INTERVIEW WITH NINE INCH HEELS
Q: How did you each come to be involved in this genre? What is your background?
I come from the bullet hell shmups scene, basically. Screens full of stuff are where I kinda feel at home. Maps like "The pyramid of death", "Go 2 it" basically sucked me into slaughter as a consequence for the most part about two years ago. Before then I barely played doom at all.
Q: Did you each at one point sympathise with some of the thinking that is often displayed in opposition to the idea of slaughter?
Easy it is to make a bad slaughtermap. Also things like the "wrong" consumption of stereotypical things like chillax might very well be a reason why people have their reservations with this genre.
Q: Do Doom’s core mechanics still allow to you have fun with a more traditional set of levels? To what extent has your appreciation for slaughter material impacted or other shaped your attitude toward levels of a more "traditional" lean?
"Slaughter maps", and its closest relative "challenge maps", represent the pinnacle of core "Doom mechanics" as far as I'm concerned. I think you're gonna be hard pressed to find maps in which the core mechanics play as large of a role. "iWAD gameplay" has become largely uninteresting for me, with the exception for a few maps that I really enjoy to this day, like "the chasm".
Q: Or is it that difficulty is more what you’re after and it’s most readily found in slaughter sets?
I think "difficulty" may be a part of it, because it would appear to me that people who build slaughter or challenge type maps are less hesitant to make things "hard" overall. Though I would very much prefer to use the term "depth" instead of "difficulty".
Q: It can be argued that the term “slaughter” invites some of the misconceptions about what the hallmarks of the genre actually are (“Sunlust is mostly not slaughter”)… but what are those hallmarks?
If you read "slaughter" as something that implies more or less mindlessly blasting stuff with heavy weapons, then I would agree that the "title" might not be particularly fitting. However "well conducted tactical mass murdering of hellspawn" doesn't roll of the tongue as well. To be fair, you will find many examples where the "mindlessly firing away" might very well be applicable, but it's not the defining factor of what makes "slaughter" what it is for me personally. Broadly speaking, slaughter is about delivering more complex "problems" than you could achieve with "traditional mapping" (in the sense of iWAD style stuff), in my opinion anyway. This includes carefully crafted setpiece fights as well as SR50 platforming or two-shotting cyberdemons consistently. Simply speaking "stuff" you wouldn't even think about doing outside of slaughter- and challenge maps, or speed/UVmax running for world records.
Q: The genre is largely supported by eccentric types. Is there a “meta” trend in slaughter map design?
I don't think there is much of "meta mapping" going on, and if it was I'd certainly hope for it to be done away with as soon as possible. I think it's hard to find genres of mapping that allow for more creative liberties than slaughter or challenge maps, partially by virtue of not being a very "well defined" genre to begin with.
Q: Are there significant subdivisions of interest within the slaughter crowd? Or are these interests largely limited to one or two individuals?
I think everybody has their particular "gameplay fetishes" or "moods". Look at ToD's larger maps, "2-shot-a-thons" are something you're gonna find for sure every now and then. I like frenetic setpieces with some good sustain as much as I enjoy tricky and mandatory two-shots, or platforming in smaller to longer stretches (or with gimmicks).
Q: How important are these areas in keeping the genre healthy (versus continuing trends set by heavyweights like Ribbiks)?
I think what's most important in the long run is diversity to begin with, therefore it's imperial that mappers don't dismiss their own ideas and ideals when faced with nay-sayers of any sort.
Q: Do you feel that non-proponents of slaughter are blind to some of these distinctions because of the front-end conflict on the forums?
I'm not sure if blind is the right kind of word here. As far as I'm concerned, people are set in their ways for the most part. The lines seem to have been drawn long before I was even active on doomworld to begin with, so at this point it seems like arguing with a concrete wall when there's someone talking down on a genre which they themselves have no actual understanding of. In my case getting involved in these arguments is as tempting as it is futile, I guess, but I suppose it's a guilty pleasure of mine. :wink:
Q: I saw that discussion in Suitepee’s channel (when he was dying horribly to Obsidian Nightmare) between benjo and zzul about “illegitimate difficulty.” What was going on there?
I dunno what was going on there, but any sort of problem that displays a consistent enough behaviour so that people can adjust their play accordingly straight away, or on a later attempt is legitimate in my opinion.
Q: How separable is difficulty from slaughter? If the map is technically a slaughter map, is it at base at least somehow difficult, perhaps in a way that is inaccessible to some players? Or is it then simply a stylistic preference.
The one thing that I always thought distinguished players who can beat slaughtermaps from those who cannot is a deeper, broader and thus more flexible skillset. Slaughter can be really easy. Sets like Rush or newgothic movement 2 make that pretty clear in my opinion, but the maps oftentimes demand a set of skills that is vastly different from the "gameplay routines" that you develop when you play iWADs exclusively, for example.
Difficulty is subjective and when you are lacking the "tools", you may find maps impossible to beat ...and therefore deem them "hard". "To get the goods, you gotta have the goods". Or basically speaking: You need a mindset that allows you to adapt to a particular kind of "problem", and that's what keeps some people out of the genre, or inside it, for that matter. Required skills in execution aside, slaughter is the thinking man's game.
Q: How do we best go about garnering more interest in the genre from prospective players?
Aside of "tutorials" explaining basic things like movement patterns, the only thing that I can see bearing fruit in the long run would be "entry level" type slaughter maps that aren't too big (no longer than 15 minutes tops), so that people can get into the jam of beating slaughtermaps in one fell swoop, ideally saveless, of course.
While not being what I would call "necessary" per se, it sure would be desirable to allow players to have at least a taste of what the genre really entails, on one hand to minimize the most common misconceptions that still exist today, and on the other to maybe make the mapping scene a bit less "divided" and more vibrant.
Q: Do you see the focus within slaughter mapping circles shifting in any significant way in the coming months or years?
Hard to tell what's going to happen in the long run, but I could definitely see more slaughter/challenge "hybrids" being made.
Q: What are you mainly critical of in deciding whether a new slaughter map is to your liking?
Greatly depends on my mood, but all things considered I'm not a fan of unnecessarily long grinds when there's next to no actual finesse required. That's part of why I'm not too fond of certain maps in Sunder, however legendary it may be. One of the maps would be the "hag's finger" which some pretty meaty stuff going on that I can't seem to make a lot of sense of to be honest. Pacing sure is important for me personally, visuals maybe not so much.