Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Doomkid

ADVICE WANTED: help me i literally can't make maps more detailed than the iwads wtf is wrong with me

Recommended Posts

Basically every wad I've ever released has multiple reviews that say "it has that 90's charm", which I think is totally great and it's usually what I'm going for.

 

I want to ask all the talent around here, though.. Is there some way I can up my detail game and my visual game? Let's assume I'm mapping in Boom format, with all limits removed. What exactly can I do to make my maps look better?

 

I've gone around and looked at many beautiful wads and my gut instinct is that all I'm really missing are the right combination of custom textures and perhaps a new palette, but I just want others to weigh in and spill whatever thoughts they might have on this topic.

 

It would be particularly helpful for me if you look at it this way: Teaching an old dog new tricks. I'm a vanilla mapper who needs conversion therapy. I can count the amount of Boom-and-up maps I've made on my hands despite having released well over 200 maps at this point. I do at least use GZDB, so managing a new editor is something I - thankfully - won't have to come to terms with.

 

I understand this post is a bit of a brain dump so I welcome any and all thoughts you may have on the matter regardless of how (un)organized they may be.

 

EDIT: For reference, here are some of my wads.

 

https://www.doomworld.com/idgames/levels/doom2/s-u/tdevil2

 

https://www.doomworld.com/idgames/levels/doom2/s-u/shovelad

 

https://www.doomworld.com/idgames/levels/doom2/p-r/rwdyrudy

 

While I wouldn't call them ugly (and I've honestly never gotten that as feedback) you'll see what I mean when I compare their visuals to those of the iwads. When I started mapping for Doom, all I had as a conceptual basis to expand on were the iwads and a small handful of very early pwads. I'm findng it extremely hard to break away from that mold, as it's been instilled in me over the course of 18 years.

Share this post


Link to post

I started with that detail guide as well :) I think it works very well as a catalogue of things that you can do with sectors, though it’s definitely important to know when to stop.

 

@Doomkid, are there any examples you have of wads with a level of detail you’d like to get to?

Share this post


Link to post

how much do you test a map as you go? i reckon a lot of super-detail mapping comes from people who make their map slowly room-by-room, moving the player start around as they go, bombarding a map region with stuff until they boot up into it and feel happy that the room looks like something, or obscures its simple polygon shape or that the lighting looks interesting. a lot of maps with speed layouts end up with fairly procedural decoration compared to work by tunnel visionaries o:)

 

thats just my opinion but i've noticed how much i focus on individual rooms and can't say they're done until it feels bulky and shadowcasty enough

Share this post


Link to post

After making vanilla maps, then high(ish) detail limit removing maps, I appreciate the lower detail vanilla maps (others') and vanilla map making process (mine) wayyyyyyyyy more.

 

It takes balls to make a square skybox like in doom2 map12, as opposed to a skillsaw mountain vista that encompasses the whole map, and be happy with it. 

 

1 minute ago, rdwpa said:

how to use colors and shades in the right proportion

 

Yep yep yep. At least I choose to interpret this as "contrast" (some might interpret it as "make a pink and blue retrowave map"). When you have a big architectural shape that you want to pop out of another, don't worry about "materials" like oh it's a gray cement structure so the whole thing has to be gray, make it pop with a texture of a completely different color; most players wont care if it's a tech or brick or cement or whatever, but the color helps create contrast which helps impress shape/layout in their brain. Especially in low vanilla resolutions

Share this post


Link to post

Doomish Den of Design (ZDoom forums link). This level very thoroughly covers what rdpwa and Vorpal mention. It's also in this forum somewhere, but it was way harder to find. It's got text blocks to tell you what's what, and examples given on a range of subjects!

Share this post


Link to post

Have you come to dislike your own style? I hope that's not the case.

 

I'm one that's only worked with vanilla limitations, so I don't really pay much mind to detailing and what exactly I do with it, so sorry if I'm not of much help.

 

Personally I don't focus on detailing as much as I do on the architecture. Detail comes after the architecture, and it should never interfere with the gameplay.

The architecture is what builds the room -- it can make a map look good without the necessity of adding an 'details' to it.

 

What type of 'detailing' you want depends on what theme you want. Do you want a massive, empty and overwhelming map, or one that feels claustrophobic and suffocating? You want ideas that represent exactly that. For the big empty tech level you may want massive computers, massive crates, massive lights, of course, in even bigger rooms, but not in excess. For the claustro, say, cave-themed level, you may want small piles of dirt, some stalagmites, small bits of metal supports holding doors and passages, some small pools of water.

 

My favorite way of detailing would be lighting. It can add life to a plain square room, and is universal to every theme you may want in your level. You can see examples in the pics of some of my recent works below

 

Looking at levels with the thematic I want gives me ideas for what I could 'steal' from them.

For the marble-themed level in the shots I carefully analyzed Alien Vendetta maps that even if only so slightly, present the same theme. Beast Island, Fire Walk With Me, Rubicon and Blood Sacrifice come on top of my head. You may have a plan but you may not know how to proceed with it: I took little pieces from those levels so I could better visualize the idea I had in mind.


 

Spoiler

 

 

 

sinister.png.f42d07df563f7c6d24077df6a96b7024.png4.png.634533ff3794d7ebde3e7cba318dc3ef.png3.png.98630e8769fff51949a7aefafee2bf1c.png

5.png.a54304e3c128bfeb2ec83ab3be9aa85e.png

 

 

Hopefully this helps? I feel like I may just be speaking rubbish though. 

Edit: I also think reading guides would just be a waste of time. I think learning stuff by yourself would be a better investment.

Edited by Juza

Share this post


Link to post

Yeah, I'd second that Lighting and Custom Textures are some of the biggest difference one can make in his maps, without necessarily altering the linedef count. A custom texture set has a huuuge impact and might also "inspire" you to try out new / different stuff.

 

When I started I also had a look at Tormentor's Detailing Guide and think it is a valuable resource for "tips and tricks" to add simple detail here and there. But like with all tools in art though, it is up to you how you use them. Some people add a shit ton of detail to their maps and it looks awesome. Others add a ton of detail and it looks lame. Why? Probably visual consistency / coherency. If you look at Jimmy's (Deathless, Jiffybag, Faithless) or Crunchynut's mapsets (Sinergy, Baculus) you'll notice that the actual architecture is not as detailed as it seems at first. What both master in their maps is the use of light and texture combinations, imho.

 

Using light and textures is like painting, really. There's no guide or rules to really say: "Do this and that, and you have an amazing artwork". It's very subjective unfortunately and thus maybe hard to "improve" if someone comes from a more analytical angle. So, maybe just throw some textures around and see what looks best to you. Then go back to some other WADs and look for inspirations. Maybe a certail ceiling detail would fit perfectly in your map. Don't copy, but re-create it, re-mix it, improve upon it.

 

I hope this thread gives you at least 1 helpful thing you can try in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, DavidN said:

 

@Doomkid, are there any examples you have of wads with a level of detail you’d like to get to?

 

What immediately comes to mind: Ancient Aliens, Eviternity, Sunlust, and pretty much everything by Mechanix Union!

 

1 hour ago, yakfak said:

how much do you test a map as you go? i reckon a lot of super-detail mapping comes from people who make their map slowly room-by-room, moving the player start around as they go, bombarding a map region with stuff until they boot up into it and feel happy that the room looks like something, or obscures its simple polygon shape or that the lighting looks interesting. a lot of maps with speed layouts end up with fairly procedural decoration compared to work by tunnel visionaries o:)

 

thats just my opinion but i've noticed how much i focus on individual rooms and can't say they're done until it feels bulky and shadowcasty enough

I think you might be onto something here. Most of my maps are made in one 5-hour Doom Builder binging session, fueled by smoking too much and drinking caffeine. The result is a lot of content, but it's always on the visually bare side. Maybe spending more time with each area like this would help.

 

1 hour ago, rdwpa said:

I'd suggest learning 'scene composition' -- how to use colors and shades in good proportions, and smart texture choices, and also lighting, to make stuff look complete, or almost complete, without small-scale detail. Then small-scale detail can be the icing on the cake that elevates your stuff even more.


A good rule of thumb with that approach is working on the right 'scale' based on what features you have in a room or not. Like say you have a mid-sized room that is still bare layout -- completely undone. If the only thing you do is poking holes in tiles, setting up small monitors, chiseling wires -- whatever... tiny-scale stuff -- you run the risk of doing lots of work to that room and then still having a messy-looking thing long into the process. Instead you might first carve out a good 3D shape for the room with broad features (i.e. architecture, which is a term I'm using in a broad sense, not just pillars and columns and such) while applying materials smartly. Then you might progressively work down to smaller scales. 

 

Once you learn that you can do something else if you want -- more concept-driven approaches, more micro-detail-y stuff, whatever -- but I think it's a good basis because it's relevant to lots of approaches. 

Excellent advice. One thing I think I need to totally rethink is my approach to general architecture. Many of my maps are of the "room -> door -> room" variety with a lot of squarish stuff. Creating maps that are architecturally interesting even when hardly detailed is a current goal of mine. Once I get to that point, applying further small-scale detail should actually be the easier part.

 

53 minutes ago, Vorpal said:

It takes balls to make a square skybox like in doom2 map12, as opposed to a skillsaw mountain vista that encompasses the whole map, and be happy with it. 

 

Yep yep yep. At least I choose to interpret this as "contrast" (some might interpret it as "make a pink and blue retrowave map"). When you have a big architectural shape that you want to pop out of another, don't worry about "materials" like oh it's a gray cement structure so the whole thing has to be gray, make it pop with a texture of a completely different color; most players wont care if it's a tech or brick or cement or whatever, but the color helps create contrast which helps impress shape/layout in their brain. Especially in low vanilla resolutions

Well stated, going to keep this in mind.

 

42 minutes ago, Doom_Dude said:

(excellent mini guide w/ screenshots)

 

Hope this helps. ;)

It absolutely does! Thanks, great tips!

 

23 minutes ago, Crunchynut44 said:

Just do what I do. Spend 5 hours detailing a map, compare it to a Skillsaw map, then throw your computer out the window.

Excellent, sticking with my current process it is!!

 

21 minutes ago, Phobus said:

Doomish Den of Design (ZDoom forums link). This level very thoroughly covers what rdpwa and Vorpal mention. It's also in this forum somewhere, but it was way harder to find. It's got text blocks to tell you what's what, and examples given on a range of subjects!

Thanks for linking this Phobus, even the screenshots are pretty mind-opening. Going to check it out in detail!

 

15 minutes ago, Juza said:

Have you come to dislike your own style? I hope that's not the case.

 

I'm one that's only worked with vanilla limitations, so I don't really pay much mind to detailing and what exactly I do with it, so sorry if I'm not of much help.

 

Personally I don't focus on detailing as much as I do on the architecture. Detail comes after the architecture, and it should never interfere with the gameplay.

The architecture is what builds the room -- it can make a map look good without the necessity of adding an 'details' to it.

 

What type of 'detailing' you want depends on what theme you want. Do you want a massive, empty and overwhelming map, or one that feels claustrophobic and suffocating? You want ideas that represent exactly that. For the big empty tech level you may want massive computers, massive crates, massive lights, of course, in even bigger rooms, but not in excess. For the claustro, say, cave-themed level, you may want small piles of dirt, some stalagmites, small bits of metal supports holding doors and passages, some small pools of water.

 

My favorite way of detailing would be lighting. It can add life to a plain square room, and is universal to every theme you may want in your level. You can see examples in the pics of some of my recent works below

 

Looking at levels with the thematic I want gives me ideas for what I could 'steal' from them.

For the marble-themed level in the shots I carefully analyzed Alien Vendetta maps that even if only so slightly, present the same theme. Beast Island, Fire Walk With Me, Rubicon and Blood Sacrifice come on top of my head. You may have a plan but you may not know how to proceed with it: I took little pieces from those levels so I could better visualize the idea I had in mind.


 

  Hide contents

 

 

 

sinister.png.f42d07df563f7c6d24077df6a96b7024.png4.png.634533ff3794d7ebde3e7cba318dc3ef.png3.png.98630e8769fff51949a7aefafee2bf1c.png

5.png.a54304e3c128bfeb2ec83ab3be9aa85e.png

 

 

Hopefully this helps? I feel like I may just be speaking rubbish though. 

Edit: I also think reading guides would just be a waste of time. I think learning stuff by yourself would be a better investment.

Not rubbish, a very helpful perspective.

 

9 minutes ago, elend said:

Yeah, I'd second that Lighting and Custom Textures are some of the biggest difference one can make in his maps, without necessarily altering the linedef count. A custom texture set has a huuuge impact and might also "inspire" you to try out new / different stuff.

 

Using light and textures is like painting, really. There's no guide or rules to really say: "Do this and that, and you have an amazing artwork". It's very subjective unfortunately and thus maybe hard to "improve" if someone comes from a more analytical angle. So, maybe just throw some textures around and see what looks best to you. Then go back to some other WADs and look for inspirations. Maybe a certail ceiling detail would fit perfectly in your map. Don't copy, but re-create it, re-mix it, improve upon it.

 

I hope this thread gives you at least 1 helpful thing you can try in the future.

Absolutely it has, my mind has been opened to new approaches!

Share this post


Link to post

How I do wall / ceiling texturing: Decide on a main texture in your map, say: green. Add two-three different textures to compliment it. After a key door add an other texture. If you're using all three keys i'd probably avoid using an already used texture after the last key door. To avoid texture pile-up.

No more than three textures visible at all times from the player view. Support / border textures dosen't count.

Floor texture change at sector height difference. Ofcource the ceiling texture should compliment the scene - I mostly go for a darker one.

Door textures: I try to avoid confusion by having every door the player should visit a different (door) texture. Probably complimented by light sources.

Light comes from a source in a triangle. I forget the term but all light have a source in my maps.

Share this post


Link to post

Seeing one of the mapper that i looked to like this made me kinda sad :(

 

I played few wads to take an inspiration on mapping and the details. Most of my unrealeased and unfinished maps are just a copy pasted some sectors just to study the details. 

 

Also 3d floors might help. 

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, elend said:

Yeah, I'd second that Lighting and Custom Textures are some of the biggest difference one can make in his maps, without necessarily altering the linedef count. A custom texture set has a huuuge impact and might also "inspire" you to try out new / different stuff.

 

When I started I also had a look at Tormentor's Detailing Guide and think it is a valuable resource for "tips and tricks" to add simple detail here and there. But like with all tools in art though, it is up to you how you use them. Some people add a shit ton of detail to their maps and it looks awesome. Others add a ton of detail and it looks lame. Why? Probably visual consistency / coherency. If you look at Jimmy's (Deathless, Jiffybag, Faithless) or Crunchynut's mapsets (Sinergy, Baculus) you'll notice that the actual architecture is not as detailed as it seems at first. What both master in their maps is the use of light and texture combinations, imho.

 

Using light and textures is like painting, really. There's no guide or rules to really say: "Do this and that, and you have an amazing artwork". It's very subjective unfortunately and thus maybe hard to "improve" if someone comes from a more analytical angle. So, maybe just throw some textures around and see what looks best to you. Then go back to some other WADs and look for inspirations. Maybe a certail ceiling detail would fit perfectly in your map. Don't copy, but re-create it, re-mix it, improve upon it.

 

I hope this thread gives you at least 1 helpful thing you can try in the future.


I third this!
Take a look to Icarus and Eternal Doom, Hell2pay and Perditións Gate, Revolution! and Doom 2 Reloaded, they are all vanilla mapset and are full of little and neat details, also a custom set of textures coupled with a lot of lighting, and a few more sectors here and there gives a lot of life to somewhat barebones maps.
I don't know if this is relevant, but those mapset had a very detailed backstory, so this might be a little factor for map progression and details. Only one that is somewhat irrelevant in that aspect is Doom 2 Reloaded, but it tells a story maps per map.
TNT: Revilution is the prime example of what you are aiming for @Doomkid, the mapset is full of little details and is completely vanilla compatible.
I like your style, but there is always room for improvement, so good luck, pal!
You will surely come with something amazing.

Share this post


Link to post

I think too much people focus on details. I like , as many doomers , maps with good details but I focus more on things like music choice , lights effects or textures choices.

 

Your maps maybe don't need to be more detailed than iwad's ones. Of course , the beautifulness of Doom 2"s maps is questionable but Plutonia and Ultimate Doom have rather beautiful maps.

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Doomkid said:

What immediately comes to mind: Ancient Aliens, Eviternity, Sunlust, and pretty much everything by Mechanix Union!

 

I think a good exercise would be to take a favorite map from one of these, and make an exact replica yourself.

No copy/paste, just pure observation and imitation.

Push forward until you've recreated it to the best of your ability, to where you can barely notice the difference.

I think in doing that enough times, eventually you'll start to think "I like this, but I would've done it this way" and it will help to better learn your own style, now with increased ability to express your ideas.

Share this post


Link to post

Sometimes a fresh set of textures can enhance simple geometry to look detailed. I have gotten a lot of use out of OTEX, and OTEX does have textures comparable to vanilla (even has some STARTAN-type textures!). The hi-res gives extra dimension to maps, I feel. 

Share this post


Link to post

Well i'm not a mapper but i think that, in addition to all the good advice already posted here, it's good to study some irl architecture and design concepts. You can always apply them in some way when deciding on a map layout or room composition etc. 

 

Share this post


Link to post

My approach to mapping generally consists in drawing a square room, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work needed to turn that into whatever vision I had of a map, and then closing the editor. So I'm not sure I actually have any meaningful advice. But I want to suggest playing through these six maps. All of them are different takes on the same base layout. But, even being aware of it, it's kind of hard to see the resemblance between any of them, as they all look and play completely differently.

  • Put Up Your Dukes! aka CliffBase is pretty bare in the detailing, which doesn't mean it's bad. Probably the most fun to play of the lot. It's short and sweet.
  • The Heart of Stone is slightly more detailed, through still pretty bare.
  • Black Magnetic continues to increase the level of details and makes heavy use of 3D floors.
  • dead.wire ups the ante even more and deserved the Cacoward it got.
  • Mouldy Old Void is probably the most detailed of the lot.

All these maps are pretty good IMO and well worth playing. Now here comes the last:

  • Celestial Site is IMO a good example of what not to do when detailing.

 

I think what's key to make good-looking detailing is to have stuff that looks like it makes sense to be there. It doesn't need to actually make sense, just to look like it. So e.g. don't add a computer terminal in a random corner of a nukage pool, but you can instead add like some pipes instead perhaps. Perhaps the room looks like it'd make more sense with some pillars to help support the roof or something. On the other hand, a support pillar in the middle of a corridor doesn't look like it makes sense, so don't put one here. And of course, what "makes sense" differs greatly depending on the setting, what makes sense for a city isn't what makes sense for a tech base isn't what makes sense for a hell fortress isn't what makes sense for a void dimension.

 

I think knowing what not to add is at least as important as knowing what to add.

Share this post


Link to post

I have no idea what to say besides "make stuff look cool"  that's one of my rules i always forget about when mapping :D

Share this post


Link to post

Just don't do what I do and start adding details before you've even figured out what the heck the room is even going to be. It's easy to get caught up in building when you should instead be planning. I've noticed that sometimes simply adding a large window or structure in the ceiling of an otherwise bland room can really transform it; sometimes less is more.  

Share this post


Link to post

I think that as long as the detailing doesn't come at the cost of losing gameplay value (sometimes geometry can and/or will get in the way) it's always welcome.

My advice for you is to start small on that. Maybe trying to replicate a Skillsaw-tier level is a bit overkill, but you can observe some of the detailing he and other mappers do and try doing that yourself in your own maps.

Another thing that I think that helps is working with smaller units. Even Doom Builder 2 lets you draw, raise and lower stuff at the pixel level (1 mappixel). I once a room and a corridor with a red and blue carpets respectively for a certain map, but you could also see the "actual floor" in a way to produce what I believe is a nice effect. Here are some prints from DB2:

image.png.ff2e6088be34f1202628814d5ffc1082.pngimage.png.567ac56c77a73ce9c13d1b30f05bac75.png

 

I'm not the king of texture work and detailing, but I think that could give you some ideas.

Share this post


Link to post

It might be worth trying your hand at Quake mapping and playing with TrenchBroom. Brushes are sort of the opposite of sectors, so it may help break a lot of habits you've established over the years. DumpTruck DS has a channel full of tutorials, if the idea appeals to you.

Share this post


Link to post

I find it effective to try and think of a 'detail level' you're going for when you're starting out and establishing a theme for the map. Is it realistic or abstract? If the map is supposed to mimic an actual functioning location, detail ideas can come thinking about that. A loading dock in a storage facility just as an example - a loading dock will have a large door leading to the outside. This kid of area can imply additional details like girders, crates, and computer consoles for the opening of the warehouse door - be it decorative or functional. A blend of realistic/abstract is probably the most popular to build with because it affords the mapper free reign to not abide by the strict rules of reality.  

 

If it's an abstract map the detailing is more up to you because it's not built to resemble any actual place necessarily. Vanilla detail style has mostly to do with gameplay and giving the impression of a place rather than recreating real places exactly. If you're making a parking garage, as another example, there's only so much detail you can put in there before it starts to look too different than the building it's supposed to resemble.

 

It can also help early on in your detail quest to think of these details in terms of gameplay options. A simple rectangular sector along a wall that's raised up and textured like machinery not only gives visual interest but possibility for monsters to hide. A little alcove maybe with computers or something not only gives the area more character but opens the door for cool item placement, instead of medkits just being randomly in corners of rooms or whatever. Before I even place any items I like to imagine what will eventually go there, anticipating future item placement is another thing that can help sometimes. Where do you want to player to look? Where do you want them to go? Depending on the situation, details can make a focal point or break up an area causing visual chaos, which of these you choose depends on the gameplay you intend.

 

You're in a good spot for now, it's probably better to learn how to build details up, rather than getting bit by the bug and having to scale back because things are too busy/catch the player etc. As others have said, looking at other maps, other games, or pictures of real places can give you ideas to adapt to your own work. I often think of public buildings like sports centers or libraries, any kind of architecture that has to maximize use of the space available. Utilitarian detail usually looks better, if you try to wedge detail in for detail's sake is when gameplay can sometimes suffer. Like I said at the beginning, I think it really depends on the individual map/project.

Share this post


Link to post

I can't offer much that hasn't been said. I will say that something I've tried to force myself to do is get a map's basic geometry finalized before I think about detailing. Otherwise you waste a lot of time. Get your map working and playing right, then make it look fancy.

 

Also a design principle that I try to adhere to is that set dressing should never, EVER inhibit gameplay. i.e. a small part of wall sticking out that you get stuck on or constant small height changes that bobs the player's view

Share this post


Link to post

I'll simply repeat a mantra every decent level designer knows: less is more, more often than not.

 

Detail is fine and all, but there's detail and then there's crap thrown in just because you can.

 

If you're doing detailing, think of it in terms of the player's perspective. Are you trying to draw their eyes to something? Is it serving as something that you will make use of later in the level (for example, demonstrating a texture hurts so that later on when there's a hallway full of it, they know)?

 

Detail with a purpose is good and worth the time to put in. Detail for detail's sake eventually makes Gothic99.

Share this post


Link to post

Here's something pretty simple to go from. Try looking at Ancient Aliens, Eviternity, and wads that use custom textures. Running through these, observing the map environment (use kill monsters command and then go through each map), and asking the map designers their design process is the first step towards getting out of that 90's style mapping slump.

 

Also, CUSTOM TEXTURE packs. Its amazing even how the most simple "90's map" looks different from the normal 20+ year old rehashed textures.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×