I love open-ended FPS levels with multiple objectives that can be completed in any order. I sketched out this level on a piece of paper (which I have since lost) more or less as it is in-game, with a few key ideas:
- A central outdoor area that splits into three possible paths, but that also has an isolated area with a clearly marked exit
- One path leads to two keyed doors
- The other paths are both accessible, and both branch off into two paths each, one of which ends in a key and the other ends in a switch that lowers a barrier to the centrally-visible exit
- Both main paths have a major weapon pickup, and both include encounters that are better-suited to that weapon
Based on the above criteria, the four branches can be completed in any order with roughly the same level of difficulty.
There were some other key decisions:
- All secret areas are somehow visible but inaccessible from the critical path
- Most switches’ effects are clearly visible
I managed to work some other fun ideas into the level, like opposite-facing staircases that both end in a drop, as well as a puzzle that requires the player to cross every intersection in a grid in order to unlock the next area.
My only regret is that I kept the rising/falling wall room with the two Revenants, because in hindsight it was just not as fun in practice as it had been in theory. The reason I kept it is that it replaced something much more complicated that was also not fun, and I decided to just cut my losses and move on.
Overall, I’m fairly happy with this level. Visually, it’s not spectacular, but it was my first attempt at a Doom level since I was a teenager, so I’d say I did reasonably well.
Here’s my playthrough:
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