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Jamie Faith

Any advice for a first time mapper?

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I just finished taking the doom builder  tutorials and I'm already fast at work on my first map but I was curious if the DOOM world forums folks had any good advice for a first time mapper? Any tips at all would be appreciated. :) 

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Yeah, start with the basics.  Once you're certain you know how to use all the vanilla Doom tags, with sectors and activation lines and lining textures up and such, then start looking into the more advanced stuff.

 

So yeah, that.  Get good with vanilla Doom first.  Then once you have a fair mastery of it, well.  If you're as enthusiastic about it as you sound like you are, you might be someone for all of us to keep an eye on.

 

Keep us posted, Jamie!

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yeah. don't bother with Cool Lighting, or much detailing yet. create some simple and small layouts first (kinda like "coffe-break maps"), populate it with mosters and items, and give it to some of your friends to play. this way you can build a "sense" for player progression, fight orchestration, and such.

 

i'd go as far as saying that good fights are essential for a good map. no amount of detailing and polishing will save your map if it is boring to play. so learn doom AI behavior, monster strong and weak sides, and how you can use that to keep player engaged.

 

use non-orthogonal rooms and height variations too: this adds alot to a level.

 

and last: mediocre-looking map can be turned into nice-looking map by applying some lighting. so plan your layouts with that in mind: make windows, reserve some room for lamps and such. when you're done with layouting and made rough monster/item placement, you can start making lighting and shadows. at this stage you can throw some stealth moster to darker areas too (but don't spam with them: they are like jumpscares -- if you will use it once or twice, it is ok, but excessive use ruins everything).

 

note that you don't have to build overdetailed shadows and such: some light level variance and simple shadows will do the trick too. see how id did that in their maps.

 

hope that helps.

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3 hours ago, Barefootstallion said:

Yeah, start with the basics.  Once you're certain you know how to use all the vanilla Doom tags, with sectors and activation lines and lining textures up and such, then start looking into the more advanced stuff.

 

So yeah, that.  Get good with vanilla Doom first.  Then once you have a fair mastery of it, well.  If you're as enthusiastic about it as you sound like you are, you might be someone for all of us to keep an eye on.

 

Keep us posted, Jamie!

Aw shucks, Thank you! I will! :D

 

2 hours ago, ketmar said:

yeah. don't bother with Cool Lighting, or much detailing yet. create some simple and small layouts first (kinda like "coffe-break maps"), populate it with mosters and items, and give it to some of your friends to play. this way you can build a "sense" for player progression, fight orchestration, and such.

 

i'd go as far as saying that good fights are essential for a good map. no amount of detailing and polishing will save your map if it is boring to play. so learn doom AI behavior, monster strong and weak sides, and how you can use that to keep player engaged.

 

use non-orthogonal rooms and height variations too: this adds alot to a level.

 

and last: mediocre-looking map can be turned into nice-looking map by applying some lighting. so plan your layouts with that in mind: make windows, reserve some room for lamps and such. when you're done with layouting and made rough monster/item placement, you can start making lighting and shadows. at this stage you can throw some stealth moster to darker areas too (but don't spam with them: they are like jumpscares -- if you will use it once or twice, it is ok, but excessive use ruins everything).

 

note that you don't have to build overdetailed shadows and such: some light level variance and simple shadows will do the trick too. see how id did that in their maps.

 

hope that helps.

It will, thanks for the tip!

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Important thing in mapping - make sketches first. It's not necessary to make one room and waste time on detailing it. It's better make a sketches of few rooms and then connections between them. Also add an outside area, or two. Then adjust the height of sectors. Later, choose the textures, items/monsters, adjusting brightness, actions, e.t.c. Sure, you can pick another order, but I'm offering my option.


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.
 

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.
 

Also check out the hotkeys of map editor, they can improve building a lot.

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7 hours ago, ketmar said:

so learn doom AI behavior, monster strong and weak sides, and how you can use that to keep player engaged.

 

imo this is an advanced mapping skill, and the beauty of doom is that it's so "dumb" that you can haphazardly place enemies in a map with zero thought and it's still almost guaranteed to be fun

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yeah, that is a good way too. after all, it doesn't matter how exactly map was done, if it is fun. i am more on a "technical" side of things, though, so i prefer to cooperate with AI. anyway, it is up to OP to decide. ;-)

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24 minutes ago, Vorpal said:

 

imo this is an advanced mapping skill, and the beauty of doom is that it's so "dumb" that you can haphazardly place enemies in a map with zero thought and it's still almost guaranteed to be fun

 

That's not necessarily the case. Sure, the monster AI is relatively basic, but if you just put enemies in the map with virtually no thought to how they'll move or interact with each other and the player, the map will not be as fun as if you had done so. Yes, there will still be plenty of monsters to fight, and that has a degree of fun to it, but it won't have the sort of appeal of well-thought out encounters.

 

@Jamie Faith

Read this tutorial regarding monster placement: 

 

 

With regard to the basics of vanilla mapping, I don't know how much you already know, but Linguica's series of tutorials will help you get started there (they begin at the basics and progress upward): 

 

 

 

I completely agree with rrider3 about sketching your map first. Yes, there are some who have success just opening their editor and drawing things, but I've never been one of those people. Personally, I find that when I do that, those are usually the rooms that get deleted an hour later or the next day. Not always, but a lot of the time. It's quite important to know where you're going so you don't end up with a mess. It doesn't have to be a detailed layout--in fact, it may only be part of it. But it will help you stay directed and keep a handle on how you want your level to flow.

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We're talking about a first time mapper though, like he needs to be worrying about making cerebrally challenging enemy encounters and read walls of text about enemy strengths/strategic placement. This is like the most difficult holy grail thing to achieve, and why we worship the Alms and Gustas and Skillsaws of the world. Also sometimes (maybe most of the time for luddites like me) it's more fun to ignore all that bullshit and just place some barrels next to 15 zombies.

 

For first few maps I say just get dirty, don't worry about style/theory/strategy, just let the ideas flow and DO worry about the technical hurdles like linedef tags and how to fake skyboxes and whatnot.

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Just make the stuff you like basically. If you have what you think is a cool idea and if Doom is a good place for it, don't hold anything back! It also helps to replay the wads you like and name the things you like about them, so it's easier to tell your preferences to other people if you need experienced help on more advanced or technical stuff.

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Try to make some speedmaps in order to familiarize yourself with the builder. Discover themes , try to make interesting traps with the line actions.

 

Make vanilla or limit-removing maps at first in order to start with simple features. No boom or zdoom.

 

Prepare your map on a paper in order to not but be stuck on the layout.

 

Don't make a huge map if you don't have enough ideas.

 

Check the maps you like , or random maps and steal some ideas so that you can get some inspiration.

 

Also , as said above. Making a megawad alone is a risky task , even for an experienced mapper.

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Wow thanks for the tips everyone! I notice several of you mention sketching the map on paper first before making it which is funny because I'm actually already doing that! Good to know I had the right idea. Oh BTW I notice some people calling me he but I'm a girl just fyi :). Oh and thanks for the links Pegleg. I'm checking them out right now.

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pump out garbage. it sounds stupid, but trust me: whatever you make first is going to be garbage. and so will your second map... and your third map... and so on and so forth until one day you suddenly start making gold, but until then your maps will be garbage so you need to pump them out fast. don't dwell on your first maps because you think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread; your judgement is just warped since it's your own map. the faster you can release several independent maps (no multi-level wads) while trying out as many things as possible and getting feedback, the faster you'll improve. your first maps should be primarily for experimentation-- trying different actions, making different traps, using interesting texture combinations, trying simple lighting and contrast, having interesting environments and height variation, working on scale (very important, make sure your maps don't feel like you're playing in a miniature scale model of a normal map), etc.

 

A few maps down the line, you should pick up SLADE for more advanced wad editing, for the purposes of experimenting with custom music and some custom textures. Don't go adding massive texture packs all at once, just add small groups of textures you want to use to spice up the map, and go for some nice midis, which set the mood and even the pacing of your map.

brief tutorial on adding custom textures:

Spoiler

in SLADE, look at the top toolbar for an option to set a base resource archive, and set it to doom2.wad (not doom 1).

then create P_START and P_END markers by creating new entries (using the top toolbar) and place all your individual desired textures (such as from the doom 1 texture pack) in between said markers.

 

next, select all your custom textures and right click them and go graphics->add to pnames. create a new import resource archive and select import from base. then reselect the textures and right click and do graphics->add to texturex. save your wad. all done c:

 

if you mess up or added the textures to pnames/texturex more than once or whatever, it's easiest and safest to just delete the PNAMES/TEXTUREx lumps and make them again.

 

list of music lump names for each map in Doom 2/Final Doom for when you want to import custom music:

Spoiler

simply add your desired music to the wad in SLADE and rename to one of the following:

 

title - D_DM2TTL
intermission - D_DM2INT
endgame - D_READ_M

 

map01 - D_RUNNIN
map02 - D_STALKS
map03 - D_COUNTD
map04 - D_BETWEE
map05 - D_DOOM
map06 - D_THE_DA
map07 - D_SHAWN
map08 - D_DDTBLU
map09 - D_IN_CIT
map10 - D_DEAD
map11 - D_STLKS2
map12 - D_THEDA2
map13 - D_DOOM2
map14 - D_DDTBL2
map15 - D_RUNNI2
map16 - D_DEAD2
map17 - D_STLKS3
map18 - D_ROMERO
map19 - D_SHAWN2
map20 - D_MESSAG
map21 - D_COUNT2
map22 - D_DDTBL3
map23 - D_AMPIE
map24 - D_THEDA3
map25 - D_ADRIAN
map26 - D_MESSG2
map27 - D_ROMER2
map28 - D_TENSE
map29 - D_SHAWN3
map30 - D_OPENIN
map31 - D_EVIL
map32 - D_ULTIMA

 

lastly: learn hotkeys and different modes whatever map editor you're using has for you (if you haven't already). there are plenty of tools designed for streamlining the map making process at your disposal (that you've hopefully seen in those tutorials you mentioned), so you should really make use of them, so just take a little bit of time to explore the editor as much as possible, every little button and dropdown list and the help pages or whatever. stuff like stair builder, bridge builder, curve tool, visplane explorer, sound explorer, find and replace mode, map analysis mode, etc. are all your friends and you should tuck them into bed every night with a kiss on their cheeks

 

anyways that's about it, i just wanted to dive into some advice i didn't explicitly see stated + things i wish i was told before i started mapping

 

P.S. make sure you're actually testing the maps in the correct compatibility. when you start with vanilla/limit removing, start with chocolate doom or prboom+ on -complevel 2. zdoom ports screw up a lot of things, so it's easy for an otherwise vanilla/boom map to be unplayable in those ports because gzdoom does something wrong that you don't realize (that is, if a zdoom port is your main port)

 

P.P.S. I have a poorly organized midi collection going if you're interested

Edited by bonnie

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Be careful with symmetry, I usually try to avoid that as much as possible. Too much symmetry is bad, just sucks and makes everything too predictable and often boring. I often see people placing their monsters and items symmetrical to one another as well. 

 

Height, add a good amount of height variation to your map, gameplay fun goes up. Its always fun to fight monsters that are not only on your level but also below or above you.

 

Lighting, the one thing that really makes your map shine, or darken, whatever the case, don't underestimate that, and don't neclect it.

 

Detailing, add as much a you desire, but never let it interfere with gameplay, nothing is more annoying to get hung up on something in the middle of a tough battle.

 

Texturing, align everything to the best of your abilities, I wouldn't say its a must, but it sure is more pleasing for the eyes. I think most are willing to accept a crooked texture here and there. E1 is full of them, and 99% of the community still loves it.

 

Gameplay, try to plan good battles, be creative, playtest the heck out of your map until you reached apoint where you need others to test it for you. Someone else might experience your map in a different way. That be good or bad, its important to remove any last hick ups you've missed.

 

Music, could be anything, try to match it with the type of map you're building. 

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For a beginning map creator it is always great and exciting to construct the first few maps and get to know the various tools used to that end.

 

But, often overlooked is the need to be familiar with the terminology of the Doom environment. To this end I suggest to do some reading, for example the The Unofficial WAD Designers' Handbook, Release 2.1 by Ron Allen and Bill McClendon and Doom Builder: An Illustrated Guide by Dr Sleep as I mentioned in my Beginners tutorials

 

Also,

 

However, you will find advocates for both sides

 

1. learn the DOOM format first and once you are comfortable with that progress to an advanced mapping format and relearn that particular feature set 

2. forego the step of learning the DOOM format and relearning the advanced feature set of the advanced mapping format and dive straight into the advanced mapping format

 

As I mentioned before, take it easy with the first maps and gradually learn what the feature set of a particular mapping format is. If you go for the ZDoom family of ports and the Doom in Hexen format or DOOM UDMF there is the excellent wiki for ZDOOM.  It will take time to get familiar with any particular mapping format.

 

My recommendation is step 2, but ultimately it is up to the map creator to decide which way to go. In either case, without doing a lot of reading, and building some simple maps first, the mapping process will be a difficult one.

 

Another learning tool is running Slade3 to take apart maps done by others. Now I do not mean to simply clicking on the MAPxx lump to see what the map outline looks like, but learning the structure of the lumps comprising the map, what the various namespaces are. How the structure differs from map format to map format, for example

rNfCOzC.png

 

or the pwad CommunityChest for DOOM2 format

yHlzl3S.png

 

and beyond,

for example Waterlab by Enjay for GZDoom in DOOM in Hexen format

bvP6OHy.png

 

If you come across something you are not clear about then check the WIKI and/or ask in the forum here or the ZDoom forum.

 

Addendum:

Do not forget to check the tutorials in the appropriately named section Editing Tutorials

 

Edited by Kappes Buur

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17 hours ago, Jamie Faith said:

It's finished! Tell me what you all think :)

 

Well, for a first time map it's a pretty good effort.

But, it definitely has the appearance of old style maps.

For example, instead of making doors flat with the wall

E7I2wWN.jpg

 

give them a bit of detail, such as

orEEuWZ.jpg

 

Simple things like this can make all the difference.

 

Also, the map has a brightness of 192 throughout, give it some variance

by making some sectors lighter and others darker and between. 

 

Addendum:

Just a quick example

Vn4kaZf.png

Edited by Kappes Buur

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@Kappes Buur

Thanks for the advice! Your version of my map looks so much better! I'll implement those changes to my map!

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Early on it's best to keep doing individual maps, if you're interested in doing a mapset in the future, it's best if you wait to hone your skills a bit more before you tackle such thing. 

 

Keep in mind height changes as mentioned previously, it's common that many first maps feel quite flat, but that's okay, try adding a platform for some monsters to fire at the player at different heights. Small details such as this can make a map shine. Also keep in mind the type of monsters you use, and where you use them. Flying monsters are great on open areas, and melee monsters such as demons are great to slowdown a player during combat, and hitscanners are usually high priority targets so that means a player will likely try to take them down before any other type of monsters. And remember, monster infight is a thing, so be careful were you place different types of monsters since the monster behind of it could trigger a fight (if that's a good thing or not that depends on what you want on your map).


A general advice that always remains useful regardless of mapping skill, it's to keep playing other maps. If you keep playing other maps that you enjoy you'll find something that matches your tastes. You'll start to find some cool traps, interesting visuals, and other creative ideas, inspiration it's invaluable while building a map and playing a map that you enjoy it's a great way to get some. Also related, one of the best ways to learn new tricks it's by opening other maps to see how everything works, you'll learn a lot by taking a look at other maps in the editor, so don't be afraid to do so. 

As for the visuals and detail, there are many small details that are quite simple but make a big difference, such as using different light levels to contrast some areas or having some ceiling changes. Texturing it's quite important, a map might have a main type of textures (such as a base themed map having a lot of metal textures, or a hell map having green marble textures), but by changing a different texture theme on some areas can bring some life to a map and help to avoid making your map looking a bit monotone. Early on your maps might not look the best, but as you keep making you get better insight on how to make better looking maps, and start to develop your style.

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