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djvero

Detail Importance

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Okay, so here it is. How important is detail in a map when playing/creating it? Do you decorate all walls/floors/ceilings with different textures etc? Do you decorate rooms by adding all sorts of (random) stuff (lights and all that)?
And do you pay attention to other people's/ID's details?

Discuss :)

I try to decorate as much as possibe, but I find this pretty hard somehow. Any tips maybe, on how (often) you do this?

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You can't go wrong with detailing enough. Many people make the mistake of tacking on sectors when they don't contribute to atmosphere of the map, and just hinder movement and make things look cluttered. Do not try to use every texture under the rainbow; this will end up looking horrible. A great looking map can have as little as 10 main textures, including flats. It's all about picking useful textures that complement each other, with a few "highlights" to add a bit of contrast amd tie the whole thing together.

Also: texture alignment, texture alignment, and texture alignment.

Above all else, if detail interferes with gameplay or atmosphere, then it needs to go, or be transformed into something that contributes to the map.

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If you have interesting architecture, detail isn't nearly as important.
Try to vary the sizes of your rooms, mix in a few hallways and pits, dark areas and light areas, and columns and support structures. Changes in floor height etc. can help break up large areas.

So pretty much. it takes forever to make square rooms look nice, but spiral staircases and things like that are usually easy because they already look alright by themselves... make sense?

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This is interesting.

In my last few maps I`ve used as little as 15-maybe 20 textures only, and that is counting with supports, switches, exit-signs etc. All the maps are fairly small, maybe medium in size, but there is no need for more textures imo. (just mentioning, because imo texturing is a branch in detailing).

When it comes to "real" detailing, like...physical detailing, structures and stuff...hmmm, yeah its important, but I dont like when its overused (the word OVERused kinda explains why :P). I have no qualms about adding a computer, a marbface or something useless in/on a wall just for the sake of adding something. It doesnt have to make sense, and it doesnt have to add to gameplay, AS LONG AS it doesnt affect gameplay in a negative way. Impassable lines is a good "tool" often when it comes to this stuff.

Interesting lighting is probably my favorite aspect of detailing. A room can be very simple in layout and structure-wise, but add some intresting lighting, and its much better looking right away.

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Yeah I pay more attention to architecture and texturing than actual detail. Really intricate sectors are nice and all, but sometimes it becomes a jumble. Not to mention the repetition. You can add more and more computer panels and pipes and wires and random stuff, but you're not really adding anything to the map itself.

I think lighting and coloring are extremely important. A beautifully detailed castle would look like drab shit if all light levels were the same and all the textures were just gray. Contrast needs to be paid attention to. Having less contrast makes for a muted, washed out kind of feeling - which can be useful! (Think of the foggy levels in hexen). Having a lot of contrast can make the mood more aggressive and pointed, in different ways. For example, bright lights shining around the corners of dark tunnels are great for giving that creepy atmosphere. Another cool effect is when you descend from the bright outdoors into a dark cave.

Anyway, a lot of what looks good is common sense, but in order to translate the idea into a map editor you just need practice. As always, look to other maps as your textbook material (good maps that is).

I find one really good basic guideline is to make sure the "elements" of the player's view are always properly separated. It is pleasing to the eye when you can clearly see the difference between two different objects or features of the scene. Contrast in color and light, as well as well-placed geometry, are key to making this happen.

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Pretty much the same as everybody else. I tend to enjoy more the maps which do more with less; they have a relatively limited set of textures used, and the rooms have relatively few sectors to them, but things like variations in floor and ceiling height, interconnectivity, simple but well-placed details like computer maps and grates, etc. can make a map play AND look a lot better than one that has billions of little inlaid sectors and molding and other bells and whistles like that. As I've gone on in mapping I've paid less attention to small-scale detailing and more attention to large-scale construction, since this aspect contributes a lot more to the aesthetic and gameplay quality of any map, and whenever I try extensive small-scale detailing it generally makes the map look too busy.

darkreaver said:

Interesting lighting is probably my favorite aspect of detailing. A room can be very simple in layout and structure-wise, but add some intresting lighting, and its much better looking right away.


This is an excellent point. Consider Equinox as a prime example: the maps in Equinox tend not actually to use very many sectors, but the contrasts in lighting and size of spaces as well as superb use of thematic texturing make the maps extremely atmospheric.

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magicsofa said:

I find one really good basic guideline is to make sure the "elements" of the player's view are always properly separated. It is pleasing to the eye when you can clearly see the difference between two different objects or features of the scene. Contrast in color and light, as well as well-placed geometry, are key to making this happen.


Adding onto this, what is being said here is that the level is composed of smaller distinctive structures that appear to be made of a specific material. A marble step, for instance, should have a marble top. A brown wall turns a sharp corner, and what is on the adjacent wall around that edge? Brown! Avoid having a flat wall that suddenly switches materials, without making some sort of architectural separation between them, like an indentation or support (the same should be said for flat textures, too).

Mandatory Vaporware shot:



Look how clean and presentable this shot is. You can easily separate the different "materials" used.

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I don't find geometry detail as important in Doom as it is in newer games (starting with Quake). It's way too abstract anyway. I just use the criterion that if it looks bad, it needs more detail (height variation and the like). If I like it, I stop.

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printz said:

I just use the criterion that if it looks bad, it needs more detail (height variation and the like).

What about trying to improve the actual architecture instead of just adding detail?

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I think excellent texture usage supersedes abundant detail more than anything

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Spleen said:

What about trying to improve the actual architecture instead of just adding detail?

...Or that.

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Texture usage is detailing.
Thing placement is detailing.
Setting light levels is detailing.

Detailing is not just making tons of tiny sectors everywhere.

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Gez said:

Texture usage is detailing.
Thing placement is detailing.
Setting light levels is detailing.

Detailing is not just making tons of tiny sectors everywhere.

But... my Mandelbrot set!

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I think that when detailing a room you should focus on the ceiling and floor rather than adding comp panels/demon faces in the walls, I can forgive a blank wall but there is no excuse for a flat ceiling (exceptions apply), even if its just adding in a skylight or something. This can transform even the dullest room, also changes in brightness are important. don't let anyone fool you into detailing after mapping, detailing has to be done as you go.

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Gez said:

Texture usage is detailing.
Thing placement is detailing.
Setting light levels is detailing.

Detailing is not just making tons of tiny sectors everywhere.

Well, what I also meant is that I think improving existing detail (making stuff align better, switching a texture to a more appropriate one, etc) is often better than adding more detail. Hence I was surprised at Printz's idea of simply adding more detail when something is ugly. Quality is definitely better than quantity, in my opinion.

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Foodles said:

I think that when detailing a room you should focus on the ceiling and floor rather than adding comp panels/demon faces in the walls, I can forgive a blank wall but there is no excuse for a flat ceiling (exceptions apply), even if its just adding in a skylight or something. This can transform even the dullest room, also changes in brightness are important. don't let anyone fool you into detailing after mapping, detailing has to be done as you go.

I disagree. While I have a tendency to usually detail as I go, too, holding it over for last has worked extremely well the times I've tried it. In maps I've worked on for Claustrophobia 1024 and SpaceDM9 I've built completely bare layouts with ugly placeholder textures and no lighting variation at first, working almost solely on gameplay and layout, then textured, lit, and detailed the result after I was happy with the layout flow and usage of space (no pun intended).

In Claustrophobia 1024's case, the result was a fun (I think so, at least), good-looking map that I managed to finish in only two or three evenings of work. In SpaceDM9's case, the result was a smooth-flowing layout detailed in such a way that would've been nearly impossible to do if the map layout had still been in flux while I was doing it.

So, if you can do it well, handling visuals later can definitely be beneficial.

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I just detail the hell out of my rooms until I'm satisfied, perfect texture alignment and creating a good atmosphere with lighting. I never let detail stand in the way of gameplay, if it hinders gameplay it doesn't belong there. I never use too many different textures, usually a few that are present throughout the whole map, and are used in higher numbers. This way the map feels more like its one structure, so using too many textures will have a negative effect on atmosphere. Too much detail is bad as well, as it makes the map look very busy and too distracting. I like detail, but I don't try to go overboard with it.

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Mapping is an art form. Sometimes it takes very little in a painting to have an impact on the person viewing it. Other styles of art rely on such detail to achieve a visually astounding, but less poignant effect. HR Giger is one of my favorite artists, although his work really comes across as stiff. It makes up for it's lack of depth with immersion in it's overwhelming detail. I wouldn't discourage detail if that's the visual style you're using to have impact on the player. I would say the most important thing would be to find a style that does so, whatever it may be.

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I was always under the impression that detailing was directly related to the number of sectors, vertices, or visplanes per room.

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EarthQuake said:

PICTURE


Now, that's something I'd like to create myself as well one day. It looks really awesome.

Some very useful tips and advice in this topic. I never paid attention to detailing/texturing when I simply played the Doom and Doom2 wads, but now that I make levels myself I pay a lot more attention to it.

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I don't suppose aesthetics would beat gameplay, but then. I'm mapping in da style where both are in preference. Password: Horatius.

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I like creating simple structures, but then find different colours which contrast well with eachother... and use of interesting themes. Like say for instance a gay silver station by the sea with an orange sky with E2M1 music playing in the backround. :P Could create a really nice and pretty and striking setting, even with a tiny amount of detail. Good use of contrasting can make a scene striking and atmospheric with even a small level of detail. But even then, it is another thing that can be overused.

The reason why I mostly prefer the classic level of detailing (think Momento Mori, Requiem, and even AV) etc, is because while your sprinting through a level shooting baddies it doesn't (usually) create a mesh, and you can still focus your sites on the monsters easily. With simple detailing as soon as you open a door it's easier to pinpoint the locations of monsters without getting your eyes caught on other things. Maybe it's just my poor eyesight but even neatly done levels that look presentable like the one in that screenshot tend to look messy when I'm racing through them all guns blazing. Another thing I don't really enjoy is bumps on the floor unless it's in a room where there isn't a combat situation. It's better to save those bumps for the ceiling IMO. :P

But ofcourse this all extremely subjective.

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My idea of detailing is what is added beyond having a room.
Foremost (not always first) is to understand the function of the room
in the architecture of the building. Walking around a layout should give the player a sense of immersion. The player should not be distracted by a confused mess. Should be able to walk about and see that this is the control room, that is the machine shop, that is the hallway, and that is a foyer with a nice skylight. Then the player will be able to feel it. Having a level with confusing and misleading, and misplaced details, makes it look like a game on a computer screen.

And this is really hard to explain... sorry.

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wesleyjohnson said:

...Should be able to walk about and see that this is the control room, that is the machine shop, that is the hallway...


Do not agree.

Dont feel like elaborating.

Please carry on.

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Personally, I like detail, but I try not to be overbearing with it. If I add something and it doesn't fit the continuity or invades the players ability to navigate I try to eliminate or modify it. I like things to not be cluttered or messy.

My girlfriend had the privilege of visiting Insomniac Games for a period of time in hopes of an internship, so I asked her and she gave a response similar to mine but far too long for me to want to type. :p

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In my opinion the importance of detail lies primarily within differentiating your room from others, so that people can identify this particular room with the particular map set. Detailing is important because a 6 sided room could be from anywhere.

Doom and Doom II didn't need much detailing, not because they didn't necessarilly have the time or capability to do so, but because there wasn't much else to compare to...

The more wads that exist given time, the more detailed they will be as people attempt to make their map unique enough to be distinguisable.

I use entirely new texture sets in my maps so I don't really need to detail them much. In fact, I do occasionally use 6 sided rooms because of that.

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