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FractalXX

Mapping "mentality"

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I hope the title won't confuse anyone, couldn't think of better.

I've been mapping for Doom (various formats) on and off for 4 years. Started in 2011, was on a break from 2013 summer to the start of 2015, so started again recently.

I've been working actively with Boom, and UDMF, been in one or two community projects (if I recall correctly).

I'd like to ask your opinions about your "mentality" of mapping.
For example, here's my case:
Nowadays, when I start any map, I get into it quite excessively, then get bored of it after some days. I didn't even finish a map since I returned to mapping (except for 1 DM map). I'm still trying to finish what I started, but either it remains unfinished, or I just think it looks ugly, or doesn't play well, and it's like the harder I try the worse it'll be. Sometimes I think my older maps (that I made before my break) are better, even if I wasn't as experienced as I am now.
I encounter this problem more when it comes to detailing.

So what do you, experienced mappers do in these kind of situations? Of course only if you experience those.

For example, do you just "map as you see fit", or think of what others will say about it?

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I've been a fan of Doom since 1993, but it's only until recently have I started creating my own maps. I've created a few maps, but ultimately I'm not happy with them. They don't turn out quite the way I had envisioned them so I keep going back to back to the drawing boards, sometimes even deleting the map and starting all over again. Sometimes I get inspired and map non-stop, but than I reach a point where I don't know how to continue. I've gotten used to creating maps with Doombuilder 2, and importing custom graphics/music using Slade 3. But I'm the furthest thing from a mapper.

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Piper Maru said:

I've been a fan of Doom since 1993, but it's only until recently have I started creating my own maps. I've created a few maps, but ultimately I'm not happy with them. They don't turn out quite the way I had envisioned them so I keep going back to back to the drawing boards, sometimes even deleting the map and starting all over again. Sometimes I get inspired and map non-stop, but than I reach a point where I don't know how to continue. I've gotten used to creating maps with Doombuilder 2, and importing custom graphics/music using Slade 3. But I'm the furthest thing from a mapper.


You exactly described my ordinary mapping day. Same.

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It stinks when you feel your mapping quality has diminished a lot. It might be some sort of overly self conscious thing like how anorexic people see themselves in the mirror. I've had a long break from mapping not too long ago and now I feel like the mapping styles of me now versus how in was several years ago are like maps from two different people. But I was surprised to hear that some of the maps I made recently had much more positive feedback than I had given myself. Sometimes its worth sharing your maps even if they didn't come out as clear as you had visioned. You can learn a lot from that.

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It seems to me that your brain is making it quite clear that it doesn't want to do mapping. Why make yourself suffer through hours of work that always leads to boredom, frustration and disappointment, and never actually results in something complete and worthy? Such a weird self-torture.

I've been in exactly the same situation for about 4 years now and I'm becoming more and more convinced that there is no solution to be found. We're simply not suitable for mapping. So, time to look for some other activities? There are so many cool things to do in this world that are actually fun and rewarding.

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Memfis said:

It seems to me that your brain is making it quite clear that it doesn't want to do mapping. Why make yourself suffer through hours of work that always leads to boredom, frustration and disappointment, and never actually results in something complete and worthy? Such a weird self-torture.

I've been in exactly the same situation for about 4 years now and I'm becoming more and more convinced that there is no solution to be found. We're simply not suitable for mapping. So, time to look for some other activities? There are so many cool things to do in this world that are actually fun and rewarding.


Interesting idea, I don't really know. For me, it's like my brain is telling me that I want to map, then some time after it says 'stop'. I even sometimes can't decide whether to create something or not, and it's not happening with mapping only.
Also, mental health affects it. I lived a normal life before, reached the peak (happiness) which happened at the same time when I started the break. Months later, depression came, I somehow got back into mapping, but with a quite negative attitude.

40oz said:

It stinks when you feel your mapping quality has diminished a lot. It might be some sort of overly self conscious thing like how anorexic people see themselves in the mirror. I've had a long break from mapping not too long ago and now I feel like the mapping styles of me now versus how in was several years ago are like maps from two different people. But I was surprised to hear that some of the maps I made recently had much more positive feedback than I had given myself. Sometimes its worth sharing your maps even if they didn't come out as clear as you had visioned. You can learn a lot from that.


I'm still working on a project, which will be a remake of my first released wad, that somehow encourages me, but still I don't know how could I come up with ideas, that I've done at that time.

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I think when you become more experienced you also become a harsher critic of your own work. Whilst it used to be satisfying enough to make a completeable map, this is now no longer acceptable. The map has to be fun, unique, non derivative of your previous work and look great. You will see flaws, missed opportunities and poorly executed ideas that will be invisible to players because they did not know what you originally had planned. I've been getting this feeling recently and it's quite crippling at times.

Another mental block I suffer from is that the struggles I have making the map affect my perception of the finished product. Occasionally the creative process just falls in place and everything works how you want it to at the first attempt and it feels like the map is done with no effort. In my mind I enjoy playing these maps more than ones that took painstaking efforts, tedious revisions and hours of staring at Doombuilder trying to wring some creative juices from my brain. Therefore, if a map is taking more than 3 or 4 weeks and I am hitting speed bumps in the creative process I am now starting to think about scrapping and starting over. Maybe there is something in this. Maybe once a certain amount of time is invested I begin to make poor design decisions in an effort to finish the damn thing already. Who knows, I should probably show the map to someone else at this point for fresh eyes.

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purist said:

I think when you become more experienced you also become a harsher critic of your own work. Whilst it used to be satisfying enough to make a completeable map, this is now no longer acceptable. The map has to be fun, unique, non derivative of your previous work and look great. You will see flaws, missed opportunities and poorly executed ideas that will be invisible to players because they did not know what you originally had planned. I've been getting this feeling recently and it's quite crippling at times.

Another mental block I suffer from is that the struggles I have making the map affect my perception of the finished product. Occasionally the creative process just falls in place and everything works how you want it to at the first attempt and it feels like the map is done with no effort. In my mind I enjoy playing these maps more than ones that took painstaking efforts, tedious revisions and hours of staring at Doombuilder trying to wring some creative juices from my brain. Therefore, if a map is taking more than 3 or 4 weeks and I am hitting speed bumps in the creative process I am now starting to think about scrapping and starting over. Maybe there is something in this. Maybe once a certain amount of time is invested I begin to make poor design decisions in an effort to finish the damn thing already. Who knows, I should probably show the map to someone else at this point for fresh eyes.


The interesting fact is that all of the best maps, and even some good, but unrecognised ones have been built for, say months. There are even some which have been built for years.

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It sounds like you need a firm stopping point on working on a map. Through releasing it, scrapping it, or setting it aside for new ideas. I'd recommend doing some speedmapping, just 1-2 hours on a map, making it the best you can. It'll help organize your planning and execution during map making so you make pretty much what you want to do, as well as making a firm cutoff for working on your map. The Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions are perfect for this, though they only happen once a month, and you can ask around on skype for advice or tips. Do a map a day for a week, and see what happens also. But make sure you have a clear theme and textures in mind, or you'll get bogged down again.

Regarding your remake, I'd suggest letting it go if it was the last or second to last thing you were working on before your break. Your ideas are not what they were then, and unless you consciously decide to emulate the style or rework your older maps' style, it's not going to mesh. You can come back to it later, or chop up the maps for interesting fight ideas or designs, but I wouldn't think about continuing where you left off immediately.

I've left two wads at 11 and 18 maps, and I think I'm better off for it, because I just wasn't in a position to keep mapping, through exhaustion of ideas as well as real life stuff. They could've used a LOT of polish, but I've moved on. Well, maybe not from the second set ... I've had an idea kicking around that I want to use with them.

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I start mapping when I feel like it, and stop when I no longer feel like it. Sometimes it lasts for a few hours, sometimes for an entire day and the next day too, but then it just stops and I must take a break, often a "break forever". With this approach, I'm unable to actually finish any reasonably quality work, but I can't help myself. So I attend speedmapping sessions at least, it's a good opportunity to make and immediately release a map when half-baked quality is tolerated.

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ArmouredBlood said:

It sounds like you need a firm stopping point on working on a map. Through releasing it, scrapping it, or setting it aside for new ideas. I'd recommend doing some speedmapping, just 1-2 hours on a map, making it the best you can. It'll help organize your planning and execution during map making so you make pretty much what you want to do, as well as making a firm cutoff for working on your map. The Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions are perfect for this, though they only happen once a month, and you can ask around on skype for advice or tips. Do a map a day for a week, and see what happens also. But make sure you have a clear theme and textures in mind, or you'll get bogged down again.

Regarding your remake, I'd suggest letting it go if it was the last or second to last thing you were working on before your break. Your ideas are not what they were then, and unless you consciously decide to emulate the style or rework your older maps' style, it's not going to mesh. You can come back to it later, or chop up the maps for interesting fight ideas or designs, but I wouldn't think about continuing where you left off immediately.

I've left two wads at 11 and 18 maps, and I think I'm better off for it, because I just wasn't in a position to keep mapping, through exhaustion of ideas as well as real life stuff. They could've used a LOT of polish, but I've moved on. Well, maybe not from the second set ... I've had an idea kicking around that I want to use with them.


In fact, I just picked the theme, and the plot of my old work, and redo maps from scratch, with a really different flow. Maybe that'll work.
Also what I think is that It's impatiance what causes the stop of bigger works. At least for me.

scifista42 said:

I start mapping when I feel like it, and stop when I no longer feel like it. Sometimes it lasts for a few hours, sometimes for an entire day and the next day too, but then it just stops and I must take a break, often a "break forever". With this approach, I'm unable to actually finish any reasonably quality work, but I can't help myself. So I attend speedmapping sessions at least, it's a good opportunity to make and immediately release a map when half-baked quality is tolerated.


Speedmaps might be a good idea if someone's a little bit impatient. Maybe I should give it a try.

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Whenever I try to make a map now, I have trouble coming up with a layout, especially on speedmapping sessions.

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Breezeep said:

Whenever I try to make a map now, I have trouble coming up with a layout, especially on speedmapping sessions.


When I tried to speedmap, I actually didn't care. I was just drawing continously, then somehow a non-linear, interconnective layout would come up. The only thing I had in my mind was that It's a speedmap, and I didn't want to waste any seconds.
Weird is that when I did speedmaps, they were rather non-linear even if I didn't really watch it, but when it comes to normal mapping it's somehow more linear.

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Breezeep said:

Whenever I try to make a map now, I have trouble coming up with a layout, especially on speedmapping sessions.

I agree, trying to create a new layout without having either time or ideas is troublesome. I still can't handle it properly, and my results of such work are random up to mediocre. But I know that experienced speedmappers somehow manage to get over it and create good layouts quickly, so that's where I look for hope.

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scifista42 said:

I agree, trying to create a new layout without having either time or ideas is troublesome. I still can't handle it properly, and my results of such work are random up to mediocre. But I know that experienced speedmappers somehow manage to get over it and create good layouts quickly, so that's where I look for hope.


Another point is that speedmapping is only suitable for old map formats (Boom, Vanilla, etc), as zDoom maps need more time, hence the scripting, more complex detail, layout, and such. I'm not saying it's not possible, but way harder to make a decent speedmap in zDoom.
I actually don't mind since I like both styles, but just to clarify.

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Format itself doesn't make a difference. ZDoom in Doom / Hexen / UDMF formats are the same easy to work with as the classic formats (if you're familiar with the format's specifics), unless you believe that every ZDoom map literally must take advantage of multiple advanced features to be "decent". In addition, mapping with ZDoom in mind is more comfortable because ZDoom is less touchy about small mapping errors than classic ports are - that's how 'zdoomisms' happen in maps made for classic ports but only playtested in ZDoom.

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In my experience, adding ZDoom functions on later seems much more difficult than designing around them from the very beginning. Just my opinion, though, it might be different for others.

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scifista42 said:

that's how 'zdoomisms' happen in maps made for classic ports but only playtested in ZDoom.


Reminds me of the time when I started mapping for vanilla. I was just confused when I tested with Chocolate Doom, and all sectors were being affected, when I used tag 0 for a simple floor lowering. Is that what you mean by 'zdoomisms'?

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Yes, among other similar problems. For example that every linedef with an action (even if it's a non-S1/SR action) blocks you from pressing use on a S1/SR action linedef placed right behind it.

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scifista42 said:

Yes, among other similar problems. For example that every linedef with an action (even if it's a non-S1/SR action) blocks you from pressing use on a S1/SR action linedef placed right behind it.


I actually didn't know about that.

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