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BluePineapple72

What is your creative process?

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While working on my first WAD, I've had multiple occasions where I feel like I haven't properly planned out combat encounters and the like, as I tend to be more creatively free-form with a nearly non-existent planning phase. As I'm new to this art-form, and relatively new to the community, I was curious to learn how you mappers go about actually making the maps this game is famous for.

 

Is there an extensive planning phase?

 

Do you make it up as you go along (like me)?

 

Is it both? 

 

Is there anything I should know about the map making mindset before I get too deep into making another map?

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As for myself it's both.

 

Usually when I'm going to create a new wad, I try to have some things done to cut the burocracy:

 

- Focus on a target player base: IWADs-fans, intermediary players, skilled ones, slaughter-fans, etc.

- Decide at least one of the themes your wad will have.

- Add the initial resources\textures to use.

- Add new enemies, weapons, etc, if you're going to use it.

- Make a list of concepts that would be cool in your wad (ex: "castle with big open circles with lava everywhere and limited player movement")

- Draw some sketches on paper based in these concepts.

- Map these in Doom Builder.

- Create a sheet to have control of the whole project (Evilternity has a pretty cool one): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-2yle0wY7zz6SBIfs891idGHuaPuU5s6idT_r7_wR1o/edit?usp=drive_web&ouid=112431914159700489231

 

As for maps themselves:

 

- Think of a couple of central concepts: A techbase is a techbase, but you can make it standout from the generic techbase abusing of a particular texture, or layout shapes, think of a group of remarkable elements that you think it will work well together.

 

- Decide what playstyle your map will be: Even if you're focusing on IWADs-fans there's a lot of different styles in that playerbase: Frantic maps, exploration based, arena style, slaughter-lite, hot-starts vs slow-building, etc.

 

- Sketch these ideas on a paper, without worring too much with scale or enemy placement (bar the key areas - for enemy placement)

 

- Think of two or three pressure points (most difficult parts of the map) + two or three resting points (easiest part of the map, which might have enemies or not)

 

- Open Doombuilder and start mapping. Build a basic layout with some basic texture so you can get a feel of the map and its scale.

 

- Once the layout is done, time to work on some general decoration, and make the map exitable and with main events (switches, lifts, etc) working

 

- Work on item and monster placement.

 

- Be sure to make all the visual points (switches, keys, lifts, doors, etc) as readable as possible. Also, make sure that the player won't get himself lost by adding clues such as lighting, item pickups, and enemies (sound). This is very important because the player will get easily lost and it's your job to get him back on track.

 

- Work on final decorations and fixes any bugs you find.

 

Also, while in the middle of process, you might get a cool level concept (or even a theme for a set of levels, or a new enemy), you can add it to the sheet and keep control of your ideas.

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11 minutes ago, Deadwing said:

As for myself it's both.

 

Usually when I'm going to create a new wad, I try to have some things done to cut the burocracy:

 

- Focus on a target player base: IWADs-fans, intermediary players, skilled ones, slaughter-fans, etc.

- Decide at least one of the themes your wad will have.

- Add the initial resources\textures to use.

- Add new enemies, weapons, etc, if you're going to use it.

- Make a list of concepts that would be cool in your wad (ex: "castle with big open circles with lava everywhere and limited player movement")

- Draw some sketches on paper based in these concepts.

- Map these in Doom Builder.

- Create a sheet to have control of the whole project (Evilternity has a pretty cool one): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-2yle0wY7zz6SBIfs891idGHuaPuU5s6idT_r7_wR1o/edit?usp=drive_web&ouid=112431914159700489231

 

As for maps themselves:

 

- Think of a couple of central concepts: A techbase is a techbase, but you can make it standout from the generic techbase abusing of a particular texture, or layout shapes, think of a group of remarkable elements that you think it will work well together.

 

- Decide what playstyle your map will be: Even if you're focusing on IWADs-fans there's a lot of different styles in that playerbase: Frantic maps, exploration based, arena style, slaughter-lite, hot-starts vs slow-building, etc.

 

- Sketch these ideas on a paper, without worring too much with scale or enemy placement (bar the key areas - for enemy placement)

 

- Think of two or three pressure points (most difficult parts of the map) + two or three resting points (easiest part of the map, which might have enemies or not)

 

- Open Doombuilder and start mapping. Build a basic layout with some basic texture so you can get a feel of the map and its scale.

 

- Once the layout is done, time to work on some general decoration, and make the map exitable and with main events (switches, lifts, etc) working

 

- Work on item and monster placement.

 

- Be sure to make all the visual points (switches, keys, lifts, doors, etc) as readable as possible. Also, make sure that the player won't get himself lost by adding clues such as lighting, item pickups, and enemies (sound). This is very important because the player will get easily lost and it's your job to get him back on track.

 

- Work on final decorations and fixes any bugs you find.

 

Also, while in the middle of process, you might get a cool level concept (or even a theme for a set of levels, or a new enemy), you can add it to the sheet and keep control of your ideas.

 

Now, this is are good tips!

Totally organized work.

Thanks, @Deadwing, gonna  clip those tips to my wall.

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I've done a lot of experimenting with, and pontificating about, this subject and I've come to the conclusion that, for me at least, there is no "process" as such.

 

When I'm in the mood, I've got an endless supply of vague ideas and little things to do that means I can keep filling out a short map over many hours. That mood is fickle, though, and I'm often not interested in actually mapping, which is when my bigger ideas seem to solidify and come together in my head. This often means I'll either rush the idea out the next time I get a creative spurt, or I'll drag my feet on it forever until I eventually cancel the project or idea.

 

This cycle of enthusiasm and disinterest is probably a sign of my fluctuating self-esteem (specifically where mapping is concerned, but I'm sure it's a larger problem as well) and I often read threads on here talking about "greatest", "most memorable" and other accomplishments that list people I've been here just as long as, if not longer (as though time served entitles me to recognition... Or indeed, accomplishment). At this point, I'll take basically any excuse to not try with a map anymore, although I do still get some joy out of speed mapping. Specifically short sessions with a definite end where I can get the little rush of finishing something, without the arduous process of actually having to make it good.

 

 

To summarise, mapping is depression. How therapeutic that was.

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Come up with a general idea.

Think about it for a while.

Start making rooms in Doom Builder based off this idea.

Realize that your idea doesn't actually translate into game that well.

Cry.

Keep making rooms into rough approximation of this idea.

Look into blank walls and feel anxious.

Start cutting holes in the walls until there's no flat wall left.

Start placing monsters and things.

Realize you have no idea what to place where.

Cry some more.

Place them at random and hope for the best.

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15 hours ago, Deadwing said:

As for myself it's both.

 

Usually when I'm going to create a new wad, I try to have some things done to cut the burocracy:

 

- Focus on a target player base: IWADs-fans, intermediary players, skilled ones, slaughter-fans, etc.

- Decide at least one of the themes your wad will have.

- Add the initial resources\textures to use.

- Add new enemies, weapons, etc, if you're going to use it.

- Make a list of concepts that would be cool in your wad (ex: "castle with big open circles with lava everywhere and limited player movement")

- Draw some sketches on paper based in these concepts.

- Map these in Doom Builder.

- Create a sheet to have control of the whole project (Evilternity has a pretty cool one): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-2yle0wY7zz6SBIfs891idGHuaPuU5s6idT_r7_wR1o/edit?usp=drive_web&ouid=112431914159700489231

 

As for maps themselves:

 

- Think of a couple of central concepts: A techbase is a techbase, but you can make it standout from the generic techbase abusing of a particular texture, or layout shapes, think of a group of remarkable elements that you think it will work well together.

 

- Decide what playstyle your map will be: Even if you're focusing on IWADs-fans there's a lot of different styles in that playerbase: Frantic maps, exploration based, arena style, slaughter-lite, hot-starts vs slow-building, etc.

 

- Sketch these ideas on a paper, without worring too much with scale or enemy placement (bar the key areas - for enemy placement)

 

- Think of two or three pressure points (most difficult parts of the map) + two or three resting points (easiest part of the map, which might have enemies or not)

 

- Open Doombuilder and start mapping. Build a basic layout with some basic texture so you can get a feel of the map and its scale.

 

- Once the layout is done, time to work on some general decoration, and make the map exitable and with main events (switches, lifts, etc) working

 

- Work on item and monster placement.

 

- Be sure to make all the visual points (switches, keys, lifts, doors, etc) as readable as possible. Also, make sure that the player won't get himself lost by adding clues such as lighting, item pickups, and enemies (sound). This is very important because the player will get easily lost and it's your job to get him back on track.

 

- Work on final decorations and fixes any bugs you find.

 

Also, while in the middle of process, you might get a cool level concept (or even a theme for a set of levels, or a new enemy), you can add it to the sheet and keep control of your ideas.

Wow! That is quite in depth, you must have some pretty damn good maps under your belt ;)

 

As for me, I've found I spend too much time detailing, even when the area isn't finished being built. Not a great habit I say.

 

6 hours ago, ViolentBeetle said:

Come up with a general idea.

Think about it for a while.

Start making rooms in Doom Builder based off this idea.

Realize that your idea doesn't actually translate into game that well.

Cry.

Keep making rooms into rough approximation of this idea.

Look into blank walls and feel anxious.

Start cutting holes in the walls until there's no flat wall left.

Start placing monsters and things.

Realize you have no idea what to place where.

Cry some more.

Place them at random and hope for the best.

This is how I feel about my thing placement. It isn't all that great, random at best really.

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I make it up as I go along, usually. Unless I want to design something really specific, like a TC or a game with a consistent theme and design to it.

When it comes to Doom editing, I usually put on some music or a podcast and just start mapping and testing (and I do mean a lot of testing). Most of my process involves creating different rooms and spaces and playing through them repeatedly to get it to a point where it feels good and not restrictive.

I personally like this approach of mine, but I do have to admit that since it's so level oriented, it can make it fairly difficult to strike a balance with monsters and item placement. But I consider that all part of the learning process.

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My creative process:

  1. Get idea
  2. Launch editor
  3. Alt-tab to browser while editor is loading
  4. Forget idea while reading the internet

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Me on my current map

  1. Launch editor
  2. Stare at the empty space for a bit
  3. Think of some idea that might be working
  4. Make some really square room
  5. Do some complicated stuff with actions and tagging
  6. Go test it out
  7. Fix if things didn't work
  8. Repeat step 6
  9. Attempt detailing, maybe add more rooms to make an encounter/secret
  10. Congratulate self if it does work as intended
  11. Insert random bugging off to do some internet browsing
  12. Forgot that DBX is open until it's time to repeat step 2

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I've made my first map for Doom (unreleased of course) by referring to a sketched layout, but thingplacing was highly improvised.

Now my creative process is a bit different. I make a spreadsheet with maps, gameplay types, concepts and a checklist. Then I make a random room in GZDB and everything snowballs from there.

Maybe I am too lazy to sketch layouts on paper. Maybe because scrolling thru height and brightness on a sector feels more fluid than drawing. But I would say my process is about planning the concepts and improvising the layout.

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