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Glaice

Maintaining original looks and not overdetailing

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What could I possibly do to keep a decent look to maps without overdetailing them but trying to give it an Id Software style feeling for the remaining maps of mine?

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I dunno, give yourself a sector limit? 200-300 sectors? Test everything with vanilla and don't get any plane overflows? A few ideas.

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Don't align textures unless you absolutely have to. Look around DOOM.WAD in Doom Builder sometime, hit A and Ctrl-Z everywhere. Almost nothing is aligned unless it breaks functionality or looks glaringly stupid.

When doing floors, don't use bordering textures or raised edging. That looks good but it's very post-90s.

The thing I find most Vanilla is the way Romero used ceiling heights within rooms (ie: not just for doorways and passages) to vary the architecture, even when the rest of the room was relatively simple. That's something I always forget when mapping, and probably why most of my own maps are shit.

Romero's design rules:
* always changing floor height when I wanted to change floor textures
* using special border textures between different wall segments and doorways
* being strict about texture alignment (lol E1M1)
* conscious use of contrast everywhere in a level between light and dark areas, cramped and open areas
* making sure that if a player could see outside that they should be able to somehow get there
* being strict about designing several secret areas on every level
* making my levels flow so the player will revisit areas several times so they will better understand the 3D space of the level
* creating easily recognizable landmarks in several places for easier navigation

GhostlyDeath's chocorenderlimits can help you see how near/far you are away from limits. Or test in DOS on a 486 :P

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As far as I see it, "overdetailing" is a fictional concept.

Detail is not as quantifiable of an entity as it is often considered. One could design a fantastically, elaborately-detailed map via extensive usage of custom-fitted textures on simple geometry, or on the opposite side of the coin one could smatter a map with thoughtless sectors that create clutter and contribute to no meaningful whole. Which of the maps is more detailed? What can we really consider detail: aspects of a map to which great care has clearly been paid, or a number at the bottom of an editor window telling us how many lines the map contains? A map with simple geometry and a map with extremely complex geometry can both be carefully detailed and made aesthetically pleasing when a skilled mapper is at the helm.

Espi's Suspended in Dusk/Back to Basics (take your pick), Erik's Scythe 2/Scythe X, and Vader's Thunderpeak provide great examples to study of ways to beautifully design and detail maps at low, medium, and high levels of geometric complexity, respectively. Study them, learn what can be learned from each of them, and find the style of detailing that you are most comfortable with and which you feel achieves the results you're looking for. But don't be afraid to try stepping out of that comfort zone now and then to try a different approach. :)

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Mr. Chris
What could I possibly do to keep a decent look to maps without overdetailing them but trying to give it an Id Software style feeling for the remaining maps of mine?

You won't get a decent look by over-detailing, so perhaps you shouldn't worry :p

If you want to imitate id's style, just use a similar scale for areas and lighting.

esselfortium said:
One could design a fantastically, elaborately-detailed map via extensive usage of custom-fitted textures on simple geometry, or on the opposite side of the coin one could smatter a map with thoughtless sectors that create clutter and contribute to no meaningful whole. Which of the maps is more detailed?

That ends with the wrong question. What matters is whether either is over-detailed, not how many details are used. You have a great dane and a chihuahua. You don't ask which has more weight in fat, you ask which is overweight.

Detail is not as quantifiable of an entity as it is often considered.

That "is often considered" needs one of those Wikipedian [who?] tags :p

Over-detailing means there is detailing in the level that would be better off gone, and this has to be determined by the aesthetic and gaming eye of the beholder, not a set of numeric values. It's when there is redundant detail, and that, if it isn't actually degrading playability or aesthetics directly, the author should have spent time on something more important, such as refining the layout or improving thing placement. A concept isn't fictional just because there's no concrete or absolute way to define it, even when it is indeed tied to the number of sectors bunched into an area.

Suppose a mapper started making some linear and boring map and we said "dude, that's a dull and over-detailed map you're making there." He could go back to an early version, refine the layout to make things interesting and also add twice as much detail as before. Perhaps that version wouldn't be over-detailed even when more details are present (or perhaps yes, but at least it's got a better layout to go with that.) That doesn't stop that first version from being over-detailed. You might want to say "badly detailed" but the term "over-detailing" tends to say "spend more time on fine-tuning game play and layout and texture usage on that, not on doodling with sectors." There can also be an appreciation for minimalism in it.

Espi's Suspended in Dusk/Back to Basics (take your pick), Erik's Scythe 2/Scythe X, and Vader's Thunderpeak provide great examples to study of ways to beautifully design and detail maps at low, medium, and high levels of geometric complexity, respectively.

Of those, and from what Mr. Chris said about approaching the style of the id levels, I'd only recommend SiD. Otherwise I'd point to stuff like the Classic series, Perdition's Gate, or WADs by Alex Parsons, to name some.

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Ironically, while Espi described B2B as "very basic", it ends up more detailed and better looking than many maps I've played.

However it is a good study in use of limited textures to make a captivating environment. Sometimes you're like "you did that with BROWN96 and a face? wow, dude, wow"

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I try not to overdetail for those who have played the previous 6 maps for the episode 2 level replacements going on and off (slacking off even more thanks to Fallout 3). E2M6 has a little inspiration from the original (ickwall and wood themes, low ceiling hallways/rooms, scrolling textures, etc) but it's progressing slowly.

I have remembered reading and seeing Romero's level design rules from over at the wiki page, which seems like it can helpful in some areas for me but another thing that strikes me hard is the creativity and originality on progression in the map (switch/key hunting especially).

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myk said:

What matters is whether either is over-detailed, not how many details are used.

No, my entire point with that comparison was to demonstrate that detail is not as quantifiable of an entity as many of us [who? you] seem to think it is. Is a map with lots of sector detail "more detailed" than a map that instead makes usage of custom textures for elaborate, but more geometrically simple, detailed-looking structures? If it's done well, I don't think there's any problem with either approach, I'm just trying to say that the concept of "detail" isn't quantifiable. Answering "how many details are used" is impossible, and by extension calling a map "overdetailed" makes no sense.

Before someone thinks to bring it up, I'd call Gothic99 map01 a lot of negative things (confusing, full of copy and paste, cluttered, uninspired), but not "overdetailed". Copying and pasting a geometrically-complex 128x128 square several times to create a layout doesn't really indicate that much care or thought was put into detailwork.

Over-detailing means there is detailing in the level that would be better off gone, and this has to be determined by the aesthetic and gaming eye of the beholder, not a set of numeric values. It's when there is redundant detail, and that, if it isn't actually degrading playability or aesthetics directly, the author should have spent time on something more important, such as refining the layout or improving thing placement. A concept isn't fictional just because there's no concrete or absolute way to define it, even when it is indeed tied to the number of sectors bunched into an area.

But it's not. The quantity of sector "detail" in an area absolutely does not determine the quality of its appearance. A heavily-detailed structure created by an experienced designer should still appear clean and purposeful, and not feel cluttered, and doesn't necessarily have any correlation at all to more or less time being spent developing the gameplay and layout. What is "redundant detail"? Also, not caring about numeric values was one of the main points of my post, so I'm not even entirely sure what you're trying to debate about here.

"Overdetail" is just such an ambiguous concept, though, that I'm pretty sure it was even used to describe Suspended in Dusk and Alien Vendetta by some idgames reviewers. The concept has no definable meaning and no frame of reference, thus as far as I'm concerned it does not exist. Is there such a thing as bad detailing? Sure thing. Ugly clutter? Yep. Bumpy walls that negatively impact gameplay? Absolutely. Mappers who couldn't build a layout if their life depended on it? It would seem so! But none of those things are inherently tied to the quantity of map data that we often refer to as detail.

Suppose a mapper started making some linear and boring map and we said "dude, that's a dull and over-detailed map you're making there." He could go back to an early version, refine the layout to make things interesting and also add twice as much detail as before. Perhaps that version wouldn't be over-detailed even when more details are present (or perhaps yes, but at least it's got a better layout to go with that.) That doesn't stop that first version from being over-detailed. You might want to say "badly detailed" but the term "over-detailing" tends to say "spend more time on fine-tuning game play and layout and texture usage on that, not on doodling with sectors." There can also be an appreciation for minimalism in it.[/b]

I don't understand how being linear and boring contributes to making a map "over-detailed". That's called "shitty layout", and calling it anything else is just unnecessarily confusing. The layout, gameplay, appearance, and geometric complexity of a map don't cause each other to suck by being present. There are plenty of 1994 maps with none whatsoever of what we call "detail" and which still have no quality of gameplay or layout design to show for it.

Fine-tuning gameplay, layout, and texture work is really as much of detail-work as what we commonly associate with the term "detail", anyway. By this more general usage of the term (which I doubt will ever catch on in the community, but makes far more sense to me), it sounds more like the mapper didn't spend enough time on detailing their work.

[who?]

The people in this thread. :P

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I'm inclined to agree with Essel on this. There's always been a large chunk of the community that ties the word 'detail' to "z0mg, moar sectorz plz", when detail should simply mean basic visual aesthetics. A map with <500 sectors can either look good or bad and the same applies to a map with >10000 sectors.

It's entirely possible to have a map with 10000+ sectors that doesn't hinder gameplay and doesn't look ugly. If it does look or play like crap, it's not because there's too much detail, it just means that the mapper in question got it wrong.

There just needs to be a shift in emphasis towards detail meaning 'general appearance' rather than arbitrary numerical values that supposedly tell you if a map is good or bad.

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While I agree with essel that detail isn't necessarily quantifiable (it really depends on the context), the term "overdetailing" is still valid. Obviously it's very subjective, and it simply means that the person feels the map has too much detail to his taste - regardless of the kind of detail the map is having in the first place. It's not like you can objectively say "This is how much detail you can have before it's bad", but pretending that someone else can't find that a map has too much detail is just stupid.


On topic, try to do more large scale detailing rather than tiny intricate stuff. For example, rather than doing intricate wall details to fill blank, boring walls use interesting and good looking textures covering the walls. Have bigger areas with different lightning levels or heights instead of making many small lights or floor details.

The real challenge comes from using less detail, but not making it look boring.

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The whole "detail" fetish has destroyed me. It makes me numb. The only thing that catches my eye now are details that help a structure seem to be possible in reality. Detail isn't how many sectors we can put in a light or how many borders we can throw down, or wall damage that makes no sense.


What really matters is proportion.


The doomguy is small. People forget this. Mappers forget this. Mappers make maps in the almighty doom builder, test in 3d mode, then play through it not realising that they've made the doomguy a midget. Scale is wrong, and as a consequence, the reality has shattered, and I feel like I'm playing another generic pwad. If you want to make your map massive, then that's great. RUNBUDDY did this. Some of Essel's new maps for a certain project do this. the doomguy is only dwarfed when he opens the door, and sees the huge area ahead of him.


In fact, for me, the best wow factor is manipulation of scale. B.P.R.D. is the master of this. he somehow makes the doomguy seem normal height while at the same time dwarfing him in HUGE areas.

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If you're trying not to "overdetail" so to speak, you're biggest concern should making sure you stick to a consistent map and color theme. Use John Romero's design rules, particularly using support textures for rooms that use different textures, and changing floor height for areas with different floor textures and using textures to their best abilities.

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40oz said:

If you're trying not to "overdetail" so to speak, you're biggest concern should making sure you stick to a consistent map and color theme. Use John Romero's design rules, particularly using support textures for rooms that use different textures, and changing floor height for areas with different floor textures and using textures to their best abilities.


That's what I'm working on, without detailwhoring on my levels..so far I havn't gone to extents on any of the previous 6 maps, especially E2M1 and E2M9.

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esselfortium said:
No, my entire point with that comparison was to demonstrate that detail is not as quantifiable of an entity as many of us [who? you] seem to think it is.

You can't demonstrate how something based on aesthetics and gaming preference is measurable. If anything, you're just saying the concept is of no use to you in particular, and you find it antipathetic in some way, maybe by relating it to detailed maps you think are good which others have called over-detailed.

Is a map with lots of sector detail "more detailed" than a map that instead makes usage of custom textures for elaborate, but more geometrically simple, detailed-looking structures? If it's done well, I don't think there's any problem with either approach, I'm just trying to say that the concept of "detail" isn't quantifiable.

I can't say I agree with the conclusion, as I tend to like the latter type more and the first type less. It's as if someone disliked progressive metal and you told them they might like some prog metal song if it's "done well." And even if they were to like some song in the genre as an exception, it does not negate that they dislike that sort of (as they would perhaps say) "over-elaborate elitist crap without feeling" in general.

Before someone thinks to bring it up, I'd call Gothic99 map01 a lot of negative things (confusing, full of copy and paste, cluttered, uninspired), but not "overdetailed".

That's a good example of over-detail, yes. Simply eliminating, smoothing out much of the detail would make play in there more pleasurable, and would also arguably take out the insane visual clutter. Being that it was an exercise of detailing over the general layout of Map01: Entryway, wrecking a fine deathmatch map concept in the process, one can clearly state it is over-detailed. Of course, it can be understood that Matt was simply experimenting with something largely undone till then, and as such it's a curious and historically relevant design, notwithstanding how unplayable it may be. Fixing his map so it could play better and not look so convoluted would make little sense simply because that aberration was what he was intending to try out. It sucks for playing and looks ridiculous, but it's in the DOOM museum for a reason. If anything, so we can exemplify over-detailing :p

The quantity of sector "detail" in an area absolutely does not determine the quality of its appearance.

Something doesn't need to be a determinant to be out of place or an annoyance. What do you mean by quality there? Value or particularity? In any case, using more details should make a difference (produce a different quality) and different things tend to be liked less or more by different people.

A heavily-detailed structure created by an experienced designer should still appear clean and purposeful, and not feel cluttered, and doesn't necessarily have any correlation at all to more or less time being spent developing the gameplay and layout.

Perhaps, but we'd still have to see the result. To one (you?) it may not seem over-detailed, yet to another, it may, in respect to both aesthetics and playability.

Also, not caring about numeric values was one of the main points of my post, so I'm not even entirely sure what you're trying to debate about here.

The validity of the term, and why it is usable, of course.

"Overdetail" is just such an ambiguous concept, though, that I'm pretty sure it was even used to describe Suspended in Dusk and Alien Vendetta by some idgames reviewers.

Sure. It should not be taken as something definite or objective. I'm surprised you're even looking for such a "concrete" term, given the nature of the topic (aesthetics, gaming.) It mainly means "I think that if you made simpler architecture removing this or that and concentrating on doing more basic work, your mapping would improve." That is obviously something relative.

The concept has no definable meaning and no frame of reference, thus as far as I'm concerned it does not exist.

You might as well say concepts like wisdom and beauty don't exist, then.

But none of those things are inherently tied to the quantity of map data that we often refer to as detail.

In many maps they are indeed tied to that because of how the mappers designed them :p

I don't understand how being linear and boring contributes to making a map "over-detailed".

It goes the other way. Since the designer concentrated on detailing prematurely, he didn't focus on playing with the layout and its related things more freely. The detailing becomes a crust that crystallizes the map into that dull but embellished design, giving the author a lame purpose to continue developing the level. You'll have to agree that the more detail a map has, the more work it'll be to modify it radically if something is wrong with it in a more global sense, and any necessary changes will seem more like a hassle than when you change a simpler map. You'd have to modify the layout, and alter or redo a ton of details on top.

The layout, gameplay, appearance, and geometric complexity of a map don't cause each other to suck by being present.

That depends on how much time one is willing to put on a map. With near-infinite amounts of time, you could be correct. But one usually has to be realistic and concentrate more on some aspects than others, giving priority to the most important ones. Design concepts are largely defined by the aspects you focus on.

There are plenty of 1994 maps with none whatsoever of what we call "detail" and which still have no quality of gameplay or layout design to show for it.

What a discovery!

Fine-tuning gameplay, layout, and texture work is really as much of detail-work as what we commonly associate with the term "detail", anyway.

You can use the word detail like that, but if you apply that idea to many utterances of the term you may find on the forums and the like, you'll be at least partially misleading yourself, as they mostly refer to the sector-based construction.

By this more general usage of the term (which I doubt will ever catch on in the community, but makes far more sense to me), it sounds more like the mapper didn't spend enough time on detailing their work.

Or fortunately didn't spend too much time on it :p

But I agree that it has a lot to to do with time, aside from some aspects of taste. If one is going to bother with anal details, one better be ready to give these a good deal of time, to use them suitably. Too much detail is when you spend too much effort on it, neglecting other aspects, and not enough time on it to integrate it with these other aspects in an appropriate way.

DooMAD
There's always been a large chunk of the community that ties the word 'detail' to "z0mg, moar sectorz plz"

This is because for a period, "needs moar detail" was a catchphrase that helped develop a culture of "detailing." You can't just untie a phrase from its acquired meanings. The is is more relevant than the should. I agree detailing for the sake of it is like a disease to mapping, but that's exactly where the "over-detailing" resides.

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I fully agree with every point of both participants.

"Overdetail" is useful as a concept. It's a subjective summary of a personal opinion of a map's aesthetics. It's indicative of a set of problems that may emerge when a mapper believes that a map will look better with greater complexity of geometry or texture, or when a mapper works on visuals before gameplay. As it is subjective and personal, anyone who doesn't agree with an appraisal of "overdetailed" is free to ignore it. People who appreciate any amount of tastefully-arranged detail will obviously have no use for such a term, and that's fine. People who suffer "sensory overload", or can otherwise only appreciate a simpler aesthetic, will have use for such a term, and that's fine. Overgameplay could be an equally useful term. Someone who cannot personally appreciate slaughtermaps could describe them as being "overgameplayed".

Now you guys should hug.

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I define detail as things and functionless sectors added as eyecandy. I don't have any problem against "overdetailed" maps, because I appreciate the time authors spent decorating them, and in the end they look better than square maps. In my case however, if I start detailing a room I was making, it's a sign of running out of ideas.

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I think "overdetailing" is the wrong word because it doesn't accurately portray what the problem with the map is. When someone describes a map, or a portion of a map is overdetailed, I picture several possible scenarios:

1. A map is considered finished althrough the majority of the map is very bland and simple while there is a room or two where apparently, the grid was switched to 4x4 to add all the unnecessary sectors, such as making keyboards for computers, or tiny table lamps, which completely throws off the consistency of the map, and could have been avoided if those tiny hair-splitting details were not made in the first place.

2. Portions of a map that were apparently tuned up for hours on end, but make little impression on the player because they are not visibly placed in an area where the player will truly notice it. This can be a distant guard tower, or a room that the player can see but not actually get to. This is more used toward deathmatch maps, particularly Gothic99 where each portion of the map was sculpted to 'look' absolutely perfect and original, but when anyone should be more concentrated on fighting monsters, or especially in Gothic99's case, other lightning fast moving players, you'd completely overlook all the work that was spent on it, which makes it unnecessary. And all the sectors would have slowed down processor speed on computers back in 1999 too. Not a terrible issue now but whatever.

3. Far too many varying floor heights that obstruct movement and visibly are not even that impressive to the eye, and would much further enhance the gameplay of the map if those floor heights were all exactly the same.

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There are other cases you could define as "over-detailed". Your case number 3 could be expanded to maps that do look impressive in their own way but still don't play well. The details could look bad in lower resolutions. One could simply feel that a less detailed map would just look nicer, that the detail doesn't suit the objectives of his current level set (yet might suit others he's designing) or that all those details detract from visibility. That's one thing I like about cruder deathmatch levels, for example. They make the player sprites stand out more. (The curious thing is that detailing often goes with drab colored "themed" walls, which decreases visibility a bit further.)

It's a bad word if you think that any amount of detailing work is suitable or if you tend to feel that more work put on detailing is necessarily a good thing. Refinement, however, does not necessarily mean detailing. In fact, I think pruning is an essential aspect of design. You design stuff, let your mind wander and experiment, but then you cut back on many parts that you feel have failed and would get in the way of progress. Detail-oriented mapping doesn't help with that, as I noted in my previous post. Dumping stuff becomes more regretful the more time you put into it. Designs that are "light" are easy to rework.

The term is right if you feel that part of the antidote for a bad level is reducing details, or if you feel delving into detailing harms the design process. It's wrong if you feel that level could do well with just as much if not more details, just used differently, or if you feel detailing is an essential aspect of mapping.

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I personally don't mind see some detailing when it comes to creating maps. But what I tend to do most is to set up a few basic theme for textures, floor/ceiling height and brightness (something I learned from using DCK back in the days). I use these textures extensively through my maps, and find transition textures when two themes meets up.

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