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What are your creative crutches?

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Layout-wise, caves and rocky landscapes. So easy to make something decent-looking.

Inset PLANET* panels.


Combat-wise, an Archvile on a tall pillar forcing the player to keep below it while fighting whatever below.

Enemies in every room because I'm afraid the player will become bored.


Right now I am making maps that break with that and it feels nice, liberating even.

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For finishing maps within a reasonable timeframe, speedmapping a rough layout.

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10 hours ago, LVENdead said:

We've all got them. What are your old reliables, your crutches, your safety nets when it comes to creativity (I'll say specifically with Doom content just to keep this reasonably on topic)?


umm... i guess i'm too new to doom mapping to have creativity safety nets? if i have no idea to continue mapping, i just stop mapping and do something else in the meantime, pausing for sometimes days at a time. not efficient at all :P as for textures, i use placeholder textures when mapping (for example, such as in screenshot below) and just replace them when i find something that i like - which is usually some bland coloured stone wall since i'm really terrible at texturing :P

hoping to get some new ideas here, especially on texturing, thanks :)



1 hour ago, Pistoolkip said:

She is my crutch. My old reliable. My waifu.


She is Wood5. #Wood5forlife



i'll try this tutorial. thanks :)

Edited by rita remton

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1996-2003 = (Doomcad) Linearity, Mazes, Unmarked Secrets

2003-2009 = (Doom Builder) Jokewads, Whispers of CTRL+V

2010-2023 = Meat corridors perhaps (exits with Demons in Zone 300 and Zone 400 to maximise monster counts in small maps), a real fetish for WOOD5.


Fussy about realism, gradient lighting, etc.

Dr Sleep influences.

Original songs (in MIDI format) are important to me.

Edited by pcorf

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my creative crutch is using magicavoxel for 98% of all my models, i also use heavy amounts of grey textures and colors and brutalist architecture, i also tend to have things be over the top when i want them to be


i also have more creative crutches too

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2 hours ago, rita remton said:

umm... i guess i'm too new to doom mapping to have creativity safety nets? if i have no idea to continue mapping, i just stop mapping and do something else in the meantime, pausing for sometimes days at a time.

I feel like i'm in a similar possition, lol.

The only "creative clutch" that i've noticed in some of my maps is that, i love making non linear key hunts. You can go to any of the 2 or 3 keys in any order you wish.

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I don't know if that's a crutch or style or whatever but I tend to avoid 90° walls, and favour almost always 45°.

If you look at my more recent maps, they're almost exclusively a mishmash of lines along the three axes. Unless it's a small detail, it's horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Hope it's not too obtrusive for players, nobody complained yet. That's a self-imposed limitation that oddly enough frees my mind, and helps stay creative. I make a boxy room only when I want to challenge myself because those always suck my creativity dry. 

Edited by Sneezy McGlassFace

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Visually, most of my maps spam light gradients everywhere, sometimes it's using stairbuilder to apply light gradients to individual shapes on a larger sector's floor, but also on large sections of walls to break up monotony in place of wall detailing and mixing up textures.


Gameplay-wise, a lot of my maps have tended to stray into lock-in fights, although more recently I've tried to loosen the locks on those fights so-to-speak, making them easier to escape. Additionally, 6/9 of my released maps have a fight where it's just pure bfg spam versus essentially only cybers, and the other 3 maps that don't do this all still involve spamming BFG at cybers, just that there are other enemies around too and not just only cybers essentially.


Another creative crutch has been making maps with a premise of being very referential on other maps: I've made a worse version of Dimensions Map03, a worse version of Flotsam Map06, a worse version of Flotsam Map05, and probably a worse version of Nochance. All of those I did make significant efforts to stand on their own as hitting some some arbitrary level of distinctness from the originals (besides Dimensions Map03), but I feel now it's probably best to not reference maps so specifically in their design and better to reference them generally in some of the concepts they worked with (i.e. working not with Dimensions Map03's GOTHMET9 texture spam but instead with how it as a map is a sinister, metal, unfeeling behemoth in a void).


I guess another crutch visually is that now-old hardcore mapping visual motif of void/one-color highlight-accent in maps, where it's mostly dark textures and then light textures or SHAWNesque textures of 1 or 2 colors used to accent the map.


Edit: 3 more bonus tendencies:


Having a large drop in my map, aka where the player drops down a deep hole (small opening at top to larger opening at bottom) into a new arena/area/part of the map. I always found huge drops like that in maps as really good at both signaling transition and building an internal sense of momentum as you fall further and further at a high speed, and suddenly you're in a new large area.


Silhouetted monsters, usually perched and against a red backdrop.


Establishing a shot of a longitudinal light gradient on a "waterfall" (includes waterfalls, lavafalls, grayfalls, any liquid fall), often on a large scale relative to the rest of the map's size.





Edited by Kinetic

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I guess my naturally-evolved crutch is reliance on some gimmicky idea to kick off the map. Whether it's a specific fight that I want to implement or a weird doom engine mechanic, my maps never begin with something like a "sense of place" or "visual theme". As a corollary I seem to regularly arrive at some form of "precarious terrain"/"watch your step" being a part of my creations.


I imagine I will stick to this for an undetermined while since neither I map that often nor does the approach run contrary to what I do and don't find engaging about doom mapping. If you ever see me making an E1-style techbase, I'm probably secretly balancing it for Nightmare! or something :)

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usually if i feel like an area is a bit empty ill stick some computers in there or PILLARS









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16 hours ago, Jayextee said:

I tend to stick a big circular room with a staircase spiralling up the outside somewhere to connect two areas

good idea, thanks

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33 minutes ago, Χyzzy said:

My first instinct was to say "void maps".

may i know what you mean by "void maps"? do you mean like a map floating in a void, or a minimalist map which is void of (detailing + multitudes of textures)? if the former, why do you consider such maps to be a creativity safety net?


really wish i could do maps like those in your screenshots. they look absolutely gorgeous! :)

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Torch spam, brick textures, and semicircular staircases.

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32 minutes ago, rita remton said:

do you mean like a map floating in a void, or a minimalist map which is void of (detailing + multitudes of textures)? if the former, why do you consider such maps to be a creativity safety net?

I do indeed mean the former; maps floating in the void are much too easy for me to fall back on and make. I'm guessing the reason for that is it's seemingly much easier to create a layout that simply lacks background scenery (e.g. natural landscape, towering man-made structures, or even just a vast ocean), douse it in a surrounding sky texture and call it a day. Even if, funny enough, it's usually more effort and a much bigger pain to make such a map given how much of a hassle Doom's sky hack feature can be (noticeable cutoffs of taller buildings due to the lowered sky ceiling of shorter ones, the fact that the sky hack only works on the upper texture of sky sectors, etc.) Nowadays, if I'm mapping at all, I'll try to make levels that feel more robust visually, with mountainous ridges and cave entrances miles away or river valleys that look like they could be followed down if the map allows, or alleys/roads that extend past where the player can go gated off by fences or whatever. Void maps are just a tired default aesthetic to me at this point.

EDIT: also thanks c:

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Too many ideas. Too many ambitions.


For example, @Death Bear and I have been wanting to do a project together for a few years now, but every few months we'll get a new idea for our 'big one' and start drafting and preparing to make that wad before getting busy and forgetting about it until eventually we come up with a new one and leave it in the dust.


I'm also a super big genius and decided that I wanted to do a whole thing of "hey let's start a new megawad every month!" for a few years without actually finishing every megawad. So on top of the work of preparing to launch an event I'm stuck with having a massive backlog of tiny little things to finish on other megawads. I've learned the hard way that grand and cool ideas for doom wads can wait when you have a bunch of other old ideas that need to be finished.

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The trick where you open a door and an archvile is behind it, only to teleport away instantly and go make havoc somewhere else in the map with all your corpsey handiwork. I’ve used that one more times than I can probably get away with.


Actually archviles in and of themselves are kind of a crutch for a lot of things


used to do a lot of inverted crosses. I try mixing up my wall insets but most of them are rectangles with computers, pipes, fluidfalls or dead bodies in them. Can’t go wrong.



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That would be funny for some people, but my ideas in my head are much simpler and more bland before i get into mapping, the thing is - when i'm starting implement those ideas they're getting more fleshed out and complex, all this geometry and texturing starting to look more mixed up and variable. But rarely i could have almost zero fresh ideas and usually i stick to "my standard approach" - square room with smoothed corners and 2 small ones to connect them through the later parts of my map. Same i would say about detailing and texturing, my goal pretty much similar here with @Snaxalotl - do not repeat too much stuff, i like as many variety as possible so get me and player more excited to what's coming next in a map, of course i had maps that ignored that rule completely and it's usually depends in what mood i am at the moment. I can work on one room for days until i'll finally like how it looks and plays, "Devil hides in details" and that "Devil" - is my sick perfectionism, my bless and curse, as i said once before :^)

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I think my level design is and squary.

Lately im using the METAL2 texture a lot. Sometimes i have to force myself to use other textures.

Also, lot of computer panels on walls.

And the color pallete. Generally i use dark walls (there comes METAL2 again) with glowing lights like LITE3/LITE5.


Combat? Maybe i use too many teleporting/spawning out of nothing monsters.

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New textures.

My levels tend to be pretty representative, and Doom’s vanilla textures don’t cut it for me. I have tried on numerous occasions and the creativity doesn't spark the same way if my texture palette isn’t themed and various.

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- brown textures & blood:

always a treat to look at but I feel like I've done this a thousand times by now so I'm usually trying to shake things up

- that thing many ToD maps do where the light level on a staircase goes up and down and up and down... gradient lighting in general, thinking about it. I will usually make different areas in my maps have vastly different light levels even when there's no in-world justification for that kind of contrast, it just looks cool

- curves, triangles, pentagons, heptagons... all kinds of underused shapes because I'm just sooo quirky and unorthodox

- placing torches or other light sources in every corner that looks slightly bland, which luckily aren't usually that many. I don't like overdetailing everything with tons of linedefs and panels, so these are a great alternative




- chaingunner mobs, I think chaingunners are experiencing a new wave of being overhated

- pop-up ambushes: I REALLY love these. They represent precisely the kind of "lol get fucked" meanness that makes Doom for me (besides they're just handy in a pinch, even for slaughtery fights)

- relatively small arena with monsters teleporting in from the perimeter: you'd be surprised how many different encounters you can rig with this simple setup just by changing up the supplies you hand out, the arena's shape & the demons (I usually go with a lot of low-tier fodder with a few heavies mixed in - Barons can be nasty in a cramped arena)

- "fetch the good gun" another one that's overhated. Placing a precious item in the middle of an otherwise unwelcoming room is literally Good Game Design, folks


creative crutches are a good thing, I'd argue that they contribute a large part of what people consider a mapper's style, however it is also good to break up your mapping routine and try to bring in fresh ideas. Personally I only like to map when I have some impulse or idea and only use the crutches as binding material to connect the more unique parts of whatever map I'm making

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Copy and pasting monsters, especially using the 2-4-8 design. Two monsters on easy, four on normal, eight on hard.


I never really got "monster design" all too well, and therefore have an absolute shit track record with placing enemies and balancing the game. I also never playtest on any difficulty below UV, which is a cardinal sin of mine

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I am strictly a Tech-base mapper. I just am not a person who makes hell levels or large out doors areas very well, plus i just like it more.

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Splitting a sector at places to create smoother lighting/shadows. But I might be doing it ugly that leaves dirty sectors and not bothering to experiment some more with correct light values to get the proper atmosphere. I am inspired by other maps who did this, especially since the 90s, but they do it better than I would ever do. Yet I mess up some parts pretty badly and then the map is not suitable for vanilla over max visplanes, unless I cut down/destroy things.

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