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Marlamir

How to properly improve layout skills?

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I really think that the most important part of level design is going to be my weakness. Yes, i make only few wads and im not that skilled but no matter how much i tried to make good layout i allways end up unsatisfied with result. Looks like i can only make standard rooms connected with door, elevator or hallway and that's far i can go. I just can't came up with good layout. How does some of you are able to manage and make great interconected level with perfect and fun layout? For example in my last map inside the feared madness i'm really unsatisfied with the layout. most part was just big rooms connected together and i struggle for very long time what to do with them or some room end up completely useless. 

 

here is pictures of my two layouts

Spoiler

My last relleased wad:

2095183408_inside-fear-mad(editarea)at2018_08.1314-58-23.109R3039.jpg.dbbcde32555925281f474bbe61743fcb.jpg

 

and my current map im working on:

1645726849_half-unr(editarea)at2018_08.1314-59-01.934R3039.jpg.f691814ee28f655e75055ac8b4c146a0.jpg

 

I know about things like you need time and the more map you made the better you going to be or play other games are common help but can someone give me some advice or something that can help me get my layout skills improve? Other things that can help is play other games and try to get something from them but i trying not to copy someone other style or technics and i want to came up with my own.

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Looking at these shots, I'm seeing many right angles and corridors leading to rooms.

Twists, turns, and strange angles are useful in making the corridors more interesting, but you want to use as few corridors as possible.

What best works for flow and layout is rooms that connect directly to one another.

Some shots of maps I've built that I think fit this idea.

 

Spoiler

Vc6nnSZ.jpg

Here, there are only three real long corridors connecting places, but only one has only one entrance an exit. The others are really short and the rooms mostly connect dynamically.

 

HX9cHVw.jpg

Here, there are quite a few corridors and there are very few strange angles outside the organic areas, but the rooms mostly connect directly or by short corridors, with the only major corridor being in the west near the start.

 

W8tQlKx.jpg

Here, corridors are really only there to fit the vanilla limitations, because this is a vanill-compat map. It's id-ish in its structure, but it's not as open, which isn't great layout, but it works for what I had to use.

 

tChdhjs.jpg

This isn't the entire map, and it's clearly based on Rigel Kentaurus, but here corridors are nearly nonexistent as well, with only the olive green water maze being a corridor, though beyond there is, frankly, poor layout with a central square a few wings extending off it.

 

oyNC2iZ.jpg

Here I went for a "the way id did" layout, which means I used very few corridors and many rooms connect directly instead of being broken apart.

I'll reconstruct these latter two maps, but they're good examples of what I'm getting at.

 

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Posted (edited)

My wad also features this "boxy" layout. Since it's my first I didn't mind that much and just wanted to finish something and then learn as I go. What I have noticed so far is, that experienced mappers rarely start a room in a box shape. It's always something else. And no, making a square room and cutting the corners off doesn't count. Just check out Romero's E1M1 map and you will see how they actually create "rooms". Maybe we have to think less of "rooms" but of "shapes" and what could make traversing them interesting. I can't wait to finish my ugly first map and start something more different (to my current wad).

 

EDIT: What I also noticed is, that there are barely any doors in the original IWAD maps. At first I wanted to connect every room with a stupid door. ;Q

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6 minutes ago, elend said:

@Aquila Chrysaetos Man, love those map screenshots. They look very great.

Only the black and orange map, Rigel Kentaurus, is available to play at the moment, though a link to Malebolge does exist, and as I said, the last two shots are of maps which I will reconstruct eventually, because while they look nice, the maps in that wad are just terrible.

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1 hour ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

Things a good layout doesn't have:

-An overabundance of doors and corridors.

 

What qualifies as an overabundance of doors and corridors in your view? 

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Unless it's a key door or locking some monsters in a closet it's a useless door. Can only agree with Heels about avoiding them in general as they often just ruin the pace.

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Doors are good. They help the player produce and control infighting and so generate more gameplay options. Particularly for Tyson.

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, Marn said:

 

What qualifies as an overabundance of doors and corridors in your view?

What tourniquet said. Unless the door that's put in place must be used to keep the player away from an area before a certain condition has been met, doors are best avoided. There are probably more interesting ways to seperate areas or compartmentalize maps than doors, is what I'm thinking.

 

Corridors are much the same, because usually they offer next to nothing of value as far as gameplay is considered, no matter how good the corridor looks. Using corridors to connect different contrasting texture themes is something I can get behind, or maybe that corridor can also be a vantage point (atmosphere for example, like ribbiks said), but those aren't things actual rooms can't do as well.

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Posted (edited)

I think Ribbiks hit the nail the most completely on the head, but that said for general principles specifically on "flow" as a concept, I'm of the mindset that if it doesn't work in mp (or more specifically dm/duel) then it has little place in sp. Doors especially (but lifts and corridors too to a slightly lesser extent) are well-known to be bad for mp flow and to my experience their effects are the same on the flow most sp maps, but that said there is certainly a trade-off where their impact has importance, such as locked doors for the most classic example and trading lifts over stairs to reach higher ground to slow down escape from a tough fight to make the strategy of running for a cheese spot less viable. All rules are meant to be broken but it is good for newcomers to understand why they are rules-of-thumb.

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Posted (edited)

Just to offer an alternative perspective to the hate-on corridors are getting in this thread, in a level that is already very interconnected, a nice-looking corridor can offer some much needed contrast and breathing room. (Maybe I'm just trying to justify the huge corridor running through the map I'm working on right now...)

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What I usually try to do is create areas with some openings to potentially use later. While my level is still in progress, most rooms aren't considered finished: usually they have some doors, corridors, windows, and other things that don't lead anywhere yet. Some of them will be deleted in the end and replaced with simple walls, but other will allow me to add more connections between the areas. This method is nice because it allows you to create interesting layouts with basically no planning. You don't have to see the whole picture from the start. You just leave your options open and make choices when opportunities arise.

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Posted (edited)

A basic trick is to build all rooms very close together with minimum void parts between them. At first, connect the rooms minimally, according to your own idea of how the map should flow. But finally, when the map could be considered finished, add more connections between all the rooms even where they aren't needed. Then possibly make some of them impassable if playtesting shows that they break the flow too much.

Edited by scifista42

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you could benefit from using all that black void space in your pics; everything looks so stuffy.

just take your boxes and hallways and plop it in an ocean.  BAM! Inmost Dens.

you now have a good layout.

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The main problem i see on the map layouts you posted, it's that there are plenty of hallways connecting to more hallways. Layout has to be dynamic, fun to explore, and it has to serve gameplay above all, having a hallway connecting to a room and the have that room connected to another hallway it's repetitive and well, not fun. There are plenty of good advice here, but i think that Xaser's advice of having rooms connected to another room without a hallway between them it's quite spot on. One piece of advice that has worked well for me in terms of interconnectivity, it's building the map in "circles", by this i mean building an area towards one direction and keep building with the intention of making a path that leads back into the starting area, and then build similar zones on those "circles" and so on untill i have some interconnected areas with plenty of space to move between them.

Personally i had this sort of frustration not so long ago, this is a map i made in february and it has a lot of layout issues that i dislike in retrospective

Spoiler

wcWdNFS.png

But as soon as i started to get out of my confort zone of making squarish rooms, and aimed to make more interesting shaped rooms and less emphasis on orthogonal angles and hallways, i think my maps layouts have improved a lot and as such my recent maps look rather different from the ones that came before
 

Spoiler

0r5fzia.png

Like you said, as you gain experience you'll get better at it, but you gotta recognize the flaws on your current maps, and start to move out of your confort zone to tackle those issues

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That looks like a big improvement indeed. Man, can't wait to throw my first map into the trash and build the next thing. Also, is it just me or do those Doom Builder Map Views look like art?

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Didn't expect such awesome feedback from you guys, thank you so much. This going to help me a lot.

 

On 8/13/2018 at 4:29 PM, Aquila Chrysaetos said:

Looking at these shots, I'm seeing many right angles and corridors leading to rooms.

Twists, turns, and strange angles are useful in making the corridors more interesting, but you want to use as few corridors as possible.

What best works for flow and layout is rooms that connect directly to one another.

Some shots of maps I've built that I think fit this idea.

|

Thank you for pic examples Aquila, this will help me how i should look at layout while mapping. Connect everything together as much as i can and i will get better result insstead of conecting with corridors or doors. (really good screenies btw, i like them)

 

On 8/13/2018 at 4:30 PM, elend said:

Maybe we have to think less of "rooms" but of "shapes" and what could make traversing them interesting

I really like this idea, is interesting and neat. I think sometimes about rooms way too much so start to try think more about shapes can be better in many ways. Thanks for this

 

On 8/13/2018 at 4:34 PM, Catpho said:

Nice post indeed, interesting visual language thinking. I can see the usages in maps.

 

On 8/13/2018 at 4:47 PM, Nine Inch Heels said:

-An overabundance of doors and corridors.

Corridors and doors can be great style change in map. if some map is very very interconnected some good old corridor or door can be nice change of contrast,but of course using them so much is not good indeed.

 

On 8/13/2018 at 6:24 PM, Ribbiks said:

practical advice:

Oh thank you for this great post man, you definitely help me of how i should look on layouts and maps.

 

On 8/14/2018 at 4:14 AM, DMPhobos said:

The main problem i see on the map layouts you posted, it's that there are plenty of hallways connecting to more hallways. Layout has to be dynamic, fun to explore, and it has to serve gameplay above all, having a hallway connecting to a room and the have that room connected to another hallway it's repetitive and well, not fun. There are plenty of good advice here, but i think that Xaser's advice of having rooms connected to another room without a hallway between them it's quite spot on. One piece of advice that has worked well for me in terms of interconnectivity, it's building the map in "circles", by this i mean building an area towards one direction and keep building with the intention of making a path that leads back into the starting area, and then build similar zones on those "circles" and so on untill i have some interconnected areas with plenty of space to move between them.

 Really useful help. thank you man so much for this.

 

again thanks guys very much for your awesome feedback, i think my head going to explode any moment from all those new thing :D

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