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Armolitskiy

Your advices for mappers

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Don't let the fear of people telling you that your first few maps are bad get in the way of mapping, nobody makes amazing maps right out of the gate. The best thing to do in that case is to learn from your mistakes, and use that newly found knowledge to make your maps better.

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I agree, let it out there and then take the criticism on how to improve. Also, make it clear what you are trying to achieve with your map. Is this just standard play? Slaughter? Are you recreating your favorite level? 

Also, there is one thing I will say, understand your weapons and power ups above anything and plan your encounters. IE know your best enemy weapon pairings. For example, hell knights and barons? Make sure there is some SSG or something nearby. Going to face a cyber demon and want the battle to last rocket launcher, have multiple? BFG. I feel like this would take time to learn but the best maps are those with balance. Your not going to ever get this right first try, I will also say, your a braver soul than me getting into mapping but I have played a TON of doom in my time, I know what a good a bad map look like. You just gotta dive. Don't let those "my first wad" prodigies scare you. Xaser, Skillsaw, Dragon Fly, and Bridgeburner all had to start somewhere right? Then your first maps would be no different. 

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Take breaks frequently if you feel stuck. Play various types of maps or check building architecture for inspiration during breaks.
Ask editing questions, even if they sound silly. 
Join some doom related servers.
Experiment with mapping formats to find where you feel comfortable.
Ask for criticism, it will help you improve faster.

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-Start small and dont dive in the megawad format right now. You will get overwhelmed and you will hate yourself because you won't know what to do for the next map and so on. 

 

-Take a look at maps made by other mappers you like and try and find what makes them good. This is mainoy how i learned

 

-This goes alongside the first advice but, dont try and use all of those crazy zdoom effects right off the bat. Just try and make something basic to get an understanding on how the builder works and everything. For example, my first published map was a zdoom one with a few advanced effects but, i had done more personnal maps before just to get a grip at things. I couldn't even make a door at first ! 

 

-Enjoy what you do and take criticism the right way. Sure there are people who will sound harsh for no reason ("this wad sucks.", "you suck", etc... with no indication on what they didn't like in it) at all but, some will give you good pointers on how to improve your skill and you should take these into account. Trust me on that one. 

 

-If at anytime you feel that mapping is becoming a chore or you are not enjoying it, STOP. Take a break for a while (it can be anything from a few hours to a few months), do something else and come back to it later on with a fresh mindset. Mapping for doom is, before anything else, a hobby and it should be fun. 

 

That's about it for me. 

 

 

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My answer was not serious so I recommand you to read that thread which resume all the comments on this thread 

 

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My main advice would be to not overwhelm yourself with features by jumping straight into mapping for something like (G)ZDoom, but similarly avoid worrying about annoying Visplane Overflows, Hall of Mirrors, etc by aiming for vanilla/Chocolate Doom compatibility. In other words, go with limit removing for your first few maps.

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Like what Yugiboy85 said, start small. I think this is the single best bit of advice really. It is fairly easy to keep adding stuff and end up with something that is harder to finish.  Small maps can be some of the best and you're not going to bore somebody with an hour long switch fest. I made so many huge maps, most of which I haven't released (yet) that I find making a small map is really a lot of fun. Anyhow you can always expand on your maps later. I wish I had learned to keep things small earlier on.

 

Keep doors to a minimum. Man when I first started... so many doors. I was a door slut in the early days and in revising my oldest levels (something that I'm working on) I've deleted many a door and put in doorways. Use doors to lock the player out of areas of course and to section off places, but you don't need for example (and I did this often) have a door that opens onto a hallway and at the other end is a door that opens on an outside area. Doors are great for making the player wonder what is on the other side but if he/she finds another door and then... just think about it. It can interrupt game flow so use them sparingly. Not that you can't have 3 or 4 doors in the same room that lead to different areas. You don't need a door to block monster's seeing your approach so you can use pillars and machinery or a bend in a hall for that. Just be aware that you may not need another door in the flow of the area you're building.

 

Monster placement can become predictable if you use the same tactics. Keep some rooms empty of monsters. For example: flank a door with monsters but don't do that again for at least a few areas. Sometimes have an empty room with a monster closet or sometimes have a reward or both. Think about mixing encounters that way... be random and unpredictable, even if you're making a slaughter map. ;) You can have a room where nothing happens but on return to it the monsters are all flooding in there.

 

Some of these things seem obvious I'm sure since you've encountered that stuff when playing but when it comes to making it yourself, it can be a different story. ;)

 

Try drawing some layout stuff on graph paper. I haven't done this in years but you can come up with some cool areas this way.

 

I think others covered most of whatever else I was gonna say, like Nightmare showed up and mentioned what I was about to type up... kinda. :D

 

This thread on editing questions is worth reading through:

 

[Edit] Also. A linear path to a goal (switch, key, exit, etc...) is fine sometimes but also use multiple paths. Think about your layouts. In a recent revision of a path in one of my maps.... what I had was a key at the end of a long section, but the player had to walk all the way back through the map for no reason. I had no encounters on the way back, no loot, no imp strippers, nothing and it was just to open a door that was near the key, which is kinda silly. I thought, this is pretty stupid so I put in a teleporter to cut down on the needless walking. I could have made it a monster fest on the way back but opted to not do that. One thing to realize is, running back through that area for me was easy as I made the map and knew exactly where to go and why (to get to the door).... so what is obvious to the designer isn't always so for the player so sometimes you have to give the player a bit of help. So yeah think of your layouts and try not to make progress too mysterious. ;)

 

Good luck and have fun.

Edited by Doom_Dude

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1 hour ago, Misty said:

Take breaks frequently if you feel stuck. Play various types of maps or check building architecture for inspiration during breaks.
Ask editing questions, even if they sound silly. 
Join some doom related servers.
Experiment with mapping formats to find where you feel comfortable.
Ask for criticism, it will help you improve faster.

And where can I find the addresses of discord doom-servers?

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If you're going to release this for others to play, then build your map with others in mind. For instance, you might know which switch opens which doors, but the first time player may not. They might overlook a hidden, but essential switch that you know is there because you put it there, yet they wouldn't know it's there because they haven't played the map before. They could spend a long time searching for it and become frustrated.

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Play around in the editor.  Experiment.  Iterate.  There's a lot that will become easier or more instinctive as you gain experience.  If you try something and it doesn't work, congratulations - you've learned something.

 

Don't be afraid to open up other people's WADs in Doom Builder or your editor of choice to see how they work.  As a new mapper in the year 2019, you have more than 25 years of user-created content to look back over, refer to, learn lessons from, and build upon; you should feel free to make the most of this.  This is as applicable to gameplay qualities as technical functionality; if you're playing someone else's level and find yourself thinking "wow, that was a really good level/a really fun encounter/a really nice room," go back, take it apart to see how it was put together, and try to understand why it was so good.

 

Assume that one-half of the people playing your WAD are mad geniuses who will look at a situation you've constructed and overcome it in a way that you utterly did not foresee.  Assume that one-half of the people playing your WAD are blind idiots who will blunder past something that you thought was obvious half a dozen times without taking note of it.  Be prepared for any given player to flip-flop between those extremes over the course of playing a sufficiently lengthy level.

 

Remember that an appropriately coloured locked door isn't just a barrier to progress along that path, it's also a signpost that tells the player, "come back here later."  Consider that a trap or an ambush isn't just an obstacle, it's a way of rewarding the player for making progress by giving them challenging, rewarding gameplay.

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At this point my advice for new mappers is to put "tips for new mappers", or "advice for new mappers", or "getting started with mapping", or "new to mapping" in doomworld's search bar, instead of creating thread after thread where people merely regurgitate what they've already said like years ago. There is plenty material to read out there by now.

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What you should do:

 

- Take small steps. Make something basic.

- Experiment with various features & document some new knowledge for future use.

- Ask experienced mappers for advice & take criticism well.

- Open official or fan-made maps & look at how they work.

- Watch tutorials on youtube.

- Take breaks if it becomes not fun anymore.

- Don't give up if you have ambitions but don't burn yourself out.

 

What you should NOT do:

 

- Don't go for 32 megawad (or 9 map episode) straight away.

- Don't expect to finish your map in a day or two (unless you speedmap but even speedmapping isn't a great way to start mapping)

- Don't plagiarize. Copying some encounter ideas is one thing but blatantly copy paste part of the map is a no-no.

- Don't depress yourself by looking at mappers who won Cacowards or who can create magnum opus. Skill comes naturally & everyone has their own style.

- Don't map just because you want to win Cacoward & feel good about yourself. Worst reason to map!

- Don't compare yourself to better mappers either. Inspiration is good but you should have your own style.

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12 minutes ago, The_SloVinator said:

- Don't plagiarize. Copying some encounter ideas is one thing but blatantly copy paste part of the map is a no-no.

 - Don't depress yourself by looking at  mappers who won Cacowards or who can create magnum opus. Skill comes naturally & everyone has their own style.

...

- Don't compare yourself to better mappers either. Inspiration is good but you should have your own style.

 


Studying mappers who make good maps (also these aren't necessarily Cacoward winners or 'magnum opus' creators) is always a good thing. Any resulting inadequacy is a separate concern, not a reason to avoid that stuff. 

 

Additionally, among the best ways to learn is to recreate something, or create an analogous thing, that uses a given approach: it could be a visual scene, a fight, a layout style, a whole map...  Doing forces you to truly understand techniques, and teaches you a number of subtler lessons that might not be obvious from just looking. It's also a measuring stick that exposes whether you get something (can create something decent with that approach) or just think you might (can't). Plagiarism is bad. But that is fine. I felt like pointing this out because three separate pieces of advice here carry the subtext 'de-emphasize the need to look at other maps', which would be harmful if taken to heart.

 

A better version of that: inspiration comes not just from Doom maps in [style in vogue] -- it can be drawn from less popular stuff you like, or even outside of Doom entirely. 

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Biggest advice i can give is to make the kind of maps YOU find fun and want to play, don't try to appeal to everyone that will never work, and most of all, have fun mapping and don't get discouraged!

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I'd say study your favorite WADs in a map editor to get an idea of how layouts work/texturing/scripts/map tricks/etc.  Aim to make every room/sector have something unique about it (anything from a secret item on an alcove to some object that simply looks interesting.) 

 

Besides that try not to make the player backtrack or go switch hunting too much, they generally hate that.

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7 hours ago, Roofi said:

My answer was not serious so I recommand you to read that thread which resume all the comments on this thread 

 

 

This is definitely the best thread for beginning mappers.  Jimmy does a good job of talking to the person.  And he literally does everything.

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A novice mapper myself my only advice would be - begin in Boom format, see what you can produce after a handful of days, and release. Don't start with ZDoom as you can get carried away with all the extra bells and whistles.

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Mis-aligned textures. They're so annoying and yet, you really don't need to panic about how "aligned" every linedef is. Sure not aligning anything will make your map look like an eye-sore but seriously, don't panic if that one tiiiiny small linedef in the corner of your map is a little bit off, unless the misalignment is blatantly in your face, don't worry about some misaligned textures.

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@Armolitskiy

What NIH said about searching for previous threads is a good idea, and should be extended to other things besides tips for new mappers.

 

On 9/23/2019 at 6:46 AM, NiGHTMARE said:

My main advice would be to not overwhelm yourself with features by jumping straight into mapping for something like (G)ZDoom, but similarly avoid worrying about annoying Visplane Overflows, Hall of Mirrors, etc by aiming for vanilla/Chocolate Doom compatibility. In other words, go with limit removing for your first few maps.

On 9/23/2019 at 4:03 PM, Gustavo said:

A novice mapper myself my only advice would be - begin in Boom format, see what you can produce after a handful of days, and release. Don't start with ZDoom as you can get carried away with all the extra bells and whistles.

 

Similarly to what Nightmare and Gustavo said, start simple. The actual format doesn't matter as much as learning the basics. You can do a whole lot of stuff with self-referencing sectors, deep water, scrolling floors, 3D floors, dynamic lighting, scripting, and on and on. However, these complicated features doesn't matter much if you don't know how to make a door or a window or a lift. So, learn the basics and, once you master the basics, then move on to more advanced features.

 

My only other suggestion is this: particularly as a new mapper, don't compare your work with those of more established mappers. Don't worry about how fast they work or how they can do things (regardless of the format) that you don't seem to be able to. They are established mappers for a reason. They didn't just start yesterday. They have been creating maps (and improving their mapping skills) for a long time. You can look at what they do and seek to emulate it, but don't compare your work to their work (either in appearance or volume or speed) and become discouraged. You will get better and faster as you keep mapping.

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Compounding on the common "start small, start simple, learn the basics" answers: ultimately, those tips are so you can release something, and releasing something should be your goal. While you shouldn't mindlessly crank out raw sketches, at one point you have to be satisfied with the map and the mapping skills you learned, and send the map into the wild. It might suck. People might tell you it sucks, in various ways. Still, it's out there, you got feedback, and you are better for it than the one person with an unreleased masterpiece. Hell, you can improve on what you did and release a v1.1 later on!

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Study maps that you like. Stephen King once said in order to write you must read. And the same goes for mapping. In order to map, you must play, a lot. It's important to start with IWAD maps, but you can also move on to staples of the mapping scene, like the Scythe wads, BTSX, and of course anything Skillsaw puts out. Looking at these maps in game AND in the editor can be great help with deciphering how they were made and what design practices were put in place in order to make them so revered by the Doom community. I actually do this quite a bit, as I personally think its fun to look at maps in the editor.

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