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Herculine

Mapping School Curriculum?

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If you were a professor at a university for Doom mappers, what non-id produced WADs would be part of your curriculum?

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wow.wad




(Seriously, professor at a Doom mapping university? Heh.)


If you want recommendation for maps to study, I'd recommend looking at those that are widely appreciated -- those that got a Cacoward, a Top 100 entry, or the Brandon Badge of Merit (4 stars or more in the Doomworld archives interface) -- and examining them.

Find those that 1. you like and 2. seem to be liked by many other people, and learn from them.

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Fuck DECORATE. DECORATE has nothing to do with Doom. ZDoom is an entire different branch. It's like teaching probability in a geometry class.

If I had a whole semester to work with, You would have to start with the IWADs, particularly Ultimate Doom and Doom 2. We'd play through the whole game in class and I'd assign some maps to be played for homework. When we're finished with it I can explain good layouts for Single Player, Cooperative, and Deathmatch maps. Then explain good gameplay by way of thing placement. Then of course, good map design. Consistent color schemes, texture themes, lighting, aligning textures, that kinda stuff. Then I would assign a new wad every couple days to play for homework that exemplify the lessons we discussed in class. A week for a megawad, stuff like that. Have each student write a report on what were the good and bad qualities and a one page synopsis on it's overall playability and fun factor. Then discuss it in class.

Halfway through the semester I could explain how to use Doombuilder, Slumped, etc. Start by having the students make their own maps, then pair up with a buddy and trade maps and play them, then give their overall critique. The final project would be to have students pair up and jointly make their own Doom episode using their own criteria and the lessons they discussed in class.

Doom is really similar to a creative writing class, in which wads are short stories or poems and megawads are books. Having the students learn Doombuilder and Slumped is kinda like teaching them how to write in a particular style or poetic format. Teaching them the difference between good wads and bad wads is a lot like going over puntuation, grammar, tone, mood, style and other literary terms. Having them play each others wads is like having them proofread their stuff. And making a doom episode is kinda like writing a short autobiography.

To answer your question, I'd probably pick:
Crusades
Eternal Doom (the first few levels)
Scythe X
UAC Ultra (I have to)
Knee Deep in the Undead
Deus Vult
Congestion 1024

I would need to pick out a handful of 1994 wads and pick out ones that pose best examples of things to avoid when mapping.

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40oz said:

Stuff that makes sense

Actually, if you think about it, all of the fancy "game design" majors should have a course or two on Doom maps, since more so than in other games, the best Doom maps have exemplary structure, architecture, themes, thing placement and more. If you're only taught how to do things for modern games you won't actually learn anything about what's good, since all the time will be spent on learning how to use the overly complicated tools where as a designer would benefit much more from studying what makes a design a bad, a mediocre, a good or even a great one.

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My thoughts exactly: Doom maps would be a great medium for a beginner-level game development class, simply because the aesthetics are simple enough that the main focus would be on gameplay.

As for "must-study" wads, I'd probably pick Deus Vult 2, Plutonia 2, and STRAIN. All masterpieces for their time, with damn good gameplay throughout.

Also, I'd seriously take 40oz's class.

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Modern game design has very little to do with actual gaming and almost everything to do with pleasing a marketing department.

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Neodoom would be for Decorate purposes, for a a later class. As stated before smewhere, i guess IWADS would be best to start with, find some good wads to study with great architecture and such, gameplay, then later check out other mapping forms for games based on Doom like HeXen or Strife.

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If I were a professor at a university for Doom mappers, I'd teach probability in the geometry class. ;)

Actually, what 40oz said is pretty good but what Eponasoft said is closer to reality. :/

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Enjay said:

If I were a professor at a university for Doom mappers, I'd teach probability in the geometry class. ;)

If there were actually a Doom curriculum, it would be ridiculous to try to exclude source ports from it. There would be a presentation of at least the important historical ports (DOS Doom, Boom, MBF, Legacy...) and the major ports still maintained today. There would be a class on scripting languages (ACS, FraggleScript, RTS...) and one on content definition languages (DECORATE, DED, DDF, EDF...).

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Remain 1

I learned a good deal about manipulating vanilla linedef functions because of this wad. It really helped my level design.

Also, the aforementioned Scythes, Suspended in Dusk, and Crusades. Also, I wish 40oz's class actually existed... Then again, who on Doomworld doesn't?

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Gez said:

If there were actually a Doom curriculum, it would be ridiculous to try to exclude source ports from it.

True, any good game design professor would drive it to their students' heads that simply by whoring advanced features you can not make a good map. If you don't teach it from the beginning that any truly good map is based on solid design rather than slopes and coloured lightning, all the teaching you'll be doing goes to waste as soon as the horde of just-graduated eager designers gets its sweaty hands on GZDoom and Doomsday.

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I'd start out with understanding the relation between sectors and linedef sector references. This is what I had the most trouble with in doom editing. Once you get over that hurdle though it becomes easier. I'd rather not teach a whole course on doom editing, as much of a person's style comes from exploring the mapping interface and learning on their own. At least, that's how it worked with me.

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Jodwin said:

True, any good game design professor would drive it to their students' heads that simply by whoring advanced features you can not make a good map. If you don't teach it from the beginning that any truly good map is based on solid design rather than slopes and coloured lightning, all the teaching you'll be doing goes to waste as soon as the horde of just-graduated eager designers gets its sweaty hands on GZDoom and Doomsday.


It's just like web design! If you don't teach the students to rely only on the <A>, <P>, <T1>, <T2> and <T3> tags, if you tell them that stuff like CSS or JavaScript exist, then they'll go out whoring <BLINK> and <MARQUEE> tags and it'll be Geocities all over again! They'll be all "What? We can put animated GIFs in the webpage? Cool, I've got a collection of rotating flaming skulls I can use!" and it will all have been for naught.

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Let's see... first, Doom mapping would have a perquisite class of "Doom Appreciation", where students would learn and play classic and appreciated maps. My class is a mapping class, and I don't want to spend too much time teaching these kids what they should already know.

So I would start with the basics: Doom Builder 2, teaching sectors, line/sidedefs, vertices, things, etc in Vanilla mode. I would use Vanilla to explain essential concepts. Tagging, line direction, and structural elements (doors, lifts, and so on).

During all of this, I would teach how to create good balance and pleasing visuals, coupled with the basics of good game play.


Next would be Boom format. This section of the course is much more rigorous: students must learn not feature-creep their maps, and good gameplay concepts would be expanded. Students are graded according to how fun and original the map is, and not simply how well the structures perform.


After Boom would be lump editing, using SlumpED. As we're still in Boom mode, it would only deal in replacement sounds, intropics, and music. Additional textures will be taught, however.


Finally comes zDoom. Students learn how to create custom monsters without being forced to sacrifice existing frames; anti-feature creep policies are strictly enforced. Students are taught how to use zDoom's features without saturating the map in useless clutter. The key here is to focus on using ACS and DECORATE to enhance the map, and not to become the focus of the map. Students are graded on originality, understanding scripting, and enjoyability.

With zDoom comes perhaps one miscellaneous lesson on the awesomeness of being able to add lumps that aren't replacements. The final lesson is OpenGL, with plenty of examples of GL done right.


There will also be a few lessons that aren't necessarily part of each main category, such as choosing good music, effective testing, and publicity.

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Clonehunter said:

NeoDoom maybe. There is a tone of Decorate. Same with KDiZD


I'd drop your class instantly.

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Term 1: IWADS
A study of the four Doom IWADS in order, with focus on gameplay mechanics, level design, item layouts, texture usage and so on to establish an understanding of how the game operates and what makes it so good to begin with.

Term 2: Basic PWADS
This term will introduce Doom Builder, and the basics of editing. It will make use of various different PWADS to illustrate the rights and wrongs of vanila Doom mapping. For example, these may include Memento Mori 1 & 2, Darkening 1 & 2, (with an introduction to custom texture usage) or Icarus.

Year 1 Thesis:
Building a fully functional vanilla Doom WAD. Successful students must show an understanding of all of the above points in their creation.

Term 3: Advanced vanilla modding
This term will cover the usage of DEHackED patches and their usage. Source material for study will include the likes of Obituary and the Aliens TC.

Term 4: An introduction to source ports
This term will introduce the students to the numerous source ports which have been developed over the years and the advanced features they bring to the table. All ports will be looked at, but this term the course will focus mainly on Boom and its derivatives, using WADS such as Deus Vult, CC 1-3, NDCP 1 & 2 and UAC Ultra to demonstrate the higher plane limits and uses of DEHackED for "additional" content.

Year 2 Thesis:
Building a large Boom-compatible WAD with custom DEhackED features, such as custom enemies, textures and intermission screens.

Term 5: Source ports continued
This term will look at the more advanced source ports and their uses. Focus will be mainly on Doomsday and ZDoom, although EDGE, Eternity and Vavoom will also be covered this term, with a detailed overview of the ports' features, including introductions to DECORATE, ACS and XG scripting.

Term 6: Advanced modding
The final term will focus on the various scripting laguages used by the advanced source ports and how they can be used to create additional features within a mod. Source material will be the Doom 64 TC for Doomsday and The Ultimate Torment and Torture for (G)ZDoom.

Final Thesis:
Students must use everything they have learned to create a total or partial Doom conversion using as many of the advanced features of their chosen port as possible. However, their project must maintain the basic understanding of Doom's gameplay which they had studied previously. Successful students will have shown an understanding that advanced features alone cannot improve a mod, but that when used in conjunction with Doom's original features they can create a much deeper gameplay experience.

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If the purpose of the course is to teach lessons from Doom itself to people who are interested in level design in general, the only advanced sourceport features that should be relevant at all are the removal of limits, to remove an unnecessary hassle. Maybe Boom, for generalized linedefs. There's no sense in teaching how to write level scripts and make custom monsters in this context.

It's not discrediting the value of advanced sourceports, scripting, DECORATE, and similar to exclude them from a course that's intended to strip down level design to the basics and teach how to make effective use of use simple and straightforward architecture, creative layout interconnectivity, thing placement, and such. In general, I'd say Romero's maps from the iwads would be some of the best examples of this, for their skillful design, extreme structural simplicity (no special effects or smoke and mirrors, just the absolute basics, because nothing else would fit within the hardware limits of 1994), and the likely familiarity of many of them to much of the audience.

If you're teaching how to make advanced source port maps, you're no longer explaining basic, universal game design concepts using Doom's context; you might as well be teaching how to make maps for any other game. It completely defeats the point of the lesson.

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Thanks everyone for all the great input and info for this noob! It seems like Doom mapping could never be just a single course with a single professor, but rather an entire university with many different courses and professors!

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I would definitely learn a lot from mapping, particularly on how to make those slaughterfest levels (Tarakans.wad would be a perfect example of how NOT to make a slaughterfest megawad)

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Eponasoft is exactly right. Unfortunately, I make doom maps because I love it, but video game making is no longer a hobby, it's a business. Coming up with random new features on top of an already good game is an easy way to sell and make money, because addicted gamers don't have those features in the games they already have, and so they buy new ones. Reading isn't exactly the biggest market trend and so people who write usually do it because they love it instead of for the income, especially since it's not as time consuming or requires a big budget to do so.

Esselfortium is also exactly right, ya seem to be better at articulating the things I have in mind than I am. I agree with everything you said.

Also what Gez said about teaching web design too. If you think of the Doom community as a single entity that is the professor in the university of Doom, the information about using shortcut methods and more flexible codes in ZDoom has already been leaked out to the students and being abused all the time. Where starting with the basics would create a more stable and better structured wad. I don't disagree with the fact that there should be a class for ZDoom, but students in a Doom mapping class should not even know what ZDoom is until the very last couple days of class.

I would LOVE to arrange a curriculum to teach a Doom mapping class. Like some kind of regular metting in an IRC channel or teamspeak or something. However the combination of me already attending a college, and my irregular work schedule, it would be near impossible to get a steady schedule going. Also a quality that I envy about most teachers that I kinda wish I had as it's the only thing that's really dissuading me from pursuing a teaching career, is their ability to cope with students who aren't interested in listening to what I have to say. Not that I would expect that from the people here, but if I were to teach a class that described the elements of gaming, I'd use Doom in our lessons all the time. Students would think I'm a whackjob for being so hopelessly in love with Doom and not take me seriously. Especially when I could expect to get kids who thought it was a class where all you do is play video games all day for an easy credit. Or kids that come into the class thinking they know everything about making good games because they play Call of Duty and Garry's Mod everyday. The only people I'd really be interested in teaching are people who don't know very much about games at all and are willing to put aside any prior knowledge they know about good gameplay and heed what I have to say.

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Maybe we can create a community tutorial. Personally, I'm very interested in making a lump management tutorial, and I know there are DB2 basics out on Youtube.

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Abyssalstudios1 said:

Personally, I'm very interested in making a lump management tutorial, and I know there are DB2 basics out on Youtube.

But in the end, those are just tools, where as what really matters are the designs. As a matter of fact, a game or level design course wouldn't necessary even require using any tools at all, it's just as well possible to make your designs on paper and explain them like that.

Of course to bring your designs to life you do need the tools, but then again, guides for those already exist, yet there are only small tips here and there scattered on the forums on what makes designs good.


Anyway, one topic I'd introduce in a Doom mapping curriculum later on is different gameplay styles, involving classic gameplay vs slaughter vs survival horror and others that have been (successfully) implemented in Doom. As course work the students would each have to make a map of a few different styles, forcing them to think new within the same gameplay rules as previously.

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I'd LOVE to be a student of such an university. Don't call me a n00b, but still... I see very much fun in mapping and I'd do my very best in order to be first in grade...

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Cell said:

I'd LOVE to be a student of such an university. Don't call me a n00b, but still... I see very much fun in mapping and I'd do my very best in order to be first in grade...


Ditto. While it may have sounded like a silly topic when I first posted it, it does make one stop to think about the people who have indeed gone to school and now get paid to make video games for people like us to buy and play. I've also done mods for Oblivion and Fallout 3, and I often feel like I have the talent to do such things for a living if only my lot in life had been different and I had studied such things.

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esselfortium said:

It's not discrediting the value of advanced sourceports, scripting, DECORATE, and similar to exclude them from a course that's intended to strip down level design to the basics and teach how to make effective use of use simple and straightforward architecture, creative layout interconnectivity, thing placement, and such.


I entirely disagree. The use of DECORATE to create monsters and things goes hand and hand in another entirely different idea of game design: creating weapons and enemies to suit your needs, and having the balance of weapons and enemies come together with balanced architecture and layout. Game design is not simple at all; it's just that in the context of vanilla Doom you have a set list of tools. I think that while level design in the layout and such aspect is a great thing to study as a simple thing, it's also a good idea to study game design in general so you know just how your monsters are working in the map. All things considered a Doom university would have to teach this in at least the advanced classes because of the flexibility of the engine with today's ports and how it can greatly enhance mapping.

That's not to discredit the importance of level design. I think level design shines best in multiplayer maps, where you are designing the layout based on player mobility, weapon range, and visibility. Without monsters, the layout importance increases exponentially.

Also I agree with Gez about the web design thing, since the basics of level design and such are the foundation you build upon for using the more advanced straight-up game design elements. I also agree with Eponasoft about games being about pandering to a market, but I would point out that in design this means you're considering player experience above all else, because where design is concerned the best way to attract players is to be awesome. Awesome doesn't tend to be gimmicky level design, unless you actually design it well (see Void).

Edit: To actually answer the question of the first post, I'd use Scythe, Alien Vendetta (it's a favorite of mine, what can I say), Hell Revealed, TNT, Cyberdreams, Void, Phocas Island 2, Batman Doom (because lol 90s Batman + violent 90s video game), RTC-3057 Hub 1, Community Chests (to get a feel for how community projects come about and what the makeup of the wad is, and how it affects gameplay), 1024 stuff, Null Space (for the use of a single visual effect as your defining feature combined with good gameplay) and Action Doom 1 & 2. Oh and I guess KDiZD, for the negative effects of hype and delays, and ZanZan because that thing is amazing.

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