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How do you make so nice curves, intersections and all?

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First, look at these images. I didn't use thumbnails because I wanted you to immediately see all the detail:

Every time I see a map like this, I stand in awe. I'm so much astonished by all that detail, that curves, how that pipes on ceiling goes "across" that structures on floor, how it all looks so uniform and clean, yet amazing. (and in the game it always actually looks even better than on the automap) I'm impressed so much that every such map I play immediately wins permanent five stars for me, even if it turns into a horrible unplayable slaughtermap. I just feel I cannot go to the author and blather about how I disliked this and that.

To top of that, it seems such details aren't that hard to make. I see them being used even in speedmaps, or maps that I know they were made in a short time. Also, I noticed that other (advanced) mappers than me are not so impressed by those details, it's like if they consider them "normal", "standard", "classic", or sometimes even "boring", and then nitpick so little flaws on them that I sometimes feel like a slight anger. (no, I'm not complaining about anybody in particular, just about how the great maps I appreciate aren't so appreciated by others) Or they make a superb-looking map in few days and consider it not so good themselves and rework details. (admitted, now I mean cb)

Now compare the previous shots with these:

This is how it looks when I am going for detail. And I hope you see the difference too. I'm NOT going to talk at all about which maps are less and which more detailed, or which are worse and which better, it's without argument that everything is about skill and experience and all. But that's not my point.

My point is that mapping any detail is extremely painful for me. Every of the more detailed areas in the shots was modified like dozen times before I was half satisfied with it, and it took whole days and weeks and in some cases, months. It surely has to do with my technique, which is that I throw random sectors in, then go to 3D editing mode and view the change from all angles, and then if it doesn't look better, I undo the change and start again. As you see, the result is not uniform/clean design apparent on the pro-shots at the beginning of the post. It rather looks chaotic, often plays chaotic too, and they usually looks worse in the game than on the map, unlike what I said about the other's "pro" maps.

To sum it up - I would of course like to learn how to make maps (and details) with such an elegance and speed and ease, and from what I see, it isn't that painful for others. So if you can make maps of the type of the first four screenshots, I'd ask you and beg you if you could disclose how you do it, as I and other mappers with not-yet-polished-style would really really appreciate it.

Pretty please :)

EDIT: Sources of pictures (in that order):
Zones of Fear MAP05 (Damned); Stardate 20X6 MAP03 (Ribbiks); Doomworld Mega Project 2013 submission (cannonball); CC4 MAP19 (Joshy); Reviving Doom demo MAP16 (me); 321 Doom 3 to Doom 1 demo E1M1 (me); abandoned map for Mayhem 2013 (me); Doom 2 in Name Only MAP19 (me)

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I'd like my maps to look as good as yours.

Mine suck balls. Royally.

I'll be the first to admit that my maps are horrible. I have no plans in mind and I just slap in some sectors. So why do I keep making maps? Because it's relaxing and gives me some down time. I draw the plans on graph paper but when I make the map in Doom Builder, it looks like crap.

I'll probably never release anything to the public for these very reasons.

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I think it's a little unclear from the shots that you post exactly what you're talking about by 'detail' - why not some in-game shots of the sort of thing that you mean?

In any case, not that I'm especially well placed to comment on this, but speaking as someone who recently got back into DOOM mapping after a hiatus of over 10 years, and as someone who gets pretty hung up on the appearance of things, I think your approach - randomly messing around in 3D mode - sounds a little hap-hazard.

Not that good things can't come out of random experimentation, but while I find that 3D mode is an excellent tool for quickly implementing ideas that I've already had, it's not so good - in my limited experience - for generating ideas (but then it's still a very 'new' thing for me).

My approach was, and is, simply to pay attention to my surroundings (primarily building exteriors and interiors, but also furniture, and other bits and bobs) and to make a mental note of any motifs, structures, or general design points, that a) I think look nice, or at least visually interesting, and b) can be replicated using DOOM's straightforward system of sectors with adjustable floor/ceiling heights. In general, I think that paying attention to your surroundings, and getting an eye for the kind of thing that you do and do not like in visual design generally - trying to understand what it is about certain arrangements that makes them visually pleasing or displeasing to you - can be really helpful here.

Then, for working up specific areas into something that I think looks nice, if I don't already have an idea, I start off just by sketching scenes on paper - from the players perspective - trying out ideas, and trying to get a sense for what would or wouldn't look nice in the area that I'm jazzing up - this is (for me at least) much quicker than messing around in 3D mode. Only once I have a few options down that I'm happy with do I then fire up the map editor.

Anyway, like I said, I'm not very well placed to offer advice here - just my two cents :)

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Your top two shots look more interesting to me than your examples of good maps. Obviously the automap doesn't give the full picture, but they look like the amount of detail I like in a map.

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Well... it's awesome how many details those maps from beginning have, but I certainly think that's someway "overdetail" maps, I'm not claiming this is a bad way to build maps, but I'm claiming gameplay is a completely different thing from details; therefore, I'm not to say latter maps are poor, but just more simple as for design (which doesn't make them less fun).

And well, as the question from the thread -"how do you make so nice curves, intersections and all?"- I can tell you there are some features DoomBuilder has to make such details, one has only to experiment a little bit, and of course, check some great maps to see how the author made that awesome designs. I would suggest Claustrophobia 1024 saga, Sunder, and specially Alien Vendetta map 25 "Demonic hordes", I learn tons of things from that map's design :)

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Didn't expect a map of mine to be an example, a bit flattered here :)

IMO, I'm not so focused on detail; I just map to the extent where I'm pleased enough. For a map to please me, that involves decent texturing, architecture, and good gameplay flow which is in itself takes work (although I'm sure there's a few that would disagree with my standards of a 'good map'). More importantly you want the whole thing to have consistency and its own shape and feel.

I've found that the hardest part with being new to mapping is 'knowing what to map'. Even myself nowadays when someone like Esselfortium fixes up a map of mine I made for BtsX, the changes he make never quite occurred to me (although he has freakish talent so that's probably a bad example). To be able to know what to map, even when you're improvising, you need to practice making different shapes and structures a lot. Make a habit of forming certain architectures/borders (basically your own mapping trick, but don't stick to it all the time, try deviating on top of your mapping trick, which is a good way of expanding ideas). Try making a lot of height differences, that's where maps develop most of its shapes and architectures. Also, try adopting mapping tricks from other mappers/WADS, study the maps, see why the maps work, and why it doesn't work. What I mean by knowing mapping tricks here is that it involves knowing the process of shaping and planning good layouts which I assume you're wanting to work on. From what I see, most of your pictures looks interesting, I can see some good interconnectivity and whole-like layouts (like E1 for example) going on there which is the most fundamental part of a good map so I'd say you're on the right track. :)

For WADS to 'study', I would definitely stay away from Sunder; while it may be le grande, its style is ridiculously unique so I wouldn't attempt that sort of mapping until you've found your niche. I think Claustrophobia 1024 (for layout purposes, not the crampness), Alien Vendetta, Scythe 1/2 and Back to Saturn X is definitely a great place to start. Heck, even Plutonia (and its sequels too) is still awesome (I'd say most of my mapping was based on plutonia to start with). I hope I've made sense here! :P If you want a more particular advice or description of what makes detail or whatnot, don't hesitate to ask. :-)

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Not sure if you use Doombuilder 2, but it had a feature that generates a curved line out of a straight line. It's a little tricky to use it such a way that doesn't look like you're abusing it (don't tell it to use a hundred vertices in your vanilla-looking map) but it's a quick and easy way to make rounded staircases and other zany stuff.

I guess the best answer though is to not be overly critical of your work. Just because something has strange angles or disproportionate pieces of architecture compared to other things doesn't always mean it's going to be blatantly obvious to the player when he's playing the map because the perspective will be different, seeing it from first person instead of from the top down. (The Doom IWADs are pretty good examples of this) So the imperfections of the shapes of the rooms aren't always noticeable unless the player makes time to study it. I've played some pretty impressive 1994 wads for example that looked like garbled blobs in an editor.

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Comparing your first 2 images with the top 3 maps by other authors the main differences I can see are vertex density (which in most cases is probably a reasonable measure of how much detailing is employed) ands hat I'd call "localised" symmetry, your 2 examples don't have much symmetry at all (which isn't a bad thing mind you).

In regards to your question about making maps with more detail(more quickly) that you are happy with I think experience and being really comfortable with your chosen editor is a big factor. Not being able to speak for others but for myself I can now picture more of a map, in more detail in my head than when I first started mapping. This allows you to make more stuff in the map view before going into 3D mode to assess. That said I'm still a very slow mapper so YMMV.

Another factor I think, using your 4th example goes back to the localised symmetry and repetition. I'm not saying good detail is just copy and paste but certainly, in detailing a room or hallway, repeating certain details gives the room a good consistent look/feel and then to an extent should be somewhat quicker to produce than something that varies a lot in a small area. Your 4th example has a high vertex density but the detail is unsymmetrical and varied across rooms etc - again that doesn't mean it's a bad map, but it would add to development time I would imagine.

I hope the above makes sense!

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Just sorta skimming through this thread. I don't know a whole lot about mapping, but as a visual artist I'd advise taking advantage of different grid sizes as you switch between detailing large and small scale structures. When I want large scale symmetry and consistency (which seems to be what you're aiming for), I up the grid to 32 or 64 or more. I take it down to 16, 8 or even less when I add little nuances.

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