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rdwpa

Build Time: Two Geological Epochs

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I'm not a fan of relaying build times for individual maps (or even episodes) in longer units of time, such as weeks, months, and years. Especially when the build times are presented as some kind of shorthand for "effort spent on the map". No one logs hours for longer projects like some kind of Doom LAWYERS, sure, but a rough estimate like ">500 hours" is already a lot more informative than something like "five years", which doesn't convey how densely the time was parceled out or how consistently one mapped (several hours or more most days, with a smaller number of off days? an hour or two on the weekends because that's when time was available?).

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"Two Geological Epochs," love that! ;D

It can be hard to describe the length of time invested in a project. For example, take my E1 replacement, Shotgun Symphony. I first started working on that in 1997, fired with enthusiasm after playing Jan van der Veken's Dawn of The Dead, which is where I ripped off the outdoor shadowcasting idea. By 1998, I had 3 maps complete and 3 more in various stages of completion. In those days, working with the Hellmaker editor, it took a month to make a 350-sector map, which back then seemed like a ginormous number of sectors. With DB2, I can do a 350-sector map in 4 days, and a 1,500 sector map in a month, so long as it's limit-removing. Vanilla takes way longer. But anyway . . .

In the year 2000, my mapping career came to a sudden halt when my old PowerMac started to die, and I bought a new machine with MacOS X. Alas, Paul Davidson, who created Hellmaker, was long gone from the scene and Hellmaker did not work with the new OS.

Thus the situation stood until 2011 when I stumbled across Doombuilder. By 2014, I'd revised the old finished maps, finished the unfinished ones, and produced 3 new maps to fill out the episode. I put the whole mess up for playtesting, and have been tinkering with it off and on since then, with the release probably 2 weeks away.

In total, we're looking at 19 years since the project started, but only 9 years saw any devotion of time to the maps, and 11 years were complete downtime. So . . .

. . . Two geological epochs. ;D

That's even longer than BTSX!

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I agree that "number of hours" is a more accurate description of the investment than years/months, but given this is a hobby for many of us it's rather hard to keep track of actual hours.

For example, I've been working on my current map since September last year. But it's an on/off thing so it's rather hard to know how long it's actually taken me! Somewhere between 200 and 400 hours. But that's hardly a narrow range. :)

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I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously spends 50 or more hours on a map. Does having Doombuilder open while you browse dw forums count? I'm of the belief that if you're spending more than 12 hours on any map, then your spending a lot of time fixing something that's inherently broken, and would probably be better off starting over from scratch.

Drawing sectors does not take that long.

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40oz said:

I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously spends 50 or more hours on a map. [...] Drawing sectors does not take that long.

Firstly, big maps are a thing - not everybody makes modern-styled compact layouts. Secondly, mappers may tinker with each sector, linedef and thing they draw several times during the mapping process (shaping, texturing, lighting, thing placement, re-shaping, re-texturing, re-lighting, thing re-placement, re-re-shaping, re-re-texturing...), especially if they don't speedmap and/or don't have an absolutely clear vision of what they're going to make and/or playtesting gives them ideas to improve the map by changing stuff here and there (and there, and there, and there...).

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Honestly, build times fall into two categories for me (if I were releasing maps, that is): "less than 30 minutes" and "no idea".

In the first categories are cubes made to test one thing or another. In the second categories are all the vaporware maps I've started one day and then never finished.

(Note: vaporware, not Vaporware. I am not affiliated with the Eternity project that will never be released.)

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40oz said:

I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously spends 50 or more hours on a map. Does having Doombuilder open while you browse dw forums count? I'm of the belief that if you're spending more than 12 hours on any map, then your spending a lot of time fixing something that's inherently broken, and would probably be better off starting over from scratch.

Drawing sectors does not take that long.


I almost always wind up spending many, many hours on a map; I know I've spent more than 50 on more than a couple, which shows in the thousands of tiny, probably unnecessary lines I'll typically add to a map in order to make the textures fit "better," whatever that means, heh. It's a bit ironic, but that's one reason I like to pay attention to minimalist detailing that looks great; it shows the textures working for the author, rather than the other way around and is more skillful in my opinion. I do often find myself fighting with my textures and geometry which causes me to add more vertices than a wall logically needs, while also wasting time. Then again, constant testing to check most things as they are added is also a great way to eat up hours, something else I tend to do, hehe.

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I can't even begin to count how many geological epochs I have spent on my maps. Honestly, I don't know how many hours, but it is a large number, possibly four digits for all of them combined.

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40oz said:

I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously spends 50 or more hours on a map. Does having Doombuilder open while you browse dw forums count? I'm of the belief that if you're spending more than 12 hours on any map, then your spending a lot of time fixing something that's inherently broken, and would probably be better off starting over from scratch.

Drawing sectors does not take that long.


Lol, I think that's only true of pretty simple maps, or if you're a pretty experienced mapper. On my current map I'll spend an hour or so perfecting a single room to make sure I'm happy with it. I'm just not experienced enough with Doom mapping to know how to rapidly create what's in my head. I have to iterate and then iterate again to get it close to what's in my mind's eye.

Plus, it's a pretty big map. Play time is about half an hour, and I've recently passed 7,000 sectors (about 31,000 linedefs). At your 12 hour limit, I'd need to be drawing a perfect new sector once every 6 seconds. It usually takes me a good few minutes to even work out what I want the next sector to be!

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40oz said:

I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously spends 50 or more hours on a map. Does having Doombuilder open while you browse dw forums count? I'm of the belief that if you're spending more than 12 hours on any map, then your spending a lot of time fixing something that's inherently broken, and would probably be better off starting over from scratch.

Drawing sectors does not take that long.


Are you trolling? :D If not, extrapolating from the specific -- you -- to the general -- everyone else -- is a classic error in reasoning. It's like saying, "I find it hard to believe that anyone spends more than a week writing a novel. It doesn't take that long to put 100,000 words in a document."

A lot of time for me is just thinking about what to do next, since I compose directly in the editor. I have an idea in my head, and try to achieve it, typically fail, and make do. In the past, I always designed room-by-room, which means all detail, monsters, ammo, health, etc. I'd play that room until I was satisfied and do another. Nowadays, I try to get 25% of the structure done before adding monsters. Nonetheless, I'm just winging it, so once I get one area done, I think about the next, and how they fit together, and that takes time. Just the same, anyone who's had me in their community project knows I can make maps happen, and pretty quickly, so my method works for me.

As to how long any specific map takes, IMO some of my best, like Heat Miser, get done in a few days. The funny thing about Heat Miser -- Map25 in Mayhem 2048 -- is that I started with the idea of doing something like pcorf's map, but I made the skylight too big, which took away the room I wanted for hallways. Perhaps you'd say it was "inherently broken." :D So rather than be a grown-up and shrink the skylight, I said, "Fuck it! Let's make a 2048x2048 box, divide it in half, and have turreted Cybs, and eventually have a storm of 144 Cacos come through the windows." Quite probably the most fun map I ever made -- though some PRBoom players might disagree -- and it was a total accident. ;)

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Just want to say I'm positive 40oz was trolling us, given that he's done too much mapping and led too many projects to be serious. But hey, if not, please go and tell Mechadon, "Dude, you only get 12 hours per map. Now, this Vela Pax thing of yours only has 3 maps, and that means your 36 hours were over a longass time ago! So give us maps or GTFO!" ;)

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Gez said:

Honestly, build times fall into two categories for me (if I were releasing maps, that is): "less than 30 minutes" and "no idea".

In the first categories are cubes made to test one thing or another. In the second categories are all the vaporware maps I've started one day and then never finished.

(Note: vaporware, not Vaporware. I am not affiliated with the Eternity project that will never be released.)


I don't belive it for a second, i'm familiar with your maps and i refuse to belive that some maps like "anacronistic metropolis" falls into the second category. Unless you mean that you plan out the general theme and areas on the first 30 minutes and then carry on building the actual map.

40oz said:

I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously spends 50 or more hours on a map. Does having Doombuilder open while you browse dw forums count? I'm of the belief that if you're spending more than 12 hours on any map, then your spending a lot of time fixing something that's inherently broken, and would probably be better off starting over from scratch.

Drawing sectors does not take that long.


To be honest, when i map i also always listen to music (or podcasts sometimes) so i probably take more time than i should while building the actual map, and sometime i just sit there drawing a couple of lines per minute enjoing myself in the process. I strongly belive i have far exceeded that 12 hours limit you impose on yourself on basically any of my maps, and i hand draw them beforehand sitting on my computer!

Returning to the op: well, that is the better estimate you got on a map most of the time, like i recently released an heretic map that i was working on for ages; and while i got on paper the general idea of what every zone would become from the very start, it took so long to finish (probably a couple of years or so), maybe because i was working on smaller projects on the mean time, or maybe just becouse it is a pretty big map that i wanted to be enjoyable and interesting to explore, while being coesive and interesting in the visual department.

I hope this thing make some sense, it is pretty late at night here and i'm half drunk, but it is always enjoyable to read how different people do similar things in different ways.

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Cacowad said:

I don't belive it for a second, i'm familiar with your maps

I think you must be confusing me with someone else.

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40oz said:

I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously spends 50 or more hours on a map. Does having Doombuilder open while you browse dw forums count? I'm of the belief that if you're spending more than 12 hours on any map, then your spending a lot of time fixing something that's inherently broken, and would probably be better off starting over from scratch.

Drawing sectors does not take that long.


You'd be surprised.

scifista42 said:

Firstly, big maps are a thing - not everybody makes modern-styled compact layouts. Secondly, mappers may tinker with each sector, linedef and thing they draw several times during the mapping process (shaping, texturing, lighting, thing placement, re-shaping, re-texturing, re-lighting, thing re-placement, re-re-shaping, re-re-texturing...), especially if they don't speedmap and/or don't have an absolutely clear vision of what they're going to make and/or playtesting gives them ideas to improve the map by changing stuff here and there (and there, and there, and there...).


Yep, my first map is really big and this is exactly how the development of my map underwent. I would also add getting stuck and staring at the screen like a moron and feeling insecure to the list. It's even slower if it is your first modding project, which it was in my case.

Luckily, my second map is shaping up a lot faster but still too slow for my taste.

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I dont mean to troll, I just feel like committing 50 or more actual working hours on a map is a hapless task. My best maps often took me the least amount of time to make. In general my maps take me 6-10 hours, but my favorites often took me 2-5. That's not including breaks in between, or making textures or doing research. Its the time spent actually operating the level editor. Fundamentally, the time spent making a map often doesn't translate to how fun its going to be, especially when you consider how quickly the Plutonia Experiment was made; the most influential set of maps outside of Knee Deep in The Dead. Khorus' speedy shit is an amazing megawad, and Scythe 2 doesn't even need to be promoted because everyone has played it. All are maps that didn't get much time before being completed.

I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I dont mean to take jabs at mappers that take their time. But in my experience working with people who feel they are hitting mappers block, lacking inspiration, and have difficulty completing their maps, the truth is that these mappers are thinking too hard. Modern mapping tools have made mapping very simple and spending that much time on a map cant be good for it.

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40oz said:

I dont mean to troll, I just feel like committing 50 or more actual working hours on a map is a hapless task. My best maps often took me the least amount of time to make. In general my maps take me 6-10 hours, but my favorites often took me 2-5. That's not including breaks in between, or making textures or doing research. Its the time spent actually operating the level editor. Fundamentally, the time spent making a map often doesn't translate to how fun its going to be, especially when you consider how quickly the Plutonia Experiment was made; the most influential set of maps outside of Knee Deep in The Dead. Khorus' speedy shit is an amazing megawad, and Scythe 2 doesn't even need to be promoted because everyone has played it. All are maps that didn't get much time before being completed.

I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I dont mean to take jabs at mappers that take their time. But in my experience working with people who feel they are hitting mappers block, lacking inspiration, and have difficulty completing their maps, the truth is that these mappers are thinking too hard. Modern mapping tools have made mapping very simple and spending that much time on a map cant be good for it.


I wish I knew how to work faster but I don't.

It's just incredibly hard for me to make interesting layouts. I mean, when I play other WADs and games I really like to dissect the overall layout, monster placement and mood, just as a literary critic would dissect a novel. This is why I have so much respect for games like Thief, Doom and Deus Ex. However, when I try to make something, it's always really hard for me. It doesn't help that I like huge, labiryinthine maps with lots of interconnecting areas. I probably shouldn't have attempted such a map as my first modding project.

If you care, here is the WAD I am talking about. I would love to hear what you and others have to say about it over a PM.

https://www.doomworld.com/idgames/levels/doom/Ports/p-r/retrbtn

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40oz said:

I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I dont mean to take jabs at mappers that take their time. But in my experience working with people who feel they are hitting mappers block, lacking inspiration, and have difficulty completing their maps, the truth is that these mappers are thinking too hard. Modern mapping tools have made mapping very simple and spending that much time on a map cant be good for it.


Speaking for myself, I wasn't offended, I just wanted to point out that maybe you're lucky in being able to pump out maps so quickly, where others are not. Vorpal, for example, is a very slow mapper, yet he managed to cover himself in glory in Alien Vendetta, according to many. I wouldn't know since I haven't played AV yet. Haven't played Plutonia, either, or Svthe 2, but I do know I hate Afrits. ;D And while you mentioned several famous examples of fast mapping, what about Deus Vult II or BTSX? How many hours went into those projects? There's never a one-size-fits-all or a foolproof way of working that applies to everyone. You acknowledge this yourself when mentioning people with "mapper's block." Maybe they're overthinking the map, maybe they bit off more than they can chew, or maybe they're just bored with it. That doesn't necessarily mean the map is "inherently broken." It only means that a complex set of factors has resulted in a map not being finished.

Despite all I've said, I'm probably more like you than the people who get mapper's block. I never get mapper's block, though I do sometimes get bored with a project. But just as a writer of fiction needs an inherent sense of story structure, I have a sense of mapping structure which means I can always make a map. I can make a room, put stuff in it, and the little structure guy inside my head looks at the possibilities, suggests connections and away I go. I'm guessing you're the same way. Like you, my personal favorite maps are the ones which took me the least time. The only pelts I've gotten from Demon of the Well came in 2 brutal Ultimate Doom maps where my total time on project was 3.5 days apiece, and that was consecutive days of on and off work. In one of them, I challenged myself by copy-pasting Hell Beneath into DB2, then I drew a box around it, deleted Hell Beneath and made a map inside that box, though I allowed looping passageways to go outside the box. Exactly how many hours I spent inside the editor actually making sectors I can't say, but I will say that in terms of total time on project, most of it was spent getting killed over and over in playtesting. :D When I got the DotW pelt, I exulted!

I know your method works because I've played several UAC Ultra maps and enjoyed each one. I also played Map01 of Mutiny a few days ago, on which you were a co-author, and enjoyed that as well. And you're right about the speed of modern Doom editors, and I'll be looking into GZDoomBuilder very soon to see if it can replace my beloved DB2. Perhaps the most important thing here is making a distinction between how long it takes to build a map in terms of hours making sectors in the editor, and total time on project, which includes playtesting and polishing. For me, the latter is what eats the most time, and that's probably true for most mappers. It seems like there's always one more texture misalignment to fix. ;)

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Editors like GZDoom Builder should have a clock that counts how long you're using them on a given file.

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I wish prominent mappers like Esselfortium, 40oz or Skillsaw made some sort of mapping masterclass video series where they recorded themselves making a map from start to finish while also commenting why they made this room this way, why they put that here or there etc. I mean there are tons of videos covering the very basics but nothing for more advanced users who are struggling and still have a lot to learn.

It would be very useful for people who are still learning. I am really doing my best but I often feel like I could use a bit of guidance.

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I have a junk computer so recording a video or live streaming my work unfortunately isn't gonna happen. However if be glad to assist you any way I can. I can explain my mapping process pretty briefly or in detail if you'd like, or I could playtest your work and give you some helpful pointers.

I have the upmost interest in everyone making great maps. Its not a competition :)

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40oz said:

I have a junk computer so recording a video or live streaming my work unfortunately isn't gonna happen. However if be glad to assist you any way I can. I can explain my mapping process pretty briefly or in detail if you'd like, or I could playtest your work and give you some helpful pointers.

I have the upmost interest in everyone making great maps. Its not a competition :)


Sure! I would really like a veteran to share some of his mapping secrets and play and rate my map. After all, it is my intention to become as good as you guys one day.

Here is my very first map. It's a vanilla, boom-compatible map for Doom 1, map E2M8.

https://www.doomworld.com/idgames/levels/doom/Ports/p-r/retrbtn

I am working on the second and third part of my series now but these maps are for Doom 2 this time. If you want, I could also send you the unfinished version of the second map but unfortunately there is no ammo balance whatsoever so far.

And yes, it's not a competition. It's just that I'd like things to go a lot smoother.

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DooM_RO said:

I would really like a veteran to share some of his mapping secrets and play and rate my map.

https://www.doomworld.com/idgames/levels/doom/Ports/p-r/retrbtn


Played on HMP. I got the blue and yellow keys, died in the big room with lots of cacodemons. It's near bed but I'll play again, if only for the visuals. Visually the level is amazing. You have a beautiful, strong set of designs in the level which vary throughout and all look good. You've used the available textures creatively and created spaces that are enjoyable to walk through.

I didn't really enjoy the combat or "flow" of the level. I didn't get a good sense of where I was or what I was trying to do, other than go forward. Each location was beautiful, but it felt like a series of nice rooms connected without purpose. I didn't get too lost because most of the time I could follow the pickups, but I did have to use the map a few times.

The combat was fairly straight forward - shooting at stuff on platforms or fairly standard demon fights. I didn't feel in danger very often and tended to just sit by cover shooting until everything was dead. I would have liked a bit more variety. The intensity did seem to pick up as the level went along, but it was odd in the beginning, with lots of pickup up items and walking around no real combat.

Overall I think you've made a visually inspiring level which is lacking a bit in the gameplay. Good luck with the next one :)

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40oz said:

I have the upmost interest in everyone making great maps. Its not a competition :)


One of the most perfect statements I've seen on these forums. Thanks!

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@Quineotio

Thank you! It's very difficult to make interesting gameplay with just Doom 1 monsters. This changes with my second and third maps, which are for Doom 2. Until recently the second and third maps were actually segments of my first map (it was originally supposed to be twice as big). Doom 1 is better for techbases but lacks variety in the stone and brick department. With Doom 2 it's the other way around.

From now on, everyone else please send map feedback my PM, unless you think it contributes somehow to the discussion at hand. I don't want to derail the thread.

Thank you!

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DooM_RO said:

@Quineotio

Thank you! It's very difficult to make interesting gameplay with just Doom 1 monsters.


It's certainly harder, but there is plenty of stuff you can do. You could try experimenting with roaming monsters and more free form gameplay.

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One item in the "total time on project" category that to me is perhaps the most time-consuming, annoying and hateful of all activities is . . . finding the music.

There are 2 types of music searches that I do. By far the worst is finding music for a map that already exists. Most of the stuff I'm working on these days is maps I started in the '90s but didn't finish before MacOS X made it impossible to use the Hellmaker editor. Some of those maps were actually released, but I'm modifying them now for the Abcess minisode. Because they're big adventure maps, I prefer to find moody, slow-paced music that doesn't get in your face and grate on your nerves, and that is hard.

The other, much easier music search is for a tune I like, and I then make a map for it. The enormous advantage is that if I do it even halfway right, I catch the spirit of the music well enough so that map and music work together. If I do a map for my fave IWAD track, Suspense, it's guaranteed to be a long adventure map with gloomy lighting. If I do it for a fast-paced Amiga MOD, it's guaranteed to be a small but very action-packed map. Using Amiga MODs, or even PC MODs, can be difficult, however, because they often don't loop or even play properly in PRBoom, whereas there is almost never any problem in G/ZDoom or Risen3D. When a MOD fails in PRBoom, I'm forced to ask one of our music guys to fix it, and I always feel weird about imposing on their time like that.

I'm envious of how Ribbiks seems to find the most incredible tunes for his maps. They're usually calm, slow-paced and pretty, somehow forming a perfect background for his violent but pacey maps. I go to vgmusic as well, but dang, to have the patience to download, listen and accept/reject tracks takes forever.

Props to Doom_RO for picking out that awesome industrial track in Retribution. It's really the ideal background for his moody, ominous map. I wonder, which did you do first, choose the music or make the map? BTW, I'm going to finish that map as soon as I can.

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