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FireFish

whats your mapping process.

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How do you map, and what do you do to make a map ?

I map with concepts in mind but no ultimately fixed layout or level idea. I think in a genre or atmosphere and make a sector, add details, look at it in 3D mode, and the rest flows from there on while slowly adding rooms and paths.

This is the reason why i use the old slade 2 map editor because it is realy simple and fast while not blocking my insight, so i take the ocasional slade 2 crash with joy, although i have learned how to avoid those as much as possible.

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I start with a very rough concept / idea / theme - for example cave, castle, techbase, space station, archvile turrets, barrels. I have a tendency to add random rooms, immediately playtest, and keep tweaking their shape, texturing, lighting, details and thing placement until I'm satisfied. I continue with this process for long enough, while tweaking a lot of things I've already been tweaking previously - I know it's inefficient, and I'd like to move from that, but it's hard for me. All the time while creating it, I'm trying to make the map interconnected, varied and comfortable to move around (without much bumping into things). When I think that the map is done, I'm usually already tired of working on it (no matter if it took just hours or whole months), so I make minor adjustments around the whole map and then claim it finished. This is the usual me.

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I just seem to make some rooms and add detail and test it out to see how it looks. I might try making the main layout first and then put in the details and gameplay stuffs later.

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scifista42 said:

I start with a very rough concept / idea / theme - for example cave, castle, techbase, space station, archvile turrets, barrels. I have a tendency to add random rooms, immediately playtest, and keep tweaking their shape, texturing, lighting, details and thing placement until I'm satisfied. I continue with this process for long enough, while tweaking a lot of things I've already been tweaking previously - I know it's inefficient, and I'd like to move from that, but it's hard for me.


I tried something like this for my first maps. What usually ended up happening is that I'd create a room (or hallway) and spend way longer than I should on minor details. Then I'd repeat this until I was done.

What I'm going to try now is creating the basic layout for an "area"*, concentrating on getting the scale and flow and shape and non-cosmetic height variation right, and only then working on the finer details.


*"Area" as I use it has a specific definition, more organizational than descriptive -- so not necessarily "wide-open space with various structures", though it can be that. For example, I classify these parts of Valiant map01 as distinct "areas": http://i.imgur.com/YQwUH3V.png (just the base), http://i.imgur.com/tKSm6aL.png (one of the simpler examples).

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I make a starting area I like and then just stare at it, getting more and more frustrated with time, unable to come up with an interesting continuation. Having to make the next area is my biggest mapping fear that I have yet to overcome. Almost always it's so painful, it makes me hate anything I make and only if I come back to the result in a few months\years I might begin to somewhat like it because the unpleasant memories are gone. Today I watched a demo for my DMP2015 submission and the level looked surprisingly okay but most of it seemed lame and lazy to me back when I was working on it.

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the first thing I do when mapping is I get an idea first. usually I am dreaming of what could potentially be cool to make a map on. then I start making a starting room and player 1 start. from then on, I kinda lose my thought (like Memfis) and I actually start improvising design and layout, making sure what I map is to my liking*. after done designing, I end up putting things in last. then I test until I get bored and release it to get it out of my hair.

* the unfortunate thing is I make my maps in accordance to how I want them to play, even if they could potentially be unorthodox in progression and placement, but I am very paranoid about what others think.

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What I like to do is come up with a map-defining room, then build on the theme that stems from that. I'm very inefficient, plus I constantly move from one thing to the next, so actually finishing stuff tends to take a while, but I feel like having a spot of interest from the get go really gives me an immediate way of figuring out what exactly I want to do.

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Start something, procrastinate, lollygag, look at it, procrastinate, play test what I started, procrastinate, lollygag, eventually forget about it.

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First up I add rooms, afterwards, I add its structure.

After those 2, I add the things (tricky bit for me. Darn vulnerability).

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My mapping process can be summed up as this: rip off whatever map I feel like ripping off.

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First, think, plan, re-think, take notes.
Start a sacrificial rough map.
Make it minimally playable.
Stop, and re-think everything through again.
Change the whole alignment, move, rotate sections.
Decide which sections cannot be salvaged and lose them.
Think up four new ideas for the new free space and try to implement three of them.
Play test.
Make notes on things that need to be fixed. Check off things that got fixed.
Check my notes for things I was going to fix, but have not fixed yet.
Repeat from someplace around step 3, depending upon mood.

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1: Build a medium to large area.
2: Add a side area.
3: Feel dissatisfied with the result.
4: Start a new map and build an area almost identical to what I had before.
5: Somehow feel more satisfied with it. Don't know why.
6: Iterate until I have about 70% of a map.
7: Lose interest and begin a new map.
8: Repeat forever.

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M1TEST01.WAD - 22/10/14


M1TEST02.WAD - 12/11/14 (Must have gone back and edited something.)


M1TEST03.WAD - 01/11/14


M1TEST04.WAD - 03/11/14


M1BUILD01.WAD - 04/11/14


M1BUILD02.WAD - 05/11/14


M1BUILD03.WAD - 06/11/14


M1BUILD04.WAD - 08/11/14


M1BUILD05.WAD - 09/11/14


M1BUILD06.WAD - 10/11/14


M1BUILD07.WAD - 10/11/14


M1BUILD08.WAD - 11/11/14


M1BUILD09.WAD - 11/11/14


M1BUILD10.WAD - 13/11/14


M1BUILD11.WAD - 14/11/14


M1BUILD12.WAD - 14/11/14


M1BUILD13.WAD - 15/11/14


M1BUILD14.WAD - 16/11/14


M1BUILD15.WAD - 17/11/14


M1BUILD16.WAD - 18/11/14


M1ALPHA01.WAD - 10/12/14 (Second pass after building MAP02)


M1ALPHA02.WAD - 01/01/15 (Must have edited something later)

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I don't really know, some days I had more spare time than others. Added some time stamps to the pictures.

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Urthar, that's an awesome description of your mapping process. So that's how you make beautiful geometric / curved layouts!

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I usually just decide on a theme and then just wing it from there. I tend to just hammer out something and then, once I'm reasonably satisfied with the results, I go back and try to add detail. Unless I just really hate what I created, in which case I just make a lot of changes.

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Awesome post, Urthar. I find it way too easy to get discouraged in the middle of a project when things aren't shaping up how I want them to, so seeing your whole process laid out there with all the countless attempts and revisions is really inspiring!

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Thanks for the indepth post Urthar, very interesting read, and your style kind of reminds me of Andy Badorak. :P

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I lose all earthly inhibitions and begin drawing. No simple task. Basically I turn off my own inner critic whenever I open DB2 because otherwise I would become too discouraged or bogged down in details.

I play pwads constantly to inspire me to create something truly compelling with the engine. I want to create my idea with Doom instead of for Doom. Doom becomes an extension of how I'm feeling at the time, it is therapy to play and create content for the purpose of expanding my talent and forming pleasurable memories.

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rdwpa said:

...
What I'm going to try now is creating the basic layout for an "area"*, concentrating on getting the scale and flow and shape and non-cosmetic height variation right, and only then working on the finer details.
...


Results of the experiment: This process, done in GZDB itself, failed miserably, as in nothing ever got done. It was too tedious. But ... drawing on paper first and then translating the results to GZDB worked a lot better. Stuff actually got done, albeit at far from a blistering pace. Part of the reason is there's a lot of erasing and redrawing involved in the initial construction of the layout (where things like flow, connectivity, substantial height variation, and everything else, are thought out), which is a lot more fun and efficient for me on paper, easily enough to make up for the time lost with an additional step. I found it a lot easier on paper to draw things that (from the overhead view) look like they belong in a good map, which is cool, too.

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I really have no idea... ideas just flow in my mind, sometimes I draw sketches of what I want, most of the time I waste pages on making "3D visions" of some areas of a map, like switching to the 3D visual mode in Doom Builder, put texture names on it and etc.

Then I start doing it on DB, then ???, and finally the map is done somehow.

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I do it all from my mind, I'm still learning about a few mapping abilities but by and large I have a theme and I try to make a map based around it. I will come up with specific rooms to add, traps and areas to make and think about how it could work...I then try to make it in GZDoom Builder as close to my imagination as possible, this is the closest I'll ever get to drawing it out.

A lot of the time I'll build the bulk of it then if I can think of something to fill in the void in between areas, I'll sector it up and work out a room.

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1) Get idea
2) Open Doom builder
3) Make a sector or 2...or 3...
4) Piss about for some time
5) Get frustrated
6) Give up.

This happens every few days :P

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