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RetroNova10

Post Your Mapping Tips

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Posted (edited)

Give one (or more) useful tip for DOOM mapping! This can be relating to level design, common mistakes, workspace improvements, etc. This is intended to help newcomers as well as experienced mappers who can maybe learn something new. I'll start!

 

Playtest your map frequently.

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Make your map bigger than you think it should be. You can always downsize a map easily but upscaling isn't as easy.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, YukiRaven said:

Unless you have a good reason (rugs, spilled liquids, etc), don't change floor/ceiling/wall textures without changing something else as well.  Change the height/depth or something so that you have a visible seam there.  Or use an actual seam-like texture at the transition point.  Otherwise it looks funky and rushed.

 

I never even thought of this! I'll definitely be keeping this in mind - I'm sure it'll also "accidentally" make my maps more vertically varied (more steps and such). I'll post another:

 

All secrets should (in most cases) have some kind of cue showing that it's a secret, such as:

  • Different texture (such as cracked or covered in dirt/sludge)
  • Different lighting
  • Flickering/strobing
  • Switch/demon face
Edited by RetroNova10

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57 minutes ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

 

 Keep the use of doors and hallways at a necessary minimum

 

That's reassuring, because making doors in Doom, let alone in UDMF, is already a bit tedious.

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20 minutes ago, printz said:

That's reassuring, because making doors in Doom, let alone in UDMF, is already a bit tedious.

Just curious, why do you think it's tedious?

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Because I need to draw thin sectors (door and niches), adjust the ceilings correctly, unpeg the doortracks and other stuff, such as deciding the niche height. UDMF is worse because I have to set args too.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, printz said:

Because I need to draw thin sectors (door and niches), adjust the ceilings correctly, unpeg the doortracks and other stuff, such as deciding the niche height. UDMF is worse because I have to set args too.

huh, guess I just never noticed what all is involved.  I always draw three sectors, two 24-wide ones for the frame and one 16-wide one for the door itself.  Then It's just a matter of assigning the linedefs type 12 (or 11) and hitting tab/up-down/space a few times.  The rest I do in 3D mode.  I could just be very used to it after doing it for so many years, though (since '95).

 

 

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Gzdoombuilder even has a button to instantly convert a sector into a door (does everything instantly including linedef actions, ceiling height and doortraks, using preselected textures) 

door.JPG.e05620b1391d87bbcc7b9eafad4886e3.JPG

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Never underestimate the power of contrasting light levels.

 

Compare this hallway from DTWID (E2M4) with light variation:

 

Spoiler

contrast-light-1.jpg.55b5ad9123eef932f1a0d2840c7277dd.jpgcontrast-light-2.jpg.2923581ca8ef6d1ddeb47c3403a4a191.jpg

 

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Research available textures before laying out the level. What texture you have at your disposal and how you are able to work & like them will greatly affect what you'll be able to do successfully with geometry. Make some simple test rooms doing quick tests to see how the textures you're interested in light at different angles & brightnesses, as well as what companion- or complimentary- textures they might have available to build a strong theme. A more in-depth approach to this is to consider palette changes, even making your own textures, before embarking on geometry.

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I'm still a mapping n00b but here are things I've found helpful:

 

1. "X meets Y" ideas are great for brainstorming. Pick two contrasting maps/authors/themes/setups that you enjoy or find interesting, then try to combine them into a single map. Most of my maps have had some version of this in their conception: mouldy meets franckFrag, mouldy meets Lainos, a Sandy city map gone medieval, Brotherhood of Ruin if it was done by dobu, etc. 

 

2. The distinction between visuals and gameplay is actually pretty artificial. There are of course maps that look pretty and play poorly. But most "ugly but fun" maps actually have strong (if not conventionally pleasing) visuals. The appearance of a level usually tells players a lot about how they can traverse spaces, what kind of encounters to expect, and what they should want (weapons, key, exit, etc.)--all stuff that is pretty relevant to combat. So while not every map needs to approach Viggles' or Lutz's standards of detail and polish, it rarely works out to approach a map with the attitude of "I'll make something fun and worry about how it looks later."

 

3. Written comments are great, but there's no substitute for seeing someone play your map.

 

4. Accept that your map isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. Look at reviews of any classic map or IWAD map and you'll find someone who didn't have fun with it. So take people's feedback seriously but don't dilute your fundamental point of view; you only really have a style when you have a way of doing things that some people don't like.

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To those who starts mapping first time!


Add windows, balconies, interconnections to spice up map design. Player must see what he is striving for. As example red key not just hidden in closet, but are visible through windows/cages, and player must find another way to reach it.

Also hide monsters between crates, behind corners/columns and in unexpectable places (not just in front of player's face). Roaming monsters is always interesting, so map layouts can be made to help enemies to do that. It is better to put flying monsters somewhere behind the cliffs or behind sector objects, so they are can fly over and create nice effect.

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Posted (edited)

Im not a prolific mapper myself, but i can share some mapping tips i use in my own maps

-Test, test and test. One big mistake (that i tend to make time from time) it's designing a cool layout and some monster placement without properly testing it, only to realize later that things weren't working as they were supposed to, always test any new room you make to see how it interacts with the rest of the map.
-You should avoid making a linear map unless this is your intention in the first place (such as a boss map, or a short entry map). A more dynamic layout with lots of places to explore makes a more interesting map, a thing i do sometimes in my maps it's to design the level flow "in circles" (Making a path from point A, that eventually leads back to point A) avoiding dead ends if posible. This is more of personal preference of mine, but the best thing you can do to improve your layout it's to study the one of some of the best community maps
-Always keep a consistent look for your map with the textures, but don't overuse them, try to use diferent texture combos in diferent rooms and areas to make a more distinctive look, and make things interesting

-Traps can help keep things interesting in your map and work great to manage your monster encounters, but always keep in mind that the player has to react to them properly to deal with them, if you ignore this and make cheap traps, your map is gonna be frustrating and not fun to play
-Avoid putting switches in your map that have an effect in another room. If you're putting a switch that opens a door or moves a platform, it's generally a good idea to put them in a way the player can see what happened after pressing the switch. Be creative about the way you present this.

Some are personal preferences of mine, so don't take them as established design choices, the best tip i can give it's to play more maps from the community and study them in terms of layout and placement, it will help in the long run


 

Edited by DMPhobos : typo

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As others have said, test your map constantly, and become comfortable with the hotkey combination ctrl+S.

Nonlinear maps are good, but that said, linear maps can be good, too, if they're executed well and there's still some room to explore.

Don't be intimidated by UDMF. It has a ton of features, but it also offers maximum control over every little thing. This one goes more for experienced mappers.

As DMPhobos said, stay consistent with visuals, but feel free to mix it up. Use transition areas to move into a new appearance smoothly.

Interconnection is good, most of the time.

Doors are generally less good, and I'm guilty of using them a little too much myself.

One thing I tend to do when testing a map is attempt to imagine as many ways to break or go against the map as possible and fix what I don't like.

 

3 hours ago, Big Ol Billy said:

Accept that your map isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. Look at reviews of any classic map or IWAD map and you'll find someone who didn't have fun with it. So take people's feedback seriously but don't dilute your fundamental point of view; you only really have a style when you have a way of doing things that some people don't like.

And this. This is probably the biggest one.

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Posted (edited)

*Don't force players to cross large damage sectors without suit, It's cheap.

 

*Don't forget to detail your levels, make 'em look like actual locations and not just texture boxes, check out some of the popular maps on an editor and it should give you a basic idea on how this is done

 

*Don't make terry wads.

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Posted (edited)

Most of what I would say echoes what has already been said. To add to the list:

 

  • Save often. Nothing stings like putting a lot of work into a map and then having everything crash and lose all that work, regardless of whether you can replicate it.

 

  • Start with a plan. If you have an idea of what you want to make, the final result will be more cohesive than if you just sit down and start drawing linedefs. Whether that plans is a sheet of graph paper with a drawing of the map, a dry erase board with a list of objectives, or a scrap of napkin that you scribbled notes on in a moment of inspiration, is up to you.

 

  • If you have a switch (or similar), try to have the effect within sight of the player. If the switch activates something in another room, have a window (or something) through which the player can see the action (door opens, platform rises, light comes on, etc.).

 

  • Doors are not automatically bad, but must be used appropriately. Doors are useful for controlling flow into areas that you want to keep players out of (such as with keys or switches) or for controlling the flow of sound and monsters (whether wandering monsters or traps). Just don't over-do lock-ins, have doors at the end of every room/corridor, or allow players to use doors as camping opportunities.

 

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As far as doors go: Make use of doors that stay open, rather than the repeatable ones that keep closing. Of course there are reasons to use the latter, but single use doors are better for both player and monster movement throughout the map. 

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Make maps that you would enjoy playing  (you're going to be playtesting it a lot so you might as well enjoy the experience)

 

Learn the editor of your choice; the time spent up front becoming familiar with the tools, will save you time down the road. 

 

Save often and have multiple save locations once you've put in enough effort (this could be size of file, hours put into the level, whatever you determine to be too much to lose).  (hard drive, thumb drive, and dropbox are my recommendations)   

 

Enjoy the process as much as possible

 

 

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On 5/15/2018 at 7:29 PM, DMPhobos said:

Avoid putting switches in your map that have an effect in another room

I'd say that's no problem if the switch is permanent, optional and revealing interesting secrets. See Doom 1 maps such as E2M5 and E2M7 with really remote switches.

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I find it helpful to write ideas for encounters, write a rough draft of level progression, and sketch map layouts on paper. 

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4 hours ago, whirledtsar said:

I find it helpful to write ideas for encounters, write a rough draft of level progression, and sketch map layouts on paper. 

Perhaps this is useful:

 

On 5/15/2018 at 10:26 AM, YukiRaven said:

"advice"

A good one. I find this cool tho (from a wip in another project, not by me):

so8hF36.png

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6 minutes ago, Catpho said:

A good one. I find this cool tho (from a wip in another project, not by me):

so8hF36.png

A good example of why I also said, "Unless you have a good reason (rugs, spilled liquids, etc)..." ;)

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58 minutes ago, Catpho said:

so8hF36.png


My mapper OCD really want's to raise that brick floor so bad

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Tips for new mappers on how to make annoyingly bumpy floors; yay!

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