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Cell

Your POV on "incoherent" level design

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I don't know if I recall it correctly, but some unwritten(?) designing rules say that maps should have a coherent theme throughout. I didn't even know why it was vital up until recently I had the opportunity to play through a certain late 90's level with the design "flow" as you progress the following:

Large open semi-dimmed area with grey bricks, metal bars and flashing lights ---> Circular bright grey staircase with slight tech elements ---> Covert, mouldy rock-cave with nukage ---> Gothic-esque themed outdoors area ---> Ridiculously long corridor with vine-ridden marble bricks and single woodpiece alcoves ---> Only heavens know what kind of clashing theme next...

 

Spoiler

It wasn't even some childish '93-'97's bullshit wad the theme of which is a running common feature. It was from a rather competent and enjoyable mapset, albeit one of the weaker links of the chain for the record.


Question time! Is there any reasonable way that one could still pull stuffing so many different design themes and elements into one map off with an outcome that still doesn't feel "busy" or by any means unnatural? Can a map with clashing themes accommodated in subsequent rooms and areas look and feel like flowing? Your decision here.

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Posted (edited)

I simply cannot have clashing textures touch without obvious separation by architecture and/or colour (example: Marble separated from brick by metal is good, marble to brick is not unless at 90 degrees), I also don't like incredibly dramatic shifts between cramped and open (cramped to open is fine but overly cramped to insanely huge open wastes is not my thing).

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I made a map with portals to other worlds, so it had eight distinct themes in one map.

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10 hours ago, Novaseer said:

One word.

 

 

 

Pandemonium.

 

Which just so happens to be my favorite level in Inferno.

 

Which brings us back to the original question.

 

19 hours ago, Cell said:

Question time! Is there any reasonable way that one could still pull stuffing so many different design themes and elements into one map off with an outcome that still doesn't feel "busy" or by any means unnatural? Can a map with clashing themes accommodated in subsequent rooms and areas look and feel like flowing? Your decision here.

 

 

Yes, it can be done. But should it be done?
 

Spoiler

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clashing themes can be done if done properly. The first key is that there has to be a reason why the different themes are present.

  • If you have portals that lead to spatially separated areas (like Empyre did), whether they're different planets, regions, buildings, etc., different themes make sense.
  • If you have something like a demonic presence slowly overtaking a building and changing it, different themes make sense.
  • If you're in a series of cramped caverns or tunnels that lead to a wide open canyon (or vice versa, the canyon leads to a cramped tunnel), that makes sense.

As mrjoshtheman wrote, you should also have some sort of architectural feature or detailing separating the two themes. Whether that's space (like in Empyre's), or doors, or tunnels, or slight differences in height (like the Hell cracks in Tech Gone Bad) is up to you.

 

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On 8/6/2018 at 9:21 AM, Novaseer said:

Pandemonium.

Here's a funny fact: I actually really like E3M3's design.

I know, it's quite clashy and chaotic once you start to look at it thoroughly - maybe the reason behind my liking to it is because the map segments aren't each separated by some 128x128 squares that raise into the ceiling when you press use - it's technically one large open area with a few exceptions. It also has a really smart use of different ceiling and floor heights, making contrast between adjacent subrooms. I find it fun navigating all around without having to opening doors every second turn. It's overall a chaotic pleasant experience for me.

The thing I objected against my example in the OP was because probably each clashing subarea was separated by - guess what? - bulks of BIGDOOR2. Or BIGDOOR7 on some occasions. Almost all of them Action type 1. Maybe it wasn't only the bullshit theme progression, but also the sheer boredom about running up to each door and opening it while backtracking all the way, and seeing again and again how little thought was put into design. Which was a shame, since there was actually more height variation within that map than in Pandemonium. Maybe I was wrong all along, maybe all this was caused because the so-called door-after-dooritis.

P.S. Of course, portals do the charm easily, they kind of "cheese" the OP's premise if you ask me.

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This megawad uses the premise of malfunctioning teleporters that send the player through alternate realities, timelines, and dimensions; making any theme fit the mapset.

 

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