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esselfortium
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I recently started toying around a bit with making some little mapping tips in visual form, in response to people asking me for suggestions or advice on their maps, and I figured you guys could probably find them useful as well! I'll periodically update this thread when I either feel like writing something new for it or if I end up writing something elsewhere that I feel would be useful enough to crosspost here.

Table of Contents
- Realistic Alignment, Part 1 (no link required, it's at the bottom of this very post!)
- Bordering (mini-tip)
- Wall Supports (and Bumping Into Stuff)
- Realistic Alignment, Part 2: What is Autoalign Abuse?
- How to Make Foolproof Monster Teleports in Boom
- On "Detailing," or General Visual Design and Arrangement
- Getting Started with Natural Terrain Using Triangle Slopes
- ...

Tip 1: Realistic Alignment, Part 1
http://essel.spork-chan.net/gfx/mappingtips/cutoff-demo.png
I think this one should be somewhat self-explanatory, but the general idea is to treat your map's textures as if they are actual, physical materials, rather than painted wallpaper. This is a mistake I see in a lot of levels, even some made by experienced mappers.

On the right side, the ceiling height of the GSTONE overhang causes the bricks to be vertically cut off midway, looking very unnatural and unrealistic. On the left, the ceiling height is set to a height where one row ends, so that it looks convincingly like you have three rows of bricks making up the ceiling above you. Admittedly, GSTONE is a very oddly-sized texture, and the bricks' uneven heights can make it difficult to work with, but the increased realism is worth the bit of extra hassle.

STARTAN, seen on the far wall, is another common victim of wallpaper-style alignment. On the left, the lights and computer are set up both horizontally and vertically to be built into and around the STAR panels. In addition, the ceiling and floor height are set up so that it is not cut off mid-panel by the floor. (See where this is going?) On the right side, it's improperly cut off both horizontally and vertically, by the wall light, by the computer, and by the floor. Even though the light and computer are built at even heights and their sizes are correct for the computer and light textures, they don't match correctly with the STAR panel sizes and cause odd cutoffs.

More to come!

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Last edited by esselfortium on 12-30-11 at 06:48

Old Post 09-03-08 02:09 #
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Csonicgo


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You know computer terminals that don't have lit screens always bother me sometimes in modern port wads.....

*runs like hell*

But seriously, Essel is doing us a service by pointing these out. Essel is one of the best Doom Interior Designers I know.

I hope he touches on lighting-- what looks realistic and what doesn't. Lighting can be very effective if used convincingly and with large contrast, but I never could get it right. :(

Old Post 09-03-08 02:14 #
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esselfortium
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Csonicgo said:
You know computer terminals that don't have lit screens always bother me sometimes in modern port wads.....

*runs like hell*


banned forever

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Old Post 09-03-08 02:14 #
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Use3D
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Eh I don't know. Cutting textures pefectly is fine and all but it could lead to cookie-cutter maps with no experimentation or interesting texturing.

YOUR GSTONE BLOCKS ARE CUTTING INTO THE FLOOR, FAIL. Just seems like attention could be going elsewhere into map design.
Like EarthQuake or somebody recently told a noob to retexture his map so everything looked to be made of the same material. Yeah, again that's okay, but it also looked fine the way it was. There's no reason why a metal stair couldn't have another material on its surface. Just seems misdirected sometimes.

Old Post 09-03-08 02:37 #
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esselfortium
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/me sighs

I can't win.

All I'm trying to do is make some (hopefully) helpful guidelines and suggestions based on what I've observed, and based on the things I keep in mind when mapping.

I'm not telling anyone to take this as gospel. There are always differing opinions, new ideas, and areas that are effectively impossible to fit every texture in perfectly. Doom mapping is not an exact science, and that's part of what's fun about it. I'm not trying to take that away.

Experimentation is great; I love experimenting with architecture and trying to do things I haven't done before. As far as visuals go, if it looks good, it is good. I'm just pointing out some things that a lot of people seem to overlook that can help in that department.

And as for having to retexture a map to make floors and walls out of the same material, there is a very simple answer to the problem of matching textures and flats: borders! I'm probably not going to make a full-fledged post out of this because I don't want it to turn into Torm's Detail Guide 2.0, but [basic staircase], [bordered staircase], [more interestingly-styled bordered staircase]. See? It's very possible to match textures and flats without inhibiting experimentation or infringing on visual contrast.

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Last edited by esselfortium on 12-30-11 at 06:50

Old Post 09-03-08 03:13 #
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Use3D
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esselfortium said:
/me sighs

I can't win.



But you already have, you've won my heart. <3

Old Post 09-03-08 03:24 #
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esselfortium
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Use3D said:


But you already have, you've won my heart. <3


<3 <3 <333

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Old Post 09-03-08 03:25 #
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Death-Destiny
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I don't know about that one, Essel. IMO, I prefer to cut off my GSTONE and SP_HOT walls in what this demonstration considers to be "unnatural" places. I like to use STARTAN the same as here though. =) I tend not to really give advice on aesthetics because they can't be right or wrong, IMO (I never comment on texture choice and such when giving input on maps). I'm sure there are people who think STARTAN looks better in the right side than on the left side. I guess I just don't like classifying subjective qualities as being right or wrong.

That said, keep going with these demonstrations. I imagine that you'll share a number of neat little points with us. I'd be cool if in one of these I'm like "Hey, that's a cool idea. I might want to try that out in the future." In the end, this thread will become a place for people to come when they're looking to get some inspiration for a neat aesthetic idea. =)

Old Post 09-03-08 03:37 #
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alien8
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Yes, please keep these up. For whatever reason, I find the insights of accomplished mappers to be fascinating. I've pored over Tormentor's guides to 2.5D mapping and refer to them often.

Old Post 09-03-08 04:21 #
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Tango
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alien8 said:
I've pored over Tormentor's guides to 2.5D mapping and refer to them often.


no no no no no no do not do that. Referring to Torm's detail guides often will lead you to map like a robot that knows nothing more than borders and uh, borders. :( Torm's guide is good to get you started but once you read it once and you're past 1994-looking maps, don't ever think about it again. Instead, I recommend frequently opening the maps of some accomplished mappers, like Erik Alm, essel, Vader, etc. Other's people's work is a much better reference than Torm's detail guide.

Old Post 09-03-08 04:27 #
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Butts
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Torm's guide is to make your map look less like ass. Essel's guide is a guide to being really anal and nitpicky about everything and striving for perfection (which is definitely not a bad thing at all) as I'm pretty much the same way. until i get fucking pumped up like right now why am i here i should be asleep but i wanna fuckin punch something hella hard and blow up a cat. damn if i could only get pumped like this for school....

Old Post 09-03-08 05:54 #
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printz
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Butts said:
... ass ... anal ...
Is that why are you nicknamed Butts? Besides, don't post while drunk.

Still, IRL, people do cut bathroom tiles. Similarly we can imagine that demons cut the GSTONES and SP_HOTS. Not to forget that STONE2, STONE3 and STONGARG are by default half-cut at the top and the bottom.

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Old Post 09-03-08 09:18 #
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GreyGhost
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esselfortium said:
Tip 1: Realistic Alignment, Part 1
http://sl4.poned.com/cutoff-demo.png

Makes sense to me for masonry textures like GSTONE which look like they're hewn from stone, though it also depends on the context in which their used. In a techbase map masonry textures are more likely to be tiling than structural elements so more liberties can be taken with their size and shape.

more to come
Keep them coming - even if only to spark debate about mapping practices they'll have served a purpose.

Old Post 09-03-08 11:23 #
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You guys can piss around and talk about "well in real life tiles can be cut..." blah blah, but the point is, recessing consoles/objects in walls with regard to their unique texture shape and size makes for better aesthetics.

Old Post 09-03-08 13:17 #
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printz
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My approach is closer to id's own: different flat textures imply different heights, wall textures have to be separated by SUPPORTs, keep most of it at multiples of eight.

But keep it up Essel, maybe even write an uploadable document of it (or on your page, of course). Looking up some of known mappers' techniques ain't bad.

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Old Post 09-03-08 15:33 #
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Haloless0320
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alien8 said:
Yes, please keep these up. For whatever reason, I find the insights of accomplished mappers to be fascinating. I've pored over Tormentor's guides to 2.5D mapping and refer to them often.


I agree,I love getting advice from seasoned wad authors.That way I can take that advice and apply it to my own maps.

Old Post 09-03-08 16:39 #
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magicsofa
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Butts said:
...ass...anal...perfection... fucking ... hard ... blow ... school....



Even though I've seen real life bricks cut at some quite awkward angles just to fit into things, it does look nice to have textures line up with the map geometry.

Lighting is definitely a topic to touch on. I usually come upon an "environmental light level" early in mapping. I also usually like to make outside areas, so this tends to be the brightness of the open sky. Then as you go deeper into buildings or caves or whatever, it begins to darken. Once it gets dark enough so things are hard to see, you start putting in light sources and make sure they cast neat shadows :D

Old Post 09-03-08 16:54 #
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esselfortium
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Tip 2: Wall Supports (and Bumping Into Stuff)
http://essel.spork-chan.net/gfx/mappingtips/arch-tutorial.png
One of the common complaints I've heard about detailing is that it can make a map cramped and inhibit gameplay. In reality, this really depends on how the detailing is actually done, and how careful the map author is to keep gameplay in mind while building it.

In this example, we have two simple support arches. They both go across the ceiling, and comes down on the walls.

The example on the right juts out of the wall 8 units (or 16, or however thick it is), and is an example of detailing that hurts gameplay. Players can easily bump into it or get stuck on it while running down the hall, strafing, or backing up during combat.

There is an easy way to prevent this issue, without sacrificing the structural integrity of your support arch. The example on the left is still the same thickness on the walls and on the ceiling, so that it could conceivably be one solid continuous structure, but with the difference being that the walls curve outwards into the void the same amount as the thickness of the arch. This way, the arch will still look completely solid ingame, but it will behave as a simple flat wall.

Ingame, the arch on the left will look something like this:
http://essel.spork-chan.net/gfx/mappingtips/arch-screenshot.png

Impassible lines can also be used to prevent players from getting caught on wall details (and I highly recommend doing this with any wall computers or switches that players can unintentionally walk up into without needing to jump or crouch), but I prefer this method for use with thin arches.

Bigger, thicker arches are more likely to be considered as more of a "doorway" to go through than an annoying small detail to get stuck on,and are probably less likely to need this type of treatment, as long as there's enough space to move inside and around them.

edit: in b4 "i prefer my arches 17 units wide and 3 units tall, screw you essel"

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Last edited by esselfortium on 12-30-11 at 06:51

Old Post 09-03-08 17:40 #
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John Smith
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i prefer my arches 17 units wide and 3 uni-- oshi.

Seriously people, read this, and apply it. Essel is a damn awesome mapper, and he certainly knows how to make things look good and not like shit. If I were a Doom mapper I'd be hitting him up for advice all the time.

Old Post 09-03-08 17:46 #
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Haloless0320
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I shall apply this useful knowledge to my Atherius wad.

Old Post 09-03-08 18:16 #
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Vader
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Good stuff here essel, keep it up!

Hiding support beams in the wall of some sort, like you described above is actually a good idea... I wonder why I haven't thought of this before. I usually use impassable lines for stuff like this!

Old Post 09-03-08 18:39 #
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This is some useful information. Thank you.

Old Post 09-03-08 18:57 #
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Bucket
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I'm sorry to say, that recessed support looks like doodoocaca.

Old Post 09-03-08 19:23 #
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Death-Destiny
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I agree with you completely, Essel. Keep sharing your ideas with us. =D

[Edit]Still, I prefer my arches 17 units wide and 3 units tall, nonetheless. ;-P[/Edit]

Last edited by Death-Destiny on 09-03-08 at 20:31

Old Post 09-03-08 20:19 #
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printz
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I work around it another way: for the rectangular arches, I move the outer vertices a bit away, to create something like this:
code:
----------x x---------- \ / \ / x---x | | | | | | | | | | x---x / \ / \ ----------x x----------
This bears two advantages over the run-of-the-mill arch-type:

1) the player will be able to slide through,
2) the arch will look thicker at margins, giving it a consolidated look.

EDIT: Though with further test, this DOES limit the player's ability tu run somewhat (you can't slide them while already sliding the wall), they are still better than the orthogonal arches. Then again, you can increase the angles as much as you want. You can call these angled arches. ;)


Bucket said:
I'm sorry to say, that recessed support looks like doodoocaca.
I'll assume you're not being sarcastic. Not that I support your pov, but because of the tone and lack of gag speech.

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Last edited by printz on 09-03-08 at 20:50

Old Post 09-03-08 20:41 #
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Enjay
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I'd say that the recessed arch thing is also a case of context. In a run and gun fast moving map, or a free flowing DM you need to be able to move as freely as possible. In other maps where slower, more creeping gameplay is desirable I see nothing wrong with the arch sticking out and, in fact, it could be used for cover.

Old Post 09-03-08 20:56 #
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esselfortium
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Enjay said:
I'd say that the recessed arch thing is also a case of context. In a run and gun fast moving map, or a free flowing DM you need to be able to move as freely as possible. In other maps where slower, more creeping gameplay is desirable I see nothing wrong with the arch sticking out and, in fact, it could be used for cover.

Right. Like I said in an earlier post, none of this is an exact science, and these are just some general tips and guidelines. I don't profess to know everything about every situation, especially not in a one-size-fits-all form.

With that said, though, I would imagine that typically arches that are made to be used for cover would be a bit thicker than 8 units.

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Old Post 09-03-08 21:04 #
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Dutch Doomer
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When are you going to post something I don't know allready :p its interesting stuff keep it coming.

Old Post 09-03-08 22:00 #
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esselfortium
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dutch devil said:
When are you going to post something I don't know allready :p its interesting stuff keep it coming.

Scuba Steve has two left feet.

Bet you didn't know that.







...


I don't actually know that either though :(

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Old Post 09-03-08 22:05 #
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esselfortium
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Tip 3: Realistic Alignment, Part 2: What is Autoalign Abuse?
This tip is something I was thinking of mentioning in Tip 1, but I decided it'd be worth having its own article...

If you're following the guidelines of tip 1 and trying to align your textures realistically, you will eventually come across the issue of using textures on oddly-sized lines. Thankfully, the answer is not to limit your mapping to straight lines on the 64x64 grid. Not even close.

So let's say I've got this little elbow-shaped room here, textured with TEKGREN paneling, and with a COMPSTA computer panel on each side:
http://essel.spork-chan.net/gfx/mappingtips/autoalign-db-brok.png
http://essel.spork-chan.net/gfx/mappingtips/autoalign-brok1.jpg
I haven't done any alignment yet, but right now everything looks perfectly aligned except for that diagonal wall in the middle.

So let's just autoalign it...
http://essel.spork-chan.net/gfx/mappingtips/autoalign-brok2.jpg
Argh, that's even worse! Now all the panels to the right of the diagonal wall are wrapped around corners or cut into like wallpaper!

The trick to correctly aligning this room is to split the diagonal line into several smaller lines, and manually aligning them to stretch or squeeze the panels so that they fit the wall correctly.
http://essel.spork-chan.net/gfx/mappingtips/autoalign-db-fix.png

You can either set it up with two skinny panels like this,
http://essel.spork-chan.net/gfx/mappingtips/autoalign-fix1.jpg
or with one wide panel like this:
http://essel.spork-chan.net/gfx/mappingtips/autoalign-fix2.jpg
Either way is correct; it's just a matter of what looks best to you on that particular size and shape of wall. Of course, for longer walls you would add more vertices to split them into more than two panels.

If you want to do a bit of math, you can figure out how many lines to split your wall into by looking at the odd-sized wall with no alignment, counting the number of panels you can see (rounding up or down to the nearest, so that if you see most of a panel, you'd include it, but if you can only see a bit of it, you wouldn't), and then split the wall into that number * 2 lines. I generally then do the manual alignment in 3D mode, but you could also use some basic math to figure that out if you prefer doing it that way.

This same technique can also be used on STARTAN, METAL2, BRONZE, PANEL, and any other textures that are composed of outlined panel shapes, and can be applied to other uses, such as fitting a 16- or 32-wide ceiling light into a TEKGREN wall and cutting the panels around it to fit.

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Last edited by esselfortium on 12-30-11 at 06:52

Old Post 09-03-08 22:51 #
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