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Super Jamie

How do you map?

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JohnnyRancid said:

How hard is it to stick to a consistent texture theme? I just make the entire map first in low detail with the same texture throughout the entire map, then add details using textures that are remotely the same color.

Kyka said:

I finish one room/area, detail it completely, and then move on to the next room/area. This way does make it harder to stick to one theme, even if I already have the whole map planned out in my head. But on the other hand, doing it this way seems to help me come up with lots of new ideas also. Mostly these ideas I have to remove from the map I am working on and paste them into a 'scraps' wad so I can stay with a consistent theme. But my point is that some people will find it harder than others to to stick to a consistent theme.


These two posts reminded of a question I've been meaning to ask: How do you map?

Do you have a process or do you just open the editor and start blasting? Do you have a notebook full of top-down maps or even 3D doodles of what you want an area to look like? How do you get ideas for layouts and detailing?

Go forth and discuss.

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I should have a notebook full of topdown drawings and concept art, but I don't. I just open up DB2 and fire away usually. Sometimes I get brilliance, but after that I run out of ideas, and thus, it takes me forever to finish my maps. Generally when I map I go room by room, detailing them as I go and adding monsters and gameplay as I do. I try to make sure that whatever amount of map that I currently have plays well before moving on. And if later areas don't compliment the current gameplay, I can always change it.

But the problem is that a lot of times I'll start a new map, get a LOT done in it, and leave it sitting for days at a time before I get more done on it. I just have a hard time being creative I guess...

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I think about what I want to do, then I do it. And then I establish to myself that I failed.

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I first imagine a texture theme, then a map route, then a scale. I then establish the scale by setting the ceiling height in the first sector (usually 128-512) and by the length of the first linedef (usually 128-512 as well). Then I just blast away in the editor until I am tired.

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I start with either an idea I have, a rough sketch, or simply throw down a starting area and go from there. I will detail/redo/restart an area to a relatively moderate level of detail and move to the next section. (It probably depends on how much I know in advance I want to make. If I know what the room behind the next door is going to be i'll make all the areas in one go.)

Then with each area I kind of do "passes" over the map. So make one area move to the next finish that and then go back to the start area and smarten it up a bit, then 2nd part etc until I add the new section - and if I'm stuck on a new section i'll go back again as well. This seems to get the imagination going a bit for me which helps. Only catch is I've "forked" at some points and had a few different areas on the go, some get dropped over time etc.

skill levels etc all get left till lucky last at this stage ;o)

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edit: Oh and I kinda pick a theme straight away. It slowly changes as I go, kinda get's refined to suit the maps architecture as it too is refined.
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I've only just started mapping again this year after a long period of time and am finding the process very enjoyable and rewarding for my creative side - I'm actually not thinking about the next days work anymore!

-t

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It helps to map when real life stuff are going tough (chores or HAVING NOTHING ELSE TO DO). Then I just load up the editor or XWE and add what I've been thinking to add. Usually when I'm bored of real life, I gather lots of ideas for Doom mods. But I'm slow. I've only got one release, despite having over 2400 (or 2300?) posts. I hope people don't find me pitiful for this.

In maps, I have a fixation for rounded corners and jagged cave or slime walls.

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For single player, I first try to get an idea of an area, what it looks like, how the player traverses it. Then I make a bare room of that area in DB, making sure the scale is right. Then it's a matter of detailing off the top of my head until I think the area is done, or I get ideas to move on. I don't often revisit areas to do major changes but there is constant tweaking going on during a project. I'm also not afraid to scrap entire areas that don't "feel right", before I get to thoroughly detailing them.

Multiplayer (DM\CTF) is a different case. I start off the same way as I would in a singleplayer map, except I build most of the map's layout before even bothering much with texturing. Interconnectivity and player movement should not be too hindered, but cover, chokepoints and balance are important as well. I tend to underdetail such maps most of the time so that I can focus more on gameplay instead of littering everything with details that get in the way of players playing it.

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kristus said:

I think about what I want to do, then I do it.

This, although the actual process varies depending on stuff such as sources and type of inspiration and expected map size. Although I add gameplay as the very last thing, I usually have some ideas for what kind of gameplay to throw in before I start mapping and thus draw the rooms accordingly. The other parts are designed on the fly. I've found it best for me to first draw a bunch of rooms with very basic architecture, then detail some of that, draw a bit more architecture, detail, draw, detail and so on. Drawing everything at once and then detailing it all in go gives some kind of a "isn't this every going to end"-reaction, but at the same time drawing and detailing just a room by room slows the actual drawing down too much.

My inspiration usually includes a theme (as well as basic level progression, some fights and stuff like that) so sticking to it is easy, but if it doesn't, I usually end up using BROWN, METAL2 and STONE textures just to get something done. :P

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I normally draw the map on graph paper before I do anything with the editor. Once I get a general layout all planned out, I grab a 2 litre bottle of cola, an all Rush mix tape and start Doom Building it. I add the details I need as I go. I have so many maps drawn on graph, but I fail to get most of them done.

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I have a 7-year old blue notebook with all my zdoom maps in...and there can be a very long time between drawing the map and making it :p (given that I've always planned my projects well before I start mapping them - in this case the last few serpent maps will have been on paper for 5 years before they get put into WA :p)

Layouts come from real-world inspirations, as does the detail, texturing is essentially what fits best. I'm all about realism and creating worlds though, so that usually means that eg. drab areas actually look drab and not just spiced up for the sake of looking good (it's a drab cave/wasteland, it's not supposed to look good :p).

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To be honest I have no idea :P Probably don't have a 'technique' at all, just do what I feel like and everything tends to just come together nicely heh. Of course I usually have an idea of the texture/architecture theme before I start, but that's about it.

I used to draw maps on paper beforehand sometimes, but I found that ended up both taking more time and limiting me somewhat. I find I come up with the best stuff on the spot - particularly if I finish one area, look at it in game and think up some cool architecture or feature that could extend from it.

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Sometimes I get a clear idea of what I want. Other times I draw some shapes and manipulate them till I get something I like.

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Krispavera said:

I should have a notebook full of topdown drawings and concept art, but I don't. I just open up DB2 and fire away usually. Sometimes I get brilliance, but after that I run out of ideas, and thus, it takes me forever to finish my maps. Generally when I map I go room by room, detailing them as I go and adding monsters and gameplay as I do. I try to make sure that whatever amount of map that I currently have plays well before moving on. And if later areas don't compliment the current gameplay, I can always change it.

But the problem is that a lot of times I'll start a new map, get a LOT done in it, and leave it sitting for days at a time before I get more done on it. I just have a hard time being creative I guess...

Sounds exactly like me. I have tried mapping, but I just suck at it :P I'll just stick to writing the editor and making test maps.

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A lot more recently I've been drawing roughs of my maps out on lined paper. I've devised a very specific key for drawing them.

  • Solid lines are walls.
  • Slightly lighter lines are double-sided lines.
  • Lines running across a corridor or square indicate stairs. Unfortunately, I draw some fake-3D bridges in the same way. :P
  • An arrow drawn over the stairs indicates which direction the stairs go up in.
  • Lines with smaller lines going along it are impassible fences or railings.
  • An area with cross-hatching is a lift.
  • An area with hatched squiggly lines is a liquid (slime, water, blood...).
  • I draw numbers in some sectors to denote the approximate floor height.
  • A square with a circle with a line through it is a teleporter.
  • Small circles are pillars or other decorations.
  • An arrow denotes the player start, and any other things I'm already sure that I'll put down.
  • Doors are indicated with a simple line across the border sector.
  • The letters B, R and Y denote locked doors. Similarly, colored keycards and skulls are drawn (as card shapes and skulls), and noted with one of these letters.
  • Switches are indicated with insets in a solid wall, drawn slightly thicker.
  • Links between switches and doors are shown with double-headed arrows.
  • Sometimes to jolt my memory I write the names of the textures along their respective walls. Not all of them, mind you. :P
  • Weapons are draw like a single-line shotgun, or ¬.
  • Flags (for CTF maps) are shown as flags. (A simple line and rectangle.)
I think I'm probably obsessive-compulsive on at least a few levels. :P

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A bit offtopic;
Jimmy91, can you scan and give me one of your drawings? Would make a nice screenshot of DB2 with such a scan on the background and drawing the map on top of it.

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Generally when I create a map, I like to wait until I get a good image of certain parts of the map, and I map according to that. Sometimes my maps are based on a certain effect I've been anxious to try and pull off, and other times they simply reflect a certain scenery or setting that I've always wanted to see, like a post apocalyptic city, caves, rocky cliff faces, and so on.

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I've discovered that I simply map better when I do it on paper first. I get a lot more ideas that way, and it's a lot easier to get ideas when I'm doing it pencil-and-paper. That way, my flashes of brilliance come a lot more frequently. And if I don't like something, it can easily be removed without a lot of heartbreak.

Then I map out the architecture, and getting down all of the structural work. I do this by paintakingly adding shapes (not lighting yet) in each room, then using DB2 3d mode to remove all HOMs.

Then I shade it out, and fine-tune the textures. Thing placement comes last.

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CodeImp said:

Sounds exactly like me. I have tried mapping, but I just suck at it :P I'll just stick to writing the editor and making test maps.


Well, your efforts are greatly appreciated by us all. Thank you.

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-Create starting area.
-Branch out in various directions.
-Add in traps and extra ambush areas in free space.
-Finish all standard rooms and detailing.
-Place monsters and majority of decorations.
-Place weapons/ammo/health.
-Playtest to find any flaws or other errors, correcting when neccessary.
-Upload to /idgames.

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bahahaha dude your post was priceless, but ingenious! I love it!

The way I map? I just imagine something and start drawing lines in doom builder. I have never have a plan.

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Not that I have any massive experience in mapping, but I usually have an idea in my head of an area I want to make or at least a look I want to achieve. Sometimes I'll draw this out on paper, sometimes I'll keep it in my head till I get to an editor. I find paper drawing easier when planning a room or small area, rather than a whole map.

More often than not, I come up with a cool start/exit but lack middle areas without making something too linear, so I have a small but growing collection of ideas wads. I have a couple of maps I've got a few rooms through and run out of ideas, so they're sitting there waiting for more. How some people think of making maps constantly switch back on themselves without getting boring impresses me greatly.

Hellbent said:

The less I think, the more I do, the better it is. IE. leap before I look.

This surprises me. Your last couple of maps have ended up quite interwoven, as I was playing them I thought for sure alot of planning had gone into it!

JohnnyRancid said:

Draw out a bunch of random shapes for main rooms... Interconnect Main Rooms with hallways.

This I am going to try! It worked really well for pwb.wad, even if the end result was a bit linear.

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I might have to try that for the following map AFTER E2M5.

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CodeImp said:

A bit offtopic;
Jimmy91, can you scan and give me one of your drawings? Would make a nice screenshot of DB2 with such a scan on the background and drawing the map on top of it.


I don't think you needed to qualify this post with "a bit offtopic" since you're not detracting from the discussion.

Super Jamie said:

This surprises me. Your last couple of maps have ended up quite interwoven, as I was playing them I thought for sure alot of planning had gone into it!


Which maps are you referring to? My uacexp.wad and lostrerinery may have had some thought go into them, but as far as planning everything out before hand.. no way. The speedmap I did had some thought go into it, but ultimately I just build stuff without a real concrete idea of how it will all fit together and figure it'll become clear what to do as I build.... Somebody really needs to make a youtube video of themselves making a map like those old tv shows that showed the artist drawing the piece on the canvas: filming the screen as they make the map and then edit it so it's not as long as the map took to make. :P

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Hellbent said:
Which maps are you referring to?[/B]

Yeah the two you mentioned. LR especially, it's a fairly massive map but it's quite easy to get your bearings, even when you're taking an alternate path.

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With my first map I finished and put online, I had designed the entire thing on paper before actually building it in the editor. The problem with this method, I think, is that it really didn't make the level feel as well-planned as I might have liked, especially in comparison to just building, and in fact if anything it tended towards more illogical gameplay, since I started with a design and then sort of forced it to work, whereas if I had just built it one area at a time I would have been constantly testing my new ideas as I worked, making sure that they were fun and all that.

Of course, part of the reason I think this may be the fact that I've gained a lot of experience and insight since releasing that first map. In fact, I did a 1024 map (still unreleased) without any prior planning and it had a lot of the same sort of illogical back-and-forthage that the first map had, albeit a million times smaller and with better detailing. The map I'm working on now is, at least I think, more well laid-out despite having no previous planning, which is probably because I'm getting a good feel of what works in maps.

Then again, building maps without planning them can have a lot of mappers' block associated with it, as I'm sort of running into now :P

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