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TheNebulousThinker

Mapper Block (What do you do to remove the block?)

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NOTE: Sorry if there is a similar forum (I honestly never bothered to search) Laziness.

Anyway hello! I have this really large issue with starting my first map. It feels as though every time I open Doom Builder 2 to start working on a map I can't really get too far without getting frustrated and closing it (never making any progress). I have ideas here and there, but they dissipate from existence when I want to utilize them. What do you do when you have a mappers block? I have it all the time and can never get a start on my first map. I always make a few rooms and such and look back on it and say "I can do better" or "this sucks".

I would like to hear from anyone.

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There's no guarantee that my methods will work for you, but I'm going to foist them upon you anyway. I find that it helps to have a mental image of as much of the level's design as possible before actully laying down any sectors. It's probably counterproductive to take this too far, but the mapping process goes much smoother in my experience if I have a good sense of the space and flow that I want through the map, and the sort of architecture that should be predominant; at least a solid basis which can be expanded upon as you work.

Similarly, try thinking about the gameplay situations that you want to implement early on, even if they are as vague as "arch-vile teleports in to resurrect corpses," or "player dodges mancubus fire from platforms above" or "player jumps to a ledge to collect the red key."

You can do the same thing for the map's visual aspects as well; think of a few main colors or textures that you want to base the level around, and then consider the sorts of architecture that would be fitting. I spend a large amount of time trying to come up with ideas for a few "important scenes" that I think should be memorable; the view from the player start (right after the map loads) is usually one of these, as is the exit area, and at least a landmark or two midway through the map itself. You might want to try drawing out a few rough 3D view thumbnail sketches of a few such areas before you try to build them in the editor, as it's both a quick way to experiment with new desings before commiting to them, and a helpful reference once you actually settle on one and decide to construct it.

To avoid getting hung up on texturing all the different rooms, consider roughing out the "first draft" of your map's architecture all in a single texture, or maybe a small handful of contrasting textures to signify different materials, regardless of how crappy this looks at first. The key point is to focus on getting some awesome map geometry in place before worrying about the textures; it's generally much easier to detail and texture a map that is already structurally interesting than it is to make a structurally interesting map out of a bunch of pre-decorated rooms.


If you seriously lose all inspiration while you're working on a map, just taking a break from it until you get some new ideas to implement is probably better than trying to force creativity. If you want to stoke the embers of your imagination, an easy method is to check out some other people's maps. Play with a critical eye and wait until you see an idea that you'd like to use yourself, or until something pushes your thoughts along one way or another. Rather than playing maps, you could try looking at screenshots instead (flip through random pages of this thread for potential inspiration), or maybe look for nature or architectural photos.

In any case, if you're still fairly new to the mapping process, I'd say that you shouldn't worry too much about getting it all perfect at once. Just focus on building a map that plays decent and/or looks alright, and then try to top it next time.

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I genuinely just map as if you're writing an action novel;

"ooh he runs out into a large metal room, finding no way out but to press a skullswitch on a tall mountain of stairs stuck in a slimy pit of acidic death. Omce he decides to press in the skull, masses of mancubuses swarm out every conceivable wall and flame you. If you don't die by then grab the double barrell in one of fatso's compartments and then head to another for ammo, then murder them all. After that, you notice there's another skullswitch in one of those compartments. You press it and out pops a new switch behind yu which'll open that bloody door in front of you"

If you do it like that you will never ever have Mappers Block.

P.S I don't do what I just described atall, I just do it as I go and if I run out of ideas I just keep going and another one comes straight away fron the idea-less room I just made

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Sounds more like lack of experience than mappers block, maybe try and start small even one room and concentrate on all the elements that would make up the room.

1). Layout - create the basic outline of your room usually a square or rectangle but can be really anything.

2). Detailing - Ceiling cross-members, panels in the wall, crates on the floor, stairs, ceiling lights/wall lights, perimeter trimming, wall posts the list could go on

3). Texturing and Alignment

4). Lighting - Draw more lighting sectors if you need to set light levels

5). Choreography - Place things, set linedef actions

6). Finishing touches - Texture alignment precision, check for missing/mixed matches textures, additional small details.

I'll usually do steps 1 to 4 for the whole map then work on the choreography and finishing touches last.

Mapping takes order of operations when you get a good feel for doing stuff in a orderly fashion things come together a lot faster. I'm sure other people do the steps differently but after you do a bunch of maps I'm sure you'll find most of it becomes second nature. Real mappers block comes into play when you have a boring/poor layout I always found it can really suck you dry of ideas and motivation. I'd recommend trying to do a vanilla map for your first map and try and keep everything in the render limits doing that will keep your creativity more focused.

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Pottus said:

Sounds more like lack of experience than mappers block.

Probably is, and on top of that I'm too self conscious so when I start something and don't like it I trash it (I gotta work on that).

phobosdeimos1 said:

I genuinely just map as if you're writing an action novel

Awesome idea! I enjoy writing/typing fictional stories and it's easy to visualize that way!

Mithran Denizen said:

To avoid getting hung up on texturing all the different rooms, consider roughing out the "first draft" of your map's architecture all in a single texture, or maybe a small handful of contrasting textures to signify different materials, regardless of how crappy this looks at first. The key point is to focus on getting some awesome map geometry in place before worrying about the textures; it's generally much easier to detail and texture a map that is already structurally interesting than it is to make a structurally interesting map out of a bunch of pre-decorated rooms.


If you seriously lose all inspiration while you're working on a map, just taking a break from it until you get some new ideas to implement is probably better than trying to force creativity.

I try to force non-existent inspiration too much which leads to frustration and alt + f4 behavior. I like the first draft idea because it would force me to work on layout rather than appearance. I'm pretty sure I set my standards too high especially for a first map.

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TheNebulousThinker said:

.... I'm pretty sure I set my standards too high especially for a first map.


That's why I said to do a vanilla map you'll never approach your high standards doing that.

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Pottus said:

That's why I said to do a vanilla map you'll never approach your high standards doing that.


I find mapping for vanilla to be a greater challenge because I try to stretch the limits in that scenario.

Mapper's block is a funny thing... I have that problem sometimes, too. I'll make a map I absolutely love and try to recreate something as awesome, then poop comes out. So, no Doombuilder for a week for me. I just relax and think of ideas, write them down, and once I have enough jotted down, I come back and it just flows. I know this, because I actually just got over mapper's block (and in a big way). Just be patient.

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Mapper's block often comes with poor planning for a map. I'm willing to bet you started mapping from the starting room onward right? This is probably because you start mapping with a clear vision of exactly the kind of map you want to play. As you start to work on it, time passes and you lose what you had in mind, then later it looks nothing like what you initially imagined. Maybe you could try mapping by creating a main center room in the map, then branching outwards towards the exit room and the starting room and other optional areas?

A strategy that I used to use in order to avoid mappers block is to start a map by creating a series of isolated shapes. Squares, rectangles, diamonds, octagons, crosses, L's, T's, X's, etc. then subconciously identifying two of the shapes as being the starting room and the exit room.

At this point your map is basically done. You have a start, an exit, and a series of areas to visit. All you have to do is figure out how to connect all the other shapes in between the start and exit. Then detail the rooms afterwards. This is how I completed most of the maps I made for people's birthdays.

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40oz said:

A strategy that I used to use in order to avoid mappers block is to start a map by creating a series of isolated shapes. Squares, rectangles, diamonds, octagons, crosses, L's, T's, X's, etc. then subconciously identifying two of the shapes as being the starting room and the exit room.

At this point your map is basically done. You have a start, an exit, and a series of areas to visit. All you have to do is figure out how to connect all the other shapes in between the start and exit. Then detail the rooms afterwards. This is how I completed most of the maps I made for people's birthdays.

This is very obliging strategy.

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40oz said:

Mapper's block often comes with poor planning for a map. I'm willing to bet you started mapping from the starting room onward right?


Basically. Now that I think of it I don't plan at all. I just open the editor and start going to work (try) and add on the the first sector, eventually realizing that there isn't any structure or ahead-planning and give up.

Pottus said:

That's why I said to do a vanilla map you'll never approach your high standards doing that.


I was just typing my thoughs, but I understood what you wrote.

hex11 said:

Join this project and you'll get lots of ideas, guaranteed! ;)


Maybe! I saw that thread, but really didn't get into until now so I'll keep that in mind.

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Lately I've been loving on Heretic's sweet-ass maps

Read these interviews with the creator of the bulk of E1-E5, mainly doing pretty much all of E1-3

http://www.ravengames.com/heretic/insider.php

http://www.ravengames.com/heretic/heretic-shadow/insider.php

Here's a snippet from another interview that tells us he drew sketches of his maps first and it was an extremely quick way for him:

The question to him was:

"<Benjamin Boerner> How are levels built? Do you jump right into the level editor or are there other things you do first?"

"<MRJ> Which editor? The map editor, script editor, model editor or texture shader editor :) ? This particular job (Level Designer) has changed I think more than any other (programmer or artist) since I started, although I admit the differences for the artists between creating flat textures and sprites with only 8 rotations and what they have to do now is pretty extreme too. Still, when I first started, making a level was basically drawing a sketch of the major features of the map, choosing floor and ceiling tile sets, wall textures and then placing them on a square grid in some aesthetically pleasing fashion, then slapping some monsters in. Since then it has gone (rather quickly) through the Doom-style sector-based maps (I still remember first-row and fisrt-col, brrrr) which I could crank out in a day, to similar maps with limited scripting a la Hexen, to the true 3d Quake-style engines. This last was probably the biggest jump for me personally, since it meant a complete shift in how you viewed the world and made things. Finally we have added very complex scripting (which has pretty much evolved into a somewhat simpler form of programming), so that when you talk about "designing" a level you are talking about conceptualization, planning (a lengthy process in itself), diagramming, building 3-d architecture, placing objects and entities, scripting all the possible interactions (as needed) for those objects, and texturing and lighting the whole thing. I'd personally compare it to the difference between making a simple paper airplane and building a scale model replica of the Titanic, that works! Unfortunately, like the Titanic, sometimes it crashes, too..."

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Check out my first map here

This is made for undeath 94 ( I might remix it and release it as a independent wad)

Constructive criticism is very welcome.

I used the story technique. I forgot how much I like writing(typing in this case) fictional stories and it's really easy for me to visualize when I'm reading.

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I am the king of mapper's block, I'm also a writer so I compare it to writer's block. What I do when I really want to make that sweet map... is to make a crap map. (Keeping it vanilla as well)

Writer's block involves me getting angry - but eventually doing a 'free write', jotting down whatever comes to my mind, even if it doesn't make sense. Implement this same concept to mapping; just start making a whacky map using what comes to your right mind and letting the left hemisphere of your brain just 'map' whatever. You'd be surprised - you can actually look at it and pick and pull clever ideas you unknowingly threw in there!

Then the next time you make a map... it doesn't seem so difficult. Now if only I'd listen to my own advice sometimes...

*Whistles off*

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phobosdeimos1 said:

Lately I've been loving on Heretic's sweet-ass maps

Read these interviews with the creator of the bulk of E1-E5, mainly doing pretty much all of E1-3

http://www.ravengames.com/heretic/insider.php

http://www.ravengames.com/heretic/heretic-shadow/insider.php


A bit off-topic, but I found this interesting:

We DID increase the maxvisplanes to about 4x it's original, to accommodate the *ahem* "ambitious" layouts of some of our maps (when the boss builds something, you try to make it work).


Heretic's visplane array is 128, same as Doom v1.10. If MRJ remembers this right, it means that the visplane array had a size of 32 in Doom v1.2; which really seems awfully low...

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