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40oz

Controlling Map Quantities in Community Projects

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Suppose someone started a community project that was such a fun and brilliant idea, that many people participated in making maps for it, and many people made more than one map, and it quickly overflowed well over 32 maps. What is the best way for the project manager to handle this? Compile multiple megawads? Tell some mappers to take their maps elsewhere?

I don't really like to play entire megawads as much anymore. I usually don't have as much time anymore to commit to playing through the whole thing, and it feels unfair to the mappers who didn't land a slot in the MAP01-MAP09 range.

A challenge I find in starting a community project is finding that safe balance where it's fun for the mappers, but even more fun for the players. As a player, I prefer short episodes, but if an idea for a project seems like a lot of fun to work on for many people, what is the most fair way to put a cap on the number of levels a community project generates? Constricting deadlines so the window of opportunity doesn't seem very fair, and it's less likely to yield good results as people try to speedmap their way into the project. Does it always have to go into selective quality control territory by eliminating maps that don't perform well? What do you think?

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I think more community projects could use inspiration from management of "professional" team projects like developing games. One of the main issues of Doom projects is that they don't pay enough attention to planning stage. They mostly operate like: "Here is an idea, let's see what will come out of it, it's you (random participants) who make it happen!" Professional projects should start with a clear vision of the end result, already thought-out and polished to ensure its potential to be good. Then decide the project scope, and set goals needed to lead to the result. Invent ways to do continuous quality control, checking progress and regulating direction. Assign roles to participants, and create directives for each of them. Finally, promote the whole concept and hire people who will do the work according to the planned directives.

My point is, at least rough number of maps should be thought out and decided early, because it's quite an important factor that will influence the end result. Therefore it would be a good idea NOT to accept superfluous maps.

A good idea might be to create a continuation of the project. This new project should continue development after the original project is released. That way, executing the new project can be improved according to reception of the first one.

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After 20 years, any map is simply a rehash of what has gone before.

Since playing through DOOM2 and DOOM Ultimate so many years ago, I have played
through, maybe, a handful of megawads. Most of them I quit playing after a few maps
because they became repetitious and boring. The only ones standing out, even to this
day, are HERIAN and ETERNALL. For that time they brought indeed something fresh
and exciting. Of single-map pwads, there are, for me, out of the ones available
for download, maybe 50 of them which I replay from time to time.

Today, the criteria for any map to be included in a megawad should be eye popping
architecture (which includes texturing), definitely atmospheric lighting, and so
called challenging 'aha' events (and I don't mean slaughter events).

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A community project with so many awesome submissions it's hard to whittle down to 32? I would say that's a good problem to have!

I think the concern should be producing quality maps and not to worry in advance about having too many great maps. In the unlikely event that happens you get the luxury of being extremely picky about what goes in. As to what to do with the leftovers? Give 'em back to the authors I say.

Also, if you want to make an episode or short megawad I wouldn't let the issue of inclusion put you off. Just be up front about the selection process so every knows what they're working with.

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"Pick the best maps people made, include them in final version, and throw out the rest" may not always be the best approach (although it's obviously not a bad one). Compilation of best currently available maps will not always make a good project. If all mappers produced maps of roughly same fun factor and complied to the project guidelines, deciding the inclusions/leftovers should better consider how they feel together as a whole experience for the player. The combination of maps that works the best in this regard should be selected, and the rest left for a possible continuation of the project, which will take additional time and work to be put in.

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purist said:

A community project with so many awesome submissions it's hard to whittle down to 32? I would say that's a good problem to have!


I didn't mean to imply that it's a problem. I'm just curious if there's a fair and friendly way to start a project for anyone in the community to participate in, where the number of maps you want in the wad is fixed, without having to alienate anyone. Lets say you want the project to be limited to 10 maps (for whatever reason, the scope of the project depends on this). and after 9 maps are finished and linked to, two more people each post a map they spent a week working on within an hour of each other. Now you have 11 maps. What's the best way for dealing with something like that?

Do you just say "sorry, eleventh guy, we got our ten maps already"? What if the eleventh map is really good? Do you take a vote to eliminate someone's not-so-good map? Does competition help or hurt the idea of a community project? Suppose the community project utilizes a special texture pack or mapping gimmick that makes each submitted map difficult to recycle for a different project? Should mappers have to lock in their mapslots ahead of time? Besides people posting "I want MAPxx" in the thread, what is the best way for a mapper to secure his role in the project to prevent stagnation of the wads progress?

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40oz said:

I'm just curious if there's a fair and friendly way to start a project for anyone in the community to participate in, where the number of maps you want in the wad is fixed, without having to alienate anyone.

I'm afraid this is impossible to guarantee.

Lets say you want the project to be limited to 10 maps (for whatever reason, the scope of the project depends on this). and after 9 maps are finished and linked to, two more people each post a map they spent a week working on within an hour of each other. Now you have 11 maps. What's the best way for dealing with something like that?

Re-evaluate all maps and how they work together as a whole, then decide one map to be rejected, possibly via public voting. Don't assume that mappers are somehow selfish or easily offended. If everything is thoroughly discussed and explained, everybody should understand how goodness of the project is above inclusion of his map.

Does competition help or hurt the idea of a community project?

I don't think any such general statement can be made, this is the kind of things that depend on the mappers.

Should mappers have to lock in their mapslots ahead of time? Besides people posting "I want MAPxx" in the thread, what is the best way for a mapper to secure his role in the project to prevent stagnation of the wads progress?

Prove his ability + show interest early.

Spoiler

And be friend with the leader.

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There's not necessarily a right or wrong way how you go about selection, just that the process is established early and implemented fairly. If I was running a project and the situation you gave arose I would do something along the lines of what Scifista says and chose the 10 levels best suited to the project goals out of the 11 received. Someone would miss out, maybe one of the first 9 mappers, but I would expect the mapper concerned to accept the decision as it would be consistent with the rules set from the outset.

I've had rejected maps from projects before and it's never bothered me, even if there were ways in which I felt it could be handled better. In some ways, it is a better experience to map for a project where your map may be rejected because, if the project is correctly managed, it will push you to ensure your level is as good as it can be.

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This is a really tricky situation to be in as a project leader, as there are lots of ways you could do it, but those options can all have inherent problems, depending on what sort of project you're making.

Back to Saturn X had the issue of "too many good map submissions", which led to the creation of three separate episode projects from something that I had originally expected to be far less than 32 maps.

This was somewhat polarizing, particularly in the case of episode 1's strong thematic consistency, but I think given the situation we were in, it was probably the best option we could have taken. Keep in mind that these maps were already being extensively tested as they were built, so it wasn't simply a matter of choosing which submissions to pursue further development on. (Though there were a few maps axed from the project entirely rather than being revised further for release.)

If we had chopped down the project to 32 or fewer maps anyway, we would have about a megawad and a half of additional maps stuck in a weird purgatory where they were basically ready to release, but were dependent on BTSX's resource set and palette which aren't easily compatible with other projects. That would effectively necessitate the creation of an additional megawad from the outcasts, in which case we would have two or more megawads with the exact same episode structure. That would've been pretty redundant I think.

In the future I might try a more structured system for running a project, with a rough outline laid out in advance loosely specifying episode and map concepts, which mappers would lay claim to and then take as a jumping-off point for their own ideas. I think that sort of approach is better suited to a closed team project, though, in which every author involved is already trusted to deliver what's expected of them.

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