphtha » Sun Jun 15, 2014 6:55 am

I'd have to agree with Vision on that point. I think a few levels in Vignettes had the same structures repeated for two access keys in a row, but the robots guarding the red key were much trickier than the ones guarding yellow. To be fair it was the same positions, but it's at least better than if the two keys had the exact same robots protecting them. But admittedly one of DFW's earlier missions, The Lost Levels, did have a couple levels which had a lot of parallel carbon-copy areas with the same robots, room spaces and everything (15 and 19 come to mind pretty quickly).

When I build levels with symmetrical aspects nowadays, I try to connect symmetrical rooms with asymmetrical elements or in different ways to downplay the symmetry. So there's some structures where the robots are mirrored from one side to the opposite to give you a multidirectional assault to deal with, but I try not to do this so much when it deals with exploration of parallel new areas that can be picked off one at a time. If there's a choice of two paths, I'd rather have them be close to equally difficult in different ways.
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by Xfing » Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:39 am

Perfectly symmetric levels are no fun. It could work in Doom, but not in Descent it doesn't.
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by mike8887123 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:45 pm

I agree. I think that symmetry is like a tool to use, but not to use alone. I think symmetry can be a good starting point to provide structure for further building. As long as this further building is more variable and contains unique parts, it doesn't get too predictable. I think building outwardly from a symmetrical section (or center maybe) is okay. In other words, a non-symmetrical area is built around (and connected to) a symmetrical unifying center.
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by MegaDescent » Fri Jun 20, 2014 11:38 am

Xfing wrote:Perfectly symmetric levels are no fun. It could work in Doom...
I've seen you on the Doom forums before, by the way (Doom is another game I played a huge amount), so nice to have you in both places. :) Regarding symmetric Doom levels, there's a somewhat notorious Doom mod with quite a few instances of symmetry called 'Whispers of Satan', that I enjoyed playing but a lot of people complain about and even mock the symmetry. I guess I'll provide a link where to can see all the reviews (and download it, if you desire):

http://www.doomworld.com/idgames/index. ... ds/wos.zip

And I'll also provide a link to a page with a more in-depth review of it, which I happen to agree with myself (it's a very positive review, for a change!). It's near the bottom of the page:

http://www.doomworld.com/php/topstory.php?id=3171

Oh and I hope any off topic can be excused, I think it's relevant enough. :)

As for symmetry in Descent, I haven't played Mandrill/Entropy series/Obsidian and the like (except Level 1 of the first Entropy, and I liked it fine, however it's quite a short level to judge by), but I do know the first & last levels in Phobos Encounter didn't bother me personally. That said, solarzor definitely had a forte in gameplay, so it's not too surprising I guess. (And not to mention, in Phobos Encounter there is nothing to make you even explore both outer 'halves' of either of these levels, so it can sort of be semi-'ignored'.)
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by Alter-Fox » Fri Jun 20, 2014 5:05 pm

Yah I've played some of WOS (not the whole thing unfortunately) and I really enjoyed what I saw of it.
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by Naphtha » Fri Jun 20, 2014 7:56 pm

Ah yes, Whispers of Satan. I had tons of fun playing that set, not just because the levels looked awesome (though MAP28 is still a lagfest on my craptop :lol:) but also because it's one of the few I've played that didn't try to make things that much more difficult than the original Hell on Earth campaign. A couple levels were a bit monotonous with the symmetry and all, but I honestly think I found the monster placement more monotonous if only because once a type was introduced, it appeared on every level.

I preferred the original Doom II quirk where later levels sometimes didn't have certain stronger monsters. It might not make as much sense from a storytelling point of view for this wave or that wave of hellspawn to not have an archvile, at least it challenges you on what to expect and how to conserve your ammo so in a way, both that placement idea and the symmetry idea are related. You don't want the player to figure out a level set too quickly, after all, since the original levels for both Doom and Descent certainly weren't that way. It's all about messing with players' expectations, just not in ways that are completely dickish... :P
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by Alter-Fox » Fri Jun 20, 2014 9:40 pm

Hehe...
I found WOS to get extremely hard at about map 14, but it might have been because I wasn't looking hard enough for secrets and I had run completely dry on ammo. To be fair secrets in Doom tend to be very hard to find without an area map.
I don't think I made it past 15 -- but it's been months since then and I could be mistaken. I don't actually remember many of the earlier levels except for map 4. And that one was more for the music than anything else. If memory serves I even put a shout-out to that song on one of my EPs last year.
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by Xfing » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:57 am

I need to check out that WAD. Hee hee.
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Re: Symmetric level

Post by MegaDescent » Sun Jun 22, 2014 10:26 pm

I played Level 2 of Entropy, rescuing all hostages and destroying every robot. What a behemoth of a map, this thing took me some 55 minutes to hunt everything down and get out not even counting save/reload time! To be honest the symmetry really didn't kill the experience for me or even make it 'boring', even if an element or two of asymmetry would have been welcome. But it doesn't change the fact that the level looks well planned and organized, which I cannot omit credit for. If anything I had three grievances that were possibly more annoying than anything to do with symmetry. First of all, there are FIVE THEIVES in this place! I did get a bit tired of hunting down every single one of the with my afterburner; one thief or at most two should be sufficient for any Descent II level. Secondly, the self-detonating on impact kamikaze like enemy is used an awful lot, and I really have the be observant and aware to not have one after another blow up right in my face. Lastly, for all the time I needed my headlight (it's a dark level and I needed to see lots of things!) I got a bit tired of backtracking to one of the only two energy centers in the level; I would have another center in there somewhere.

However, those issues don't really tie into the symmetry at all; in the end I can't say the symmetry took absolutely nothing out of the level for me, but OTOH there is a lot going for the level that kept me on my seat still and in all I definitely would not call it a 'dud'. I guess if I was to vote I'd choose 'A little' or maybe a low end 'Moderately' (like right on the border between the two descriptions I made for these categories) based on my experience with this level. Leaning a bit more towards 'A little' right now though.

Now if I was to compare with Doom, yes it bothered me perhaps a touch more than WOS which in all honestly, I truly think was WAY overly criticized by the Doom community, both on the release forum thread (can't dig it up at the moment) and in the min-reviews page I linked to (not the one with the single, longer review). But it doesn't mean it was 'no fun', either. In fact I think a Doom megawad where nearly every whole level was symmetric WOULD bother me, but in WOS that isn't the case, there are only maybe 4-6 100% symmetric levels that I can recall (out of 32+).
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