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Post Your Mapping Tips

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6 hours ago, Catpho said:



6 hours ago, YukiRaven said:

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


5 hours ago, DMPhobos said:

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


2 hours ago, Fonze said:

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


  • The brick floor doesn't necessarily have to be raised. I'm sure we've all seen well-done brick walkways that were essentially at the same level as the surrounding ground.
    • Of course, if the path is meant to be broken/damaged/incomplete, then it does look odd if it's not a different height. See YukiRaven's comments.


  • I tested out changing the height of a series of sectors by 1, 2, 4, and 8 units.
    • All of them created an obvious visual distinction between the raised section and the ground.
    • 8 was created an obvious bump and 4 was slightly noticeable. However, the bumpiness from 1 and 2 unit height increases, to me, seemed essentially impercetible.
    • So, if you wanted to make a raised section (rug, spill, partially tiled floor, etc.), just raise them by 1 or 2 units and it shouldn't be annoyingly bumpy.

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I would agree with the above. If you're only dealing with two floor heights (i.e. not multiple steps up or down in quick succession), then 8 units is usually not a problem, 4 is barely perceptible at Doomguy speeds, and 2 might as well be a flat floor as far as camera movement is concerned.


Another way to avoid bumpy floors is to make a fake floor, if possible, so that you can see the floor detailing but the actual ground level is completely flat. This happens a lot in Sunlust.

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As said before in this thread, avoid doors at all costs, they are obnoxious, easily cheesed and easily campable if used as a chokepoint.
Design your rooms around the combat contained within them, not designing combat around prebuilt rooms. 

Always try and keep threat coming from multiple directions at it makes for interesting gameplay.
Ignore any and all posts regarding "omg dont do this", thats just the specific person voicing an opinion about things they themselves dont like. If you want bumpy floors, make bumpy floors. (this includes the door comment from me above btw, you do you... if you want a map full of doors then do it!)
Avoid preconceived notions about what makes a map "good", and simply experiment with what you want to do. Always try and implement one new feature/trick you recently learned about in each new map you make.. so 242 sectors in one map, silent TPs the next map, voodoo lighting tricks on the next and so on
Above all... enjoy yourself. If mapping ceases to be fun or enjoyable in any way its a pointless exercise.

Lastly, playtest playtest playtest! If you find it fun/enjoyable, chances are other people will too. If you have a dedicated team of playtesters then its even better as you get a broader spectrum of opinion to work with :)

Edited by bemused : adding points i thought about after posting :P

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Some additional examples of floor stuff (all from Counterattack m31, a map I was looking at now for other reasons): 









No height change, works easily because it's a border scheme. 







No height change -- the impression of two 3D objects adjacent to one another is already strong enough. And it actually looks worse slightly raised, even without considering the other stuff in the scene the changed height would interfere with. 





This is the tile-based design that has been hit upon earlier. 


So in the spirit of this post, my rule would be: Know the rules, but know them well enough to know when you can break them. 

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For anyone just starting, I'd say the most important thing is to work on making a single good encounter. If you have a map of great fights put together poorly, it will still be decent. If the fights themselves aren't fun then any time spent in them is a net minus, so unless you have great exploration bits it will probably end poorly.


Once you can make a good encounter, think about how you arrange the them. You want things to generally get harder, so that the big finale is also the toughest fight, but at the same time you want to have some breathers in a longer level - either exploration or just a fight that's not quite as hard.


This is also how you build a specific mood. For example, if you have a really tough fight that leaves the player low on health, you can create tension by adding relatively low-key exploration in gloomy areas. The further they go, the tenser it gets, wondering where the health/whatever is and if the hammer will drop. The player knows that the farther they stray from 'cleared' territory, the harder the fight back could be.


On the other hand if you rarely stage encounters and use open layouts, you can build a mood of either wonder, if the map is strange or visually impressive and the encounters are laid back, or slow-burn pressure if the wandering bands are hard enough to keep threatening you. The former is the Doom 1 style, with E1M7 and E3M6 being good examples. A really good recent example of the latter is Cannonball's Demonic Deviations Map 02, where the movement of cacos and revenants will force you to alter your plans until you can scrape together the supplies to win.


The other part of this is that to keep the player on their toes, you need to strive not to repeat yourself. If every single item springs an ambush, it's predictable. Likewise, if every encounter uses the same major threat it gets old, one of the reason chaingunners elicit groans when poorly used. On the other hand if you throw in a couple sniper chaingunners that seem like the target, but the real threat is the horde of demons/cacos that will block you from reaching open terrain, it serves as a great fake - here the chaingunners can actually distract part of the horde if you use them.


The problem is that you quickly run out of truly unique encounters. The trick is the old saying, "history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." You can do something that twists a previous idea just enough that it seems fresh. In the previous demon rush example, now the player will be looking for ambushes where the chaingunners are the threat and ones where a mass of enemies will block them off. So to get a third encounter out of the same setup, you make the chaingunners the main threat, but put an invisibility in a harder-to-reach area that requires your best demon-dodging skills - maybe it's in a smallish 512-wide room with two entries, enough that it will fill quickly if you dawdle, but can escape out the second archway if you bait the main crowd to the first.


Of course like rdwpa said, know when to break the rules. Sometimes two brutal fights back to back is just what a map needs. A secret is that if you don't know when to break the rules, you can just try it both ways. Then you'll know ;).


It actually can help to think of a level plan like a drama:


Just replace 'Act 1 Highpoint' with 'Mid Map Cyberdemon Arena' and you're in business. And even foreshadowing works! The one thing Plutonia's Hunted did right was showing you the 14 Archviles right at the start, a great 'holy shit' moment that the rest of the map sadly didn't live up to. This also applies to pickups. If you see a BFG on a high ledge with raised halls behind it, you know you need to get higher, a motivation as you go forth and explore. You're weaving a drama with your gameplay, a level story that will make your map memorable.

Edited by zodiac : added bit on different moods, typo fixes

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As much as one of the fun parts of Doom editing is that you can create unrealistic scenarios, actually realistic scenarios will come across as "real" and will be optically accepted as "making sense" by the player. Look around yourself in real life and see what can be used as an inspiration for a piece of Doom map.

I am adding two examples of real life architecture that I adapted for my Doom maps. When I saw these places I said to myself, I have to do this in Doom. Never mind that a staircase with a ground floor as well as lower and upper floors, all solid and you can look at all floors at the same time is no trivial feat in Doom. It beckoned me and I made it happen. The other example is a preparation for a glass elevator.





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Lots of good tips here that will be useful for me :D

As for myself, two things I've been learning to improve and has become one of my top priorities: Navigation and clarity, especially if it's a large and/or complex map.


1 - Make your keypoints in the level very visible and the easiest possible to spot. Like, really. Sometimes, a player will lose 5 minutes going in circles because he didn't spot a switch that, even if it was highlighted (with 256 brightness), it needed him to turn in an open room to see it and he never did it. Sometimes he'll miss some important weapon in the beginning of the map, because he decided to go right instead of left even if there was a trail of pickups to lead him there. Even if you want to make a exploration focused level that would require a good sense of navigation, making keypoints the most easily to read is very important. Make keys very visible, maybe in higher platforms. Same for locked doors, abuse of 256 brightness, arrows and light effects to call to player's attention. Use health bonus, ammo pickup, even monsters (especially hitscanners) so the players gets a higher chance to focus on what you want him to see.


2 - Navigation: Avoid using too much convoluted elements that makes navigation too complicated, such as far-away switches or locked areas that leads to nothing, especially for non-linear maps (in my case). Make the goal easy for understand, keep the player focused. One way passages are good and interesting, but they shouldn't make navigating into one room to another a painful task. Door have been widely talked here, but the same also applies to others barriers such as lifts: Use when necessary, and if you're going for boom compatibility, remember to use faster ones (1 second wait). Sometimes will be more interesting to lock the player into an area so he doesn't go back and lose lots of time wandering too, especially useful for puzzle-like areas. Repopulate previously cleared areas so the player gets an idea where he needs to go and/or add shortcuts.

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