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MasterOFDeath

Help dealing with mappers block

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Problem: nice map ideas, music, etc. But I just can't do it. I open up an editor and I can't make shit. I can't think of anything, I've been stuck in this horrid mappers block for a while now... anybody have any tips to help get by it?

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Shut your computer. Go out, run, come back in or stay out. Eat something, drink something. Read a comic book. Play some music or instrument. Go to sleep. Next day your map will just burst out and you can't stop mapping.

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ha ha that is a load of bullsh*t

truth on how i started mapping is i took examples from other peoples wads.

simple enough really
also...



...never give up. or you will never get good

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try reverse engineering:

work out a couple of demo speed run tricks and maybe a grab of some kind that's not too good in a speed run but handy in a max (e.g. plasma gun). jumps and grabs can yield height variation, for example. think about the route add a secret to yield a shortened route or a long way around that gets to the same spot but gives the player a reward (e.g. megasphere). dont forget to think about the key order (if any) and then throw in some of the good old pickup->monster trap/set pieces or a massive teleporting hoarde and the gameplay should come together.

then, and only then, go over the map again, working on the spacing, pacing and layout, features added in stage one might get dropped or simplified, that's ok, save them for another project.

finally go over it again changing dimensions and adding sectors to create the architectural style. sometimes the height variations and layouts created in stages 1 and 2 will give birth to a style by themselves.

and bob's you're brother-in-law's-middle-name you have a new map, out of nowhere!

pretty much how i do my mapping, but i'm more technically minded than artistically. when i made TFC maps i used to just make a square test map where i could work out the technicalities of what i was trying to achieve (e.g. capture the flag where each team has two flags and capturing both at the same time gets you a bonus). then i'd think about the layout. but i was crap at the actual mapping and they always had too much detail in open places, which the Half-Life (quake) engine couldnt cope with, and were generally to cramped. doh!

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sausage said:

ha ha that is a load of bullsh*t

No, forcing Yourself is bullshit.

I agree with Jimi.

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I have that too occasionally, most of the time actually. I just sit right in front of the editor, play around with textures and sectors while I'm thinking, and try to get a good theme started. Editing to say this doesn't usually happen to me during the first 10-15 sittings.

If I have the basic texturing and detailing set, the mapping usually goes smoothly.

Playing other games, not necessarily Doom mods, or even films or music or actual real-life scenery, photos from the internet and whatnot, inspire me and others alot too. Which only makes sense really, the more you've seen, the more you know...

It might be an idea to try using other textures other than the original sets. There's only so much you can do with them, and only so much we can appreciate them.

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I get mappers block quite a lot. I have loads of ideas that i want to put down, but can't do anything once I'm sitting in front of an editor. Trying to force yourself is, in my experience, a bad idea. If you do produce anything when in this state, the chances are that it'll be crap.

So forget about about mapping, go see some films, visit friends, get drunk or whatever it is you do. Eventually you'll be ready to sit down and start mapping without having to force yourself. After all, whats the point in mapping if you're not enjoying it.

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I map whenever I feel that I can. Usually this produces better stuff than the "force it" mapping style of my younger years, but sometimes my starting and ending points don't look so hot. Sometimes I take breaks to go out and do stuff with friends, check forums, or whatever.

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Sometimes I get problems with this also, if I force myself to work on my levels chances are what I make looks ugly.
I never work on my levels when im too tired or if I am in a bad mood.
And for most of the time I only work about two hours at my level, after that im going to do something else.

Watch some movies or some documentaries, read comics, drawing.
Go ride on your bike and take a look at the achitecture of some of the buildings.
Or maybe rebuilding an original doomlevel from scratch will help you get rid of mappers block, it works for me.

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Right now I'm just making square rooms, playing it ingame, and just coming up with what to add right there and its actually kinda helping. Hopefully I'll get out of it soon...

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Heh, its easy to get over... As I live my daily life, I look at buildings and outdoors scenes and get ideas from their structure. Plus having played thousands of doom levels in my time helps. :P

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If you're experiencing mappers block, then don't map. Live your life for a few days and don't map. Within a couple or three days you'll once more experience that urge to map.
That's usually what I do, anyway.

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I have spent a good couple weeks living life and not opening an editor though :P

I got out of the mappers block now and I have a map going, may post a screenshot or two soon. Thanks cycloid, that "reverse engineering" method helped. :P

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the weird thing is, with me, one day ill feel like mapping, (not normally because i do graphics.) and ill just start flowing out with ideas. ill spit out about 15 different rooms, fully detailed, and then of cource.... MAPPERS BLOCK!!!

ill keep the level. go make some new guns in paintshop. and then ill feel like mapping again. ill go back and map away at the level i was working on.

haha works every time with me! :)

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I've had that happen to me before also, I'll be doing great and just suddenly out of nowhere I can't think of anything else to do/add. Usually then I'll just take a break for a while and pick up later, or forget I was even working on the map entirely and find it sitting in my doom folder about a month later unfinished x.x

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well, mappers block is definatly something that has to be dealt with. it probably effects other people differently.

the only difference with me and you is that you keep your maps in your folder. if i run into mappers block, and it lasts more than a week, ill just delete the map and start a new one.

theres another problem with mappers block though. you get bored with the level your working on and you already have an idea for a new map. thats what i go through. so instead of making maps, i just stick to doom guns. :)

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Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Write down, in words, what you want to create. This will force your mind to picture it.

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true true

you can also draw the parts like i did once :)

it does help if you write what is there with a litte key or sumthing :)

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sausage said:

it does help if you write what is there with a litte key or sumthing :)

I do that with whole hubs (helps minimize any logic issues and makes things a bit easier), but for maps, I tend to just make whatever comes to mind. The biggest problem I have is actually starting a map. The first few rooms and halls are the toughest, but once that's done to my satisfaction, the rest is fairly easy.

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WARNING: The following post has some obscure terms you may well need to look up. Wikipedia, my good man.

Anywho, mapper's block. I find this is pretty much an artificial state of feeling uninspired, due to the constraints of aspiring to produce a primarily narratologically-led stage.

For example, when mapping for the ill-fated Murderous Intent 2, MAP03 was a real chore, owing to the fact that I'd decided on the theme of a "sewer", and yet this theme threw up more obstacles than I would have wished.

Sewers have been done. And done. And done, for Cthulu's sakes! And so, there's this pressure to do a new sewer. TNT: Evilution has sewer sections. There was this excellent map years ago, Tunnel Run, which I played to death, which was a good underground tunnel (Which equals a waterless sewer, you could argue). And so, I was stuck trying to accomplish a map with a very very overused theme.

Problem is, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place -- given my fanboy-esque love of Quake II and my slavish devotion to it's Tech Base theming, I needed "Intelligence reports show access through sewers". Damn it, I was sealed into a cage by narratology -- I was being forced into an uncomfortable set of limitations virtue of the fact I wanted my WAD to tell a story. Bad.

For my recent project, JerkWad, I attempted a different approach; since I "discovered" an appreciation for a ludology-centered outlook on games design, I had decided to do something I have never done before with my .wad editing -- an über-basic skeleton frame of a level, fully playable, before I even start to add theme. Seriously, the kind of thing that would make a 1994 WAD look real pretty, like.

It may be a cliched way to look at editing, but this is the approach that works for me these days, and I find I much prefer it to my old doctrine of thought along the lines of "Do a detailed room, with.... ooh, a detailed room next to it. And maybe even a detailed courtyard, heh.", which was strangling me creatively.

In short, you may be going about your mapping the wrong way around. You say you've got "cool ideas" for maps -- well, produce these ideas while you have them. Don't worry too much about sticking them into a real map context, or even the piddly little details that will take your focus away from the main task (For example, I'm doing a set of interconnected rooms and lifts -- I am not going to get sidetracked adding computers until I've finished, damn it). Just get whatever little snippets of inspiration you have down into .wad format, because although realistially you can't force creativity, during any drought, what little there is must be harvested and salvaged.

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