Mark Esparagoza

DOOM Eternal

Solo Project | 2 Month

Pushing forward combat

In 2020, the feel of DOOM Eternal's combat felt faster and more aggressive than it's predecessor. Its chainsaw would shower the player with ammo like candy. This would push its motto "Push Forward Combat" to the next level as more players have to think more tactically about this mechanic. However, that pushed away some fans away.

Objectives

  • Make a more aggressive experience.

  • Create new tactics when the player uses the chainsaw.

Repetition

I looked at 8 negative steam reviews and found that...

  • Chainsawing enemies became tedious and repetitive.

  • Their weapons have sparse amounts of ammo which prevented them to do what they want.

  • Bigger enemies cannot be chainsawed.

  • Relies on a cooldown coupled with other multiple cooldowns.

Proposed Change

Throwing the chainsaw towards canon fodder will go through them and drop ammo.

If its bigger then it will stick into the enemy and give the player ammo.

Since it's sticking onto the enemy, the player can shoot the chainsaw out of the enemy.

Then they can pick it up for a reduced cooldown timer on the chainsaw.

Interviews

I asked their thoughts on DOOM Eternal and their thoughts on resource management.

Casey (Doesn't enjoy DOOM Eternal. Fan of DOOM for 23 years)

  • Some of the weapons don't feel special or a reward compared to its predecessor.

  • Felt forced to use some weapons.

Ryan (Enjoys DOOM Eternal)

  • Running out of ammo happens really fast that some people don't notice it.

Playtesting

I created a paper prototype of DOOM Eternal, first testing without the change then with the proposed change. Due to time constraints, I had to leave out some features.

Current

While playtesting with Ryan, when they encountered a bigger enemy (Baron of Hell), they ran away to refill on their resources and chainsawed smaller enemies for ammo.

After the playtest, we discussed how that felt and they said that it felt fine.

Proposed Change

While playtesting with Ryan, when they encountered a bigger enemy (Baron of Hell), they encountered it face to face and threw the chainsaw at the enemy. This gave them enough ammo to give them a chance to hurt the enemy without having to run away.

After the playtest, we discussed how that felt. They talked about how it's similar to the flamethrower in DOOM Eternal and that feels good. They enjoyed this version of the chainsaw more than the other version because it allowed them to combo their weapons more, gave them an opportunity to use it on bigger enemies, and use it more freely.

Thoughts

Going back to the people I interviewed, I discussed the proposed changes with them.

Casey thought that the change would be great providing more tactics and different ways to play.

Ryan had concerns that it would de-incentivize the player to be aggressive.

Addressing Ryan's concern, I changed the chainsaw sticking onto an enemy, then it would give ammo over time instead of refilling their ammo. They said it might take away tension but it would be good to test.

Take-Aways

The data I've gathered from reviews and interviews I concluded that:

Keep the flow of combat going without having the player being forced to stop engaging with certain enemies.

Allow more access to use the chainsaw on more enemies.

Create more ways for the player to do what they want without the feeling that they have to be forced to do a particular thing.

Conclusion

The changes that I have made to the chainsaw have been positive. Players are now using it on enemies when before they couldn't use it on, makes them more aggressive, gives them more tactical choice, and players don't have to disengage with enemies.

Transfer

If I had the opportunity to change the chainsaw in the digital game rather than in a paper prototype, is...

  • Have the player throw the chainsaw instead of playing an animation to use it.

  • If it hits smaller enemies like Imps, then it would kill them and refill the player's ammo.

  • If it hits bigger enemies like the Baron of Hell, then it would stick into them and slowly give ammo the player.

    • The player can shoot the chainsaw out of the enemy to pick it up for a reduced cooldown to use it again.

    • Glory killing an enemy with the chainsaw stuck in them would refill the player's ammo.

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