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FractalXX

Tell us your mapping habits!

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Hi there. This topic is for a little discussion regarding your mapping habits. Be it either bad, or good habit, feel free to share with others. Maybe we can help each other leaving our bad ones.

My bad ones:
- I almost never start with the layout, I create some parts of the map, and detail it instantly (I don't know if it really is a bad one).
- Sometimes I can really catch unrealistic design, with a spice of over-detailing which can really look bad.

A good one (I guess):
- It comes from my second bad habit that I'm really not lazy to detail maps and I'm patient. I just have to stop after some time cause I feel like I'm forcing details out. Breaks are needed.

What about you?

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I tend to do the detail as I go along. Then new areas get done, then detailed. Saves on doing each stage in one huge boring go.

I also like to put in a large super computer in each level that has a base...just cus.

But mostly I build as I feel, hardly any plans and no pre drawn elements. Just in my mind and eventually the map. All I really think of is the basic setting, then fill in what that setting might have.

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my main mapping habit is to draw a sketch in an editor and then keep expanding it while retroactively applying a plan and a serious idea to it that I didn't originally have

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The only real "habit" I have is that whenever a project of mine gets off to a good start, I find myself incapable of prying myself away from the editor and end up working 10+ hour days on it and, afterwards, consider quitting mapping entirely because I'm just so gutted.

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rdwpa said:

The only real "habit" I have is that whenever a project of mine gets off to a good start, I find myself incapable of prying myself away from the editor and end up working 10+ hour days on it and, afterwards, consider quitting mapping entirely because I'm just so gutted.


Is this a 40oz mapping habits thread or an anyone's mapping habits thread?

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Strong starts, but fail to expand map and therefore never end up finishing. I do always indulge in a little early detailing as I find it helps me picture the potential end-product better.

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Altazimuth said:

Strong starts, but fail to expand map and therefore never end up finishing. I do always indulge in a little early detailing as I find it helps me picture the potential end-product better.


This sums up my mapping exactly.

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I spend hours moving vertices in order to fix texture alignment.
I also spends hours drawing on the 1-PX grid creating light gradients and false shadows on walls that are far from the player or hovering over sectors of varying light levels so that the texture on said wall doesn't change brightness drastically over erratic spaces.
I spend even more hours tagging hidden, shown, and 'shown as 1-sided' linedefs in order to make the Automap nice and clean looking.

Probably a bad habit is not accounting for multiplayer balance or compatibility during design and leaving as an afterthought even though I set out with co-op and DM compatibility in mind. I do the same thing with difficulty settings and I also only test on UV. I should probably recruit some testers soon....

I've also got a habit of signing all my works when completed.

Somewhat off-topic: I've been so attentive with monsters and expected damage output of the weapons that I can estimate ammo placement on the map according to monster placement and be extremely close to a balanced output. Is that a habit thing or just experience? Both maybe?

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Rayzik said:

I spend even more hours tagging hidden, shown, and 'shown as 1-sided' linedefs in order to make the Automap nice and clean looking.

Bless you.

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I like using bright colors in my maps, that makes my maps look undoom.
And I like making my maps non-linear.

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-I try to make maps non-orthogonal, non-linear and usually gameplay-oriented.
-I do texturing, detailing and thing placement as I go.
-I constantly tweak shapes of rooms until I'm satisfied with them.
-I playtest every time I add a couple sectors or monsters.
-I abandon my works in progress when I lose interest, which happens to me quickly, while on the other hand I map slowly, and that's why I rarely finish anything but speedmaps, despite regularly attempting to work on longer maps too.

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ALL my maps start out as increasingly complex series of rectangles in the vague 'horse shoe' layout. Then I start slowly detailing and moving, adding vertices, to give each area some character. Then I add some wild height variation. Then I add some monsters and weapon+ammo, usually just imps and knights, and an SSG + some shells, just to get a feel for moving through the level. After this, I'll add lift and stairs to pair sectors at different heights.

Then I start adding secrets and 'set piece' encounters.

I usually have an idea where my exit will be by now, but I usually make the mistake of adding more and more to the map, until it's a slog to test, and probably play.

99/100 I don't release the map. :p

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Rayzik said:

Somewhat off-topic: I've been so attentive with monsters and expected damage output of the weapons that I can estimate ammo placement on the map according to monster placement and be extremely close to a balanced output. Is that a habit thing or just experience? Both maybe?


That's what I'm missing so hard. I guess It's actually both.
It's actually hard to start out with. I think you just got used to it like when we learn new things in math. At first you would need to calculate a lot in mind then it just comes on its own.

schwerpunk said:

99/100 I don't release the map. :p


Same here. :s

scifista42 said:

-I try to make maps non-orthogonal, non-linear and usually gameplay-oriented.


A little off question: What makes a map fun/good for you regarding gameplay? What do you think the factors are?
I ask this because it's a question that comes up quite frequently.

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FractalXX said:

A little off question: What makes a map fun/good for you regarding gameplay? What do you think the factors are?


1. Fairness. A map can be hard as hell, but it should be fair -- there shouldn't be any annoying bullshit, where skill doesn't matter and you just have to hope luck is on your side.

2. Danger. There are lots of ways to convey this, but I like maps that keep you off balance, whether it's by mixing in surprise traps, having a foreboding atmosphere, or just having challenging battles. I think that "fear of imminent demise" is one of the main things that gets my blood pumping, and thus is fun. This is probably the most important category, and is synonymous somewhat with "challenge", but with a bit more scope, because good easy maps will often give you that feeling of danger.

3. Manageable difficulty. If a map kills me too often and I feel I just don't have the skills to beat it, I won't really be able to enjoy it. So as a mapper, if you make hard maps, it's important to implement HNTR and HMP and test those settings well so that they feel dangerous, not just like nerfed versions of UV. This way you can satisfy this criteria for as many players as possible (but of course, it's impossible for your map to satisfy everyone, and there are people who are't Doomgods but will never play lower than UV, ever -_-). I'm actually glad that I started to implement difficulty settings in my speedmaps some time ago, because I'm not always up for a soul-crushing challenge, and HNTR and HMP are still non-trivial on my harder maps.

4. Humor. This one isn't obligatory, but Doom can do humor too, and if it does it well, it's going to be fun. Going Down of course is a great example of a mapset that tells a funny story, not only in the overall progression of the levels but also in the little details.

5. Ease of movement. I don't mean that maps should be wide open and allow you to go anywhere easily at any time. My tastes are actually for claustrophobic maps with damaging-floor use. What I mean is that the map geometry -- detailing and what not -- should not intrude on the gameplay. In fact there's a map in 50 Shades of Gray coming up in two or three days in the Megawad Club's playthrough that is awesome except for its bumpy floors, which happen to be the only reason I won't replay it to record a demo for it.

6. Novelty. Seeing the same thing in the same way over and over again gets old fast, so it's important to play a lot of maps in order to figure out what tropes to subvert or avoid (*cough* perfunctory insta-pop archviles at exits *cough*), and to pay attention to your own tendencies so that you aren't repeating yourself too much. Cool new ideas are valuable too.

7. Options. Choices are fun. This is why non-linearity is such a commonly touted virtue. Maps that impose on you a specific itinerary and force you to handle fights in one specific way can be fun, too, but these maps generally have to excel at #2 and #3, and even then, it's often the case that flexibility would have made them stronger. A reduction in non-linearity should be seen as a means of getting rid of boring options. For example, maybe you might have a seven-fight sandbox map where one of the fights has a BFG and there are ample cells in the level, and doing that fight early will trivialize a few other fights. So you could make the level stronger by making it more linear -- putting that fight, and some of the other potential cheese-endowing fights at the end of the rotation. It's absolutely mandatory that easy maps excel at giving the player options and thus accommodate many play styles -- for example, wild and reckless playing, and speedrunning. I replayed a couple of easy, mostly nondescript maps this week just because they were fun to speedrun.

Anyway, this isn't an exhaustive list at all, but I think it's a good start.

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I always give my computer panels lights.
I place my lift switches in reach from the lift.
I like to map with a cup of coffee on hand.
I rarely draw any designs on paper, so I just go for it and see what happens.
The Internet and Steam have distracted me way too many times.
I make my key requiring doors stay open.
I probably add more secrets than I need to but I love making secrets.
I like to do the texturing, detailing and thing placement as I go.
I tend to map a lot during an extended period of time that lasts for weeks to a couple months, then burn out and don't map again for many weeks.
I can get bored easily so I tend to do so much in one map then switch to another map before going back again.
I don't play-test every time I add a few things. I used to be really bad at this so I broke the habit and I play-test when I have more work done, unless I made something I really want to check out right away.
I rarely finish anything but I'm really trying hard to get my main megawad project done.
I have too many projects but I did stop making new ones despite having ideas I would like to start.
I have this habit where I tend to go back to rooms / maps I considered done and add more detail or change stuff.

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I tend to give my maps plenty of structure and detail. So yeah, I'm kinda like Tormentor667 :P

I add the TERRAIN feature with a Playerclass for footsteps.

Something else I used to do back then until changes were made on /idgames, I put some awesome Ogg Vorbis music. From here on out, I'll use midis.

If I don't add difficulty settings, I use MAPINFO to remove that.

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I draw weird shapes then make them into fairly reasonable rooms/areas. I try to give lots of height variation. I make sure players can see ahead in the map, or see bonuses such as armor and health to coax them into searching for the secret.

Beyond that, it just sorta happens! Also when I do detail, which isn't often, I do it after the map is complete usually.

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Bad: I share the same habits as the OP.
- I heavily detail the room I'm working on until it's complete before progressing
- I don't create any prior layouts, I make them as I go. As a result I often get "writers block" or equivalent to. I also need to take regular breaks and need to find inspiration to continue
- I mostly work with linear corridors and dead end rooms due to dissatisfaction with large room and outside aesthetics and poor skill in creating abstract layouts
- Very slow with making large detailed rooms and open maps, need regular breaks and barely satisfied with the end result

Good:
- Always return to my older maps to make improvements as I progress
- Always gain motivation from trying out new tricks and techniques, resulting in a constant growth in unique scripts and scenarios as I progress
- Big on detail, won't feel satisfied with plain large walls with a single texture (except I have that lurking issue with my rocky and outdoor maps)
- Really conscious on difficulty progression. Want to introduce new content fairly and warm players up before throwing them in lethal situations. Or at least give them an opportunity to run away for cover

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Chezza said:

- Always return to my older maps to make improvements as I progress


Me, too. In fact, I have some projects which I started 3-4 years ago, I lost motivation for them but I still update them every once in a while, and see if it will make it to the end.

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After watching the Ratchet dev commentary videos and hearing how professional level design was done (at that time at least), I do level design first and then visuals. I also try to do themes/locations that are rare or odd to see in a Doom map.

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I'm actually a proponent of detailing initial areas before constructing the rest of the map. I always find it easier to come up with room structures if the map already has a clear (and more importantly, interesting) texture/thematic identity. "layout-oriented" mapping usually results in me flying around in 3d mode after all the basic shapes are drawn stochastically choosing textures until I find combinations I don't hate, that's usually my least favorite part of mapping.

some actual habits (most of which are boring and inconsequential):

- I always draw sectors clockwise (linedefs are facing inward)
- tele closets will have this shape: ||>>>
- voodoo closets will scroll south
- most pillars will be 32x32
- when short on ideas I usually draw asymmetric L-shaped rooms and fiddle with geometry until I get inspired by something
- natural geometry is usually Cancerous Detestable Curves™, though if I'm in a hurry I'll often adopt danne's strat for chunky rock barriers
- "man-made" geometry mostly comprised of 90°/45° angles, in typical Alm-worship fashion. Been deviating from this recently
- sawteeth everywhere
- got some untextured walls? better flood-fill it with support3 and gothic techlights!

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for a long time I would make a relatively empty map, give it some sombre music and a desolate-sounding title and it would combine magically into a Disney-ized shit version of what I really had in mind. like the punchline to the joke, "what if Steven Spielberg had made a Doom wad when he was fourteen?"

it's not really good enough to approach level design with a filmic palette if you want to induce a certain feeling - all you can hope to do with that method is stumble upon the right emotional shorthand that makes a player recall the feeling, which isn't at all the same thing.

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-Except for Barrels & Trees, items always go in corners
-The Yellow Lamp is by far my most used decoration, with torches being a distant second
-I avoid using the Yellow Key if possible
-I don't use Demons or Barons in my maps
-Lighting in my map will be set from 112 through 192, but it can go higher if the sector contains a lamp
-Recessed computer panels will have sector action 17 applied
-Most doors & lifts are the Fast variants, & most key doors will be set to stay open
-I never use monster blocking or sound blocking lines
-Nearly all monsters will have the deaf tag
-Nukage & Lava are the only floors that I tag as damaging, even though I'm not opposed of seeing damaging water & such
-The majority of my maps are aligned to the 32x32 grid
-Pillars in my maps are octagons
-I avoid placing secrets in my maps, but I will put at least one in there. A large number of my secrets involve jumping in order to access them
-Even if you can see a certain side of a piece of architecture I will texture it the same as the side that you can see
-All of the things that you see in the editor appear of UV difficulty, though I have started getting away from this recently
-When adding difficulty settings I first remove the monsters I don't want there, then I remove health & ammo until the map plays nearly as difficult as UV
-When placing monsters in a room I disregard everything that may appear outside of windows & such, I find that it offers a bit of unexpected game play challenge when I play test my maps.

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I leave some rooms extremely overdone and some extremely underdone. Prefer bright colorful textures. Also prefer Doom1 over Doom2 textures. Have non-linear layouts. Overdetailing madness like copying 750-sector chandelier 6 times into one room or making a flat with 64 little 1-px deep ALLBLAKF holes. Sometimes realizing that room looks like shit and deleting it without mercy. Use of state machines using voodoo dolls on conveyor belt - some of them has 80 trigger numbers - avoiding Zdoom stuff just to get PrBoom compatibility. Black gaps of void between playable areas. I NEVER made a map without TEKWALL1, COMPSPAN and SHAWN2. I like to mix Wolf3D textures in environments. I give SSG very little to player, cause its too powerful. And I prefer weak enemies (so far I have only 1 map with archviles and boss monsters). I have ugly automap, cause I never cared how it looks. I frequently rip off somebody else's stuff. When I for example play somebody's wad and see nice texture, I quit and quickly load it into my wad for further use :D. All my monsters have deaf flag and are rotated to see the player.

And finally, I am glad I got rid of these bad ones:

When something had length 24, i was used to give SUPPORT2 without thinking (what newbie doesnt). And when it was 8 - DOORSTOP.

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I have two that come to mind:

* Every map must have a gimmick, be it a namesake landmark, an oddity, or unusual encounter. A map could have the most gorgeous architecture, perfectly-aligned and selected textures, and great gameplay, but still be forgettable. When's the last time you forgot The Crusher, for instance? It has a hook that makes it distinctive.

* I always pay attention to what I deem "fractal scale." What I mean by this is: detail must come at all scales, not just one or two. A map is boring if it consists of similarly-sized rooms full of minute detail. There must be a pleasing configuration of both negative and positive space at the very large scale, the semi-large scale, the room scale, and the detail scale. To neglect any of these scales makes a map more boring.

I'd like to stress that I'm not attempting to state any objective truths here. These are simply rules I stick to habitually, for better or worse.

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