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Nixot

Is my level good enough? (FIRST REVISION)

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Hello everybody. I want to make sure before I continue with my level that it is good enough to continue. You probably saw the other WADs that I made reviewed in the /newstuff chronicles (Bloody Deathymegaevility and Exol Base (thanks for the tip)) and the - ahem - mediocre crap reviews they got, so I want to make sure that my next level is good enough to continue. I didn't upload any more levels for now because the next lot I made sucked and were really just ACS experiments, so I am wondering if this level is /idgames worthy. I am new to mapping though and am currently going through a bit of a 1994 stage, so please bear with me, I'm sure I'll get better. Anyway, here are some screenshots:

Edit: And for the IDKFA at the start I didn't once change weapons. Oops!

Please tell me what you think, and more importantly, if it is better than my previous levels. Thanks in advance.

UPDATE: I finished the map. Thanks to everyone for their support. Please tell me what you think!

http://www.doomworld.com/idgames/?id=15802

UPDATE 2: I finished the first revision of the map. Please playtest it!

http://willhostforfood.com/files4/7/1/9/7199953nukproc.wad

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Oh! That surprised me!

Well the computery area is at 96 height instead of 128 like the rest, but that's about all...

I think I'll add some stairs now.

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It looks pretty decent, but I also see no monsters which would probably mean that you are not taking gameplay into account while mapping? Looking nice is a good thing, but playing nice is more important.

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Continue with the level no matter what, don't stop just because it's not great. I've got so much unreleased crap sitting on my harddrive (in fact I've only ever uploaded one map to /idgames), cause with each level I learn more and develop my style that much further. The more mistakes you make now, the less you make later.

What you should do before putting your wad on /idgames is get people to playtest it, give you feedback, let them nitpick it to death. What I see from the screenshots is a map that I probably would pass up, cause I don't see any gameplay elements and the detail/architecture looks kinda bland. What you could do is add stuff like computer monitors or marble faces to those walls to liven them up a little. Sometimes I like to slack metal across the ceiling, to give the areas that "built" feeling. I see you've got the idea of broken floor tiles, which is cool.

Keep building your map, don't let reviews get you down. It's all just experience under your belt.

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Alright, wicked. There's no monsters yet because I'll add them at the end, and I did add light beams for the lights (they were murder because one of em went across a broken floor tile sector). I'll take your suggestions into consideration though. Thanks!

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Also - regarding demon faces - I feel that the level is too basey to include demon faces but it would be good to include monitors and such.

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Yeah, monitors and other computer equipment go great with techbases (obviously). Sometimes I like to spice them up with a little marble and hell, though, to give them that "invaded" atmosphere.

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Pay attention to your texture alignment, please! It can be a pain in the ass, but the sooner you start paying attention to it, the sooner you'll also get better at it (and it becomes less painful).

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It's OK, I use Doom Builder which auto-aligns things. I'm lazy like that, but it looks much better to align stuff, definitely.

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Nixot said:

It's OK, I use Doom Builder which auto-aligns things. I'm lazy like that, but it looks much better to align stuff, definitely.

Do NOT abuse auto-align!

Also, there are some things that just aligning textures can't fix, namely, it's about how you place your lines and sectors and what heights you use. Look at the first screenshot you posted: The door on the left and the lights on the right cut to the wall textures even though the textures are auto-aligned. That's most probably because the door and the lights are poorly placed (in relation to the wall texture).

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Ooooohhhhh! I get it! So I have to make more vertices to increase the panely thing's size to make it look more realistic?

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And - what about BROWN1 and SHAWN2?

And COMPTALL is near impossible to align well!

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That's where the practice thing comes in. Great maps aren't made without effort! One good thing to do is break up repetitive texture usage by putting support textures throughout your map, or other "transition" textures so that you can easily change the look of another area without breaking the flow. Sure makes alignment a lot easier. Also keep in mind that it's better to start aligning a texture from 0,0 offsets. If you're using DB2, press Shift+R on a texture to reset its offset, and go from there. You'll be surprised how much different your map will look with properly aligned textures.

Oh, and keep in mind that you must can't actually align flats, so you must keep them along with the grid for them to look believable. I'm referring to the ceiling lights in your last screenshot.

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Regarding the ceiling lights, I used that texture a lot in my 1993 stage (even worse than now and using WADED at 64*64 grid setting and having no knowledge of mapping whatsoever and using solely COMPTALL and FLAT14 etc.) and I do think now that I should have a ceiling of FLAT19 and only have lights in some places. It does look a bit flanjy otherwise.

Also, what texture would you recommend for changing the setting in the floor texture? I use CEIL5_1 for now (at least the black CEIL, I think I might have got the name wrong) but it looks a bit crap. What would you recommend? FLAT20 perhaps?

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Nixot said:

Ooooohhhhh! I get it! So I have to make more vertices to increase the panely thing's size to make it look more realistic?

That depends on the situation at hand. I can't say for sure because I haven't seen your map, but for example in the first screenshot you should be just able to move the door and lights a little towards the player so that they don't cut the walls (that is, unless the door and lights are properly placed but the alignment is all weird instead). The metal in the fourth screenshot, on the other hand, could use the "widening" method to make the metal panels next to the door look better.

In the end it all boils down to common sense: Try asking yourself if it looks like it could make sense, and if not, try to think of a way to make it look better. There's rarely one silver bullet for all kinds of problems, so experiment and look at other people's maps for ideas. :)

Nixot said:

And COMPTALL is near impossible to align well!

COMPTALL is actually pretty easy, it just takes some effort. :) Cut your walls into 64 and 32 units long parts, and just align each of them manually. If your wall is taller than 64 units, you can "cut" it by making 64 units tall steps out of it like this (sorry for the crappy ascii illustration):

 room, floor 0, ceiling 192
_______________________________
 |_____wall, f 64 c 192______|
 |_____wall, f 128 c 192_____|

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My "thanks for the tip" review was based on a submission to idgames. You're competing with other WADs there, the likes of Memento Mori, Remain1, etc etc. Of course an "ACS experiment" is going to get a poor review, but hey no hard feelings :)

Learning to map is totally cool, and what the friendly forums here are for! Please by all means upload your maps to a free hosting service (I like Megaupload, there are others) and share them on here for critique. Almost everyone here is very helpful when teaching fundamentals of level design, and the more people we have learning to make good Doom maps the better off we all are!

This looks like a little part of a larger level (it's hard to see how it all ties in together?) Good to see you've got the hang of unpegging textures, and the detailing looks sensible for the style. I like your sector lighting with those two strips of LITE next to the BIGDOOR. The only thing I noticed bad was the auto-aligned COMPSPAN on the stairs, and you've got that. Should that red door really be so high? It doesn't seem to match the rest of the doors which are the 72-high DOOR. Just cos the tall door textures are 128 high doesn't mean you have to use the whole thing :)

That thread of essel's is really useful, and teaches some great fundamental tricks to make levels look professional. Check the Doomworld Vanilla Tutorials too.

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As a general rule, mixing gray/silver textures with brownish textures doesn't look very good, unless using inset/detail areas, and even then, must be done carefully.

Just a thought. :) Keep up the mapping. Everyone started there. Perseverance is everything. And there is some nice mapping in those screens too.

[edit] also, in screenie 4 you will probably have to move those hexagon inset areas in the floor so they actually match the hexagon texture on the floor. [/edit]

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Good start on the map. I like tech bases. Good points made by all. A few I didn't see...

  • The second and third screens show a clear alignment problem above the door.
  • The screens are really too small. Nobody plays or views anything at that resolution anymore.
  • Many of the screens appear to depict areas with no light sources. This is a common issue in 99% of games and it makes no sense. Any area should have a light source capable of lighting it. Even dark areas ought to have one that's not activated.
  • It appears most of your doors have an overhang on the door frame. This can look good, but often looks strange for the type of indoor areas you have unless you have a unique reason for them.
  • The fourth screen shows a good example of what Jodwin was saying about auto-align abuse. Yeah, you might have to hammer at that room for a while to get it looking awesome, but it's worth it.
  • The last screen has a ceiling light with the corner cut off on the angled section. It's easy to cut that part into a separate sector filled with a texture excluding the light. Will make it look much nicer. In a room like that, I'd probably go so far as to break up the ceiling so it's not totally plastered in those lights. Will ook more realistic.
What the other guys said about not giving up on it is true. You just need to hammer at it until it's nice. Sometimes that takes bloody forever. That's ok. You get better and you're not on a deadline. I had a map in the NDCP. It took me THREE YEEARS to build and I'm still not happy with parts of it because I learned more since then. I'm an extreme example of slow, but spending some time learning and making it nice is great. You don't need uber details like most new ZDoom maps. Just some of the things like logical lights and attention to alignment will do a world of good.

Having a few people test it is definitely a great plan too. Most of us have done a bunch of that and have DB on hand to root out weird things. It's much less painful than using only screenshots. The addeed benefit is guys will often tell you exactly which linedefs and sectors need attention.

Most of all, do not quit simply because the current iteration of the map isn't as good as you want (or somebody else wants). Even the most hideous crap can be improved and your map is already far, far better than that. :)

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Kyka said:
also, in screenie 4 you will probably have to move those hexagon inset areas in the floor so they actually match the hexagon texture on the floor.[/B]


WHAT?! BUT I DID! Aaaand made the door that leads to it thicker... and forgot to re-align the vertexes. Oooops! Thenks for spotting that! I rectified it just now.

(Super Jamie) "This looks like a little part of a larger level (it's hard to see how it all ties in together?)"

Here is a map (numbers correspod to where the screenshot was taken - approximations only, sorry - and some architecture has been added since the screenshot was made - and there are self-referencing sectors in there too):



"Good to see you've got the hang of unpegging textures, and the detailing looks sensible for the style. I like your sector lighting with those two strips of LITE next to the BIGDOOR."

Unpegging textures is AWESOME! And I was a bit iffy with mixing such a variety of themes up. And about the lighting beams, I wanted to add lotso detail after Exol Base to impress the deathy /newstuff judges. One of the beams went over a floor tile, which was absolute murder to rectify.


"The only thing I noticed bad was the auto-aligned COMPSPAN on the stairs, and you've got that."

I didn't know what should be there instead. It would look a bit silly to have the grey STEP tex (I forget whch one it was) around the side all the way.

"Should that red door really be so high? It doesn't seem to match the rest of the doors which are the 72-high DOOR. Just cos the tall door textures are 128 high doesn't mean you have to use the whole thing :)"

I thought it apropiate for a fast door, but I could change it and see what it looks like. I do see what you mean now - it does look a little odd - but it is at the end of the corridor and I plan to make more there too.

(Kyka) "As a general rule, mixing gray/silver textures with brownish textures doesn't look very good, unless using inset/detail areas, and even then, must be done carefully."

I have put different themes for some rooms. I may make them all similar if it doesn't fit, but for now I think I did a pretty good job.

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An other texture alignment tip: The textures you're working with here are still relatively easy to work with, but once you start working with the likes of GSTONE you should pay special attention to getting them aligned properly. What I mean is, pick your sector heights and such based on what the texture "allows", instead of picking something at random and then trying to force the texture to fit into that. An example: Say you have a 128 units tall room with GSTONE1 walls, instead of putting a 96 units tall recess for a door in the room, look at the texture to figure out how tall the recess should be to align properly (in this case, assuming your walls are aligned at 0 on y-axis, the recess should be 100 units tall). Working with this kinds of textures can get really hard and frustrating for everyone, but doing it this way will certainly get you better looking results with less effort.

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Not really, because I haven't added any monsters. I hope to do so soon though when I have completed the level design.

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I must admit I am not really aligning textures like gstone1 that much. :P

Essel is gonna kick my ass.

Krispavera said:

Oh, and keep in mind that you must can't actually align flats, so you must keep them along with the grid for them to look believable. I'm referring to the ceiling lights in your last screenshot.


You can come around that if you make a new flat of the same flat texture and just make it fit the grid.

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You should fix the vertical texture alignment in the second to last image with the SHAWN2 on the walls.

..Or is that just a corner that makes it seem like misalignment?

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Without reading all of the other comments in this thread: KEEP MAPPING. This map looks like it has promise.

A few tips:

In the fifth shot, it looks like you made the toxic sludge the same level as the floor bordering it. That looks more than a bit unrealistic. Leave a little height difference, maybe 4 or 8 pixels, between the floors to give the feeling that it's actually a pool of nukage.

As others have said, use extra vertices to make paneled walls look good. As for non-paneled wall textures like the SHAWN and BROWN families, you only need to worry about vertical alignment (although BROWN96 and BROWNGRN look a bit weird if you cut them off in the middle of one of the little insets at the top).

Fitting computer panels or TEKWALL insets into the wall can be a good idea (I'm currently on an E1 binge and want to add techbase stylings to every map I make) but watch out that you don't just give up with STAR textures and put the panel so it cuts off the wall panels vertically. The beauty of COMP textures is that while they are made with 64x64 units in mind, they can be used for non-standard heights and widths as well.

As Jodwin said, if you ever use GSTONE, it's a bitch to align vertically because of the weird heights of the rows of stone, especially when sector height differences are present. I just usually align them to fit one sector and then align every other sector according to that, even if it cuts off the stones at the top or bottom. If you really want to get them to align perfectly, you could always use Jodwin's advice.

I've found that most ceiling light flats look best if they either jut out from the regular ceiling or are set into it. I especially like setting the light itself a bit into the ceiling and then giving it a thin border that's lower than the regular ceiling. It works best with the TLITE flats, CEIL1_2 and CEIL1_3.

Mr. Chris said:

You should fix the vertical texture alignment in the second to last image with the SHAWN2 on the walls.

..Or is that just a corner that makes it seem like misalignment?

I think that's just a corner.

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Nomad said:

It looks pretty decent, but I also see no monsters which would probably mean that you are not taking gameplay into account while mapping? Looking nice is a good thing, but playing nice is more important.

Not everybody works that way; Some put the monsters for last, but plan ahead for them.

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The nukage thing is about 4 pixels below the wall - it's supposed to be a really deep nukage river. :P

I used a cheapo self referencing trick so you can go in it too.

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