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LateToDOOM2020

How do you plan or design wads?

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I find it tricky to make good wads that use keys and have a good layout.

I my self have started to make wad designs on paper.

What ways do people around here make wads?

  • Make the layout on paper?
  • Make it on the fly
  • Make the layout in the doom editor?
  • Another way?

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Well my friend, everyone has their own way. Some people will just start making rooms then they can come up with a map from that, some people draw it out. I use a combination method of both sometimes. I've also tried mapping by creating and environment first, ie I build a big outdoor natural looking area, then add a progression to environment.

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I make Wad design out of my imaginations, I also make them in scratch.

I will use the style you make Wad designs on paper later.

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I tried drawing stuff, but it didn't do me any good. I usually have a graph in my head for specific connections between rooms and vague ideas for encounters that I then implement and decorate.

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It seems like creating it on the fly could really make it quite creative and unexpected even to the create once its complete. I can see how the techniques work for you guys. I like to draw them out but I have done some from scratch and it is pretty good like that but sometimes the key placement feels so difficult if doing it from scratch.
 

49 minutes ago, Steve88 said:

ie I build a big outdoor natural looking area, then add a progression to environment.

As for this thats quite clever to have it for some starting point i like that.

 

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i don't plan anything i do lol, i just jump head first into and start building random stuff with a simple idea in mind: 

 

"Tech-base, Hell-base, Cavern," and i make it.

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6 minutes ago, Morpheus666 said:

i don't plan anything i do lol

I like the idea but how in the world do you make it work with keys and access?
You must just have experience with map making? It seems like a fun way to do it but so difficult.
 

I actually did that with one map but now I cant get it to be a map that has proper keys and a goal. Maybe im just not good at it yet.

 

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What i like to do is think about the layout while building it. I think up a design or concept of a level and from there i start drawing the level out the way i envision it without much planning beforehand

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It helps me to decide on a basic layout first, then map it out in basic blocks in the editor. I tend to give up on maps much sooner if I make detailed rooms 1 by 1 without having an idea of how it progresses.

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I draw the basic layout on paper, using lowercase symbols for map elements (eg. lifts), uppercase symbols for actors (monsters & items), and an arrow for the player's possible paths. I also write notes describing the progression and ideas for various scenarios.

 

I have a bad habit of detailing rooms as I go along. This is bad because it creates inertia for removing or reworking rooms that could stand improvement. Blockouts are a better method.

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6 hours ago, LateToDOOM2020 said:

I like the idea but how in the world do you make it work with keys and access?
You must just have experience with map making? It seems like a fun way to do it but so difficult.
 

I actually did that with one map but now I cant get it to be a map that has proper keys and a goal. Maybe im just not good at it yet.

 

I use the Building Block method, a method as far as I've seen not many follow but I have been using ever since, Basically i dissect the whole map into chunks, or sections of it, Test it and replay it over and over till i make that 1 section good, then i move onto a attached section of it and repeat that till i have a full map, People may argue that the method is tedious or strange but i think it helps on the psychological aspect of mapping by cutting it up so it doesn't feel like a massive task to make a level.

 

For a added flavor to mapping i do Speed mapping as well to test my creativity/ Time management which once you have gotten use to using the modding tools can be alot of fun.

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I'm another "compose directly in the editor with no clear plan" mapper. I don't think it's more or less creative than the outlining method, and there are potential drawbacks to my approach. One is that you may lose control of your map's size, and produce a map that's too big. Another is that you may get creatively stuck, so it can take longer to finish a map because you're waiting for inspiration on what to do next. 

 

In the past I used to map room-by-room, which means I would complete a whole room, monsters and everything, and playtest it until I was satisfied before doing the next room. Nowadays I can sometimes get halfway into a map before adding monsters. As you might imagine, this results in continually playtesting older parts of a map before making new ones, which can lead to burnout because you get bored with the same old fights. In extreme cases, this can lead to not finishing the map. I personally advise new mappers to start by making small maps, so they can get a feel of how everything works. But there's no rule that says you have to do it this way.

 

As for keys, I'd say don't worry too much. A key opens a key door or activates a key switch. It doesn't have to be some big exciting thing in and of itself. Go ahead and make some maps and put them up for playtesting. IMO that's the best way to learn.

 

 

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"It depends."

 

I've used different approaches for different projects or even for different maps within a project.

 

I usually have some conception of a map's layout, or particular locations within it, before I start.  I may even have rough mud maps sketched out.  But sometimes I will wing it completely and just see what comes.

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Planning? 

 

 

More seriously, I either just create some significant rooms and start connecting them or just quickly sketch out layout - sometimes using mspaint to plan some specific things or high concepts.

I do have map theme and gameplay concepts ready before starting mapping, though - also just making a square room and picking bunch of textures that'll work together. 

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I made some maps without plan but my current philosophy is :

 

The more plan , the better.

 

I map a lot faster when I already drew my layout on paper , wrote the gameplay ideas , chose the music, map name and textures  before launching doombuilder. I don't start a map if I don't know how it ends and how it starts. 

 

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0. Find a MIDI you like daydreaming a map to

1. Draw a map layout on paper

2. Draw that layout in Doom Builder

3. Scrap that layout it because it doesn't look as good in the editor

4. Have a brainblast to conjure a wonderful starting area

5. Smash and grind face into keyboard until other areas are made that fit in and flow well

6. Put things in those areas for thematic and chaotic combat

7. Scrap more areas that aren't as good and brush them to the side for possible future use

8. Lovingly get a feel for how the map will finish in the grand master plan

9. Finish the map layout

10. Playtest over and over until everything feels good and fixing every minor inconvenient mishap

11. Place a thing within starting area view as a version marker

12. Show the world the doomiest dungeons ever conceived

Edited by SuperCupcakeTactics

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My process for a small project these days is basically this:

  1. Have a general theme and aesthetic in mind ("Hellish temple with a concentric design", "Techbase with slime traps", etc).  I also try to have a very general layout and flow in mind, like "the west side will be this large techbase, but then it'll look crumbled and transition to a hellish area on the east.  Player will need a key to advance to the east side."  I try to write this down in a text file.
  2. Gather some initial resources.  Usually this means textures, and possibly a few monsters.  I also keep a collection of screenshots of "interesting areas" from other games, and I usually look at these early on for some basic ideas.
  3. Start designing the opening area.  Sometimes I greybox stuff out, sometimes I just block stuff out with basic textures.
  4. Start expanding area-by-area, considering things like combat flow, cover, any neat gameplay things I want, traps... I script as I go.  On RARE occasion, I'll plan something out on grid paper first.  Otherwise it's all in-editor on-the-fly.
  5. After I have 3-4 new areas done, I playtest them and adjust until they feel good.  If they don't, I go back and modify them, iterating until they do feel good.
  6. Partially detail most of the new areas.  Just enough so I don't forget what I wanted to do with them visually.
  7. Repeat 4-6 until it's done.  Iteration is good.
  8. Playtest the hell out of the map, have others playtest it, adjust for feedback.  I test on HNTR, HMP, and UV here.
  9. Design the final encounter.  Playtest until my fingers fall off and my eyes bleed.
  10. Reattach fingers and wipe blood away.  Then convert DECORATE stuff to ZScript, unpack any resources WADs.
  11. A few final tests to make sure things aren't broken.
  12. Remove unused textures with my Dwaddle tool, recompress all the PNGs with PNGOUT and zopflipng, then package things into a .pk3 and recompress it with advzip.

Of course, not every project is the same, and my exact process changes a little every time... but this is my basic flow ^_^

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I have a few different methods. The most common one is I just start making things, try and find an idea for the next area, then work on that. In the mean time, I look at areas I've already worked on and think about if they can be re-used in any interesting way.

Another thing I do on occasion is I start out by making a large "hub" sort of area and build the map outwards from that, I don't think it's the way to go 100% of the time, but it's really good for making a more unified space. This is how I made map03 of UAC Pacific Northwest as well as one of the maps I put on the Black Mesa workshop.

 

Something I frequently try to do is think about areas that I've been and seen in real life that I thought were interesting, and try to translate that into level geometry. When you've been a level designer for long enough, you'll find you can be inspired by the most bizarre of things. I've taken a picture of a random shack in my neighborhood for exactly this reason.

 

 

Something that a lot of people do that I have had absolutely no success with is drawing maps out on paper.

I don't know what it is about me, but man, my level designer brain just fries whenever I try to sketch something onto paper. I rarely am able to get anything more cohesive that an extremely primitive layout skeleton out of doing this.

I've had better success planning in something like, say, Minecraft, but that was when I was mapping for the Source engine, for Doom it would be significantly faster to just start making the level in Doom builder. 

 

I often find that planning things out just doesn't work for me. A lot of my better ideas come from me looking at what I've made so far, thinking about what I can add to it to make it more fun and interesting, and then building off of that completely off-the-cuff idea.

EDIT: Actually, there is one thing I do for planning. I try to think of a few key words that the map should emphasize. Like, "Vertical", "Claustrophobic", "Trap-heavy", and so on. Then I write down a few things that I think would be fun to put in a level that emphasizes those things. Like "Many cacodemons", "chainsaw pit" or whatever. I don't plan that layout at all, I just sort of brainstorm ideas.

 

 

But ultimately, all I can tell you is that you won't really know for yourself until you've been mapping for a while and you know how you work. For now, I would start with the pen and paper method, and if it just isn't helping, be more spontaneous. Make random shapes and connect them with doors, whatever. It stands to reason that eventually you'll find a method that works for you.

Edited by HQDefault

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As mapmaking starter, try to put yourself little goals, for example, make a map that is a good start, like E1M1 or map01, both have secrets, doors, elevator, but no key or switch door and a bunch of low tier monsters. Then the next map, made something that is a bit larger, with the need of a key, maybe multiple paths to that key, and so on.

 

Little goals are the way to go at first.

Making an analisys map per map of the IWAD maps is an interesting way to look and get creative.

i like to look at the maps from Final Doom to get creative. Simple yet detailed, challenging and fun at first and then a lot more complex but still fun.

Sometimes, detailing a backstory for the project made things easier, because you just need to outline the progress to key points on the plot.

 

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16 hours ago, LateToDOOM2020 said:

I find it tricky to make good wads that use keys and have a good layout.

I my self have started to make wad designs on paper.

 

The way you create the layout doesn't really matter for the quality. The layout doesn't automatically become good just by chosing one method or the other, you can make good (and bad) layouts with either method.

 

To make a good layout you have to figure out what type of layout you like. Look at maps where you like the layout and try to figure out why you like it. This can be a bit tricky, unfortunately. Try to look at the spacial progression through the map, where keys and their doors are placed, where switches are placed and what they do, where weapons/powerups are placed, where and how combat happens.

 

A year ago I made a small "tutorial" on interconnected layout, maybe that's helpful for you if that's the style you like.

 

 

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I find that my motivation to make a map falls apart quickly if I've planned it out too thoroughly. The ideal, for me, seems to be a written note with the central challenge, gimmick or concept, a music track, map slot (if it's not a single map) and maybe a name, although I often tack one of those on after the map is made.

 

This probably stems from all the time I spent mapping for community projects and mapping challenge compilations, where you're basically always mapping to a "brief", rather than a plan. The idea tends to form and percolate in my head over the time I'm worked on it, and it keeps subconsciously developing when I'm not mapping and haven't finished, too.

 

 

If you want a surprisingly easy way to make maps feel complex and interesting, have the path of progress be reasonably linear, but make it go through areas in a looping fashion. This is even easier if you've got keys, as you can lock a door in a room the player goes through early on, then have them work their way round to the other side of that door once they've got the key. They'll emerge into the familiar room, probably expecting something to have changed, and you can always put another locked door in the same area to then continue the path. Proper non-linearity is really more about having multiple viable progression paths and options open to the player (either from the start, or after a certain point) where they feel free to explore without fearing approaching an area the "wrong" way. The classic "hub-spoke" design is the simplest way of thinking about this, but it's usually more impressive (at least, to a classically-minded player) to have it so that there's branching paths and areas that overlook other areas (that you may or may not be able to access immediately). Putting windows between areas can help a sense of space and also allow a player to see objectives he hasn't reached yet, making it easier to find their way, even if they don't know the way into where they can see.

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13 hours ago, Steve D said:

I'm another "compose directly in the editor with no clear plan" mapper.

 

Yes, same here. I have been composing maps on the fly right in the editor for years.

 

Before I was able to get my hands on an editor, I used to make levels out of sticks and moss.. no wait that's not right, I should say that I used graph paper. Most of those olde drawings were very room to hall to room to hall... like the olde D&D maps. Once I started using DoomCad, I would sometimes sketch a map or I would sketch a room. It was nice to have a plan when composing a complicated room because of the way sectors were drawn in the ancient DoomCad days.

 

Lately I've been drawing level ideas on graph paper. It's a bit of fun and a good way to come up with some layouts. Even if you don't use them, it's a good exercise in designing IMHO.

 

Here is a wild sketch I did recently...

 

mxmdtLB.jpg

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Wow many map makers with many techniques! 

From what I'm seeing here mostly are 

  • I use paper after getting a theme
  • I cant use paper I just build as I go 

Starting with goals and planning or on the fly I guess what matters most is some idea of what you want with the look and main concepts like specific rooms.... 

I still cant imagine how some of these maps are made as they seem so clever and I just get really bad with design at times. I feel like maybe the key/progression design aspect of it seems to be on the fly or as people further design the levels usually instead of on the paper or their mind if they do plan ahead. 

I'm guessing if its too non linear then that's when problems can arise.
I tried and still am trying to make a map that's basically the shape of a square in an outside environment and its not so easy to do with keys.  It somewhat made me wonder how people think when they makes these wads but part of the issue is its probably non linear making it way more tricky developed on the fly. 

Previously I did do some of the techniques others are talking about with he planning the environment and looks and basic mechanisms.  Its cool to see others techniques in how they think and create these maps. 

 

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For some reason I consider limiting the use of keys an achievement in my mapping. It feels like I have succeeded in avoiding using a trope as a crutch.

 

Don't consider this advice though. It doesn't make any sense.

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Open the editor and track down some lines. Sometimes I have already a idea for a room, a shape or some structure inside my mind and I craft out something from that.

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47 minutes ago, LateToDOOM2020 said:

I'm guessing if its too non linear then that's when problems can arise.

 

Do you actually mean non-linearity? Most maps aren't non-linear. Don't confuse it with looping design (where you revisit areas from different directions).

 

28 minutes ago, purist said:

For some reason I consider limiting the use of keys an achievement in my mapping. It feels like I have succeeded in avoiding using a trope as a crutch.

 

Don't consider this advice though. It doesn't make any sense.

 

Keys and switches do the same thing in the big picture: they let the player progress where progress was previously not possible. Keys have two advantages over switches: they give players a goal ("there's a locked blue door, I want to find the key" - "yay, I found the blue key, now back to that door!") and they can be put somewhere where it'd not be possible to show the player what happens when pressing a switch. Technically the latter is not necessary with switches, but nobody likes pressing a switch and not having a clue what it did, so it's good practice to show the player what pressing a switch did.

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7 minutes ago, boris said:

 

Do you actually mean non-linearity? Most maps aren't non-linear. Don't confuse it with looping design (where you revisit areas from different directions).

 

I may be saying incorrectly I just kind of "made up a word" . Basically im saying if a map is like just a large square without hallways or going room to room it takes more effort to plan.  I would say E12 for doom1 is pretty streight forward with most of the map going in a specific direction. While for example E1M2 in doom2 it feels like your all over the place and its not a line directly to the exit.
Maybe I just havent learned or figured out much techniques yet to do it like that.

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