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I want to build natural landscapes in Doom (that aren't too crummy)

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To be more accurate, I want to map outdoor areas, caves, cliffs, hellscapes, anything that I can't just take a ruler to and make sure is completely perfect like a temple, a base, abstract planes, or combinations of these. This is something I want to get better at (more like do in the first place) because a lot of the ideas bouncing in my head revolves around building nature, because I'm starting to get envious of other mappers who can do this with ease, and also because I want to improve my skills and become a more complete creator.


So, asking for help. For now I'm open to anything: tutorials, maps and mappers to study, general tips on how to build nature specifically for Doom, etc. And who knows, if this can help others, then that's nice too!

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Well, I guess, I should answer this and maybe chain reaction will start this discussion.

When I design maps which are intended to be outside, cave areas, I use plenty of irregular, jagged lines. Don't afraid drag vertices around for interesting shapes and lines. For reference, you can look at real life caves, cliffs and other wild areas, they rarely look the same, especially if lake or river crosses them, slowly creating new shapes of areas. 

So, yeah, aim for irregularity, but keep in mind gameplay and all needed mapping things. 

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I think Eviternity in general does a good job with regards to "outdoors-stuff".


Simple and irregular shapes, height differences, a little bit of texture variety, and you're already halfway there.


Things to note when it comes to irregular shapes and "weird angles" is that these are prone to elastic collisions. So for the gameplay part of these areas you might wanna try and make sure people don't have to constantly push against walls and cliff-faces which can be bouncy, unless of course you are looking to get a particularly hostile environment.


Outdoor area geometry can be made relatively simple, and still look really good, if you have the necessary textures. So that's also something I'd keep in mind when building things. Large surfaces work well with textures that have a very visible "structure", which is why texture choices for outdoor areas are so important.


Also, when it comes to outdoors stuff, sometimes monsters have a hard time moving around in these irregularly shaped areas, too. Depending on how much you value the ability of monsters to follow players, you may need to keep a close eye on the sizes of the sectors you draw. Also, when there's a lot of height variation, and you're not mapping in vanilla format, you need to look into monster blocking linedefs, if you want to avoid cases where players push something off a cliff.

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Hilariously, what you want (a terrain generator, more or less) has had no topic on DW yet (Atleast with the term ''Terrain generator''). Thus your topic is unique! Congratulations!


For ZDoom an actual program exists: ZTerrain, but its very old and it does not run on Windows 7. Here is how it looks:



There is a 2011 thread resurrection of that where consensus is more towards generating your own heightmap. Follow the posts there. @Kappes Buur linked to Nem's Terrain Generator in this post.


That same Kappes also wrote in a 2015 post that ZTerrain can be used in GZDoom Builder, so perhaps it works in UDB aswell.


If you do find something that you can use to generate terrain, then @jval's PTREE procedural tree generator may help for those open spaces.


Lastly, some useful links may help in this post.

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On 2/25/2020 at 9:19 PM, dac said:

because I'm starting to get envious of other mappers who can do this with ease,

Bear in mind that those mappers who apparently can do the things you want to do with ease it's due to their experience, eventually you'll get to their level so please don't look down on yourself for your lack of experience.


It might not be much help, but aside from jagged lines to depict natural looking rocky walls and sectors as Misty said, maybe mix different rocky textures to give a more natural feel to a cliff or ravine area, maybe some jagged sectors that serve as natural looking stepping stones, the pics i'm going to post are from an underground river i'm working at but it might be of help if you want to apply what you see to a cave, an outdoor area that has a stream or a river.




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Grubber's ZTerrain Generator generates floors and ceilings quite convincingly but does not allow for those surfaces to be edited easily, unless one incorporates flat areas into the heightmap. I have used this in the distant past, but today, there are better options when mapping for UDMF.


For example, in GZDoom Builder - Bugfix or Ultimate Doom Builder you can easily split a linedef into x number of parts and then apply the Randomizer for jagged walls. Then layer the perimeter into various heights at various intervals. And add slopes for some visual effect.


An outdoor area is rarely a flat surface, so use vertex height things to simulate areas from rolling hills to steep crevasses.


For even more dramatic effects use Pushers to repel the player from certain areas or Pullers to attract the player, with varying strengths. This may be for a specific purpose or to just distract the player in general.


Use lots of decorations, like trees, rocks, ruins etc.


Plus, you can incorporate a proper GLDEFS skybox.



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for this topic there is 2 solutions. 


One is if you want your game working in all doom versions and ports, or


if you want your gaming working only in GZDoom.


You can create triangles, and make realistic looking terrain, but like I said, that only works in GZDoom. The effect is cool, but I honestly prefer to go to a true 3D engine like quake or quake 2, quake 3, or doom 3 if I was going to go that route.


I like to my levels workin on as many versions as possible.


The doom style editing can seem basic,  but with some artistic vision and skill you can create some cool outdoor looking areas.

Check out my map, it has a lot of out door area in it, see what you think


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Thanks for all the answers!


@Nine Inch Heels These specific engine quirks you mentioned were also why I made this thread in the first place - I want my outdoors to look good, but also not have them be frustrating, either to map them or to play them. In that sense, your post was incredibly helpful and I'll try to apply it in my future projects.

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