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printz

Would Doom 3 editing benefit from a higher-level toolkit?

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I keep seeing complaints that Doom 3 level design is too slow and painstaking. And indeed, the built-in Doom 3 editor is of the same granularity as Quake's, yet you're supposed to make levels that are 10 times more detailed than in Quake. And on top of that, it can crash and it's easy to produce visual glitches.

So I wonder, how about a more prefab-based editor? Instead of placing simple brushes (polyhedrons) to build up the map, why not place prefabricated walls, ceilings, devices? And place them in the same way you'd place linedefs in a classic Doom editor, and on top of them the editor would generate the 3D geometry. Wouldn't it save time and be more robust? I already see some recurring props in already-made Doom 3 maps (such as those stacked crates), so this idea would be a generalization of that. Doom 3 design is more conservative in style than classic Doom, too.

This is just an idea, but I wonder, especially from the experienced Doom 3 mappers, if it would be worth it.

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I think that'd lead to levels that rely too much on essentially copy-pasted areas. I think what should be done is simply make the interface and controls more intuitive, like Hammer.

It took me ten minutes to figure out how to place a brush in the Doom 3 editor because there's not a traditional "New Brush" button. It wouldn't be that hard to implement it, would it?

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As I see it, the no fluff, no bullshit control scheme is the biggest force of Doom3Radiant. No extraneous "modes". The camera is *always* ready to move. It's not hidden away in some awful CAMERA MODE where you have to use your mouse in crazy impossible maneuvers. There are almost no extra stupid buttons or options to distract the user and the interface is for the most part clean.

Prefabs as we know them are the work of Betruger.
Seriously, it leads to boring and repetitive level design. They're great for a backlog of structure sensitive "detail" items to browse through, but using them to "automatically" build the actual level geometry will quickly lead to hallways on end. It's difficult enough to *not* resort to copy paste without them.

The first problem of Doom3 level design is that the engine will produce extremely crappy visuals if you don't know what you're doing. Sure this will apply to everything to *some* degree, but it applies quadruple to Doom3. Compare custom maps for Half-Life 2 and custom maps for Doom 3. A boxroom will quickly look "right" in HL2, but look like the worst thing ever made in Doom 3. This is partially due to the very special lighting system and the (way too) narrow visual style dictated by the existing assets.

Once you're past that hurdle, the next problem with Doom3 mapping has its roots in the level format. There is no "typing" or "instancing". You have to make an elevator every single time. You have to make a door every single time. A window. This sounds easy and trivial - and it kinda is, but it's also something you'll be doing tens, dozens, hundreds of times per level. Everything in a level (that's not models, etc.) is stored in the same damn file and you'll be viewing it all at the same time. This is what "prefabs" should really be; dynamic level fragments that can contain code, style information, behavior etc.

To make the level design process really streamlined you'd have to create a sort of flexible tool writer. Not a million preset tools and buttons, but tools *you* or others in the project can write to extend the context sensitive functionality. Examples? Pipes = draw a spline, specify a diameter and select a texture. Railings = draw a spline, specify distance between posts (whatever), select a texture. Writing text decals on walls = select a position and a rotation, type (with the keyboard) what it should say. Select font. Blood splatter = select blood decal, point at destination and "shoot". Done.

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Marnetmar said:

I think that'd lead to levels that rely too much on essentially copy-pasted areas. I think what should be done is simply make the interface and controls more intuitive, like Hammer.

>hammer
>easy to use
pick one

UE3 was the most licensed engine last gen for many reasons, one of them - easiness to work with it, including map building. Source engine on the other hand is not that popular among the third parties.
Hammer is an outdated piece of software that is long past its prime. If only Valve opted for something more modern and handy. I am not saying you can't make amazing maps with it - you can but you'll make them in UDK much faster.
If Doom 3 editor is indeed worse than Hammer, then I can barely imagine how bad it is. Never tried it tbh.

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The thing I've noticed with the Unreal Engine 3 is graphical artifacts which I've noticed on a majority of games using the engine, I think it may have been intentional which is why the games using the engine seem to run much better than a lot of other engines during the time, they could've programmed it to project graphics effects at a lower quality to improve performance or something, but I don't know really.

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The thing with UE3 is that you have to depend much more on your assets/prefabs/models to make an interesting room or level. That's why a lot of the games made in UE3 tend to have a lot of copy-pasted looking areas (Hard Reset & Bullet Storm). Not saying all games made with it suffered from this (Mass Effect). So a level designer for UE3 also needs to be a model artist to make it work. Or have a horde of model artists behind him.

In Doom3Radiant and hammer you can block out what you want instead of placing models around to create a room. You CAN make blocks in UE3, but you'll rarely get anything great out of it compared to what you get in hammer or Doom3Radiant. And it is often used to block out areas before you start creating the previously mentioned assets.

It is just two different ways of working with level design. I myself like that I can block things out instantly inside the editor and not be too reliant on static models and place them around. Those quickly make me feel restricted to what I can do.

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geX said:

The thing with UE3 is that you have to depend much more on your assets/prefabs/models to make an interesting room or level. That's why a lot of the games made in UE3 tend to have a lot of copy-pasted looking areas (Hard Reset & Bullet Storm). Not saying all games made with it suffered from this (Mass Effect). So a level designer for UE3 also needs to be a model artist to make it work. Or have a horde of model artists behind him.

In Doom3Radiant and hammer you can block out what you want instead of placing models around to create a room. You CAN make blocks in UE3, but you'll rarely get anything great out of it compared to what you get in hammer or Doom3Radiant. And it is often used to block out areas before you start creating the previously mentioned assets.

It is just two different ways of working with level design. I myself like that I can block things out instantly inside the editor and not be too reliant on static models and place them around. Those quickly make me feel restricted to what I can do.

Blender makes modelling easy too. I believe it's a trend for the last 10 years, to move on from brushes to models.

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Yes. An increasing amount of level geometry has been pushed out to modeling suites for quite some time. As for "brushes" versus "models", well. It all ends in a soup of triangles. One way of getting there isn't inherently better than the other. There are pros and cons to each.

With imported models you obviously get a wide array of modeling tools for the job and you'll be able to quickly make some very advanced models. However, this comes at reduced flexibility and a disconnect between the dynamics of the level and the static models.

With "brushes", you will be restricted to less advanced tools (unless your level editor can compete with professional modeling software. It can't. In turn you get the ability to have more control over your level and its geometry. It's much easier to enforce special rules for whatever you're making WHILE you're making it. Take for instance the railing made with a spline. The game stores the spline (and the formula) for the railing and all of a sudden it will be easier to make it react to physical damage via the formula.

Of course, there is no right or wrong here, but if I were to create a first person shooter with engine and editor, I would choose the brush-based approach ANY day. I would much rather have a very strong connection between engine, creation and dynamics over slightly better looking, but ultimately static and lifeless props. Anyway, as more and more of the responsibility will be shifted from models and textures to rules, materials and properties via semi-procedural content generation and physically based rendering, brushwork will become more and more feasible again.

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