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thelazyqdude

Mapping Formats & what does what

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When you make a new map, you are greeted with 4 mapping formats at the prompt. (Shown editor is Ultimate Doom Builder)

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These are the default formats. You can change the default formats and select other formats to map in, but now is not the time for that.

 

Doom: Doom 2 (Doom Format), or Vanilla/Doom Format, is the most basic format. ID Software's maps were made in this format.

As long as you are using a limit-removing source port (majority uses one) you will be fine running a Vanilla Format map that's pushing the limitations of the OG executable.

 

Boom: Boom 2 (Doom Format), or Boom Format, is a step above Doom Format. This format comes with more features, such as generalized actions, conveyor belts, wind & friction, etc. Many common source ports can run Boom Format maps.

 

Next up is.. ahh, Hexen Format. Apparently, I don't know much about this format as I thought so I'll leave this quote from @Nine Inch Heels:

18 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

Hexen format is the odd one out, but it has its uses even to this day, most notably deathmatch maps that run for example on odamex, or ZDaemon rocket jump maps. It is worth noting that true 3D floors are not exclusive to UDMF. ZDoom (Doom in Hexen) can employ true 3D as well, but only if the targeted source port permits that.

 

The 4th default format is UDMF.

Dynamic lights. Sector lights. Properties EVERYWHERE. 3D floors. UDMF is for your wildest dreams of doom mapping, letting you do insane things. With ACS scripting, you can take it even further with UDMF. You can make water to swim in, Wolfenstein 3D like doors, multiple areas stacked on each other, caves made out of natural-looking slop--

 

Or you can just use it to align a flat. Choice is up to you, but in most cases, this is not for beginners.

 

Q&A provided by people who are way better at this in the comments:

 

New to mapping, what should I pick?

Boom/Vanilla format if you don't feel like you're capable of Hexen or UDMF.

 

I wanna be able to script my maps, so what should I go for?

Boom Format has voodoo scripting. Voodoo scripting is triggering linedef actions by making a conveyor belt and a voodoo doll. As the voodoo doll moves on the conveyor belt, it crosses linedef actions, so you can set up stuff like timers, looping scripts, or add multiple actions to a single linedef/switch. Plus, you don't need to know anything about code for Voodoo Scripting! 

 

If you want something even more powerful, you can go for ACS. ACS is very powerful, however, you're going to have to learn it which involves looking at the wiki & asking for help a lot. If you're already familiar with coding, ACS will be easier for you.

theres also zscript if you want to do that for gzdoom but you gotta learn how to code that

 

 

 

 

Oh hey! You've made it this far, and chances are you may be thinking: 

Oh shit! I chose the wrong format!

No worries. Simply go to your map, press F2 and change the format. Do be warned: this will most likely mess up multiple properties for linedefs & things across the entire map so you will have to sort through that. 

 

You can also change the formats that you want to use. If you press Tools -> Game Configurations or F6, you can select checkboxes to toggle whether or not you want to see the formats. There's also some more useful stuff here as well, like what source port to test in and setting up your IWADs as a default resource.

Edited by thelazyqdude

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This is a great guide for mappers(like myself) that don't know which format is best to use in what circumstance. Good on you for making this

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Thanks for this, sums it up nicely. I've been using Hexen format purely on the basis that it offers you classic style mapping with a few extra tricks to enhance the game. I want to try and start mapping in UDMF in the future but it seems a little daunting to dive straight into that as a newbie mapper. In particular I know next to nothing about ACS, I'm still at the stage where using SLADE3 to import custom DECORATE stuff and change music/etc just like that had blown my clueless mind a little bit. 

 

About switching between formats: is there an easy way to do this on the fly? I totally ruined one of my maps by deciding to switch it to UDMF in Doom Builder just to see what would happen - it came out looking like pointy spaghetti. I have used ZWADCONV already but that's surely too old by now to accommodate UDMF.

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54 minutes ago, VisionThing said:

About switching between formats: is there an easy way to do this on the fly? I totally ruined one of my maps by deciding to switch it to UDMF in Doom Builder just to see what would happen - it came out looking like pointy spaghetti. I have used ZWADCONV already but that's surely too old by now to accommodate UDMF.

That shouldn't have happened. Maybe you have an older build or something? I'm using Ultimate Doom Builder and it lets you switch willy nilly between formats for your map while keeping the geometry intact.

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IMO Boom is the best one if you're starting out.

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On 2/25/2021 at 1:04 PM, thelazyqdude said:

Next up is.. ahh, Hexen Format.

Deprecated & old. There is no good reason to use this format. Admittedly, this format has more features than the 2 formats stated above.

However, if what you're looking for is more features, this next format is for you.

Hope you don't take this bad, but its not deprecated.

Believe it or not, there are some mappers still mapping for vanilla Hexen. And there are quite interesting things made on it, for sure.

Yes, most people play Hexen on zdoom base port nowdays, but theare are also people playing it on Chocolate Hexen, Crispy Hexen, and other more conservative ports, too.

It will probably come to be compatible with DSDA Doom, soon, and it will be on it vanilla format.

 

2 hours ago, VisionThing said:

I want to try and start mapping in UDMF in the future but it seems a little daunting to dive straight into that as a newbie mapper. In particular I know next to nothing about ACS, I'm still at the stage where using SLADE3 to import custom DECORATE stuff and change music/etc just like that had blown my clueless mind a little bit. 

don't worry, you don't need to know ACS from the get go to use it.

UDMF stand for Universal Doom Map Format, and that because it let you do whatever you want with it. Evwn maps without ACS or decorate at all.

If you are just learning, its ok, try making some maps without scripts first, then when you can handle properly how to change/add textures with slade, writing mapinfo or decorate/zscript entries, then you can jump to more complex things like ACS.

ACS is not necessarely something you need to know, as there are a lot of great mods for zdoom base ports that doesn't use it at all :)

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50 minutes ago, P41R47 said:

Hope you don't take this bad, but its not deprecated.

Might as well be. No good reason to use it for making doom maps. 

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I thought that this is a poll thread, I know how to deal with these formats but thanks!

Boom and Doom format are the most comfortable formats for me.
UDMF and Hexen format are quite hard but they get easier when I learn them, scripting is too complex for my small brain.

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1 hour ago, AvadaKedavraWithQuadDamage said:

I thought that this is a poll thread, I know how to deal with these formats but thanks!

Boom and Doom format are the most comfortable formats for me.
UDMF and Hexen format are quite hard but they get easier when I learn them, scripting is too complex for my small brain.

 

Looks like you missed that this thread is in the "Editing Tutorials" section.

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On 2/25/2021 at 6:04 PM, thelazyqdude said:

Next up is.. ahh, Hexen Format.

Deprecated & old. There is no good reason to use this format.

Actually there is a good reason to use the Doom in Hexen format, if you want the most advanced format that is still compatible with the three major multiplayer source ports. If you don't care about the compatibility with those ports, then sure you can just use UDMF instead.

 

Also most of the features you listed for UDMF are actually already possible to achieve with Doom in Hexen format, they are just less convenient or more cumbersome to do.

At least these ones you listed should be doable in hexen format:

  • Dynamic lights
  • 3D floors
  • ACS scripting
  • Swimmable water
  • Wolfenstein 3D like doors
  • Multiple areas stacked on each other
  • Caves made out of natural-looking slopes
  • Align flats

 

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Posted (edited)

I don't like throwing a wrench in other people's guides, but there is a heck of a lot to unpack here, and there's also something missing that a "guide" such as this one should have... So, here we go...

 

 

Which format should a new mapper pick?

 

This one's been argued up and down in the past, but in general the choice regarding where you wanna start learning how to make maps depends greatly on what kinds of maps you prefer, and how much you're willing to deal with having to learn something new. The rule of thumb is that the older the format, the more "simplistic" it is. This means that older formats are easier to understand fully, but they also offer less features. This is not a qualitative statement, because you can do amazing stuff even in vanilla format, but you have to be pretty savvy to realize some of your ideas in the face of the format's mechanical limitations.

 

If you want all the sector colours, true 3D geometry, ACS and ZScript, as well as DECORATE support, because you aim to learn how to create something like "shadows of the nightmare realm", then you have very little in the way of choice. You're gonna end up with UDMF anyway, so you might as well start working from there, and explore the many features it has at a measured pace, because feature-creep doesn't do much for you, unless you aim to make "tech-demos" instead of maps.

 

If you want to create something like SunLust, or you want to create something close to vanilla, you can comfortably settle with boom format to get started. One of the bigger annoyances that comes with limit removing vanilla maps is the lack of actions to choose from, and once you've gotten used to the generalized actions boom has to offer, that problem is an issue of the past. The added flexibility is well worth a look, even if you're just getting started. It's enough to allow the aspiring mapper to create just about any function they could want as long as it's linedef-triggered, but it's not as likely that feature creep sneaks up on you... And that might be a bigger advantage than you may expect...

 

Hexen format is the odd one out, but it has its uses even to this day, most notably deathmatch maps that run for example on odamex, or ZDaemon rocket jump maps. It is worth noting that true 3D floors are not exclusive to UDMF. ZDoom (Doom in Hexen) can employ true 3D as well, but only if the targeted source port permits that.

 

I'm going to omit Eternity format here, because I don't know enough about it to have much of an informed opinion, let alone the ability to present well-reasoned arguments in its favour, or against it, for that matter.

 

Regardless of your choice: It is important to differentiate between features of a particular format, and features of targetted source ports. Both ZDoom and ZDaemon can run "Doom in Hexen" format, but only one of the two, namely ZDoom, is able to make use of true 3D geometry.

 

 

I wanna be able to script my maps, so what should I go for?

 

Here's where it gets iffy... Boom format maps allow for scripting by way of voodoo conveyors, which is a very easy way to set up timers, looping scripts, or to add multiple actions to a single linedef or switch in a map. The benefit of using these conveyors is that they do not require anything in the way of coding expertise. If you know how to use linedef actions, and you know how to create a scrolling floor, you get conveyor scripting "for free".

 

Any formats that target ZDoom allow for the very same conveyor based scripting as boom format does, but people usually default to ACS which is a machine language that tells the game what to do when and under which circumstances. Unlike with boom, you can also use monsters or even items you place to execute scripts anytime you want. This added flexibility comes at the expense of having to learn ACS, or sifting through the wiki in order to find what you are looking for, or knowing somebody who can help you out when you're stuck. This added hurdle is no biggie if you're already familiar with coding to some extent, but if you have no experience with coding at all, it might be daunting and/or frustrating to get into. It's for that reason that I like to recommend boom as a format to start with, because it is way more intuitive than having to learn how to "code".

 

It is possible to script in a "boom-esque" manner in vanilla format, but it comes at the expense of GZDoom compatibility. So, before you go down that rabbit hole, consider trying a different format first.

 

It should also be noted that regardless of whichever format you use, you could still use ZScript if you end up targetting GZDoom, again, at the expense of having to learn how to write that code.

 

 

Okay, look... I have no idea how to code, and I just wanna try making a map or two, what should I pick..?

The answer here, as far as I'm concerned, has got to be boom format. It is easy to navigate, regardless of the builder you use, it offers more flexibility than you could possibly need when you're just starting out, and you are the most likely to actually finish something instead of getting tangled up in features you don't know how or why to use. Second place goes to UDMF, because it is possible to keep it simple if you exercise a bit of self-restraint when it comes to using features. You could even omit ACS or ZScript entirely if you wanted, in which case you could treat it like boom, but with the potential for true 3D geometry.

 

All things considered, boom is more intuitive to understand, especially if you open up boom maps in the builder to check how people create conveyor scripts, while UDMF offers even more stuff at the risk of spending way more time on a map than you might have planned.

 

 

 

On 2/25/2021 at 11:04 AM, thelazyqdude said:

This format comes with more features, such as generalized actions, conveyor belts, those weird wind & friction things (does anyone even use that crap?)

Guess what? People use those features from time to time, so it would be pretty swell if you avoided calling certain features "crap" in your "guide", mmmkay..?

 

3 hours ago, thelazyqdude said:

Might as well be. No good reason to use it for making doom maps. 

Okay, so... I have a question... What makes you think it's fine to deem a format you know nothing about obsolete, even though it's still being used nowadays..?

 

Alright, here's the deal... I assume you mean well when writing a guide like this, which is why I hesitated making this post here, but there are too many inaccuracies, knowledge gaps, and biases involved to leave this standing as is... I'm far from an arbiter of mapping knowledge, but even I can see that your guide leaves a lot to be desired, even for the new mapper on the block....

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On 2/25/2021 at 8:04 AM, thelazyqdude said:

New to mapping, what should I pick?

Boom/Vanilla format if you don't feel like you're capable of Hexen or UDMF.

 

There are those who proclaim that one should start out making maps for the original DOOM format, because it is more simplistic. Those maps are for ports like PrBOOM+, Crispy Doom, DOOM in DOSBOX, etc.

 

The learning process for that format is easy enough. You use a map editor like Ultimate Doom Builder and start laying down sectors and adding more and more of them to construct your map. You learn what linedef action specials and predined sector specials are all about. And after a while you upload your first map.

 

Soon enough you run into situations which have no clear path to success and you resort to hacks like voodoo doll 'scripting' only to realize that those solutions are limited as well. Don't get me wrong, there are maps out there for DOOM or BOOM, in their respective format, which are excellent. Authors of those maps knew how to apply a beautiful architectural construction, new textures and imaginative twists in game play.

 

However, if one wants to build maps which use new monsters, new weapons, variations in lighting , slopes, portals, 3D features, 'eye candy' (which includes brightmaps, shaders), then there is no choice but to use a different port like Eternity, Edge, Zandronum (based on an old GZDoom engine) or GZDoom (with the most features).

 

"All" one has to do is switch the mapping format to Doom in Hexen format (DiHF) or Ultimate Doom Mapping format (UDMF). Both formats basically are capable of doing the same things. It's just that UDMF, being the latest mapping format, is streamlined to do things with less effort.

 

I place all in quotes because DiHF and UDMF differ substantially from the original DOOM format, in the naming of various terms and how many arguments can be applied to specials. While the construction aspect of maps remains the same, it requires to relearn these terms and arguments. No longer is one tethered to a single action per linedef, but there is an easy to learn scripting language (ACS) which allows several actions to be completed at once. Various conditions can be applied, like operating a door which needs two or several switches to be pressed, etc. Thus it becomes necessary to relearn how things can be accomplished.

 

So, it comes down to the decision how to progress in ones path to the mapping masterpiece.

Never forget that mapping is an activity which should be fun, to let ones imagination soar and be creative.

 

Take advantage of what others have learned before you, to help you when you get stuck.

Pose questions stating which format and port you are mapping for. Supply an example map.

 

Read the WIKIs, Doom WIKI and ZDoom WIKI.

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I've always wanted to make a UDMF (Doom) map, but I'm just too lazy to learn enough code to make it not a pita. The spec does show some benefits of doing so, but maybe I'm not reading it right.

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Posted (edited)

You're absolutely right, lazy.

 

I've been testing mapping with UDMF and it's basically Hexen extended, since it has more options it may look overwhelming but you can explore and tinker more than ever!

Even if you don't know how to use the format completely you can always improve your skills by watching tutorials.

UDMF hands down, thanks for the guide.

Edited by Kurogachii

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, PaquoCastor said:

I've always wanted to make a UDMF (Doom) map, but I'm just too lazy to learn enough code to make it not a pita. ....

 

That is an interesting pov, and quite wrong.

UDMF, in most cases, allows you to do some stuff with simple mouse clicks in menus, what would have to be done with scripts in DiHF.

 

But, if you are too lazy then there is very little we can do to help you with.

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8 hours ago, Kappes Buur said:

 

That is an interesting pov, and quite wrong.

UDMF, in most cases, allows you to do some stuff with simple mouse clicks in menus, what would have to be done with scripts in DiHF.

 

But, if you are too lazy then there is very little we can do to help you with.

Not to mention that nowadays all the code is available online, even if you make an extreme contraption of code, you can still master it in just a few weeks, but that's just my opinion.

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Posted (edited)

Yes, it would be most sane to just make a UDMF (Eternity) map, but something in me really wants to do the zany things. I'll make one of those for that project to support more EE love, but @Kappes Buur and @Kurogachii are right. Even if I can't figure out how to get the editors to support it, I 💯 can brute force it, I already made at least two such concept maps. I need to make it just to make it a thing. I'm too lazy to make a rather simple program that opens the wad, reads the textmap, and sets the lindef specials according to the input arguments. (just use the appropriate libraries, which probably means write in python, hurray!) That's the thing I couldn't get either Slade or DBX to support, iirc. Of course just read the editors' source codes to figure out why smashing portions of editor configuration files doesn't work, that's the smart thing to do. Have to find out how, why, and where that all works though. Nah, just configure the textmap lump by hand in a text editor/processor. Although one of those editor removes some hand edits, it's more annoying than helpful, aargh, bargh, and even cargh.

 

I need to look at the progress I did make. Floating point is reason enough to not just use/write a converter.

 

Of course, UDMF (Hexen) might be easier to force. But at that point why not make a Hexen map, except that only like three engines support that, probably. Could possibly add two more if a Doom map in the format (EE and EDGE.)

Edited by PaquoCastor

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On 3/4/2021 at 4:33 PM, thelazyqdude said:

No good reason to use it for making doom maps

 

Weeelll..... If you use a flavour of Linux, then UDMF is de-facto excluded as UDB won't run on WINE.

 

I started with Eureka a while back in DiHF, and that is pretty powerful - ACS, multiple linedef actions, custom things/sounds etc. sure, there are some limitations (8 bit linedef arg limit, single action per linedef, not a text format etc.) but it is a much better map editor than Slade has (which does also run on Linux and yes, it does support UDMF, but is not primarily a map editor). 

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