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BlackFish

Need a Guide to problemsolving map design

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Is there a guide or, at least a thought process mappers use to make their levels? Do you draw them out on paper or write some sort of document of what goals you want in the levels first? How do 90 minute mappers get their ideas to make levels so quickly? etc

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In my experience, the best way to speed map is to create a start area, and then an isolated exit area first, then build all the filler in between with the remaining time youve got, with some minutes budgeted for testing linedef actions, gameplay, and making texture alignments.

and keep expectations of yourself low.

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40oz said:

In my experience, the best way to speed map is to create a start area, and then an isolated exit area first, then build all the filler in between with the remaining time youve got, with some minutes budgeted for testing linedef actions, gameplay, and making texture alignments.

and keep expectations of yourself low.

Neat, I'll remember that. :)

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I don't know if this counts, but when I speedmap, I usually plan to speedmap, like I'll assign a date and time to do it. In the time before it, i think of some ideas for a level design, draw a layout on paper, etc. Written notes don't really help me, but sometimes explicit detailed accounts for the sequence of events for a trap idea will help. (Player picks up red key; lights turn off; closet with imps opens up behind him)

I don't know if you've made maps before, but playtester feedback is the best thing to fight your own self-doubt, so before getting too ambitious with large grand designs to compete with others, concentrate on a single interesting puzzle, or combat situation, and create a start and exit between it, so you don't risk putting in too much questionable filler just to give the map some length. It will probably work in your favor to not suck too much time out of the day away from your players with a map you're not sure about. Speedmaps are pretty popular both for mappers and players. Scythe 1 for example, is extremely popular and most of it's maps take under two minutes to complete, even on a casual playthrough. So maybe start small before you employ ambitious ideas.

I really could learn from my own advice :P

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10 years ago I submitted a mostly finished map to Community Chest 3 with MAP03. It was fairly linear and I sort of willy nilly'd it as I made it (player goes deeper and deeper into cave to find a keycard and then goes back up, then finds a yellow card then a blue skull to the exit).

Here's the trouble I have now. I have a goal for the map I'm making for some doom engine project I'm designing but fleshing out the map is proving a wee difficult for some reason. (The textureset shown here is a "Default Textures" I made some time ago). White represents general sectors, blue is special stuff, red is switches and portals, pink being doors, tan being panels, etc.

http://pastebin.com/w2127JNn
http://i.imgur.com/Mpk4iCe.jpg

I made this yesterday with the basic idea of 4 256x256x128 squares surrounding a 1024x1024 room, then stretched it out a bit and added bridges and suggested one of the walls had a window to something inside of it like a base. I have the lingering question of what goes into that next room but I accomplished my original brainstorming idea at that moment.

http://i.imgur.com/UZ9xrSu.jpg

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I think randomness generates situations that are too complex to intentionally plan. I often lazily generate semi randomness in a lazy way by making a small area, putting random monsters/items/health that seem about right for that size of an area, then just rotate/flip multiple copies and copy paste more complex semi random structures using those as building blocks. Or oblige/obhack is a much more sophisticated way to generate randomness.

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Whenever I make a map that feels like its going to be a hub, I make sure it has a lot of different avenues that cross paths with each other. Relish the idea of making a secret area opened up only after the player takes certain steps in the puzzle, but in the meantime the secret area rewards the player in some way by indicating there are havens safe from the storm. Secrets can be figure 8 shaped, they can connect to an area that may have been previously been previewed from afar, they may indicate meta-secrets (i.e. things you are keeping consistently marked with a distinguishing feature like a candle, funky texture, secrets that always give a window to another completely inaccessible at the present time secret) a few times throughout the hub and sub-levels or zones that a player may explore. Meta-secrets are nice because they reward a player who is faithful to exploring all the paths available to them, of course knowing there may be a multitude of false-trails that will only test the player, teach the player some concept, skill, or condition of the game world; for example; even a frivolous observation post off-the-beaten-path can have items, pillaged resources, and a secret basement bunker that allows the player to be under and above ground and a creepy little event can occur to shock the player, maybe seeing gore, hearing an agitated monster, the sound of lifts/doors being opened/etc.

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http://doomlegacy.sourceforge.net/hosted/doom_editing.shtml

Level Concepts probably covers what you are asking and more.
I have a new version of Level Concepts, which clears up a bunch of details in the text, but it is not released yet.

There are more variations, and each mapper should invent another of their own. The differences from other mappers work is what makes this interesting, not how much it looks the same.

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I'm about maybe a 1/4 of the way in to that and it seems pretty helpful. The other thread Memfis started also is pretty helpful.

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