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TheNerdTurtle2

How Do You Guys Build Your Levels?

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I mean do you create the whole level without any things and then add things after? Do you draw a rough draft on paper and then draw the geometry and things at the same time? Or do you wing it?

I used to kinda wing it and build a room and then put monsters in there then build another room and put monsters in there. Now I make the whole level before I put monsters in it, and occasionally I plan out levels on paper first. I'm just wondering what's most normal

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I feel it's important to keep trying various approaches, otherwise there is a risk that you'll become a machine of some kind that keeps pumping out very similar levels. Most prolific mappers suffer from this. The solution is to keep experimenting: make one level room-by-room, draw the next one on paper before creating it, for the third write some word with sectors and try to turn it into a normal looking level, then attempt to imitate your favorite mapper's style and make a map with their tropes in mind... Try to avoid becoming too used to a certain approach. That will help randomize your output and make it much more interesting.

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Ugh, I've been trying to break out of the "Make a room, insert monsters, make another" approach for ages but it's how I started and I always have trouble with using test textures to begin with. I think it may be due to the test textures I actually use (normally BLAKWAL*); I'm currently trying to make a DeathMatch map with STARGR1 and that seems to be going better.

But yeah, I need to take a better approach. I have so many unfinished projects in my "WADs and Mods" folder that it's not even funny. I keep opening some occasionally to check what they were and hoping to finish them, but find that they often seem to be a single STARTAN sector I drew before my creativity burned out.

The straightforward approach is not good for me. I need to try TheNerdTurtle's approach.

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I am still working on my first map ever, so my way of doing things might not be as interesting, but who knows?

Prior to building the map I had some idea as to what the theme would be. So I thought it might be a good idea to come up with some basic architecture and a few details to see if could realize the theme the way I wanted.

Once I got that done, I started adding some monsters and teleport-ambushes to see how the map would play. After setting up some encounters I figured I'd go back to getting the rest of the map in place and shape, and from there I jumped back to adding monsters, when I figured I got an area done. So it's a back and forward kinda method in my case. Still it's my first ever map, so it'll take a long time until it's done, let alone that it will be rather big, but the method of switching between monsters and sector-geometry works well for me, because it adds variety to the mapping process, and keeps me interested and connected to the map itself.

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If you're already affiliated with what sectors are used for and how to make things in Doom already, the best thing you can do for yourself is to plan your map out ahead of time before opening up the editor. I plan my maps out on paper first. I usually take a sheet of paper and use the bottom corners to first draft some basic layouts. Usually I keep in blurry and unspecific at first by drawing circles for rooms and areas. I often decide on a particular landmark or objective or something. Do you want a large crusher? Tall elevators? Catwalks? A bridge over a pit that needs to be raised? I specify a start and exit area, and I label areas like red key here, red door there, bfg9000 here, cyberdemon there, etc. If you can summarize what the player does in a few short sentences, you've got a map.

When one of your drafts parts the clouds of your imagination, and you can visualize what your map will look and play like, you can begin drawing your map a bit more specifically. I think it's best to start making your map from the inside out. Use maps like MAP11: Circle of Death or E1M4: Command Control for reference. Make the middle part of your map fun and interesting by its own, and build the rest of the map outward. This gives you control of the length of your map, you can just extend the start or end if you think the ending is too abrupt or if the intro is too short.

Don't bother drawing detail sectors on paper, or trying to draw things to scale. Your drawing isn't a scale model, it's a guide to remind you what you are doing or what you intend to do. If a square with a circle in the middle is all you need to remember that it's an acid pit room you wanted to make, then so be it. It's just supposed to jog your memory.

Get the general layout and linedef actions working before anything else. Put the player start in the map, skullkeys/keycards where they belong, give the player the primary weapon, and get all your doors, switches, exit, and trap doors working. Put monsters in the traps (especially with teleport ambushes to ensure that they work) and get your map totally functional and able to be completed. From there you can continue doing the thing placement, and then detailing and lighting.

When I get the map drawn out on paper and some notes for points of interest, the list of objectives for the player from start to exit, I can get a map done in a few hours. The drawings and notes keep me on track.

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Sick. I have a map drawing from like 10 days ago and the map is maybe only 50% done. And it's not even big (Plutonia size).

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kuchitsu said:

Sick. I have a map drawing from like 10 days ago and the map is maybe only 50% done. And it's not even big (Plutonia size).


Anyway to show us? Comparison between drawing and actual map

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I've similarly fallen into the linear style of mapping, however I've begun to try to have the arena's/rooms/hallways close enough together that I can connect them all up at some point; allowing the player to see through a window where they'll be allowed to visit by progressing and so forth. I like to keep the level quite open to the player. I also typically make a room with it's traps and place monsters accordingly, they're essentially placeholders for inspiration I had at the time... later I come back to balance it all after testing.

My only issue with testing is, I know where the ambushes are and therefore can avoid or mitigate their effects. My playstyle is very aggressive, so I need someone with a more cautious approach to test for me... you'd be surprised how many bugs and flaws that playstyle can reveal.

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Recently, I've been working on some levels with this process:

Start by brainstorming a level theme, then tackling each room individually, completing it by stringing the individual rooms together in an order that makes sense - adding locked doors and keycards near the end once the progression is figured out.

Kind of like a jigsaw puzzle, if you made the puzzle by individually colouring in each piece first.

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Step one : Idea.
Step two : Theme/setting.
Step three : Layout/basic architecture.
Step four : Basic progression ideas.
Step five : Basic texturing.
Six step : Lighting/Shadow casting
Step seven : Some gameplay elements such as key placement, weapons, artifacts and predetermined monsters.
Step eight : Revisiting some early areas to refine and to keep them up to date with the rest of the map, working more closely and specifically on bare areas, adding some decorate stuff and making the map "alive". This step is crucial for me. I have a rule in my mapping process. I try to make the map as "alive" as I can. What I mean by that is that I want to get to the point where no matter where the player will look at, something will move, if it's a light flickering or a liquid flowing or anything like that. Of course it can't be perfect but I try as much as I can.
Step nine : Anything related to gameplay.
Step ten : Fuckton of testing, and I mean fuckton.

Step eleven : Profit???

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On first I make a imagine, how map and battlefield will look. I imagine, how I would play and my reaction of action. After that I try realize it. Architekture will on the last part because for me battlefield and strategy movement is more important.

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It's tricky. I also used to go room by room, fully detailing and putting in monsters, and never got anywhere. Then I tried the opposite approach - beginning with what I call a "paper edit" (describing the map, both thematically and the flow and important encounters) verbally on paper, drawing a rough layout, and then working it out in Doom Builder. But then I get too reluctant to begin adding things, even though in the case of Doom, a lot of the level's naturalness comes from you being driven onward by fighting monsters.

And I rarely adhere to that paper layout too closely, anyway.

If you ever get stuck with that layout stuff though, I suggest changing the negative space. Make more sectors in between areas or something.

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