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MrGlide

What do you think are the important building blocks for a good doom map?

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what are the important parts that make up a good doom map and/or how would you classify them.

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I'll throw some thoughts out. At the highest level, there are just 2 things:

1. Fun gameplay.

2. Environment has a strong sense of place.

#1 is obvious but hard to nail down, because people like different things, so I won't say much more about it to start.

#2 is something I've thought a lot about, in the context of Doom and other games. It's perhaps even harder to nail down than gameplay, but I think it's vitally important to all sorts of games, even though people may not realize exactly what it is or how it's accomplished. It can be established in different ways and is different for different kinds of games.

Immersion is a word that's thrown around a lot without much thought so I tried to avoid it, but that's basically what I meant by "sense of place." An environment should make you feel like you're a part of its world, and should imply something about its world that you might not even see. What is the architecture like? Who might have made it like that? Why did they make it like that? Where is this place? What surrounds it? Where am I going, and why? Why are these monsters here, specifically?

Even if the player doesn't overtly wonder these things, if the designer kept them in mind while making the level and stayed true to them, it will be felt by the player.

To this end, making a really cool-looking, detailed structure or building will help. Even if its not functional, its form implies something about your context. Environments with strong themes (textures, monster types, architectural motifs) add to this. Even simple architecture with simple geometry can accomplish this. Being able to see things and areas that you can't get to (now, or never) gives a sense of a greater context and that exploration might be rewarded with surprises.

Good art in general is hugely important to games. Always has been. Take a game like FF7. What's actually good about it? I have a soft spot for the gameplay, but ultimately it's pretty uninteresting. It's the art. Not even the story and characters. Just the art. The world, the music, the enemies. What will I see next? What will I do next? What kind of monsters await? You care about these things because of the art. At every point in the game, there are mysteries in the world to discover that are cool to look at and nice to listen to.

Another more overt example, a game that does everything I've talked about perfectly: Dark Souls and the related games. They all are great at giving context and implying things about the world and your situation without actually telling you. It makes you want to see what's next, and it's rewarding when you do find what's next.

Since the Doom engine is pretty bad at telling (and telling is the boring staple of games today anyhow, so who'd want to!), imply, hint, and give context.

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aw man I thought I had 5 real answers, I was really hoping some of the big mappers would have said something. Is there a better way to rephrase my question?

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In no particular order: (because opinions on that topic vary)

- choosing a theme
- making a layout
- texturing/lighting
- detailing
- monster/item placement
- testing (balance/bugs)

Was this what you were looking for? Or was you looking for some particular tips on good map making? There has been many threads about those, like this and this and this and lots of others. There is probably no such thing as an objectively good map or an objectively correct way to make good maps, anyway.

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This is mainly for 90's style maps I guess:
- gameplay should be more fun than hard.
- have some surprises and as few "I know what's going to happen" moments as possible.
- make some playful design decisions, not just walls with SUPPORT3 on the seams.
- present your work in a humble enough manner.
- leave at least some cute texture misalignments for a non-sterile feel. rocks definitely don't need alignment most of the time.
- avoid progression from one fight to another, strive to make the level closer to one continious fight so to speak (not totally strict, but the general idea is good).
- don't forget that barrels, crushers, stair builders, donuts and other things exist.
- don't name your maps like "Alfonzo goes to Jamaica to taste local cuisine".
- it's nice when the player doesn't have to kill 95% monsters to finish the level.
- remember that it's fun to activate faraway lifts, rise platforms and turn on the lights.
- don't analyze the areas separately too much, try to look at the bigger picture. often one or two bad\ugly rooms is actually good for contrast and similar things.
- there should be some romance in your wad.
I can probably think of more...

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kuchitsu said:

- there should be some romance in your wad.

I think I've just found out why I tend to like your maps. :)

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MrGlide said:

aw man I thought I had 5 real answers, I was really hoping some of the big mappers would have said something. Is there a better way to rephrase my question?


I suggesting sending a PM to the "big mappers" if you want their input. Most of them are good blokes that will give you some advice.

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scifista42 said:

Was this what you were looking for? Or was you looking for some particular tips on good map making? There has been many threads about those, like...- There is probably no such thing as an objectively good map or an objectively correct way to make good maps, anyway.

I agree, I Feel I messed the question up by adding good at the end of the question. What do you think the important peaces are to a doom map either within game flow or layout.

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For me it's more substance over style, but style certainly plays a good part of the equation. I think a good level usually stands playfully between the two, and has a fixed idea of what the idea of the map is trying to portray. There are so many different themes and mapping styles that it's hard to pinpoint any sort of absolutes when it comes down to taste, but at the root of it what I usually aim for is the following:

-Is the level playable from pistol start?
-Are the items/weapons/health appropriately placed to coincide with the monster placement?
-Is 100% kills/secrets possible?
-Does the level have a fixed theme in mind? (can be a mixture of things, if need be - provided it doesn't look like several different levels pasted together)
-Does the level flow logically? (As in: key and door placement - E1 of Doom emulates this perfectly because it makes you revisit areas and better understand the layout of the level)
-Are the difficulty levels implemented carefully? (Depending on the audience - between HR players and more casual players)
-Good texture alignment (just to look pretty and all)

I guess these are more generally good things to have in your maps, but once in a while I'll do something purposefully unorthodox and maybe a little against what's generally acceptable to the casual Doom player in putting them through clever/interesting scenarios and stumble upon unexpected traps/secrets that stand as a characteristic of that level's own personality. Anyway, I don't ponder it too much though while mapping, as I usually try to emphasize gameplay that I feel capable of coming back to and playing more than once, as I see that as the most important factor imo. Your own tastes and what you like to see in maps you've played you can study and play around with in your own mapping concepts and try to feel your way there instinctively (i.e. I just naturally imagine an arch-vile teleporting into this arena makes sense, a hidden lift by that torch feels plausable, etc...)

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kuchitsu said:

- don't name your maps like "Alfonzo goes to Jamaica to taste local cuisine".


I laughed louder than I should have..

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there's no such thing as a good Doom level so basically go wild with whatever takes your fancy

edit: try using a bunch of lifts and pain elementals

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You have to find out for yourself what is fun by thinking about it and experimenting. After all, the most important question is what do YOU find fun? Only you can answer that.

If you build a room, put a couple of monsters into it, put a weapon in, then play it, you'll have an experience. Analyze that experience and try fiddling with the elements. The more experiences you have, the more revelations you will have, and your understanding will broaden. You will build up strategies and techniques. You will learn shortcuts. You will play with more and more complex ideas.

Learning to make maps is like learning to play guitar. People can tell you all about it and you can read all the books, but the only way to really learn - to really understand - is to do it.

Seek for yourself the answer to the question. And eat your greens.

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