Why does Marathon have a small map size limit?

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Why does Marathon have a small map size limit?

Post Jun 8th '13, 18:39

128x128x36 meters is quite small for a maximum sized level when you think about it. I can't even fit Doom's E1M1 in there as-is assuming 64 Doom map units are equivalent to 1 Marathon WU.

I know the Marathon engine uses loads of small integers and avoids floating point when it can, I'd imagine to ensure that things ran quickly on crappy 68k hardware, but why THAT small? Of course, the maps seem huge because of all the twists, turns and overlapping geometry, not to mention the slower player speed and game pace, but still.
Last edited by Blastfrog on Dec 29th '13, 18:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Blastfrog

Post Jun 9th '13, 06:01

Probably most of what you said is true, although I think a typical Doom level would certainly fit in a 64 x 64 WU box. See this reference. Also, you probably have done so already, but have you checked out Phoenix's levels? They certainly seem bigger than any Doom map.

Blastfrog wrote:slower player speed and game pace


Probably true for most of the original triology, but again there are exceptions like "If I had a Rocket Launcher..." Also have you checked out the "Kill Them All" series? You can stage some pretty damn fierce battles here. Check out some films here (you'll also need to download this from Simplic7y.com)
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fiddler_on_a_roof

Post Jun 13th '13, 19:08

fiddler_on_a_roof wrote:Probably most of what you said is true, although I think a typical Doom level would certainly fit in a 64 x 64 WU box. See this reference.

A typical Doom level would fit, but you'd need to adjust and rearrange stuff to ensure it doesn't go past the map boundaries. That article isn't really a good example, the Wikia version of the Doom wiki is outdated, doomwiki.org is the one people should link to. id's own official scale seems to be 8 pixels per foot both horizontally and vertically according to its internal documentation from the time (despite the 0.83 ratio pixels are actually displayed at).

For general gameplay purposes though, 1 Marathon WU is pretty much the same as 64 Doom units, which is the size of a Wolf 3D block. Marathon's scale is quite like Doom's, just double resolution assets and displays square pixels without the vertical stretching.

I tried seeing if I could port E1M1 into MI, there's literally not enough space for it horizontally.

fiddler_on_a_roof wrote:Also have you checked out the "Kill Them All" series? You can stage some pretty damn fierce battles here. Check out some films here (you'll also need to download this from Simplic7y.com)

That's pretty neat, thanks for recommending it. I tried it and it's pretty fun.
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Blastfrog

Post Sep 18th '13, 21:36

Back when Marathon came out, it was huge. If you play the fan-made map Labyrinth, you might still think it's huge.

Nowadays, we have GPUs and vastly superior CPUs, and WAY more hard drive space.

The original marathon applications for pre-OSX actually took user's manually set memory allotment (via Get Info on the application) into account when choosing what graphics settings to allow the player to choose. If you set the memory too low, 32-bit color would be disabled along with higher bit-rate audio.

The textures in marathon are organized into "sets" not because it's convenient, but because you were only allowed 256 different colors shared by EVERY texture in the set, and there was also a limit on the total number of textures you could have in a set.

Why we still have this limit, I would imagine has something to do with wanting to maintain consistency with the original maps/engine limitations. In theory, it could be possible to extend Aleph One's map size capabilities in a number of different ways, but then there's the question of when Aleph One stops being a Marathon engine and starts being something else that already exists. For example: it would probably be easier to create Forge-like tools for Unity than to increase map size limits. Actually - I may just do this once I finish my current game.
deram_scholzara
Los Angeles, CA

Post Sep 18th '13, 22:00

I tried seeing if I could port E1M1 into MI, there's literally not enough space for it horizontally.


http://doomwiki.org/w/images/archive/c/ ... M1_map.png
https://soulsphere.org/img/blog/doom-e1m1/E1M1-2.png

Pillar in room to the left is 1x1 wu (max!). Using that as a measure, the map is about 60 pillars (wu) wide.
Based on this, I think the map fits within marathon 64x64 wu work space.

Some extra fun:

http://doomwiki.org/wiki/Map_unit
64 doom units = 1,5 m
A WU in marathon is considered to be 2m

Based on the above:
Marathon's map space is 5460x5460 doom units.
typical Doom level (Knee-Deep in the Dead) 4000 doom units

Doom's height references are funny. If doom player is 54 doom units tall, he is only 1,26 meter tall! Is he a midget? In comparison the marathon player is consider to be 1,6 meter tall. I do not think we should put too much trust into this meter based math :P
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goran

Post Sep 20th '13, 16:45

The practical answer is that Marathon's basic unit * 1024 * 64 = 16-bit integer. The next step up was 32 bits. I know next to nothing about the m68k, so don't kill me if I'm way off - but I'm not sure the smaller machines of the time could handle 32-bit values, or if it was plausible in a smooth-scrolling game. Map sizes would also be much larger, as would RAM, disk, etc. usage. I imagine map downloads were already torturous enough on those old modems.

I guess it's not that much per map if you're just counting vertex coordinates (I get ~16KB? using Infinity's limits), but it could quickly balloon when you throw in everything else that uses coordinates: items, players, monsters, sounds, etc. Anyway, we're not talking about a set of computers that could be modded for performance quite as easily as PCs. With Apple computers costing roughly $10000000000000000 each at all points in history, what Marathon player could afford to upgrade or buy a new one?

That said, I can't imagine why you were unable to fit E1M1 into a Marathon level. Are you an experienced Marathon mapper? Although I'd rather not agree totally with the understated Doom vs. Marathon rivalry I sense in this thread, my instinct is to do as Goran says and abandon mathematical conversions, opting instead for the feel of the level's size from the in-game POV. Have you walked around any of the architecture you tried to re-create in Marathon? I'd like to know how the math stacks up to player experience.

P.S. - why did they cut the maximum height of a level in half? Who knows.
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irons
(.Y.)

Post Sep 20th '13, 18:56

irons wrote:The practical answer is that Marathon's basic unit * 1024 * 64 = 16-bit integer. The next step up was 32 bits. I know next to nothing about the m68k, so don't kill me if I'm way off - but I'm not sure the smaller machines of the time could handle 32-bit values, or if it was plausible in a smooth-scrolling game. Map sizes would also be much larger, as would RAM, disk, etc. usage. I imagine map downloads were already torturous enough on those old modems.

The 68k is a 32-bit processor, and can efficiently handle 32-bit arithmetic. That means you can add or multiply 16-bit map coordinates without worrying about overflow.
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treellama
Pittsburgh

Post Sep 20th '13, 23:07

yeah nice one now run alephone on your freebsd 68k

i said dont kill me how hard is that to understand
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irons
(.Y.)

Post Oct 14th '13, 11:12

treellama wrote:
irons wrote:The practical answer is that Marathon's basic unit * 1024 * 64 = 16-bit integer. The next step up was 32 bits. I know next to nothing about the m68k, so don't kill me if I'm way off - but I'm not sure the smaller machines of the time could handle 32-bit values, or if it was plausible in a smooth-scrolling game. Map sizes would also be much larger, as would RAM, disk, etc. usage. I imagine map downloads were already torturous enough on those old modems.

The 68k is a 32-bit processor, and can efficiently handle 32-bit arithmetic. That means you can add or multiply 16-bit map coordinates without worrying about overflow.



the 68k was 16 bit. the 68020 was 32 bit. the 68k could operate on 32 bit values but memory addressing was limited to 16 bits. (i think?)
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Asylum
Location

Post Mar 30th '14, 09:32

Just to kinda give some perspective on Doom map sizes:

Let's assume 32 doom map units equal 1 meter (with aspect ratio corrections, 1DWU really is around 0.75m, but meh).

Doom's vanilla engine is limited by 2 things:
>the blockmap
>visplanes

The blockmap is a datastructure that contains info on linedefs and is used for collision detection. Each "block" in the blockmap is 128x128 DWU (or, 4m x 4m). The blockmap table can contain a maximum of 32407 blocks (about 720m^2) , in theory, however this is rarely practical because of the second limitation...

Visplanes. In the vanilla doom engine, something like 128 "visplanes" could be displayed at any one time (visplanes refer to, essentially, subsectors and their accompanying data; i.e. one subsector will generate 2 visplanes, one for ceiling height, the other for floor height). If more than 128 visplanes are ever visible at one time, the doom engine crashes; to prevent this, you have to design your maps such that there is no single spot on the map from which the player can see archetecture that's composed of more than 128 visplanes.

(note: the limit on visplanes is on how many are visible at any one time, NOT on how many total are in the map)

This means that if you were to build a map that actually contains the maximum possible number of blockmap entries (this would essentially be a single 4-linedef sector of very large dimensions), the map would be incapable of running in the vanilla doom engine because it would trigger a visplane overflow on loading the map.

Because of this, your practical blockmap limit turns into around 10000 to 14400 blocks (400m^2 to 480m^2).

Now then, a Marathon world unit is 2m, right? So Doom's practical vanilla map size limit is around 200-240 MWUs...not much bigger, especially considering how fast doomguy runs in comparison to the security officer.

Of course, when you get into source ports, the map size limit changes altogether. For instance, BOOM doesn't suffer from visplane errors, and super-duper modern sourceports can even generate blockmaps of infinite size at runtime, so the map limits essentially becomes processor archetechture dependant.
keen

Post Apr 8th '14, 20:02

After doing some more calculations, for gameplay purposes I decided that the closest equivalent to 1x1 WU in Doom would be 88x72 map units (texture tiling not withstanding). And what about rivalry? I love both games!

I appreciate the technical explanations, but I was asking more from a design perspective. They could have reduced map accuracy to 128 or 256 sub units per WU, and perhaps given moving actors their own additional x,y coordinates for finer movement. Doom had roughly half resolution assets, and only allowed you to set vertex positions per single pixel. Actors had 16 bit(!) sub coordinates, so that allowed for extra smooth movement while allowing for larger spanning areas.

Although, id's nodebuilder didn't work so well under 8 map units/pixels (fanmade nodebulders rectify this). Sure, there were blockmap limitations, but that limits you in volume, not distance. Marathon managed sprawlier areas via 5D space, but the small coordinates make it difficult to port huge maps like Mt. Erebus (E3M6) or Suburbs (MAP16). Regardless, 5D space kicks ass, and the only Doom engine that comes close is Eternity (and the portals work a little poorly, especially with hitscan weapons)
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Blastfrog

Post Apr 9th '14, 17:03

Design-wise, Marathon evolved from Pathways into Darkness, which featured slow movement and claustrophobic situations. The first Marathon demo shared these features. Eventually they sped up the player and introduced more varied areas, but Jason Jones hated giving the player the ability to run away from trouble. His love of ambushes and blind corners is clear, and larger spaces make those tricks less effective.

Bungie never fixed the problem of long viewing distances either: you don't need huge maps if you can't have huge spaces. Aleph One fixed it, so I imagine Bungie could have if they'd considered it a priority, but the close quarters and obstructed views are simply part of the Marathon feel. I think of Converted Church as the Marathon flavor of Suburbs, where the level conveys sprawl through detail and winding rather than sheer distance.
Last edited by Hopper on Apr 10th '14, 15:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Hopper

Post Apr 10th '14, 13:15

Ah, that explains quite a bit. Thanks! I've never gotten a chance to play PiD, so I'm not very familiar with it, besides that it was slower paced, had hubs, conversations and Wolfenstein-esque level geometry. I've accquired a Classic Mac somewhat recently (a CRT iMac with OS9), should I get a copy and try playing it? I fear that it could be a frustrating experience, what with the time limit and brutal enemies in my way.

And it's not open spaces that I think a larger boundry would be useful for, but rather to allow for more possibilties and configurations in room distribution, as well as maps with far more rooms, thus longer gameplay duration. If I want to make a level the size of Converted Church in Venice, Italy, I have to shape it so that it fits within a square space, whereas bigger boundries would allow for more varied shapes like maybe an S or V shaped map or something.

Lastly, I beg of you to link to doomwiki.org instead of the wikia version, and to tell the same to others that link to wikia. The Doom wiki was part of the mass exodus from wikia, but the wikia staff refuses to take any of the original wikis down despite the wishes of their respective communities, and also forbids anyone on there to link to or even mention the proper branches. I also suspect wikia pays off search engines to keep their results on top, so that they can avert traffic to themselves purely for maximizing their ad revenue. The quality of content has also significantly deteriorated since the exodus.
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Blastfrog

Post Apr 10th '14, 16:35

I think of Pathways into Darkness as Wolfenstein crossed with a text adventure, with the red herrings, byzantine clues, and unfairness the latter genre can bring. If you want to get the sense of it without the frustration, there are cheat codes, saved games, and maps to help. Disclaimer: I built the latter two sites, but have never finished the game honestly.

In terms of room distribution, you can see the square-shape limitation on maps like 6000 Feet Under. I wouldn't say that limits gameplay duration, though; while I haven't played in a while, I can't think of a Doom map that requires as much room traversal as The Hard Stuff Rules.

In levels like Hard Stuff and Medicine, M2 really emphasized the overlapping vertical spaces. Perhaps Bungie was deliberately trying to show off the engine features Doom couldn't handle, although the game has its share of 2D-oriented levels.
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Hopper

Post Apr 10th '14, 17:28

Don't get me started on doomfags. The OP is okay because he admits other games are good.

I tried making a big open square the size ryokoTK specified for one of his map contests (somewhere around 20x20 WU, give or take). Visual mode was tough because of view distance issues and playing it didn't look better. Aleph one still has limits.
VikingBoyBilly

Post Apr 11th '14, 05:20

VikingBoyBilly wrote:Don't get me started on doomfags.
Did a Doomer kill your dog? There's always shitty people in every society, but I've never encountered all that many unreasonable ones. While I left the ZDoom forums because I was disgusted with a great many people there, I find Doomworld to be a pretty nice place (only really one guy I find to be annoying and weird).

I really don't understand this Doom vs. Marathon rivalry thing here, it's not the '90s anymore. While Marathon isn't exactly a hit there, there are a decent number of people who like it too, and the people that don't aren't hostile about it at all. Those people's attiude generally tends to be "I can see the appeal for some, but it's just not my cup of tea." They usually cite the slower pace and the art style, and those that do like it cite those same things (or at least the slower methodical gameplay).
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Blastfrog


Post Jun 9th '14, 05:18

Doom, snowflake, no coffee? I don't get it. Is it another one of your poems that "don't always make sense"? :lol:
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Blastfrog

Post Aug 27th '14, 20:27

I don't think you quite understand the sort of rivalry Mac v x86 had back when marathon and doom were head to head. Doom was a pc only game, and marathon was a mac only game. There was a lot of pride that went with having Bungie and marathon 'on our side'.

Doom v Marathon is an extension of that platform combat. I wouldn't put doom on the same level as marathon ever; marathon is still my all time favorite FPS. Bringing marathon into a discussion about doom and vis versa is a quick way to start a fight.

To answer the question: the original limitations have to do with keeping within the realm of functionality for computers of the day. And that said, marathon exploits a lot more verticality and clever level design, so the internal complexity of the smaller maps is greater.
damnglitch
Wisconsin

Post Aug 28th '14, 12:30

damnglitch wrote:I don't think you quite understand the sort of rivalry Mac v x86 had back when marathon and doom were head to head. Doom was a pc only game, and marathon was a mac only game. There was a lot of pride that went with having Bungie and marathon 'on our side'.
I'm definitely aware of the rivalry in the 90's, but I just don't think it's nearly relevant to continue holding such grudges in 2014 (and I've never been much of a "platform war" kind of guy anyway). In all actuality, Doom did have an official Mac port, and Bungie didn't stay exclusively 'on the Mac side' for very long when they did the official Windows port of Marathon 2.

damnglitch wrote:Doom v Marathon is an extension of that platform combat. I wouldn't put doom on the same level as marathon ever; marathon is still my all time favorite FPS. Bringing marathon into a discussion about doom and vis versa is a quick way to start a fight.
But it's 2014 and platform based rivalries are silly to begin with no matter how old or contemporary. I love both games, it's just that their design goals are different and I enjoy both series for their unique strengths. Honestly, this is the only place where I feel that a rivalry/grudge is still held (at least very mildly and not among everybody). People in the Doom community don't have any problem with Marathon or people who like the trilogy, at worst it's usually "not their cup of tea". There are members of the Doom community that even love Marathon, Xaser (a talented and well-respected regular) is a big fan, for example.

Doom values minimalism with fluid and fast paced combat. Marathon values storytelling with deliberate and predictable player/monster movement (causing combat to feel more strategic than random). One's not better than the other, just different. They both do what they uniquely aim to do very well. I think Doom is more immediately and viscerally satisfactory, but leaves little for the imagination afterwards. Marathon is far more satisfying than Doom in the long term as the story and all of the meaning behind it sinks in over time, it's definitely more of a thinking man's game than a straight-forward arcade romp. What both games have in common are great explorational level design even though they're presented in slightly different ways.

Is it really blasphemy to say that they're equal in quality? :unsure: *dodges barrage of rotten tomatoes and pies*

Spoiler:
Generally unrelated, but it's interesting to note that Doom was originally supposed to have a much more involved story and play a lot like System Shock. The original designer, Tom Hall, was facing friction with the rest of the team and left to join 3D Realms for more creative freedom. After he left about mid-way through production, what was already produced was polished into a focused action game rather than continuing to flesh the levels out to conform to the more complex design document written by Hall.
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Blastfrog

Post Aug 29th '14, 13:24

All very rational arguments, but it's not a rational thought process :P

As far as saying they are equal, it's inflammatory at the least to do it on a themed board for Marathon discussion. Comparing there relative merits is something perhaps best left to a more general classic gaming discussion topic/forum. (it's worth noting that, in my experience, marathon fans tend to be more rabid in defending their (our) clearly better game in our own little enclave because the popularity of doom is so much greater due to greater exposure that in 'friendly' comparison discussions, marathon fans are outnumbered and tend to get shouted down. Again, in my experience.)

As far as the mac port of doom goes; I can't tell you how badly I wanted to play doom as a young man. I had the demos of mararthon for a long time, and played those to death over years and years before getting the retail, but I never had access to doom. when I finally did, I was shocked and disappointed (again, still as a young man) how simple minded it was. I'd been playing mararthon, a game with gore and guns and story for years, and I wanted to play doom? And THIS was doom?

Doom and Duke 3D were games I CRAVED. Whether or not they had ports (which, in both cases, I did end up getting eventually), I'd had marathon first, and in both cases when I finally got them it was like "oh this is neat, I guess?" Marathon seemed so much classier than that, while still being a blood bath with a book inside.
damnglitch
Wisconsin

Post Sep 9th '14, 00:52

Hey Alan
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irons
(.Y.)


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