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Level design tropes you use

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Forgive me if this topic has already been discussed but is there any design tropes or tendencies that you like using, or noticed that you unconsciously use?

As for me, I've just realized that I like putting the exit near the map start, usually locked off with a key.

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I've noticed that as of late I don't use doors in my maps; unless I'm utilising keycards of course. I've probably got a whole bunch of tropes, I'll possibly add to this list if some come to me. :D

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I often unfortunately end up with a bunch of spokes coming off a central area :(

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One trap trope that I've found myself overusing lately: keycard at the end of a long hallway-->player picks up keycard-->monsters spawn in so that player has to hack through them to get out again. Can be a good way to apply pressure, but it's starting to become a crutch in this megamap I've been working on. Related: sandwiching the player between two hordes of monsters advancing from opposite sides. 

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I happen to be a huge fan of train stations, so for my doom maps I usually make my own subway station areas in my maps that are doom in hexen format which is what I was influenced by the ultimate doomer

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31 minutes ago, Big Ol Billy said:

sandwiching the player between two hordes of monsters advancing from opposite sides

 

I'll do that, particularly with hitscanners or demons. Sometimes I'll even have monster closets open on opposite sides while the player has to deal with something else ahead.

 

Also, enemies hiding besides doorways but out of view to ambush the player. Particularly when there's something else to occupy the player directly ahead.

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-Using spawn-in traps really often

-Making the player use the rocket launcher more than any other weapon

 

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Exactly the same building facade structure in any map (no, seriously - all the outdoor portions of buildings in my maps look the same)

Exactly the same doors in any map

Huge areas with little-to-no monsters because "atmosphere".

Not a lot of height variation - I'm combating that now.

Monochrome visuals in most areas

 

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placing SS soldiers and saying they represent cops or G4S mercenaries
creating key doors you can never get the keys for
attempts at narrative hardly anyone discovers because my terrible tastes in combat make em quit the level too soon

never ever learning how to make a conventional map

 

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Posted (edited)

hmm my favorite is definitely the non-linearity one. I also like to hide enemies behind corners and use sound-propagation tricks to flank players in incidental fights. I still use a lot of one-way passages for the setpiece-based fights though, such as lifts, drop-downs, and teleporters, because they help a lot to put players out of the safe zone. I don't like using bars or hidden doors to block the player, because it doesn't feel natural.

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5 minutes ago, Memfis said:

Perhaps players would be less likely to quit if you demonstrated a bit more confidence in your output. This constant "I'm an outcast, my maps won't please anyone, just ignore me" certainly can make them less interested in your works. I think people generally dislike seeing so much self-deprecation, it's just unpleasant.

 

GoEnglish_com_ThePotCallingTheKettleBlac

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Exactly, take that from the asshole who insulted the whole community by rejecting a Cacoward instead of nicely accepting that generous sign of appreciation! He knows what he's talking about.

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What an arsehole, eh?

 

 

Anyway, to the subject at hand, as this thread was designed for people like me who are their own biggest fan. In looking through stuff to compile into a "Best of" and discussing mapping, maps and my own works with many, many people, I've noticed (and had pointed out to me) a few tendencies, tropes and more.

 

esselfortium used to frequently note how all of my techbases were made out of blue carpet and FLAT20. Because they were. I'd use anything silver for detail and borders in a base, plenty of T667-inspired borders and panels, and blue for main bodies.

 

Since then, glenzinho has noted that I've since, to him, become synonymous with grungy, gritty, gloomy maps and the true horror of the "Phobus Spectre", which is a Spectre that's so well blended into the darkness and grittiness of it's environment that it can actually sneak up on a player and cause damage.

 

I also love a trend. MAYhem2048 was a crash course in the giant cacodemon swarm (I keep trying to coin the term "Astral Dreadnought") courtesy of @Steve D, who was in turn aping @Capellan so, naturally, it wasn't long until I made Loathsome Cleft. A grim, gritty, gloomy map where you frequently trigger large groups of cacodemons. I participated in a load of limit/challenge mapping projects (ASS, Plutinya, etc.), which I liked, so I started making Triacontathlon, which, when finished will be a set of 30 maps where each is made to meet a different challenge. I used to love trends so much that any sufficiently big project that started taking forever would reliably have me turn up near the end of mapping and make something for it. PRCP, '94 Tune-Up, DTWiD, CC4 (the thrid map)... They're all following that trend.

 

 

Something I really noticed whilst making, testing and scouting Perspehone was that I have no compunctions about having low ceilings, plain ceilings or low, plain ceilings. No idea why that is, but it turns up very often. Any screenshot of a map of mine will probably have a sky or flat, almost-featureless ceiling. It's as though I'm not even thinking about it.

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Posted (edited)

No tropes but ideas... tropes are boring.. you may as well level-design "By-the-book", Ideas are more unique.

 

But there are few pointers that are useful to any map.

 

- Never place a monster in the same room as the player SPAWNS IN (Level entrance) (While the monster is facing the player)

- Teleporting, Make sure the player won't get INSTANTLY attacked as soon as he teleports to a new place (give him 3 seconds to process new information)

- Composition, Do not overflow the player with visual info, make sure that your map is easy to understand visually.

Edited by d-Illasera

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I have a few that I'm aware of

- Dark maps with lots of light variance. 

- Stairs before lifts. I have to remind myself that lifts are a thing other wise I'd probably never use them

- I have a fetish for pillars. Especially when I can bend light around them. I used to obsessively do manual lighting sectors to show light defracting around pillars but attenuated lights make that sooo much easier. 

- Not so many doors. I generally only use them for key access points. 

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Every keycard you touch has to spawn enemies

 

Every weapon you touch has to spawn enemies

 

Every significant switch has to also spawn enemies

 

...spawning enemies

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These are old screenshots of a map I made, but I have a habit of NOT using copy/paste with things and trying to make every structure look unique, in this case, the trees.

ZTWvIPV.png

sI6fYQ8.png

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I tend to make map difficulty rather hard and then scale it down from there to form the easier difficulties. Not sure if it’s a trope but I find this way makes hmp feel really good but then easier difficulties end up being too hard and harder difficulties have too many bullet sponges.

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Tropes that have stayed the same since the '90s;

Make highlight encounters chaotic, unscripted battles with high monster density.

Design combat that forces the player to keep turning.

Design giddy-up encounters that force the player to run.

 

Tropes that are present in my newer maps;

Barons have cooties, so use the fewest possible.

Never use locked doors unless they're key doors, use bars instead.

Restrict door use to key doors.

Increase the number of projectile monsters and reduce the number of hitscanners.

And as @Phobus said, use Cacos. Lots and lots of Cacos. ;)

 

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2 hours ago, d-Illasera said:

- Never place a monster in the same room as the player SPAWNS IN (Level entrance) (While the monster is facing the player)

- Teleporting, Make sure the player won't get INSTANTLY attacked as soon as he teleports to a new place (give him 3 seconds to process new information)

I see nothing wrong with that. Some pressure is always good as long as you put health and armor to cover damage. Sometimes this acts as warning to be careful with rest of the map and more. 

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Posted (edited)

Let's list some off!

-No hot starts. Monsters facing away to get a feel for the starting area.

-Player spawns at the south-central part of the map and heads north.

-Anything I consider to be a major encounter will have a lock-down.

-Multi-directional combat with threats usually coming from 3 directions.

-High monster density forcing to player to create movable space.

-Whenever goats are deployed, Barons are used in a 1:10 ratio with Hell Knights for some colour variety. Similar sort of deal with Pain Elementals in Caco-swarms. 

-Cyberdemon-themed encounters and ones where Cybers are the main threat and not an infighting tool.

-Liberal use of pain-sectors to emphasize paying attention to the environment.

-Overuse of scrolling textures and strobing lights.

 

 

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2 hours ago, d-Illasera said:

- Never place a monster in the same room as the player SPAWNS IN (Level entrance) (While the monster is facing the player)

1 minute ago, Spectre01 said:

-No hot starts. Monsters facing away to get a feel for the starting area.

  • Hot starts are not always bad. They have to be somewhat reasonable, but they're not necessarily to be avoided.

 

2 hours ago, d-Illasera said:

- Teleporting, Make sure the player won't get INSTANTLY attacked as soon as he teleports to a new place (give him 3 seconds to process new information)

  • Again, one just needs to be reasonable. And 3 seconds is a LONG time, probably longer than is necessary to get your bearings.

 

3 minutes ago, Spectre01 said:

-Anything I consider to be a major encounter will have a lock-down.

  • This can be accomplished in a number of ways, from a door coming down upon entering the room to a swarm of enemies teleporting into the place the player just was in order to keep the player from running back there/camping.

 

5 minutes ago, Spectre01 said:

-Multi-directional combat with threats usually coming from 3 directions.

  • While not necessary, combining multiple directions with multiple heights works well, too.

 

3 hours ago, d-Illasera said:

- Composition, Do not overflow the player with visual info, make your map is easy to understand visually.

  • Extend this to mappers that don't clean up their automap. if the automap shows sectors that exist solely for detail and aren't rooms, stairs, ledges, alcoves, etc., it is very cluttered and confusing for the player.

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Posted (edited)

TBH I don't like much auto-map cleaning. In mapsets like BTSX, it made me even get lost sometimes, since some areas such as cliffs or useful detailing were removed from auto-map.

 

It definitely looks cleaner and cooler, but it's also somewhat annoying

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