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Baron T. Mueriach

Your guys' mapping techniques

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Posted (edited)

This question is directed to all walks of the Doom mapping community, but I would definitely like to hear from people who have a couple of big hits under their belts. What do you do to keep inspiration flowing? I have no end to my inspiration flow, I could map for hours, but I sometimes get frustrated that my maps aren't as good as they maybe could be.

 

The way I do it is by instantly starting off by making a large, nonlinear room, because perfect linearity kills any and all inspiration for me. Then, I don't change anything be it textures, ceiling/floor heights, functions, etc. because I'll end up becoming obsessed with the little details and forget about the larger task at hand, which ends any motivation I have left.

 

Here are a few screenies from maps I've been making. On the top is E1M3 for my Knee-Deep in the Dead style episode (I'm still adding onto the level, it will be larger), and on the bottom is a Spawning Vats remake I did a while ago for the hell of it but never finished. I always find myself trying to connect my maps better, it can become an issue sometimes because I'll force myself to redo large spaces to add more connections or just abandon the map altogether. Also, if this has been asked a thousand times on the forum, my bad. If you want to be a dick and lock the thread or tell me to go elsewhere then have at it.

 

e1m3.png

e2m7.png

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Posted (edited)

Those look great :) You’ll find people have all sorts of techniques and sequences in which they do things, from blocking out the entire map first then adding details, to detailing as you go. I’m very disorganized, I have some basic ideas for what I want rooms and sections to look like but then fly around everywhere adjusting and expanding things as inspiration strikes until they looks roughly like how I’d pictured them.

 

You definitely have the right idea by going ahead instead of getting into little adjustments too early - having a basically complete start-to-finish route before going into the details is a huge boost to me getting a map finished.

 

I also like maps to loop back on themselves, so I often begin with a central room or area that the player will keep coming back to from multiple angles.

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1 hour ago, DavidN said:

Those look great :)

 

Thanks I appreciate it! It's funny, your video on mapping basics was the first video on Doom mapping I ever watched when I started getting back into it.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Baron T. Mueriach said:

I always find myself trying to connect my maps better, it can become an issue sometimes because I'll force myself to redo large spaces to add more connections or just abandon the map altogether.

It's important to beware of adding too many connections, because the player might get confused without knowing which door leads to where. I couldn't know without playing, but the second screenshot you posted may lead to that happening. Making recognizable shapes in the automap is also good practice if your map starts to get a bit big, makes for better navigation. But besides that, I'll second what DavidN has said above: each person has their own mapping style. Mine is mostly imagining a room, making a rough draft of it, adjusting the mechanics and then going on to detailing after most things are in place. 

One thing that might help you improve mapping is completely beyond your control, though, and that thing is playtesting by different people. Listening to what they have to say can lead to drastic changes in how your map flows, since they will have a completely different thought process than you, the author of the map. The more people test your maps, the better the final results will be. 

Edited by DoomGappy

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43 minutes ago, DoomGappy said:

It's important to beware of adding too many connections, because the player might get confused without knowing which door leads to where.

 

Yes, the spawning vats remake definitely has that. The overall goal was to make an annoying puzzle maze like map with ugly textures, much like the original spawning vats. I definitely try to take the "not too interconnected" approach, I think I may have gotten that down, I also have been able to round up a few playtesters. Finished the layout of the level, too. Thank you for the advice.

 

image.png.b4c26b670e896d06c044a24eae40b43a.png

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5 hours ago, Baron T. Mueriach said:

 

Yes, the spawning vats remake definitely has that. The overall goal was to make an annoying puzzle maze like map with ugly textures, much like the original spawning vats. I definitely try to take the "not too interconnected" approach, I think I may have gotten that down, I also have been able to round up a few playtesters. Finished the layout of the level, too. Thank you for the advice.

 

image.png.b4c26b670e896d06c044a24eae40b43a.png

That's nice! If you post it and tag me, I can also give it a quick spin. 

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15 hours ago, Baron T. Mueriach said:

 

e2m7.png

Last screenshot reminds me of a layout that Tom Hall would do, it's like E2M2

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Nice maps, I especially like that very Tom Hall-esque E2 style one. I have zero clue on how to map like that tbh. I always like these kind of threads where people discuss their approach.

 

I make pretty linear maps, but I compensate for that with looping as part of the overall progression. I like interconnecting everything, and my layouts tend to be fairly compressed as I'm always using the angles and geometry to suggest those interconnections, whether they're visual (I like windows) or physical. I usually make fairly small maps as I tend to get bored/frustrated when making anything larger, and because I'm a huge fan of Scythe and anything remotely like it. I can enjoy playing big maps, but I don't really enjoy trying to make them.

 

Something I struggled with for a long time but have gotten better at is drawing the entire layout (or most of it) with blank textures before I start messing around with what its going to look like. This map (part of a WIP set) was done in that way:

 

Untitled.jpg

 

Another example:

 

e4m1.jpg

 

Sometimes I feel like I'm kindof making the same map over again every time, but for me its a case of refining the approach and trying new things, so I'm not bored of doing things this way yet. I've found that there's always something I haven't considered before. Regarding maps not being as "good" as they could be, I accept that there's probably always going to be one room/section in a map I'm not exactly happy with (bottom right segment of my first screenshot is a bit ugly IMO), but also, I can't be bothered getting too hung up on it. I enjoy when things are a little rough around the edges.

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my process is "first, draw a tortoise"

image.png.9b5d2906b43dc7e273744daccba965b3.png

 

I like messing with the rotation tool but not in order to make anything beautiful from above <3 changing the amount of detail i'm using from place to place, being economical with the lines so that if yr not in a small, deliberately well-decorated room, then all the lines are describing height and light differences. lately i like sandboxes which have one quest, and you can fall off that quest's path back into the outskirts of the level in various ways

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I usually go with a batch of maps, usually 10 at a row - or an episode. I usually start with annoting in my cellphone some concepts I get over time, then start drawing in paper some layouts. With enough of them, I open doom builder and get the maps playable with simple detailing and thematic ideas to only then finally start detailing more in depth each one. Process is usually slow and takes weeks to get one small map done (most of my maps are small) but tbh it works for me.

 

One of my challenges has been to keep up with enough unique ideas, be it from geometry, map-flow, type of battle setups or thematic as well, because it can be difficult to create maps with a strong sense of identity within a streamlined process.

 

The results are definitely not on Eviternity/BTSX/AA levels, but it's a process I enjoy as I like to create multi-map interconnected journeys. Also, they never end in the same way as I initially envisioned, but that's part of the fun, although I try to not rework stuff much because I need to keep reducing scope so the work gets done.

 

To reach next level of detailing I guess it becomes less about adding sectors over sectors and start thinking of the whole composition and layout, either with colors, creating custom textures ormore intricated shapes that is not something detached from the rest of the scene. But that's hard as fuck to me, and is something I'm learning but constantly fails to spot something weird detaching from the whole map. (you need to have a good artistic view I guess)

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18 hours ago, Baron T. Mueriach said:

This question is directed to all walks of the Doom mapping community, but I would definitely like to hear from people who have a couple of big hits under their belts. What do you do to keep inspiration flowing? I have no end to my inspiration flow, I could map for hours, but I sometimes get frustrated that my maps aren't as good as they maybe could be.

 

Then do something else for a few days, hell even a few weeks. Work on another area of the map or some other (non-Doom) projects, play some other games and pick it up again some time later. You'll notice that your perspective will have changed so that you can tackle that which didn't work the first time. That's what I have done and still doing and with twenty years of experience in making maps for various games, no map of mine ever had the same approach and development pattern . . .

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18 hours ago, Baron T. Mueriach said:

What do you do to keep inspiration flowing?

Depends on. Sometimes drinking green tea while I sit and watch videos of Norwegian trains helps me get into the flow of my thoughts.

 

At other times, I carefully look at everything on the street, photograph the most interesting objects, then look at the photos and think about how this can be transferred to UDB.

Sometimes I smoke weed - that helps too, and I watch DavidX Newton videos. This inspires me a lot

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I don't exactly have a set of techniques, the first map I posted started a single scenario I thought would be neat and the rest was ad-libbed. No real planning, just winging it the whole way through. I want to genuinely change that though eventually.

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Posted (edited)

Ideas can come from anywhere: recent Doom maps I've played, an area in a video game (this weekend took a screenshot of the entrance in a delve in ESO), my imagination from reading a room description in the novel I'm reading at the time (always reading), even a scene in a movie (my Murder House's "front foyer" section is directly inspired by a few old locked-house-murder-mystery movies, from the original 1959 House on Haunted Hill to Clue to Death By Murder).

 

 

Normally when I make a map, I get an idea in my head for the current section and start mapping that out. Then I do everything to that section: the textures, the combat design, item placements, etc. before moving to make the next section.  A map's overall layout evolves "organically" that way for me.

 

The map I just completed last night went differently.  In January my cousin showed me a couple of D&D maps he drew for his DM'ing sessions, and as he explained various sections & features I was seeing it all through the lens of Doom!  So for this I mapped out the blueprint of the dungeon, and added monsters & items at the end.

Below is an example of one of his dungeons that I went and annotated.  (The final map is *similar* but not exact, of course.)  Level starts in the bottom-right room.

In the 90s I would draw Doom and Wolfenstein 3-D maps on paper before actually making them.

7urCzQ8.jpg

 

Hope this helps at all!

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I have 2 processes:

 

For indoor maps, My process is just to start with a simple room and then build off from there, I don’t really plan, I just go with the flow. I’ll usually do combat design at several steps during the layout design process. It gives me a bit of flexibility of how I want the geometry with regards to the combat.

 

For outdoor maps, I make a large canyon or beach area and then put buildings on it or caves to the side or whatever. I usually have to downsize the map later when I use this process, because I end up making my main area way too big. I want to find a better process for making large open maps because they tend to be pretty formulaic when I do this :(

 

I recently did try the “sketch everything out first” method and I kind of enjoyed it. It did let me get things done a lot faster but it definitely was confusing a bit when I sketch out something in the beginning with no regard for what it actually is.

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14 hours ago, Baron T. Mueriach said:

image.png.b4c26b670e896d06c044a24eae40b43a.png

This is a really nice layout! Looks like it both has a satisfying flow to it and a pretty automap to look at. Would love to see it in it's finished state and how you end up placing monsters, once the time comes.

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I like making maps that loop into themselves or that continually open up previously visited areas, or areas that you can see at one point then visit at some other point.

My maps mostly consist on tight areas followed by larger more open portions that intertwine with eachother often through windows or shortcuts.

The other big thing I do is I always try to work in a new type of gimmick into my maps. For this one the idea is turning the power on like in cod zombies and switches that correspond to things that aren't tied to a key, signaled with other textures I find cool.

I think my biggest mistake is that my maps are way too non-linear to the point where it's confusing when they're put together with more linear maps in a wad.

 

 What i've been working on these past few weeks is based on scraps from maps i've discarded some time ago and heavy retooling of them  . A good 90% of the geometry shown here is completely new. In this one I try to break away from the non-linearity that makes my stuff not as enjoyable as other types of maps.

Spoiler

imagen.png.af87f2ff96c551214f16a89fe72e01b5.png

Spoiler

imagen.png.97336ba2ddf742e924ef0b05b037103f.png

 

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Posted (edited)

Most of the time I'll start by plotting down some random shape, and then connecting more random shapes to that, adding enemies and various obstacles along the way. How much I care about detailing during this phase depends on the map. If atmosphere is more of a priority than gameplay, I'll spend some time detailing each room as I make them, not caring about very fine details like texture alignment but just getting a feel for how it should look. If gameplay is the focus, I'll just do some bare minimum texturing to differentiate one room from another, but most of my attention goes towards enemy placement and geometry during this phase.

 

A time saving technique I use every so often is to transplant various old map scraps into my current maps. I make a LOT of short little map stubs, often as proof of concepts, or (mostly) maps I started but didn't get past the first couple rooms. Similarly, sometimes I'll remake an old map from the ground up, following a similar layout and saving some concepts but otherwise being new. A couple maps I made in January were remakes of some speedmaps I had made several months prior with less experience, and I consider one of these remakes to be possibly the best map I've made so far:

 

speedmap-and-remake.png

I added a lot of areas and heavily tweaked most existing ones. Maybe the similarities aren't as obvious when just looking at the linedefs but it's clear if you actually play them.

 

And my technique for finishing maps is to take several months after I have the gameplay/layout roughed out because I have a tendency to change the texturing of rooms several times before I finally settle on what looks best. :P

Edited by Plerb

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1 hour ago, Plerb said:

 

speedmap-and-remake.png

 

Wow, I can certainly see how the shape of the original map was pertained in the remade one, it's very good! I certainly like that style a lot too, it's very compact and doesn't require long stretches of walking in order to get from one place to another.

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2 hours ago, fishy said:

imagen.png.af87f2ff96c551214f16a89fe72e01b5.png

 

I absolutely love maps like this. Nonlinear maps are far better than linear maps in my opinion, it feels more free rather than just a straightforward progression.

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Posted (edited)

I like to establish expectations with symmetry and repeating motifs... and then subvert those expectations by making the player run though a room that looks similar to what they've seen, but it's from a different angle and with different machinations.

 

Here's an example:

YG9Cunz.png
[ The red bits are... redacted, lol ]

 

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