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Shadelight

Curing Mapper's Block - Any ideas?

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Time after time again I've found this to be a major problem when working on things. I have been working on my Hexen mod and I have gotten into several mapper's blocks and have never found many good ways to cure them. Does anyone have any good ideas?

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I have a very unique variation of mapper's block - my problem isn't in coming up with ideas, but with finishing them or coming up with concepts that just aren't viable enough to fill a full-fledged map.

I'll often get ideas about this one awesome arena or room - very detailed, backstory and everything, but that's just it. I can map that, and it may play well, but I can never build off of and around it. It's basically "I'm going to make an awesome room without forethought and assume that I'll think of something along the way to complete its existence" syndrome.

For instance, in my current project, I decided I want to do a DOOM WAD revolving around techbases. So I started detailing excessively, trying to find logic behind placement of decorations and enemies.

Not saying realism is a bad thing in Doom, but even in regards to details, I think my style tries to be too rational and purposeful instead of just being abstract and filled with awesome encounters (Plutonia 2 is my current favorite reference WAD).

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Mapper's block can be a real bitch.

I usually overcome that in four ways:

1. I take an ACS special and try to apply it in various ways and before I know it, I build a map around it.

2. I get inspiration from somebody's mapping problem. Seems weird, but it focuses on what needs to be done. Then I go from there.

3. I like watching Sci-Fi movies, episodes and draw some ideas from them.

4. I generate Oblige, Obhack maps and start detailing them with fancy architecture, new textures etc.

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I've found the best solution for mapper's block, for me anyways, is to just take a break from mapping and do something else. Usually I get over it after a few days though sometimes it takes longer, especially if I've been mapping nonstop. I tend to play another game or read a book or go through some other maps for inspiration and ideas.

But yea, the best advice I can give you is to just take a break for a while ;)

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StoneFrog said:

I have a very unique variation of mapper's block - my problem isn't in coming up with ideas, but with finishing them or coming up with concepts that just aren't viable enough to fill a full-fledged map.

I'll often get ideas about this one awesome arena or room - very detailed, backstory and everything, but that's just it. I can map that, and it may play well, but I can never build off of and around it. It's basically "I'm going to make an awesome room without forethought and assume that I'll think of something along the way to complete its existence" syndrome.


Funny, that's how my last map went, minus not knowing how to connect it - at least in the end ;P Taking ideas from other wads to flesh out your own cool ideas works well imo; talking about my last map again, it went kinda like:
Oooo, cool arena fight with a cyb in a 384ish diameter cage with imps shooting at you. This then was embedded in a hell tunnels kinda place with the goal being this huge 3-curtain-wall-and-keep castle. Funnily I decided to start the descent into hell from outside, which resulted in a kinda out of place big room still in the map, but mostly gave a kinda archeological/mine shaft feeling to the tunnels. Then I made some cool deep pool in the inital room, and made a deep water "lake" off that. And when I finally got around to the castle I was feeling kinda meh about finishing it and just went with a castle wall or two, and said f it I'm done. Just a little more detailing and monster placement and that was about it. Sorry for the eye-cancer ...

P.S. take mechadon's advice if you're really drained of ideas. Worked for me a few weeks ago.

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ArmouredBlood said:

P.S. take mechadon's advice if you're really drained of ideas. Worked for me a few weeks ago.

Uhh yeah, probably a good time to mention that I haven't touched Hammer for about three months and have done nothing in the way of digital media since aside from texture making. I just re-opened Doom Builder for the first time in ages about four days ago, and I've already hit a wall. :P

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StoneFrog said:

Uhh yeah, probably a good time to mention that I haven't touched Hammer for about three months and have done nothing in the way of digital media since aside from texture making. I just re-opened Doom Builder for the first time in ages about four days ago, and I've already hit a wall. :P


Lolz. Do a bunch of speedmaps like phml. Either you'll force ideas out into a cohesive map or get a bunch of random rooms, if anything. Possibly churning out a bunch of ideas, posting them on the forums then holding some sort of community "help me make some cool ideas into maps" project going would be cool.

Speaking of community wads, I'd like to do a 'hellify and HR-ify' some tech base maps project. About the only ones who'd support this are phml, insane_gazebo, and possibly ToD and gggmork afaik. Heh, mechadon, would you like to contribute some maps to be 'perverted'? ;P

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ArmouredBlood said:

Heh, mechadon, would you like to contribute some maps to be 'perverted'? ;P

Ha! Yea sure, why not? :P

But yea, if your just having a tough time trying to gather ideas or finish a map, anything like that, speedmapping is certainly a good exercise to get your creative cogs moving again.

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Mechadon said:

Ha! Yea sure, why not? :P


Awesomeness. Gonna have to put together a texture wad - some UAC ultra stuff would look quite nice in a hellified tech base (I WANT THAT COMP TEXTURE). Now just to wait for either spring break or another series of holidays ...

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These certainly work for me:

  1. Play other maps (preferably ones that you've played before and have thoroughly enjoyed) to get inspiration. Have these maps open in a level editor while you do so, in case you need to see exactly how certain parts of the map were built.
  2. Plot out a very rough sketch of the map as it currently is on line or graph paper. Then draw in the remaining areas as you see fit.
  3. Experiment with different texture choices in the incomplete areas of your map.
  4. Listen to music while you map.
  5. Attend a speedmapping session, or set one up yourself. Set a really strict deadline for the map's completion (like, give yourself 2-3 hours to finish the whole damn thing) and don't bother with petty detailing and extensive testing.

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Have several projects running at the same time. This way, you can conveniently switch to another, so you don't get sick with testing one map.

Play one of your unfinished maps repeatably and repeatably, go in circles inside it, until you find a place you're sure you wish to expand. Then expand that part, and start over this process.

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