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Memfis

How do you get out of your comfort zone?

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When you begin to feel like you're stuck in a timewarp where you just keep recycling same ideas, what do you do to get out of it? How do you escape from yourself and evolve into something different?

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i try to take inspiration from elsewhere. i'll go and watch a film or read a book or something and think "how can apply the way this affected me in X" (X being writing music or making a doom map or whatever i'm doing)

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Analyze your own style. Take note of its traits and quirks. Next time you're mapping, focus on avoiding them deliberately.

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Your pattern of mapping threads lead me to look into a lot of videos and articles about psychological barriers. I think I have a tendency to go through a lot of the same problems you do where just about anything you make has about a 85% chance of being garbage long before it's even in a state that's able to be fairly judged. This is called an inner critic that you create for yourself that is attempting to shield you from outside criticism that may be hurtful if you're not expecting it. It sounds kinda wimpy, but it's actually a good thing.

There's a lot of similarities and points of comparison between writing stories and making maps in Doom, so it could help to do some research on things like "elements of story telling," "writer's block" "challenges writers face" and "inner writing critic" to get some insight and clarity on these feelings that keep you from expanding your horizons.

A famous film producer and screenwriter Robert Mckee once said

"The difference between an amateur and a professional is that amateur writers love everything they write, they keep every scrap and every page thinking that some day somebody is going to want to do a PhD thesis on them or whatever delusion they live in. Professional writers hate everything they write because they have the highest possible standards. They know that 95 percent of everything they do is crap. They are only capable of excellence 1 or 2 percent of the time. They know they have got to get all that crap out, read it and go “That’s just bad writing, cliched writing."

Which is unfortunately a bit self deprecating, but another famous writer, Ira Glass has said

"The first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambitions, but it’s not that good. But your TASTE, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer. Your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. You can tell that it’s still sort of crappy. A lot of people never get past that phase. Most of the writers I meet are in this phase, and for much longer than a couple years. Some of us take more time to develop our skills since we may not have consistent, focused, or quality time to practice."

So in short, the fact that your asking these questions is really a crucial step in the fact that you're not an noob anymore. You know good shit when you see it. This stage where you're having trouble making anything outside your usual maps is because you know it's working. It may be a little boring for you but understand that this is merely a phase and you will overcome it.

If you're having trouble resisting an inner voice that's keeping you from pushing boundaries, it might help to spend some time mapping as an exercise, rather than any rational attempt to release anything. When you can tell yourself that the purpose of this particular mapping session is for sketching, experimenting, and drafting ideas, and is not for the eyes of anyone else who may want to review it, you might be able to free yourself from your inner critic. If you still have trouble dealing with that inner voice, I've read that a common trait of inner critics are that they often speak with a degree of finality or absolutism.

"40oz you're a shitty mapper and you will always be a shitty mapper"

as opposed to "40oz, you're a shitty mapper, but that could change!"

I've heard that if you respond to your own self doubt with "and..?" you'll eventually go on a train of thought that seeks wonder and opportunity rather than a dead-end of self pity.

Having a clear objective goal by identifying what it is you want your mapping to be like and how your current mapping style is different will be a good start in your mapping exercises. Saying that you want your maps to be different than what you're making is really general and you're going to have trouble reaching that goal if you don't know how you're going to narrow that scope. So your best bet is to really identify what it is about your mapping that warrants change and pick a few maps from the IWADs or from a nice megawad you like that does it better. The most important part of this practice is to get excited about it. Get excited about the idea that you're trying to do something different more so than what the end product of your first attempt is going to be. Whats the worst that can happen? A few players write a review that's not overly excited? Who cares?

I hope this helps :)

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Memfis said:

When you begin to feel like you're stuck in a timewarp where you just keep recycling same ideas, what do you do to get out of it? How do you escape from yourself and evolve into something different?


Try playing around with new concepts. "New Reality", for example, was fairly unique in the larger context of your work, because it had a clear organizing principle (continuous three-map reality, dying on the second or third map makes completion impossible).

The organizing idea doesn't have to be so large and foregrounded, of course. You can decide to build a plasma-centric map. Or a map where every major encounter assigns the player some sort of task other than simple fighting (e.g. when a fight breaks out, you have to quickly do some platforming in order to grab a rocket launcher, otherwise you'll be overwhelmed). Or a map where you avoid the common SSG -> RL -> PR progression. Et cetera.

(These are ideas I've actually used myself.)

Anyway, scifista's advice is correct.

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