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Experiment: DM levels by a dedicated SPer

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So yeah. I've never played one game of deathmatch in my life and that's fine with me. I'm not good at interacting with people and I have an aversion to just playing with random guys on a server.

But lately, I've seen very high quality deathmatch megawads come out and I wanted to try my hand at making some maps myself. So here are three maps made for deathmatch by someone who's never played deathmatch before. Bear in mind that they probably suck and that's okay. They were never meant to be great, just as an experiment.

Here they are:

MAP01 is a small map meant for two players. It's got some detail, but very little. MAP02 and MAP03 are larger maps meant for 4 players and they are woefully underdetailed because I focused on finishing them quickly and besides, they aren't meant to be actually played. They're just there so people can tell me what I'm doing wrong. None of the maps have any lighting differences because I suck at lighting. Also, I love symmetry way too much (read: all of the maps are annoyingly symmetrical).

Before anyone even asks why I'm presenting them for critique if they are so bad and unfinished: it's because this is the best I can do without feedback from people who actually know what they are doing.

So fire away. Why are my layouts bad, what should I do with the detailing, how screwed up is my weapon and ammo placement, anything that's wrong with the maps, please tell me.

Newest version here: MAP01 is more compact and MAP03 is a small duel map instead of a sprawling, terrible free-for-all map.

EDIT: I have never uploaded a version of the WAD that didn't have several textures merged in. Nope, never. What are you talking about?
Credit goes to... I don't know who. Whoever compiled the texture pack for Claus1024, and the sources they took the textures from, I guess. There are some Nick Baker textures and flats there that I used, and maybe a few from GothicTX.

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first off, you shouldn't detail your maps until you're absolutely certain you don't want to make anymore changes to the layout. So you shouldn't be worrying about detailing them first. The other problem of detailing is it can often influence how you feel the map should be designed, and you want the design to be purely for gameplay, not to satisfy some sort of aesthetic ideal.

map01: 1st, I'd make the map a bit lighter. 2nd. the stairwells are too narrow and too long. I'd suggest making them a little shorter and wider. 3rd. I think your map would have more electric gameplay if you made another way to get to the plasmagun area and the rocket launcher area. Generally in dm mapmaking, you never want to make an area of play difficult to get to or only have one way of getting to it. Putting a powerful weapon in an area that is a major part of a map, and then making that area less accessible because there is a powerful weapon there, is BAD way of going about things. I know this because I have too many times fallen into this trap. If you want the powerful weapons harder to get, put them on a lift that lowers via a switch--this is the simplest and best way of making powerful weapons a bit more difficult to get than just running over them.

There are some general rules of thumb for dm maps to be fun.

1. lots of connections--ease of navigating the map--smooth flow. Your map nearly fulfills this; again, I would add a connection to the rl and plasma areas, raise the ceiling in the staircase where you hit your head going down, and widen those areas and shorten them.

2. avoid long hallways/connections.

3. windows looking into high traffic areas of a map make for more fun.

4. no dead ends! for the love of Snodgrass!

that's basically it. I think dm1 is a good start and could be a very fun level with some tweaking. I think you have a very good sense for map size, which is really more than half the battle.

other comments on dm1.wad: I would lower the wall in the center to 32 so you can shoot over it. Maybe make the tekgren5 an added connection to the plasma/RL sectors. It's very hard to make a good dm map without playtesting it to see what works and what doesn't. Are you going to playtest your map?

As much as I love making powerful items hard to get in my maps, it doesn't make the maps more fun to play. The more powerups in a map and the more stuff you have the player do (like shoot switches etc.) the less fun a map is. I fall victim to this all the time, and so know from experience that it very rarely improves a map. It slows down gameplay and interrupts the flow of battle.

On further reflection on your map, it may have enough connections. Could make the tekgren5 textures fast doors letting the player out.

I don't usually like symmetrical maps, but the symmetry in this map seems to work very well (which is kinda rare for a symmetrical map)

I would take out between one third and one half of the steps in your stairwells

map02: this map seems good. I ilke the outside lifts. I would remove the supports in the little alcoves on the outer edges of the map--they'll prolly just get in the way.

map03: generally speaking, damage sectors are fail for dm. I don't think your map is an exception. Annoying to get ammo prolly won't make it more fun. Long passages=no fun (but they are nice and wide). Dead end = NO. The weakest part of map03 is sector 70 and sector 71. These dead ends will drag down the gameplay big time. Simple solution is to add a little connection to sector 6. one way you could do this is by adding two sectors on either side of the teleport in each sector 70 and 71. You probably also want to add mirroring connecting sectors across the way on sector 37. So the biggest problems with map03 are the long hallways, the dead ends; not enough connections; annoying to get ammo: the challenge of getting the ammo won't make your map more fun--again, i have fallen victim to this and it never aids in the fun factor. Oh, and the high lifts mean waiting around--slows gameplay, impinges on electrifying gameplay. I would lower the high areas of the map from -8 to -192 and remove the lifts and replace them with stairs which will result in faster gameplay.

To get around the problem of the long hallways, you can add windows and connections.

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Now that I have slept and I'm a bit more awake, I think MAP03 is just going in the trash. I have no idea what I was thinking when I made it, other than "I want to make a sewers-themed map". It's way too large and empty.

Re: MAP02: Yeah, the supports there don't really serve any purpose, I'll get rid of them.

As for MAP01, I'm currently in the process of making it more compact.

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Hellbent's spot on, as of course he would be, but a couple of things I didn't see mentioned that could be helpful.

Symmetry: Hellbent touched on this, but I'll elaborate. A DM map is generally more interesting without symmetry, honestly. There are exceptions to this rule, it's not impossible to make a good symmetrical map, but when you're just starting out with DM mapping I would suggest staying away from it. Not only is it slightly confusing for the players as to what location they're fighting in if the texturing is the same, but it simply limits the fun and interesting things you can do, because you have to do them twice.

The other one is a small nitpick, but it really helps the flow of your map if you aren't whacking your head on the stairwell.

Also, weapon platforms (the little bump underneath them) aren't always necessary. You can just have them laying around in DM, it's fine, and usually makes things flow smoother.

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Okay, so I whipped up a new MAP03 and it's another duel map (I guess I'm being inspired by 32in24-9). It's small, non-symmetrical and incorporates a sewer area. Its level of detail is about the same as MAP01.

MAP01 itself has been made a bit smaller. The staircases were shortened and several steps were removed, making the height differences less extreme. I also hope that nobody will bump their heads on the top of the staircases now. I also removed the weapon platforms and lowered the center wall so now it can be shot over. I didn't, however, make any of the TEKGREN5 indents in the middle area doors into the bottom rooms, because I couldn't figure out a good way to do it.

Here's the new WAD: http://www.sendspace.com/file/2bj0gx

EDIT: Wow, I fail hard. I made the height differences in MAP01 less extreme, which meant making the top rooms lower, but I forgot to pull the shootable switches that open the teleporter rooms down with them. Fixed version in this and the first post now.

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