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How DOOM Encourages Aggression
by Christopher Gile on 06/27/16 10:47:00 am   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

In Enter the Gungeon you generally want to run away from everything. That isn't to say that you want to hide or not engage with the various enemies, but rather that you want to stay as far away from them as possible. This is because enemy attacks consist of slow moving projectiles -by slow I mean dodgeable, you can see them coming and react- and dodging the attacks is easier the further away you are from the enemy. 

A limiting factor on how far away from enemies you want to be is how accurate your own gun is. Some weapons, like the shotgun are best at close range and so while for defensive reasons you might want to stay as far away as possible, for offensive ones you will want to be much closer to the enemy.

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Some enemies have attacks that are easier to dodge if you’re closer. For example the Gorgun has an attack where the bullets she shoots multiply as they get further from her. You will want to be relatively close to her during this attack.

This tactic of continuously running away in order to prevent the enemy from hitting you while you hit them is called kiting. Your range is greater then your enemy’s and so you want to try to keep the distance between you two within your range and outside theirs. This means you run and they pursue.

DOOM 2016 has a lot in common with Enter the Gungeon. You fight a lot of enemies who use slow moving projectiles in arena-like areas. The projectiles in DOOM are faster and coming at you from directions you can't see -because DOOM is first person and Enter the Gungeon is Top Down- in which makes enemy attacks not so much dodgeable as they are miss-able. What I mean is that Enter the Gungeon gives you an abundance of information about everything around you and gives you a really good dodge, so you can actively avoid getting hit by most things. Whereas in DOOM things are flying at you from your blind spots but if you keep moving then a lot of them are likely to miss you.

The distinction I'm making here is that in Enter the Gungeon you are aware of an attack and you avoid it, whereas in DOOM you tend to just move in such a way that things are less likely to hit you. In order to best avoid getting hit with things in DOOM you want to be as far away from your enemies as you can get away with and you want to always be moving/strafing so that those projectiles fly harmlessly by you.

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Most of your weapons are hitscan (they hit instantly, there is no bullet travel time) and even those that are projectiles, such as the rocket launcher, move at a much faster than the enemy’s attacks.

And yet, if you've played DOOM or watched someone play it you've probably noticed how people spend a lot of time running directly at enemies in order to punch them in the face. Is this them being bad at the game? Nope, this is as a result of the game making a lot of deliberate choices to make sure that players do just that.

The biggest thing they did to encourage players to run at enemies is the introduction of the Glory Kill. When you deal enough damage to an enemy then become stunned, if you use a melee attack on them in this state then a very brutal little animation plays where you rip various body parts off of them. Not only is this entertaining but it is also very efficient. 

Firstly because it is a huge amount of damage, and second because it doesn't cost you any ammo. How much ammo you have on hand is always a concern (though rarely the most pressing) and so conserving ammo is always helpful. Furthermore, enemies you use a Glory Kill on drop a great deal of health for you, much like a demonic Piñata. Even as almost all damage is theoretically dodgeable in DOOM, in practice a lot is happening and so you will take damage. This means that in order to survive long fights you have to 'recharge' by way of ripping someone's arm off from time to time.

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That enemies are stunned when you when they are open to be Glory Killed is very helpful since that means it is safe to run directly at them.

 

But DOOM does more then simply have these mechanics, it constantly draw attention to them with visual indicators that let the player know when an enemy is able to be Glory Killed and when you are in range to do so. As the mechanic isn't in other shooters and as I said the natural instinct of a player who can fight from range is to stay as far away from enemies as possible, the indicators remind players of the mechanic and train them to look for opportunities and to rely on the mechanic. Having a mechanic isn't useful if players don't use it, either because they forget it exists or don't know how to use it. DOOM knows this and takes great pains to get players into the correct mindset for the game.

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Some of the aggression is also a more subtle result of the level design. When you fight in an arena and are surrounded by enemies you are in essence always running towards someone. Glory kills made that fact a good thing though.

The careful and controlled strategy that a game centered around kiting provides doesn't mesh well with the characterization of DOOM Guy. DOOM Guy is aggressive, extremely aggressive. He isn't someone who runs away from demons and the game devs didn't want people playing him as though he was. They wanted his character to be baked into the gameplay so that when you were playing well you were fighting the way DOOM Guy would. The devs were aware of the natural playstyles that came about from normal shooter mechanics and decided to add to them in such a way that brought player action more in line with the personality of the character they are controlling. In this case, that meant giving the player plenty of reasons to charge at the enemy.


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