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Lippeth
Junior Member


Posts: 157
Registered: 10-12


I tend to make one area at a time and more often than not, fail to conceptualize the bigger picture of a map. What are some methods, rituals, or protocol you might start with to kick off a nice, big fluid map using all keys, taking at least ten minutes to complete after it's done? Or is it purely creative thinking every time? I normally start with one room and build off of that, but I end up with only one really cool room with a bunch of other areas surrounding it, resulting in simple puzzles.

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Old Post 12-21-12 20:42 #
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Vorpal
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Posts: 342
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I find that there is a profound paradox in this. I and many others also struggle with "ok cool room done, now what?" - which leads to unplanned, patchwork, sprawl of rooms as if vomitted out by the brain, or perhaps a feeling of paralysis where you dont know what to add or how to proceed.

The paradox for me, is when I remedy this behavior by planning a map out. It could be very detailed, or very rough, but still the end result is usually me feeling bored once I get to the map editor, because it feels like I'm just reproducing a copy instead of creating something new. So planning on paper also tends to lead to a sense of paralysis.

An idea I had just now while writing this is, maybe write out in words what your plan is. That way, your (well... my) mind might not get bored when it comes to the map editor part.

Old Post 12-21-12 21:09 #
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gemini09
Senior Member


Posts: 1102
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I keep a text file that I write down notes and ideas in. The rest is in my mighty brain - look how unmodest it is..

I start with a room too. These days I prefer to start outdoors, and texture the terrain and sky, and then make the buildings. Before this, I start with a texture pack :]

As for mapping, I just make sure I'm in a jolly mood.

Old Post 12-21-12 21:43 #
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Lippeth
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Posts: 157
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I only seem to find boredom with no production. I actually really like your idea of mapping it out first, I'm assuming on graph paper with an extra page of side notes explaining lifts and secret passages, or something to that extent.

Old Post 12-21-12 21:45 #
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Obsidian
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Posts: 2021
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I try make the player revisit earlier parts of the map when I make maps nowdays. I've noticed that I always seem to start with a room as well, but I'm getting better at non-linearity so it isn't too much of a problem.

Old Post 12-21-12 22:14 #
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Lippeth
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Obsidian said:
I'm getting better at non-linearity so it isn't too much of a problem.


So you're saying that it should just get easier with good ol' time and dedication? I can live with that. I am still going to buy some graph paper today and see if I can't mark down a few tricks and traps.

Old Post 12-21-12 22:22 #
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Obsidian
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Lippeth said:


So you're saying that it should just get easier with good ol' time and dedication? I can live with that. I am still going to buy some graph paper today and see if I can't mark down a few tricks and traps.



I went through a few phases where I was struggling for good ideas, but nowdays the maps come fairly easily. Speedmaps are a good exercise: I made a couple of 30-min maps for a project and that helped quite a bit. I haven't tried drawing my maps beforehand though, I might give it a go.

Old Post 12-21-12 22:39 #
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wesleyjohnson
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Posts: 935
Registered: 04-09


Do not start with a room.

1. Decide why this area was built, and what activity is taking place now. Call this the theme of the level map.
2. Some relationship between three or more areas (each which may have three or more rooms). This defines the play of the level map and determines where the keys would be found.
3. Rough out the player sequence through the areas, which will have a mandatory sequence, and which can be visited freely.
This determines where the locked doors are needed.
3. Rough out the distance and size of each of areas needed to support.
This where you can start mapping.
4. Fix contrived and forced lines of play for the level. Add alternative paths for getting to special areas. They may be more difficult, require more ammo, or have some other disadvantage, but they are a choice and the player needs to figure out which is the best play path.
5. Encourage multiple trips through the areas by adopting several of the following:
a. Some area useful later as well as when clearing the immediate area of the initial monsters.
b. Closet of ammo. Much more than can be carried, and not much any where else. They come back for more ammo.
c. Medical center. They come back for health boosts.
d. A transportation or passageway nexus. Too many levels contrive a key locked door that seems plopped down in the most inconvenient area just to annoy the player the most. Make the nexus a major design element and then make use of it how best fits.
e. Control center (a somewhat overused idea) where the keys are applied to unlock areas.

6. Review, revise, and re-edit over several months (or years).
a. add new ideas, details, and complexity. The first draw is always too simple and bare. There needs to be more clutter, and that takes time and many re-visits.
b. fix rendering errors
c. remove rooms that did not work out. (this is really necessary as every design has some idea that does not quite work).
d. fix the lighting. adjust the relative lighting to achieve visible darker areas and shadowing (provides contrast).

Old Post 12-22-12 04:23 #
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ReX
Senior Member


Posts: 1743
Registered: 05-00


wesleyjohnson did a good summary. I'll add a couple of things:

1. Once you've decided on the theme of the map, draw a schematic of your map. This will allow you to identify the paths, interconnectivity, and "transfer points". You'll find that you may need to tweak and modify these during the mapping process, but starting with a general plan will minimize the probability of "mapper's block".

2. Sometimes, it's better to start with the exit area. In that way you'll already know what your destination is, and it'll be easier to map out a path to the destination, identify the obstacles, and figure out what to make optional and what to make mandatory.

Old Post 12-22-12 13:35 #
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Egregor
Junior Member


Posts: 167
Registered: 11-12


I draw out 5 zones. Zones are either a big concept room, or a series of smaller inter-related rooms.
A: The starting zone
B: The zone with the 1st key
C: The zone behind the first locked door w the second key
D: The zone behind the second locked door w the third key
E: The zone behind the third locked door w the exit

Here are some examples:

___C_____C.A.E
___._______.
_D.A.E_____B
___._______.
___B_______D

Keep in mind that sometimes these zones just need to make the keys accessible, meaning they could lead to a switch with a window allowing you to see that once inaccessible key in the last zone become accessible. That, as oppose to actually having the keys IN the new zone.

-Also, zones can have multiple, though still locked, entrances.

-Give each zone its own concept/structural/textural approach to keep things fresh and exciting.

-I often think of height in level design via: ground level/low level/high level. Because of gravity high level is more out of reach and should have more desirable things/destinations while the low level should tend to be more punishing/less desirable.

Old Post 12-22-12 17:37 #
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