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Breezeep

Layout first and detail later - is it a good idea?

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It can save time if you decide your layout isn't working because it leave less to change. I'd recommend it if you have the layout already in mind unless any detail is fundemantal to the design of the map.

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In my personal experience, doing a bare layout first (sometimes with all gameplay additions built into it) and then detailing afterwards is the quickest and most pain free way to go about mapping. That said I tend to do the opposite for some reason, maybe because it feels like I make more interesting rooms and details at the same time I'm doing the layout. Though if I end up making a layout that I don't like very much after putting hours of detailing work into it, redoing that layout without removing the fancy bits ends up being a ton of extra work.

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That's how i create a map I Need to think of the layout first, And test it with only some Tech textures to make sure it works great then detailing is easier ..

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Designing the layout first keeps you on track. Many maps that go full retard into detailing each room before starting the next often end with a rather beautiful looking map, but if you were to subtract the impressive detailing and texture alignment, there wouldn't be much seperating it from a 1994 monster slog. Preparing things like what rooms you want the player to return to, puzzles to solve, how you're going to trap the player in first before detailing, because an undetailed map is very malleable and can be changed depending on your playing preferences. Once you've tackled the kind of level shape and design you enjoy, you can solidify it with detailing.

This is easier said than done though because it's hard to create an undetailed map and not get bored with it right away, since it's not clear exactly what it's going to look like in the end, and sometimes a really unusually shaped level design can be difficult to detail. Listening to music can help keep you entertained but be careful not to get hung up on detailing in lieu of focusing on your gameplay goals.

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40oz said:

Many maps that go full retard into detailing each room before starting the next often end with a rather beautiful looking map, but if you were to subtract the impressive detailing and texture alignment, there wouldn't be much seperating it from a 1994 monster slog.

"If you were to subtract the impressive, the result would be underwhelming" is a stupid argument in my view. I agree with the idea of your post. Still, I don't think it's impossible to detail rooms immediately and still end up with good layouts and gameplay - if the mapper is skilled enough.

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Come up with a theme, and a central room to test it in, get some detailing ideas, then proceed with the layout with those detailing ideas in mind, and a general idea of how you want to go through the map. Clean up as necessary. That's what I've been doing on my current map ...

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Most my Doom maps started out as grand ideas that I had to downsize to fit the engine, due to overflow crashes, 3D limitations, etc. After the initial vision has "collapsed", I spend a long time polishing the result, playing on the strengths of what has emerged through that creative reductionist process.

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I tend map in this order:

Overall level
1: basic layout
2: switches/doors/lifts/tags/EXIT/etc.
3: textures

Room by room
4: layout/texture details
5: lighting/shading
6: enemy/items placement

Once I get to step 4 I will go room by room to complete steps 4-6. If I begin to loose focus on one room I go to another. Often various rooms are at various stages by this point. By using this approach I am able to avoid the 'room by room' problem of 'where do I go now?' which makes the layout an 'after-thought', which I feel usually doesn't work well. Because the map is playable from front to back by step 2 you will eventually finish. Going just room by room it can be difficult to know when to call a map finished.

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First layout, then detailing = I tried it recently. Makes a speedmap, which plays nice. If you give it 4-5 hours, you have medium-sized vanilla Doom style level even with secrets and difficulty settings. Qualitative EXACTLY SAME as Doom1 or Doom2 original maps - but nothing more. Problem is that its hard to detail some areas then, especially when you use curvy rooms. Easiest detailing is in rectangular ones. When I made maps like this, it made me think its enough OK, no detail needed.
Pro: Is enjoyable, plays nice and you can repeat gameplay.
Con: Is mediocre. Not memorable. Its just OK, but no big deal.

First detailing, then layout = makes a big overdetailed room. Then dont know what to do next. You can be really over-the-top and make screenshot of that one room and make jaws of guys drop. This way makes people do WOW. But it will be not playable. You will probably end up not knowing how to connect next room. Be also careful about dreaming - overdetailed maps make you dream about how it will be biggest. You will get "mapping block" with 10x greater chance than in "first layout, then detailing" way.

Combine these two ways. You need both good gameplay and looks. Best way is doing it like this: When you start to make a map, think about it like it was supposed to be Map01 with only 30 monsters and 1 secret. Také care about both layout and detail. And finish it to the end. Even with aligning of last texture. When you will have "Map01" with 30 mons/ 1 sec, its time to make "Map02" from it then - with 50 mons and 2 secs. And then go on and on. Good thing about this style is that you can leave it as it is - its always in ALREADY DONE state. You just extend. Also its good when map has something unique about it. Some main thought. Then the mapping is easier. Hope this helps.

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To ninjaliquidator:
that last paragraph got a bit confusing, but I think I know what you were trying to say. That's the way I map too, I tend to create "sections" of the map at a time, finish them, except for monster placement which I always do at the end, as well as adding in random ideas that I get because I've never finished a map in a week, I take my time, think about what I'm trying to accomplish, and start adding in new stuff/details, then move on to the next section, which could be one room, or 10.

Though I think that this is what the OP was referring to when it mentioned detail before level design. Its a vague question, as there's many ways to skin a cat (and they're all wrong, except for my way, right? No, just me? Eh, tough crowd) but I would assume that the OP was referring to this in general terms, not complete terms.

I've tried layout first and detail second, but that just feels too contrived to me and I personally make boring maps when I finish the entire layout before texturing, though I'm sure it's faster. It has always helped me to create more interesting rooms and encounters when I build the rooms specifically for the reason that they wind up being there for. And that also makes the details fill in themselves. Not to mention that texturing is much easier to get to 100% when you design the map section by section, as you still have time to alter the sizing of everything without worrying about ceiling and floor textures being off later in the map.

That's just me though. Of course different strategies work better for different people, so I won't knock anyone doing things differently than I do.
I should also note that I'm not a speedmapper, which might explain the differences in approach from people. I take my time, so I can really think about what I'm doing while I'm mindlessly working my day jerb.
The downsides of my method might only be evident to those who speedmap.

*Exit* spell check >.<

Also, I'm a little ocd about texture alignment.

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Fonze:
You dont texture layout? I texture even when I make rough layout. By "layout" I mean maps on vanilla level of detail - there is nothing bad on them and you can detail them later.

I tried to make layout without textures, but that was shit. Didnt worked to me and I felt free to throw it in recycle bin. But if it works for you, be free to do it :D Its subjective what works for you.

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No, I think there has been a misunderstanding. I make a section of the overall map as it appears in my brain to fit whatever crazy concept has nudged its way into my brain. After I draw the basic sectors that make up an entire section, I detail them immediately, including texturing, as much as I see fit to finish them, but leave some room to work with in case I decide to have the player revisit it.

I would say I fit into the detailing-sections-before-entire-layout-is-finished category. I have to detail sections as I do then or I will forget what I wanted. Also, what I want is usually unavailable, so I need to see the look something will have as I make it.

Idk where you got confused though, as in my earlier post I said roughly the same thing. And I added in that if you lay out an entire level, then detail later, it can lead to problems. For example, if you have to resize certain things, which sometimes forces you to move others, you can destroy the floor and ceiling alignment on certain sectors that you wouldn't have otherwise spent time on (made).

I hope that clears it up :)

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