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MattFright

How do you find inspiration for your maps?

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Recently i've been having issues finding inspiration to what to even do in new maps i had absolutely 0 plans for (because i REALLY want to make short maps i don't care about, just to have something to release). I've been opening the editor, staring at it for a while, and either making gigantic central structures or massive flat open areas, neither of which really serve much gameplay purpose.

 

Thankfully recently i've opened the stash of screenshots i use for my Doom Engine screenshots account on Twitter and that has helped just about enough to get started working on a map that doesn't suck!!! But i was wondering if there was actually something better i could've done to inspire myself with small loose ideas to work on maps that don't rely taking hundreds of screenshots myself. So i was wondering, what do you guys do when you're out of ideas? Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you look up art on Pinterest? Look up other Doom maps? I wanna know!

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i'm making full WAD for Ultimate Doom (4 episodes) and when im running out of ideas i just play some 90's maps or rewind DOOM 2 or The Ultimate Doom (even Plutonia sometimes) so if you dont have idea for new maps, just play classic WAD's

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With me it starts generally with an idea, then that idea becomes a notion and then that notion becomes something that I can work from further. That something is often either a piece of level editing, a hand-made drawing or some real-life geometry that I incorporate within the engine that I use (idtech1 or idtech3 for the most part). With time, I end up with I declare a finished product and yes even I occasionally have problems with finding inspirations or solve certain design problems . . .

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Starting to work on a map from nothing can be an issue, I would recommend instead getting out graph paper or any type of paper and to just start drawing.  Personally I also like to make dehacked changes when I need a good idea, a simple change in the amount of ammo can change so much about how you map and you may find yourself changing what weapons and ammo are in a map because the player can carry 100 more bullets or 25 less rockets or 200 more cells.  If you can also try and stick to a theme, you might want to make small maps, but how small?  Scythe sizes maps?  Episode one sized maps? Or in between.  If you are using a texture pack look at the textures and see what they have been used to make in the past.  If you are using vanilla textures you might play wads that Primarily use vanilla textures. 

Edited by Plank_Guy_89 : Grammar

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By playing other maps. Mostly by ribbiks, killer5, TimeOfDeath, and Insanegazebo.

Edited by Jacek Bourne

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To me it's also inspiration from other maps and/or trying to make a map different from a previous one. Finding some concepts and try to experiment with them until I've got a layout ready.

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If you have no inspiration, don't make maps. Or do. I dunno :D But to be real, what do you want to make? Scenery? Good gameplay? Challenging micro maps? Look for appropriate wads. I follow Doomtubers and when they play a map I try to look for inspiration, I don't watch as a player but as a map maker. Appreciating the fights, the lights, everything. I'm always amazed how much hightdifferences a map can have. I tend to make everything almost flat. And I can zone out, looking at a map, seeing a good fight and then thinking about how I could improve it. Yeah, after 10 minutes I realize I have no idea about the actual map and I have built another in my head (obviously when I sit down to map, I sometimes realize I don't know how to do that idea, but that's besides the point.)

 

So in short, look for wads you like and try to imitate them, the more impressions you have the more ideas you'll have. (And your mind will throw out to bad ideas anyways so don't worry about burning out on wads.)

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Play more maps and concentrate on what you like about them. After killing monsters, take a look around at the map your in, get some ideas. Try something different when you are creating your maps. If you are making giant structures and open areas, start making some tight corridors and smaller rooms. Make some odd shapes and connect them to each other and then edit them from there. Look at some screenshots of other games and try to draw information from those.

Edited by TheGreenZap

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I map when I get an idea and/or inspiration... often the idea grows in my head until it reaches a size where it must come out in the form of a map.. I then struggle to try and give it justice as best that I can...

 

Maybe at some point, when I become atleast a half decent mapper, I will revisit some of my older maps, where the ideer was good but the execution wasnt

 

sometimes I just map one or two rooms... then move on to something else...

 

I have many maps that are just started and only have like one, two or maybe three rooms at the moment...

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I either play different maps or I often look to Pinterest for inspiration- sometimes IRL structures actually can be fun to try and replicate so I'll either use them as a jumping-off point for a map or sometimes as a filler. I actually ended up re-creating a gazebo from a garden I'd visited sometime ago and it became the beginning point of one of my maps for Death's Dichotomy. 
I know a few other folks who will screenshot scenes from shows and movies as well, I don't ascribe to that as much but it may help you. Mainly, just do your best to keep your eyes and mind open whenever looking at art media because you'll never know what could inspire you to make something!

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i play other games, watch films, listen to music, etc, a lot of times music especially sparks some cool spatial ideas in my brain.

 

lately i've taken to "scribble non-map shapes and turn it into a map" (see here). i love problem-solving, so having an actual problem to solve that isn't "make something lol" helps a lot.

look beyond doom for inspiration. i think a big thing holding a lot of maps back currently is the endless cycle of doom looking to doom for what to do next with doom. but there's so much more! after all, doom was originally inspired by shit like pac-man and f-zero. no reason modern maps within the format can't be inspired by other things, it's very flexible.

 

and don't worry about making something playable, just make something interesting. worry about if it's good later. this goes for all art. or just never worry about if it's good, which is even better :D

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2 hours ago, Plank_Guy_89 said:

Starting to work on a map from nothing can be an issue, I would recommend instead getting out graph paper or any type of paper and to just start drawing.  Personally I also like to make dehacked changes when I need a good idea, a simple change in the amount of ammo can change so much about how you map and you may find yourself changing what weapons and ammo are in a map because the player can carry 100 more bullets or 25 less rockets or 200 more cells.  If you can also try and stick to a theme, you might want to make small maps, but how small?  Scythe sizes maps?  Episode one sized maps? Or in between.  If you are using a texture pack look at the textures and see what they have been used to make in the past.  If you are using vanilla textures you might play wads that Primarily use vanilla textures. 

This is excellent advice. Growing up my literature teacher always said: "If you want to write well, read good books." The same principle applies here's, go put and play some wads. Play good ones, see what you like and what you don't. What can you fix? What can be improved? How can simple concepts be adapted to your creative vision? How does monster placement change in an E1 replacement, a slaughter map, a CChest style map, an Epic 2 adventure level, a TNT techbase, a Scythe style compact map, etc.

 

You have to play, the amount of inspiration I get from playing wads I've already played multiple times cannot be understated. If I'm stuck, I play through TNT or Demonfear for a few levels. These are no means perfect Megawads, however, no such thing exists. But they are both very creative and play with interesting concepts. Newer examples of this would be Sunlust, Ancient Aliens, and Doom 404, which are also great showcases of creativity.

 

Also if you find vanilla textures to be unstimulating, go play with GotchicDM textures, or Memento Mori textures, or Eternal Doom, or CC4tex, or Otex. 

 

If you try the same thing over and over, you will get bored. Variety is the spice of life. I also find that opening an editor and just drawing is a great way to get the ball rolling. Just make a few rooms, see where it goes from there. Hope this helps.

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Looking at heretic, strife, classic doom, etc helps tho just looking at simple locations is a way to find inspiration

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@msx2plus already linked a topic I made a couple of days ago, that touches this subject, albeit from a slightly different angle.

 

My limited experience with map making, and slightly less limited experience with writing, tells me that it can be dangerous to wait and rely on inspiration. I think this concerns writing especially, but I don't see why it wouldn't concern mapping as well. Routine seems more important, and at least with writing, I usually write best when I'm not actually attempting to do anything fine and dandy.

 

So far something similar occurs with mapping. I can have an idea, but it usually amounts to nothing: I draw a few sectors, and see that my would-be map is a dead-end venture. But if I keep on carving a new map, at some point the map seems to come alive against all expectations. This happened with my first wad (that I made this century), and it seems to have happened with my second wad: desperate struggling in the beginning, but then sectors and ambushes click together before I realize it.

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I let my mind go apeshet when brainstorming, any idea works for me. What if make a map in a very specific emotion? What if I make a map that takes some ideas and visuals from another wad, and mix them with mine? What if I remix some maps from Doom 93 and Doom 2? What if I make a map that's falls apart the further you progress?

 

These ideas can come from a huge bunch of directions, my ideas come either from total boredom, when I play wads or other games. However am way too lazy to build maps right now.

 

I'd recommend taking some time for brainstorming ideas and writing them down like I do, the most simple idea can turn into a map. You can also take a word, any word, and come up with ideas. 

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Other people's maps and Pinterest are the main sources of inspiration for me. I rarely know what my tend result is going to look like when I start, though. I just start doodling in the editor making shapes I like inspired by whatever caught my eye and just the map grow organically.

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I tend to base my maps on existing things. D&D and other video game maps, spaceship blueprints, etc... Other times I'll have a central theme that I build the map around and that informs (or inspires) the design.

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I started mapping in '96, and inspiration came easily. Just make some sorta cool-looking areas to kill players in. And in a sense, even after all this time, I have no great problem coming up with ideas. In fact, I have projects in the pipeline that will keep me busy for years, some of which already have one or more maps done. 

 

That said, most of my inspiration comes from music, specifically music from the Doom Community or the Amiga tracker scene. Different types of music suggest different types of map, obviously. Beautiful, soothing music will suggest something with a relaxed pace, what I call a "pacey" map. This doesn't mean the map will be easy, only that there will be relaxing moments between the carnage. Also, the map will tend towards non-techbase architecture, for example outdoor areas, ancient temples, ruins, etc. Dark, creepy music will generate a dark, creepy map heavy on atmosphere and a sense of menace, with architecture tending towards corrupted Hellbase and Gothic castles. Again, the pace will be measured, because you need breathing space to build tension before you go HAM on the player. And not surprisingly, fast-paced action music will result in a fast-paced map, typically with a hot start and gameplay that amounts to all-out-war from beginning to end. Techbase and sandbox maps predominate.

 

Occasionally I will see something that inspires me. For example, I saw an animated commercial with an unusual waterfall and thought I'd like to capture that in Doom. The idea was filed away in my brain until I received a midi from Varis Pax that suggested a map built on that odd waterfall, so I've started work on it.

Edited by Steve D

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Good question.

But jokes aside I usually take inspiration from other wads or some times real-life places, then I draw a crude layout on paint and consider how it would work with enemies and items

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I do not hold my stuff up to standards of say, Sunder or Ancient Aliens.

 

I do not wish to make a grand masterpiece that will be talked about forever, a benchmark to be held to or even a popular item.

 

I make what I enjoy, I play maps from the IWADs and PWADs from the 90's and such and think to myself "Why do I enjoy this particular section?" or "what about this map did I think was cool and could be done better if ...", I sit there and germinate on it a bit, then I open Doombuilder with the idea fresh in my head and make it, I attach it to a map I am making or make a map out of it.

 

It's spontaneous really, I never actually plan a map, I get inspired and make my inspirations come to life, when flying freehand I sit there and wonder what I would logically like to see next, what I think would connect this section to the next, these are by far the most drab sections but they can be later improved upon.

 

I really enjoy simple, basic 90's stuff so I generally map stuff rather basic and very 90's flavoured, what do you enjoy? Make that.

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Bipolar 1 helps, I'll get inspiration out of nowhere then spend a ridiculous amount of time mapping until its over.

 

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Usually I just go to the Maps and WADs subforum and play what they have there.

 

If it's good enough I might just have enough 'inspiration' to make my own.

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10 hours ago, MattFright said:

Recently i've been having issues finding inspiration to what to even do in new maps i had absolutely 0 plans for (because i REALLY want to make short maps i don't care about, just to have something to release). I've been opening the editor, staring at it for a while, and either making gigantic central structures or massive flat open areas, neither of which really serve much gameplay purpose.

 

Thankfully recently i've opened the stash of screenshots i use for my Doom Engine screenshots account on Twitter and that has helped just about enough to get started working on a map that doesn't suck!!! But i was wondering if there was actually something better i could've done to inspire myself with small loose ideas to work on maps that don't rely taking hundreds of screenshots myself. So i was wondering, what do you guys do when you're out of ideas? Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you look up art on Pinterest? Look up other Doom maps? I wanna know!

 

I'm probably not the best source of advice given that I've yet to finish and actually release a map (even though my 3rd and best map has been roughly 90% complete for probably over a year and a half at this point, just sitting around untouched. Yeah, 2 years on a single map.) but I always get the best inspiration for what I should add next by just playing through the level. Then I get an idea for what would be cool to add and just get to it. It may not always fit or work, but probably 8-9 times out of 10 once you get started on that idea, you will gradually refine it and evolve it till it's something rather creative and something you like. :) In my personal philosophy, cool/interesting gameplay scenarios should be the first consideration. Once you've drawn the linedefs to form the basic shapes of your rooms or whatever, try to do something that would be interesting to explore or navigate first, then add in the visual decoration (textures, sprites), then enemies to create interesting battle scenarios, and lastly health/ammo to balance with the enemies. Just keep testing as you add stuff in to see if it still works and what else can be added. 'Cause once it starts you up, when it starts you up, you never stop, never stop, never never never stop. (Sorry lol).

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You can also draw inspiration from other games you really like. For example, there's a room in my level which was inspired by a section in the first map of the Quake 1 expansion pack Scourge of Armagon. It's not that similar in actuality, but the idea gets you started on something that becomes your own. You see something cool other people do, and try to incorporate that in your own maps.

 

If you're just completely out of ideas from the beginning, then the map probably won't be very good however. I got to be in a creative mood for something cool to happen. There definitely were times when I was starting out mapping that I'd force a room or location for sake of having one, rather than feeling a necessity to add it or an idea behind it, and I'd ultimately land up just deleting many hours of work because it really didn't add anything to the map.

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2 hours ago, mrthejoshmon said:

I make what I enjoy, I play maps from the IWADs and PWADs from the 90's and such and think to myself "Why do I enjoy this particular section?" or "what about this map did I think was cool and could be done better if ...", I sit there and germinate on it a bit, then I open Doombuilder with the idea fresh in my head and make it, I attach it to a map I am making or make a map out of it.

 

It's spontaneous really, I never actually plan a map, I get inspired and make my inspirations come to life, when flying freehand I sit there and wonder what I would logically like to see next, what I think would connect this section to the next, these are by far the most drab sections but they can be later improved upon.

 

I really enjoy simple, basic 90's stuff so I generally map stuff rather basic and very 90's flavoured, what do you enjoy? Make that.

 

Great advice, I think I was trying to say something similar. I too am a fan of more 90s/vanilla-styled maps. I'd love to give yours a spin. Download link?

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I mean to remember a similar thread where mapping "giants" like Skillsaw shared their approach, but I don't remember the name/link :(

 

I'm also pretty much a noob and didn't release anything serious till this date (though I'm working for a year now on a 4-map miniwad where 3 maps are already playable, problem is more lack of time than lack of inspiration). But when I map something then I start with gameplay ideas. I think about the question "Which kind of fight do I want? Incidental combat? Arena fight? Difficulty level? Which kind of enemies do I need for that? And finally: Which architecture would benefit this fight the most?

 

Or more generally: Think about "Which obstacles do I want to present the player on his way to the exit"? Instead of a fight, the obstacle can also be a puzzle (I love puzzles which are "not" simple switchhunts), or an environmental hazard. A healthy bit of sadism towards the player can also help (obviously: you have to playtest it, so in this case you're also sadistic against yourself!)

 

So you can systematically craft a concept and then implement it in your map. Obviously playing other wads also helps.

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