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Doom Juan

Something I'm working on...

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I've been messing around making various prefabs for a castle I'm making, currently working on the Dungeons:

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/525/screenshotdoom201209032.png/

I think I've got architecture pretty much sorted, but would like some advice on the actual philosophy behind Doom level design. How do people usually go about designing a map? Do you just make it up as you go along, or do you plan it out in merticilous detail on paper first?

Advice would very much be appreciated.

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personally i've completed maps using a bunch of different methods.

1) create really bare, boxy layout (to focus on flow and solid room design/shapes) and detail later
2) design one room at a time, more or less fully completing each room as you go along
3) speedmap and focus on both visuals and solid layout design; go back later without a time limit and refine as necessary


and you could add on a first step of drawing on either 1 or 2. i've found that most often, 3 works for me; i just work for a time limit and try to "complete" something regardless of roughness around the edges. the time limit and desire for completion forces you to create whatever comes to mind, so you can't waste time overthinking design (good solution to mapper's block imo).

there are a few instances where 2 has worked out for me, but 99% of the time route 3 is the way to go for me. a few years ago when i really sucked ass, i just went with 2. at one point in time i felt that the best way to tackle mapping was to just make a shit-ton of separate rooms and find a way to connect them all later. imo this is probably one of the worst ways to do it (unless you have a really solid understanding of flow etc). conscious design decisions are the way to go, even if they need revising later.

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Hurray, personal-doom-mapping-philosophy time! (these are mostly just tidbits of opinions I've developed through my novice mapping)

- levels that weave through themselves (revisiting old areas with new enemies, overlooking old/future rooms, 'finally' getting to that one ledge, etc) feel more cohesive.
- secrets should be as rewarding as possible, it's more fun to stumble into a new area full of items and monsters and pretty decorations than it is to open a 64x64 closet with a soul sphere.
- don't overdo 'out of nowhere' traps, it's bad design (for most types of maps) for a level to be damn near impossible for a first-time run through it. (if you insist on doing something bull-shitty, put it towards the beginning of the map so players aren't too discouraged to try again)
- "a dominant color theme turns a good looking map into a beautiful map" (author of DV2 said that I believe)
- similarly, little splashes/accents of vibrant color usually look awesome
- too many little height variations in the floor are annoying to maneuver around
- pointy walls or things that jut out from walls (preventing them from being a smooth surface to run against) are annoying and can get the player caught on them at the worst times.
- maps consisting mostly of hitscanners are snoozefests (this one's completely personal preference, the typical 'intro' maps full of minor enemies tend to bore me to tears)
- similarly, I feel like the player should feel consistently "in danger" throughout the map.
- running out of ammo isn't fun, especially if the enemies aren't severely threatening.
- switches should be obvious what they do if they don't affect anything in the immediate vicinity (ex. there should be 'that' door somewhere that the player has seen already, and desires to get open).
- similarly, a player should find locked doors before finding the keys that unlock that door. Otherwise it sort of devalues the struggle it took to get it.
- there's a perfect 'goldilocks' zone when it comes to perfectly detailing maps. A good example of what I mean is the scythe series: 1 is kinda rough, but good. 2 is perfect and amazing, X is nauseatingly over-polished. ('imo' implied)

As for going room by room or going off of ideas on paper... Personally the best maps I've made were ones where I had the overarching layout and idea conceptualized ahead of time, if I try and go stream of conscious on it I end up running out of steam and getting bored. uhmmm, good luck!

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First, welcome aboard. Always nice to see some other newbies around here
(though by the looks of that screenshot, you might have some serious mapping chops, already). :)

I haven't been at this for very long, but I've noticed a few things, and they've helped me:

1)
Stream-of-consciousness designed maps tend to go on forever,
unless you've got great discipline, instinct, and a good idea of what
everything leading up to the end should look like (and then actually
commit to an end). It can be very frustrating if you're not careful.

Therefore, I think it's better to have a vague plan that you
throw away half-way through the design; than having no plan at all,
and finding out that fixing your pacing would be a huge headache.

2)
Find a theme and stick with it. Unless breaking with the theme would be even cooler. Then always break with it.

3)
Build your initial rooms biiig, with lots of space in between.
Bigger than you think you'll need. It'll come in hand later
when you start adding connections, secrets, and side rooms.

4)
A lot of heathens people play with run always on,
so a room that you may have spent all day on, may only register with the player for five seconds.
Put detail where the player can naturally appreciate it, without having to seek it out:
Either lots of repeating details (e.g. windows in a hallway, beams overhead, etc.),
or one-off, 'set piece' details where the player's eyes will be drawn to naturally
(e.g. teleporter at the end of a hallway, where enemies will be streaming from for a while).

5)
I was going to provide a screenshot of one of my own maps to illustrate a point in the last section, but Doom Builder is no longer able to read my map, which brings me up to my final point:

Manually back-up your maps,
especially when they get large.
If you've just put three hours into your map,
and everything is working more-or-less correctly,
copy/paste that WAD into a new folder.

P.S. sorry about the format of this reply... Just having a bit of fun.

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A strong map layout is definitely the foundation for a good, entertaining, level. Your rooms look great, but if the level layouts are boring then it wont matter how good the rooms look. Ribbiks nailed it with:

'levels that weave through themselves (revisiting old areas with new enemies, overlooking old/future rooms, 'finally' getting to that one ledge, etc) feel more cohesive.'

I personally like levels that are non-linear, meaning there are many possible routes to completing the map. This adds depth, a sense of exploration, and creates replay value.

My layout building method:
-1 create a 3x3 grid
-2 place a 1 in the center of the grid. now place the numbers 2-5 into the grid (you will have 4 empty spots as well)
-3 each of those numbers represents a 'zone'; a room, or series of interconnected rooms. 1 is the starting zone, 2 is where the first key can be found, 3 is behind the yellow key door, or the yellow zone, 4 is the blue zone, 5 is the red zone
-4 depending on the layout you now have you will need to pick the way zones connect, key placements, and an exit to your level (put the exit in a color zone)

tip: don't place key locked doors in dead ends, because it greatly increases the chance that the player will find the key before they find the door, rendering the fact that the door is locked pointless. Instead place locked doors in rooms between major areas so the player at first will be locked out, continue on, and then have to return once they have found the key.

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Thank you all for the level design advice; if anyone can add anything else into this thread please do so.

Work on my castle has evolved into a sort of Wolfenstein type map now, and I've been working for a fortnight trying to get the outdoor scenes just right after going through so many ideas. It was by mere accident that I managed to come across the right look that I wanted, and would like to show off my progress so far:

http://imageshack.us/a/img31/5971/screenshotdoom201209251.png

http://imageshack.us/a/img600/5408/screenshotdoom201209262.png

I've decided I am going to use Gzdoom, as my computer just can't handle the level otherwise... but will probably release a standard Zdoom version alongside it.

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Damn, i'm totally digging them stones color. I don't think that Nazi theme is a good choice because screenshots that you showed look more like something from classic Resident Evil games and Alone in the Dark. Spooky. As for the designing, here's a little tip: ask yourself what features of your map can affect and preferably enhance gameplay and try to build encounters around them. Bridge over a moat (switch to raise/lower it, height variation due to player fighting through the moat while monsters attacking him from above or vice versa etc.), narrow castle streets, isolated towers that can only be reached by teleportation with a secret/strong ranged monster/arch etc.

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Harmata said:

Damn, i'm totally digging them stones color. I don't think that Nazi theme is a good choice because screenshots that you showed look more like something from classic Resident Evil games and Alone in the Dark. Spooky.


What can be more spooky than a castle filled with SS Occultists and sinister Nazi scientists? :P

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What can be more spooky than a castle filled with SS Occultists and sinister Nazi scientists? :P

THEY ARE NOT SPOOKY IF THEY ARE BLUE MMKAY YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK

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Harmata said:

THEY ARE NOT SPOOKY IF THEY ARE BLUE MMKAY YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK


Fear not, me and a friend have come up with an idea: he has a full reproduction Waffen-SS uniform (Officer and Soldier), so we're going to make 'photo' sprites of him to be the various Nazis.

Here's a screenshot of some of the interior I'm working on:

http://imageshack.us/a/img32/5752/screenshotdoom201209231.png

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