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KoolūüÖĪoi2004

Tips for new mappers?

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So i'm interested in making my own Levels and i just downloaded doom builder x, does anyone have any tips/guides/resources for new mappers such as myself?

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always remember the rule of fail faster the first wad you make is not gonna be amazing but as you go on and keep trying you will get better. also dont be like the devs for hunt down the freeman stealing and copying is never good just make whatever comes to mind.   

 

thats all i really have to say. 

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- Above all don't be overly concerned with style points at the beginning. You can make a map with a player start, some sector effects, some items and enemies, with an exit switch somewhere. Over time you can add to this small test map and it can become a 'museum' or gallery of tags and effects you can use for reference later. This can also be a useful place for testing out textures.

 

- You will probably break the map and cause weird glitches unintentionally, and this is a good way to diagnose problems in the map and how to fix them. The Editing forum on here is good to look something up, or ask questions if you're really stuck. As others have said, save frequently. I like to make backups (MAP1A, MAP1B...) often in case of corruption or some random thing, which is of course rare but can save lost work.

 

- Practice a lot with the different effects, when you build something try the variations and experiment. When you make a door, lift or light for example, try the different kinds so you build up an idea of what you have at your disposal.

 

- Be thorough and consistent with your tags for lines and sector effects. As soon as you make something tag it if necessary. When you make a door put in the side tracks properly etc. This builds good habits and prevents difficulties during testing later.

 

- Experiment as you go with what is sometimes called 'trimwork' which is basically texture accents. By breaking up the lines with vertices you can place new textures, and this is how you get transitions from room to room/area to area. The simplest form of trimming is the colored key stripes that let the player know which key to open a door. This technique for breaking up textures is a basic one but has far reaching capabilities, and depending on your texture set will serve you well for cool combinations. Texture breaks usually happen best near strong geometrical features like doors, windows and corners, the edges of a floor, or to divide a room.

 

- Contrast in lighting adds quality to any map. If the level has the same light value across the whole thing, then the visual style depends on the geometry and textures alone, and can make the level feel flat and monotonous. Bright vs. dark areas not only have tactical value for enemy placement, but also serve to reinforce different parts of the map and aid in players navigating the space. It doesn't have to be pitch dark vs. full bright to have good lighting balance. Well done lighting in a map should serve to inform the gameplay to a great degree. With light values alone you can inspire confidence or dread in the player and it can mix up the gameplay, doesn't matter if the map is tiny or colossal.

 

- Monster placement and amounts of them is a highly subjective realm and should ultimately reflect your tastes as a player/mapper, or aim to satisfy some other goal you have in mind for the level. You don't have to like Slaughter maps to make a good one, but it helps. When "Aliens TC" by Justin Fisher was released for Doom, it took everyone by surprise that there was no monsters on the first level, this was unheard of at the time - since it was a campaign of multiple maps, having no enemies at first usually served to build suspense in the player. 

Obviously the scale of the playable space will also dictate potential monster encounters, but everything else is up to you. Your map can have 5 imps in it or 5000, the main thing for gameplay is how you equip the player to deal with the threat. 5 imps with a BFG offers no challenge, while some of the most highly regarded maps by the community involve challenge runs which limit the player to say, a berserk pack vs. some Cyberdemons. Ammo and health balance is a tough thing to pin down early on and can only be solved with repeated testing. I find it effective to place enemies mostly first, and then balance pickups against them until the map is just passable.

 

- With Doom keep multiples of 8 in mind. Textures are usually in dimensions with multiples of 8, like most stair textures are 8 or 16 units tall. Keeping your rooms to units of 64, 128, 256 etc. will help textures like up vertically and will maintain scale with the player. Again this is a experimental area, but for organization purposes and linking areas of the map together, building with multiples of 8 helps things line up much easier.

 

- Building on grid is another important step for lines and sectors. Not necessarily all 90 degrees like Wolfenstein3d, but generally all vertices should be on grid points.  If you move lines off of the grid it can be difficult to get sectors to join, and the game's engine handles geometry better when it's positioned on-grid. For monsters and items it's less important, as long as they can move and attack or be collected by the player.

 

Edited by reflex17

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There are some pretty comprehensive guides out there, so I'll stay away from the technical stuff (Except for mark your doortraks as lower unpegged).

 

Best way to learn about mapping is to do it. Put together a shitty map. Release it. Get people to play it. Hak3180 does great playthroughs where he will talk about the technical and visual aspects of your map, what works and what doesn't. Other people do video playthroughs (I personally do them when possible) where you can learn about how players approach areas and encounters.

 

The best advice you can get is to just make maps. It's the same for any creative endeavour. Just start doing it. 

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Looking at most Doom maps, you'll see their unique designs. In most cases, reviewers will say the map needs altitude. I don't really like having confusing lifts and stairs in my map. Logically, a structure made by humans or demons, should reflect basic and serious buildings, with mostly square rooms and little to no altitude. Or, if there is any altitude (I mean, if it's hell, it makes sense if:), make the stairs go down. As you go inside hell, you go deeper and deeper, so it's very logical to make hell's stairs go down.

If you are making a tech-base, it doesn't really matter.

But, I suggest you don't make rectangular rooms and corridors, and no altitude, as you *are* going to face meaningless and logicless critique.

Always make the doors match the atmosphere you're trying to set. Use what linedef types doom has to offer. Use smart architecture and shade all the sectors nicely, i.e. after 2 pillars, make 2 shadows to match them, etc. I also suggest putting stuff in a visible place (such as the mega armor, a soulsphere) so the player knows what to look for in secrets. Completely remove computer area maps from hell. Try using light sources and decorations as things, to make your map prettier (no over-use, like monster condo). Oh, and make sure the keys or skulls you need to collect are made clear, through scattering the colored doors in visible places without even collecting a key. Use windows to do that. Make sure to tag the exit (put an exit sign), not everyone will know where the exit switch is.

And remember to have fun

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When you save your map, change the file name by incrementing the name by a running number. For example, if you call your map "hell", then save as hell001.wad. Next time you save, don't overwrite you wad file but save as hell002.wad and so on. (I save on average four times a day under a new filename). Yes, you are going to end up with hundreds of files but it is a sound investment. You will probably produce 1 MB of wad files per year. That should not be a problem at all. But if you foul up on something when editing you can always go back to an earlier uncorrupted version of your map and take it from there. Well worth it. There is nothing more frustrating that to have to rebuild something that you have already spent 5 hours on and lost it.

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Fail, fail, and fail some more. And when you fail, learn why you failed so that you do better next time.

 

Before you know it, you'll be failing less and less, and making more and more progress.

 

Don't be afraid of failure. Just leap right in, and try shit, and if it all falls apart that's fine - as long as you've got some backups.

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Chubzdoomer's tutorials really helped me get started back in 2013. I'd recommend starting here :

 

 

 

 

...as well as looking at maps from the Doom and Doom II Iwads in Doombuilder or GZdoombuilder.

Good luck : )

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On 8/31/2019 at 5:15 PM, KoolūüÖĪoi2004 said:

does anyone have any tips/guides/resources for new mappers such as myself?

One of the most important pieces of advice is to not listen to people who want to tell you what "good leveldesign" and "fair" is. Whenever you get any kind of feedback, listen to those who want to discuss your ideas and the execution thereof with you, and ignore all the "REEEEEEEEEEEE this is bullshit" crybabies, because on that end of the "feedback spectrum" there is nothing to be found that would be worth looking for. Basically, build what you think is fun first, and then concern yourself with suggestions that could help you polish your ideas.

 

A personal pet-peeve of mine is when people build maps such that they assume nobody's ever played this game before in their entire life. I find maps in the vein of "I made E1M1, but with a fresh coat of paint" offensively boring. Just my personal preference, though... If you want to build the umpteenth "hangar", by all means.

 

Don't get tricked into the idea of building an entire megawad just a few weeks or months in. You're gonna be much better off with single map releases when you're new to mapping. Early on you'll learn new things really fast, and make what feels like giant leaps in terms of mapping prowess, so it's going to give you trouble if you were to build like an episode replacement from scratch, simply because each map you make raises the bar quite a bit, and the set will feel "uneven" in terms of quality as a consequence.

 

Personally I'd put gameplay first and visuals second. Gameplay can be very difficult to get "right" when you have very specific ideas, or when you aim to create higher difficulty maps. Even when you're not aiming for gimmicks or hard maps, there are some pitfalls that you may want to avoid, and I think the previously linked "door problem" essay belongs into that category of things that can result in very "static" gameplay. Map geometry is the main cuplrit here, and it's much easier to edit the map geometry when it isn't yet fully detailed (removing sections that just don't work at all also is easier when you haven't thrown several hours at detailing a single room, for that matter). The more detailing a map has, the more "rigid" the geometry becomes, which is why I do gameplay and very rough visuals first, and detailing much later when I know the map plays properly.

 

Depending on which map format you use you may or may not encounter people who have the mindset that everything gets better with more scripting, and more features. "Feature creep" is the word here, and it's a disease that has been raging in particular in the realms of GZDoom exclusive mapping for quite a while by now. If you plan on getting into that kind of "mapping scene", I'd highly recommend that you think quite clearly what the map you're making is supposed to be about, as well as making sure you're not spending absurd amounts of time on things that don't make much of a difference, if any at all. The more options you have, the more important it is to exercise a healthy amount of restraint, and that definitely is a matter of experience. In the end it all comes down to what you're looking to build, however, so before you make any moves in the editor I'd suggest explaining what you're looking to do, and asking other mappers which format you need to be going for at a bare minimum. That way you don't run into a dead-end, and you also might get a more forthcoming baseline from which you can start learning the ropes as you go.

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When i will start learning to make maps: i will use my imagination, will take some ideas from other maps and other games. I already have some my own ideas, but i will not share them. Advice: just make what you can and what you think would be fun and interesting to play. Improvement will come with time and practice.

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On 9/2/2019 at 9:22 AM, Nine Inch Heels said:

Personally I'd put gameplay first and visuals second. Gameplay can be very difficult to get "right" when you have very specific ideas, or when you aim to create higher difficulty maps. Even when you're not aiming for gimmicks or hard maps, there are some pitfalls that you may want to avoid, and I think the previously linked "door problem" essay belongs into that category of things that can result in very "static" gameplay. Map geometry is the main cuplrit here, and it's much easier to edit the map geometry when it isn't yet fully detailed (removing sections that just don't work at all also is easier when you haven't thrown several hours at detailing a single room, for that matter). The more detailing a map has, the more "rigid" the geometry becomes, which is why ÔĽŅI do gameplay and very rough visuals first, and detailing much later when I know the map plays properly.ÔĽŅ

This. It is very tempting to make something that looks very pretty, but when you realize you made a circle strafe festival, you come to regret all those lines you drew very quick. 

 

As for formats, I recommend sticking with Doom or Boom format at first. UDMF is great, but with UDMF comes GZDoom-isms. Also, test your map in its intended source port. All too often do I see WADs from new mappers being advertised as being in Doom or Boom format, and then only working in ZDoom because that's all the mapper tested them in. It's okay if you make a Boom format map that only works in ZDoom, but make that clear when you release the map. A lot of people (including me) will automatically use PRBoom+ for anything that's said to be in Boom format, without any disclaimers about the map only working in ZDoom. It's inconvenient when I find the part of the map that doesn't function in PRBoom+.

 

On 9/2/2019 at 9:22 AM, Nine Inch Heels said:

Don't get tricked into the idea of building an entire megawad just a few weeks or months in. You're gonna be much better off with single map releases when you're new to mapping. Early on you'll learn new things really fast, and make what feels like giant leaps in terms of mapping prowess, so it's going to give you trouble if you were to build like an episode replacement from scratch, simply because each map you make raises the bar quite a bit, and the set will feel "uneven" in terms of quality as a consequence.

I love this advice because I fell into this trap the day I downloaded DB2. Although a note about episode replacements: They are a great stepping stone between making standalone maps and making a full blown megawad. But still, making an episode right when you start mapping (although it is FAR more feasible than a megawad) is still not a great idea for the reasons NIH has already gone over. 

Personally, the megawad I started so early in my mapping career is still in development, but it is not a top priority because learning and growing as a mapper is far more important than releasing a WAD that isn't the best it could have been. Slow and steady wins the race! 

 

Oh, and a note about detail. My personal rule is that as long as the map has about as much detail as the IWADs, it has an acceptable amount of detail. Personally I like to detail more than that, but it's a base level. Don't worry about whether people will think your map is detailed enough. Good gameplay is what matters. We're playing a game from 1993, worrying about the amount of detail in a map isn't a good use of your time. 

 

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It's been a long time since I was a new mapper, so my advice is probably not worth all that much, but as you've got DoomBuilder X rather GZDoomBuilder-bugfix, I'd tinker with Boom format mapping, or maybe ZDoom (Doom in Doom) if you fancy adding slopes and some other ZDoom functionality but aren't ready to learn scripting. If you had the latter, I'd say start in whatever format you intend to do your best work in. The learning curve is pretty steep for every format, and there's lots of examples and documentation for the more interesting GZDoom stuff.

 

If you want to learn quickly, aim to make use of line actions in your early maps. Learn how crushers, teleports, lifts and other stuff work and then make plentiful use of them, so your maps are dynamic. It's more exciting to have stuff work and move when you test it, than just draw a load of shapes in the editor and then place enemies. At least, I think so, as a mapper.

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Doom has been around for 25 years, so there is something of a precedent.  While its not necessary to emulate other authors, studying the really nice stuff made for DOOM that came before you really helps in understanding your audience and pays homage to the community that has kept this thing alive for so long.  I would start with an appreciation of the original DOOM game (you can skip episode 4 if you want) and understand what a monumental shift DOOM was back in the day.  For all the DOOM clones out there, Doom alone still has unique enemies such as the Chain gunner and Archvile and Revenant.  The community is still so enthralled by DOOM to this day because it is in the eyes of many of us still the deepest FPS game that has ever been made- in spite of its shortcomings.

 

There are a couple useful links, but I think perusing the Cacowards will invariably catch you up to speed with much of what has transpired.  Please study the masters.

 

 

Also:

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Edited by Mk7_Centipede

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One of the best resources for new mappers is here and especially this.   Don't worry about asking questions, we all had to start somewhere.

 

Know what you like--so play lots of levels.   Evaluate them and see if you can use the ideas for inspiration.

 

Start small   (Boom or vanilla Doom initially) and make a bunch of single level maps with the goal of stretching your ability with each new map.  When your get bored of that move on to zdoom/etc. 

 

Playtest early and seek feedback.   Fix any game breaking bugs.   Listen to all other criticism (it's a gift); decide if you wish to follow it.

 

Don't worry about your first few maps not being a masterpiece; they won't be.  It's more important to get them out of the way so you can then keep practicing with new maps.   

 

Have fun and stop when you're no longer enjoying the mapping process.

 

Play more Doom to get re-inspired.

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