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Level design and Gameplay. What makes a map fun to play (or not)?


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A lot of what OP said and I like the idea of having the following:

+ Smaller maps
+ Fewer enemies
+ Stronger enemies
+ No super duper DPS
+ HP of the enemies scale with the number of players currently playing
+ More that I can not think of at this very moment

With maps being smaller it feels more like a co-op game. I do not like HUGE maps that spreads everyone out. My idea of a perfect DD map would be if we took a map like Ramparts or Alchemical Lab. Then we reduce the number of enemies but make them a lot stronger and make the Ogres even stronger. Then make it so an ogre takes a while to kill thus making other roles (such as a tank to distract the ogre from the defenses) a little more necessary.

Also I would not be heartbroken if none of the DLC mobs made a comeback. Especially Sharken. When I deleted all of my data and started over, playing against most of the DLC mobs felt more like a chore rather than fun. It is really annoying if a Sharken or Djinn spawns and you are on the opposite side of the map. If I manage to get over there in time, I can kill it then rebuild the defenses. By the time the defenses are rebuilt all of my defenses on the side of the map I just came from are all desummoned or pushed. It is times like those when there is a little bit of luck involved (by luck I mean hoping these mobs spawn closer together) rather than how good your build is. Once I got my stats back up it was pretty easy again, but it doesn't feel like the game was originally intended to have thousands of points in any stat.

I have now typed more than my brain can handle. Adios!

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A lot of what OP said and I like the idea of having the following:

+ Smaller maps
+ Fewer enemies
+ Stronger enemies
+ No super duper DPS
+ HP of the enemies scale with the number of players currently playing
+ More that I can not think of at this very moment

With maps being smaller it feels more like a co-op game. I do not like HUGE maps that spreads everyone out. My idea of a perfect DD map would be if we took a map like Ramparts or Alchemical Lab. Then we reduce the number of enemies but make them a lot stronger and make the Ogres even stronger. Then make it so an ogre takes a while to kill thus making other roles (such as a tank to distract the ogre from the defenses) a little more necessary.

Also I would not be heartbroken if none of the DLC mobs made a comeback. Especially Sharken. When I deleted all of my data and started over, playing against most of the DLC mobs felt more like a chore rather than fun. It is really annoying if a Sharken or Djinn spawns and you are on the opposite side of the map. If I manage to get over there in time, I can kill it then rebuild the defenses. By the time the defenses are rebuilt all of my defenses on the side of the map I just came from are all desummoned or pushed. It is times like those when there is a little bit of luck involved (by luck I mean hoping these mobs spawn closer together) rather than how good your build is. Once I got my stats back up it was pretty easy again, but it doesn't feel like the game was originally intended to have thousands of points in any stat.

I have now typed more than my brain can handle. Adios!


I totally disagree with the idea of having a particular class being necessary to tank ogres.

That is just going backwards.

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I totally disagree with the idea of having a particular class being necessary to tank ogres.

That is just going backwards.


PvE will need to be balanced harder than PvP, IMO. If there's a PvE character that's as UP as Apprentice was in DD1, it needs to get fixed.

PvE characters can have their strengths and weaknesses, sure, but when one hero is consistently the best for EVERY single map *cough poons and buff beams cough*, then there needs to be some buffing or changing of the content in question.

Also, as far as the DLC mobs go, Djinn were the best because they were a threat to all defenses (yet also able to be fought by all defenses/heroes) unlike the Spiders or Sharken, which would just get obliterated by auras or traps without being able to touch them.

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PvE will need to be balanced harder than PvP, IMO. If there's a PvE character that's as UP as Apprentice was in DD1, it needs to get fixed.

PvE characters can have their strengths and weaknesses, sure, but when one hero is consistently the best for EVERY single map *cough poons and buff beams cough*, then there needs to be some buffing or changing of the content in question.

Also, as far as the DLC mobs go, Djinn were the best because they were a threat to all defenses (yet also able to be fought by all defenses/heroes) unlike the Spiders or Sharken, which would just get obliterated by auras or traps without being able to touch them.
On console the App was the most OP char.

Harpoons weren't what I would call OP, that's what the Sumnoner was.

Squires can't kill Dijins very well IMO.

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On console the App was the most OP char.


Consoles are irrelevant because they weren't receiving patches anyways.

Harpoons weren't what I would call OP, that's what the Sumnoner was.


Not sure how you can have played through NM KG and be able to make that claim. Summoners were very good and even necessary on many maps, but compared to poons... they weren't THAT necessary.

Squires can't kill Dijins very well IMO.


That's a fair point, though most Djinns I encountered usually channeled their beams low enough to the ground to be whacked by my Monk's weapon.

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I totally disagree with the idea of having a particular class being necessary to tank ogres.

That is just going backwards.


I am not sure if I know what you mean by "going backwards" but I think it would add a lot of variety to the game play rather than everyone being purely DPS. For me it is a blast to rely on other people to tank, support, DPS, or build because it encourages more teamwork. I think it would appeal to more players this way too because DPS doesn't fit everyone's play style. It is also a very rewarding feeling to know how much you contributed to your team if they needed you for that particular role.

I also believe that this could tighten the gap between higher level players and lower level players. Lets say DD2 makes it impossible to have high DPS and high resistances at the same time. Lets say the higher level player has pretty much maxed out their DPS but they need a tank to help them beat the next map. A lower level tank may suffice if it is anything like DD1 because they only need to invest in hero health and resistances to be a viable tank. Now this lower level tank will make the map a lot easier for you by distracting ogres and bosses instead of you doing 100% of the work for 3 other low level players. It is not a lot of fun being useless, being the only useful player on the map, or playing a map so big that you have no choice but to pick a DPS character and guard "your region" of the map. When you are left guarding your own region of a map it starts feeling more like a single player game.

Maybe I play too much LoL, but that is what I like most about LoL. The fact that everyone takes on a specific role and if your roles are not chosen wisely, you are going to have a hard time.

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PvE will need to be balanced harder than PvP, IMO. If there's a PvE character that's as UP as Apprentice was in DD1, it needs to get fixed.

PvE characters can have their strengths and weaknesses, sure, but when one hero is consistently the best for EVERY single map *cough poons and buff beams cough*, then there needs to be some buffing or changing of the content in question.

Also, as far as the DLC mobs go, Djinn were the best because they were a threat to all defenses (yet also able to be fought by all defenses/heroes) unlike the Spiders or Sharken, which would just get obliterated by auras or traps without being able to touch them.


The "one hero is consistently the best for EVERY single map" is kinda where I was getting at so thanks for clearing that up.

As far as Djinn are concerned, they are way annoying in the early game if you have to solo Moraggo. Most of the time this was the case because the players that join would most of the time come in with lower level characters and go afk. :P. On console it is almost if not impossible to solo Moraggo on insane+. At least last time I played it which was a long time ago.

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I've been playing some Orcs must die lately, and I think it might be a good idea to use that game as an example to look at DD's strong points.

Here's some things you should definately keep:
+ Bossfights. These were amazing (most of them) and definately should get some attention
+ Free building. Being able to build wherever you want on a map, without being stuck to specific patches allows for great variety
+ 4 player co-op, without co-op being too necessary to beat the game
+ Memorable maps. DD had a great feel to some of its maps that made them stand out. (Ramparts/Summit/Hall of Court for me) The music, the layout, the design, this all is important.

A couple of things that might add something:
- Unique upgrades to traps (like you can choose between two different unique upgrades to them)
- The ability to build some traps on walls and ceilings, this could be pretty awesome
- Interactive map features. Like chandeliers you can shoot down, or some spring-mounted mounted lions or whatever. (don't do spring mounted lions, that's ridiculous. Spring mounted robot-lions though...)


Anyway, to get into map layout more specifically.

While I do prefer having small, compact maps, I'm definately fine with having a couple larger ones. Large, in this case, means large like the Summit, Aquanos, or Mistymire. Karathiki is just way too big for no reason. Moraggo was a really cool map, but just too big for me to ever play survival on it. There's just a couple of things you can't do on a small map. I doubt Hall of Court or Summit could have felt that epic if they were significantly smaller.

I have always been a fan of bowling turrets. Maps with stairs were like candy to me, it was really dissapointing to have so many important enemies be flyers. If I were to condense that into any kind of advice, it's to match the maps to the traps you have.

Intersecting paths, or different paths being close together is pretty amazing, as it allows for some interesting setups. Not that every map should be like that (most weren't), but it's definately something that should feature on some of the maps.

Different height tiers could be fun, but since I use the minimap a lot I would love to see a better way those handle multi-tiered maps. Orcs must die 2 was decent with those, but still far from perfect.

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Okay, I'm gonna defend Karathiki here. It's not a good map for just playing whenever, but IMO, it's a hugely important map because it teaches you how to be self-sufficient during co-op which is hugely needed for Crystal Dimension. My friends and I would practice on Karathiki before doing CD and it was very helpful.

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I totally disagree with the idea of having a particular class being necessary to tank ogres.

That is just going backwards.

I think he was trying to imply that the heroes do more than just extra damage. Some heroes could be very direct heavy damage dealers, while others could be better at sitting there and taking a few hits, and so on. Hero characters in the first game are rather boring for me in that all they do is add damage.

Also, as far as the DLC mobs go, Djinn were the best because they were a threat to all defenses (yet also able to be fought by all defenses/heroes) unlike the Spiders or Sharken, which would just get obliterated by auras or traps without being able to touch them.

Ignoring super loot and nightmare craziness (and the fact that noone uses physical defenses anymore due to lack of any PvE balance ever), spiders were (and still can be) quite the threat. Don't even get me started on how little sharken would be affected by them without absolutely brilliant placement (I'm ignoring gas for this because of how it counters everything)

Originally, auras and traps immunity to direct damage was their main advantage. You could place them remotely to your defence and know that while you'd have to repair them every 2-3 minutes, they would do their job without direct intervention. They had the distinct disadvantage of requiring a lot of attention (~40 charges on a proximity mine doesn't last very long), and not being the easiest things to repair.

With the introduction of djinn and their desummoning beam of doom, it removed pretty much every advantage these defences had. How people built maps went from being quite varied and elaborate (prox chains, enrage auras, etc.), to just sticking a gas infront of your walls. You built clusters or you failed, because djinn took anything that wasn't covered.

Anyway, thats only my opinion having seen everything develop the way it has. I still think that spiders were one of the greatest ideas for an enemy type, although left a little lacking by implementation (and then by how everything escalated). Way back in early NM when it was just spiders, pets and heroes were weak, you actually had to try... (**side-tracked thinking**)... *cough*, they actually were quite the threat before everything exploded again.

PS
I think we should just limit this to map design, the DLC enemies are likely to get us all sidetracked >.>

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I just want to point out that my comment still stands as is.

I don't want to be forced into having to use a particular class to overcome a specific enemy type. Nor a particular class (like the summoner, ev etc) to build.

Balance is the priority for PvE imo.

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I just want to point out that my comment still stands as is.

I don't want to be forced into having to use a particular class to overcome a specific enemy type. Nor a particular class (like the summoner, ev etc) to build.

Balance is the priority for PvE imo.


I'd like to elaborate a little bit on this.

I don't think you mean every hero needs to be able to solo a map. The old DD never gave the huntress any anti-air, and the monk had a hard time soloing if there were no other builders.

That being said, it was not a good thing that we needed gas traps to counter so many enemies. No gas traps = no victory. That's not right. The same goes for buff beams really, or summoner minions. They were just too good - and that's the problem.

Applying this to map balance: If we are going to have both DU and MU, at least have multiple heroes who can use these MU. But it would be preferable if we had just one unit cap.

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I think we all agree that it should not be a goal to have every character class able to solo every map. No one thinks Glitterhelm is a bad map just because a monk can't solo it. And I'm with classic in that I don't want to be required to use any particular character class to beat a certain map, enemy, or boss.

People want to be rewarded for using creativity in builds, and having as many character class/tower combinations as possible be viable is a good goal. And we develop relationships with our characters, so I'm opposed to any particular character class being less viable as the game progresses (squire builders on insane+ on console, apprentice builders at all, DPS squires on large maps with flying enemies like Moraggo, etc).

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I would LOVE to see a map off a Village in the DD animation style.. Without any forest or any off that ****.. just a simple Town Siege with our little heroes having the duty to protect it from the evil horde.. Resulting In some giant armored ogre slowly pushing fort a heavy door ram, with player only features such as killing the tires to slow it down, players shooting his armor to expose him to damage and stuff a slow reloading stationairy balista that stuns him..

Just like the standart tower defence map while the boss is unbeatable without tactical play by the players.

it something that was missing in DD imo.. it was always either or.. either the boss could die by the towers np.. or the players had to kill the boss while the defenses couldnt do anything about him..

A properly scripted mix off this would make boss maps a lot more fun than they currently are.

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I just want to point out that my comment still stands as is.

I don't want to be forced into having to use a particular class to overcome a specific enemy type. Nor a particular class (like the summoner, ev etc) to build.

Balance is the priority for PvE imo.


Now you sound like you agree with my original statement. As Crzy pointed out, I was implying that I did not want one particular role to be the obvious dominating force like the huntress was in the console version. I would like to see other BUILDS like tank or support to be just as viable as a strong DPS build. This way you would not be forced to be any particular build or class to complete any map.

Sorry I spoke about heros and hero builds rather than maps. However, I felt that it was important to say something about hero builds because if we end up with nothing but super sized maps then any role other than DPS would be irrelevant.

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The "one hero is consistently the best for EVERY single map" is kinda where I was getting at so thanks for clearing that up.

As far as Djinn are concerned, they are way annoying in the early game if you have to solo Moraggo. Most of the time this was the case because the players that join would most of the time come in with lower level characters and go afk. :P. On console it is almost if not impossible to solo Moraggo on insane+. At least last time I played it which was a long time ago.
I've beaten Morago on Insane+ with my friend it went pretty smoothly, and Aquanos it just wasn't as smooth. The one we have a problem with is Mistymire the Spider are just terrible. We haven't beaten Sky city because it's impossible with all the lag.

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I've beaten Morago on Insane+ with my friend it went pretty smoothly, and Aquanos it just wasn't as smooth. The one we have a problem with is Mistymire the Spider are just terrible. We haven't beaten Sky city because it's impossible with all the lag.


Nice :). I heard about Sky City being pretty much impossible on insane+. However, I never got the Sky City DLC. I bought all of the ones up to Aquanos for PS3.

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I don't think PvE heroes should be so balanced that they're all equal. There should be different flavors of hero towers: Blockades, Traps, Shooters, Support towers, etc. I think that each hero should specialize in a certain type of tower, but should still have one or two from other types so that heroes aren't pidgeonholed.

Also, I want to say that Monk can solo Glitterhelm on Insane+ if you follow a certain build and have a bit of good RNG with ogre spawns.

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I don't think PvE heroes should be so balanced that they're all equal. There should be different flavors of hero towers: Blockades, Traps, Shooters, Support towers, etc. I think that each hero should specialize in a certain type of tower, but should still have one or two from other types so that heroes aren't pidgeonholed.

Also, I want to say that Monk can solo Glitterhelm on Insane+ if you follow a certain build and have a bit of good RNG with ogre spawns.
Yah, with mods on xbox :).

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On a related note, assuming that there will still be mod support in some form, can we please please please find a way of removing the seperation of the playerbase over whether or not they can easily access custom maps. If that means having maps that give no rewards then so be it, but being able to just switch from playing official maps (of which there are always going to be a limited number) to community maps to keep things fresh will be an amazing addition.

On top of that, with more people accessing it, the modding community is likely to be much more vibrant :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
What do I like?

Well, I love maps that allow you to be creative with towers and don't make you feel fenced in to just building a specific way. Being able to find interesting choke points instead of just building right beside the crystal is a lot of fun. I like it when there are terrain that can help you create chokes and pathing of enemies that go to completely different areas but pass very close to each other at one point, potentially allowing you to create a choke for 2 lanes.

Defending cyrstals on a map should be varied so not all crystals are the same difficulty. It is okay to have one or two "easy" crystals, where you can just defend directly from one or two directions, but there should also be at least one crystal that requires careful planning to defend from a mixture of threats in multiple directions. Also, the different paths to the crystal should still allow a player to find very specific tower placements that allow you to provide coverage to multiple attack points at once for when nothing is coming from one direction but the other.

As for gameplay, it is much more fun when enemies are coming at you fast and thick rather than a trickle that takes forever. Players should have lots to do and go out and fight in some areas for those who enjoy slashing and a trickle of stronger enemies in other for those who want a bit more "skilled" kite-n-fight. Maps should be throwing a fair amount at one or two crystals at all times with small breaks as the "heavy" attack points rotate between the different paths. This will allow players a short break to repair/fix areas but also keep you very much on your toes as the pressure shifts to a new area.

As always, player only pathways are appreciated and enjoyed! Being able to build anywhere on the map and on different terrain is also a HUGE plus! One of my favourite things about Ramparts (before djinn) was being able to build a trap or bouncers on the roof that the wyvrns fly over.


What I really dislike?

I hate openess!!! Look no further than King's Games where the bottom crystal is just a huge open area and you "pray" that nothing chooses to walk around your towers. There is nothing interesting or fun about just having a big open area that you need to just make a huge wall.

Waves that get really easy after xx%. Too many waves might be grueling hard for the first 50% but end up being 50% boredom as the ending portion is boring and easy. Although there is some use in having lulls in the attacks to allow repairs and upgrades, having a large portion of the wave that easy is very boring.

Also, maps that have a very serious threatening attack path (i.e. wyvrns) that can easily kill your crystal are ONLY okay if they do not require a lot of resources to take care of. Some maps required WAY too much to defend against a very small fraction of the enemies that spawn during the wave. I have had times where I've had to spend (made up numbers incoming) 10% of my resources to deal with 2% of the enemies that are only on the map for 30% of the wave. This is SO frustrating for me to feel like I'm *wasting* my resources so badly.



Well, I probably have more thoughts tucked away in there, but that is all I shall do for now!

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I don't think PvE heroes should be so balanced that they're all equal. There should be different flavors of hero towers: Blockades, Traps, Shooters, Support towers, etc. I think that each hero should specialize in a certain type of tower, but should still have one or two from other types so that heroes aren't pidgeonholed.


I would have to say that I would like to see character creation take on a more traditional role. I.E No one individual class stuck to a particular look/style. Room to chose tower types from any one particular discipline, a skill tree more akin to the old WoW skill tree would be more than awesome. The way Dungeon Defenders 1 has things setup is very simple and effective. But it's so effective it almost dulls gameplay down for not getting just a bit more creative on the players end. Also, regarding characters, if Speed is going to be a stat, please make it so that ALL classes/characters rely on the stat for their speed rather than being a stat that has to be maxed out for an purposely slower character. I don't think having purposely slow classes in any condition, (pve/pvp) is necessary if there is a stat that governs how fast they can go. It needs to be equal on the -base- characters. If certain equipment gives a speed boost and has to be worked towards to be acquired, I'm all for that.


Now on to the original point I am posting here for. Level design and game play. Being an indie game Dungeon Defenders has right by definition to be very experimental. The second game definitely should now refine the wheels of the first that work so well. But the problem I am seeing by this thread is that people want this generally cookie cutter-esque layout that provides a little variety, a little restriction and "room for creativity". Very very few maps limit how/where anything can be built unless it can't be hit by enemy units or otherwise would be a ridiculous exploit.

So here's something I think this thread begs doing: Everyone should draw up a map layout that they think would make for a really good map design and upload it here to the forums for all of us to see (including the design team) and compare. I'm curious to see how many of them would be similar or dissimilar based on some of the preferences mentioned in this thread so far. I think that would give Trendy the best idea about what exactly everyone wants to see get improved for DD2's tower defense gameplay.

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