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Dokta Whawee

How do I help stop myself from making my maps all flash and no substance?

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Posted (edited)

Like the title says, I have a bad habit with giving a lot of visual details to my maps, to the point where the gameplay is very much crippled. I haven't truly released a map pack yet, because I am a perfectionist, but I am really trying my best, and have always wanted to know some ways to help myself through that design process.

Edited by Dokta Whawee

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"All flash and no substance" sounds to me like "I put too much visual detail in my maps, and don't bother with combat much." But your post says the opposite, so which is it? Arguably, the substance of a doom map is gameplay. I'm genuinely puzzled, don't mean to be harsh. 

Also, what does releasing a map pack have to do with anything? 

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11 hours ago, HrnekBezucha said:

I put too much visual detail in my maps, and don't bother with combat much.

Yes, that's what I meant. Sorry, I wrote this at midnight lol. I was tired as fuck.

 

11 hours ago, HrnekBezucha said:

the substance of a doom map is gameplay.

Yes, I was hoping for some feedback on how to stop myself from making every map look good, but play boring.

 

11 hours ago, HrnekBezucha said:

Also, what does releasing a map pack have to do with anything? 

I don't know where I was going with this.

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I think it'd help to start with a gameplay idea first and build off of that. Brainstorm interesting fights or gameplay gimmicks and make them in just a generic room with no detail, test them, then hone them until they are fun to play despite the lack of visual puffery. THEN add the visual touches.

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Try some speedmapping, the process is different when you need to get an idea into a playable state in an hour or two and it's much more likely that the map geometry will be serving the gameplay instead of the other way around. People here run casual speedmapping projects all the time so it's also a way of getting something published without overthinking things.

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4 hours ago, Dokta Whawee said:

Yes, that's what I meant. Sorry, I wrote this at midnight lol. I was tired as fuck.

 

Yes, I was hoping for some feedback on how to stop myself from making every map look good, but play boring.

 

I don't know where I was going with this.

Okay, cool. Think of what wads you like to play. There's a bunch of different ways to fill a map with goodies and with baddies. Take a map you really like, and analyze it. Native open it in an editor, to see how it's put together, where things are, what the blueprint looks like. 

Not to compare your skill to the mapper's skill of designing a progression, and encounter, and stuff. But to get ideas what to try. 

One important thing is that even the architecture itself is gameplay design. They may not be obvious, so I point it out. When you're putting walls down, tagging lifts and all that, you're already designing gameplay that will happen in the area. All the great mappers out there make all these areas with a purpose. And that purpose is fun combat. You can think "I'm gonna put a pillar over here, not only because it'll look cool but because then I can have an arch vile over here, or revenants over there.." see? Room design and combat encounters go hand in hand. Once the gameplay is satisfying, then it's worth putting in visual details. Then it makes sense to worry about the textures being aligned. 

But I'd like to say that's all in experience. My number 1 advice would be to make maps. Make lots of them. Some of them will be bad, some of them will be good. Examine what you've done, what people liked and what they didn't, what you liked and what you didn't. Learn by doing. Thanks for coming to my ted talk. 

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It sounds like you spend your time making the architecture and details first, and after that's done, you add the monsters in later. TheLippyServer has the right idea - first make a simple version and test it with monsters in place. Once you're satisfied with the base combat, then you can add in more detail work. But be sure to continue to test if that detail work alters the architecture significantly.

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Great advice here, especially the basic room idea from LippyServer. Make a plain room and throw some monsters in, just to see how that feels. Then change the enemy placement and shape of the room, see how that changes the experience, rinse and repeat.

 

Also know though that there are those of us who prefer style over substance and just like to see cool spaces made in the Doom engine. The monsters are really just there to keep from feeling lonely.

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What LippyServer said... "Gameplay relevant geometry first, then test it, then adjust it - add details when it's fine"...

 

Next on the list is encounter design... Think about where you want highlights, and how you can make them interesting, so you don't end up with a cheap shooting gallery or SSG-camp-fests...

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My 2c to add - don't be afraid to just open a new map in editor and doodle your combat ideas. That way you get to detach from whatever resources, visuals, themes and other limitations (even subconscious ones) you have in your current work.

 

For example, here's a random encounter I threw together a few days ago:

Spoiler

pigs.jpg.c3c786cc4a77267ca034bcc548247a1e.jpg

 

The idea here is that bars slowly lower, and you have to thin out the pinkie crowd in time while dealing with awkward navigation, crossfire, shooting gallery that you're not really equipped to clear and time pressure on top.

Is it ugly as heck? Sure, but with appropriate effort it can be turned into just about anything: techbase, jungle, canyon, gothic church, moon base, industrial port, hellscape... you name it, it's probably possible.

 

More importantly, when I was testing the fight, it became immediately apparent that I completely misjudged required size of the stairs' steps, as the momentum they produce when moving around made it waaay too easy to fall off when going downstairs. I had to double the size of each step to make this encounter playable at all. Now imagine trying to stuff it into predefined size, constrained by other geometry on a map... that'd just end in a disaster.

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Posted (edited)

If you don't mind me asking, could you share a map of yours with us, as an example? Maybe it's just perception and over-thinking on your part, and the gameplay is okay, and not bland and boring. 

 

Anyways, familiarizing with monster and weapon stats, alongside all of the advice provided here would help you streamline the process of designing encounters and combat gimmicks.

Spoiler

 

 

 

Edited by Solmyr

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Doom's monsters are fairly easy to use in ways that can affect the gameplay, but without seeing what you mean it's a little hard to suggest.

 

For example, Chaingunners and Mancubus work really well as turrets, you can put them in higher up places so they work as area-denial tools. You can do this with the Archvile too. Even imps can do this to a degree. That's just one example of incorporating monsters into level geometry to make things more dynamic. 

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Posted (edited)

Hey! 

Even tho this post is necromanced, I thought I'd share my thinking.


Whenever I'm creating something, be it writing a lore for a game, writing some random creative works or creating a map, I try to  ask myself a question: "What purpose does it serve?"

If the answer happens to be similar to "no purpose" or "extra information/extra visuals", I ask one of the two questions:
WHY? You want to make sure you can justify the visual placement. If not, then the second question is "what purpose can it serve?"

That usually helps in detailing the map enough to make it well navigatable , or make use of the detail to place say an item or a monster (or describing a character enough for the readers imagination to kick in) without overdoing it. 

The more you refine, the more mistakes you find. And as a creative perfectionist, there will definetly be one or two mona lisas out there, that you never believe is finished.

 

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