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GoatLord

Form versus function

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Which do you prefer? Or do you mix it up? If we look at the original Doom maps, they are definitely nearly 100% about form. Nothing looks particularly representational. Even Doom 64 kept things mostly in the abstract, aside from vaguely temple-like structures. When it comes to the community, we see a lot of ambitious mods that take things in a more Duke 3D direction, where labyrinthine layouts feel as though they have a history behind them, that there is a logic to how and why things are. And of course, we see mods like DTWID, where there is only a slight refinement to the chunky, largely arbitrary structures we associate with the IWADs.

When I map, I find that, if I'm designing a techbase, a city, a factory or some other manmade structure, there is this obsession that overtakes me, in which I want everything to seem as logical as possible, within the confines of the Doom universe. There is still a strong focus on making each area interesting, with good flow and combat, but I try to retain this idea that there is a rhyme and reason to everything, even if it's not obvious. Sometimes I don't even know why a structure is the way it is, but I know that it fits with the theme, and the player will relate that.

If I'm designing a hellscape, some sort of nightmare, a surreal environment or something otherwise infested by demons, then I go nuts. I create spaces that don't make 100% sense, but flow well and look interesting. It's an opportunity to work with improvised, highly experimental ideas.

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For me it depends on the theme. For urban maps, I prefer that they be realistic and grounded on reality. Techbase for me should have a little bit of logic put into it, but it can be mostly abstract. Hell should be as abstract as possible.

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Yeah, it depends. For example some maps in HacX are semi-realistic and are very memorable, like the first map for example. It fits the cyberpunk megacorp theme. Castles can be semi-realistic, too.

When it comes to abstract maps, it usually works better in Hell themes or something totally alien looking.

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I stick rooms together that are nothing but form (not good form), I actually forget about function and usually just finish the entire map and then add gameplay (granted, I make function based rooms within my maps but they are obvious as fuck).

This is probably why my maps are the sux but I feel as though mapping is the same as painting or drawing: I don't like trees on a blank canvas and absolutely must have the hills put in first.

I'm also a bad artist, thats why I haven't drawn in years, so I really do think I should drop this habbit before I end up quitting mapping too.

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Form follows function and function follows form. But the function of a level is to be a place where gameplay takes form; thus the question is more about the diegetic level, that is; should the level be working for its supposed purpose in the real world?

Real places are not very good as level, expecially in Doom, I have noticed. Realistic places is another thing, a real-looking place can be created to accomodate whatever gameplay you prefer. But real-looking doesn't mean it woould work in RL.

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Or do you mix it up? If we look at the original Doom maps, they are definitely nearly 100% about form. Nothing looks particularly representational.


I think you've got your terms mixed up!

"Form" would be about making things representational. Aesthetics, and so on. "Function" is about building a game space interesting for gameplay purposes.

You cannot apply real-world logic to a game universe and assume it is function, because in the Doom engine slapping a pipe texture on a curved pillar would not give you a functional pipe pumping important liquid, but a purely representative form of this real-world concept with no actual use in the Doom engine (save for perhaps an obstacle, or visual hint).

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The words "form" and "function" might be misused, but I think it's clear that GoatLord wants to talk about "abstract" vs "representational" visual style - that is, just what the map looks like, unrelated to its gameplay - so that his word "function" is supposed to mean "looks like serving some in-universe purpose for inhabitants of the game's world", not really "serving some gameplay purpose for the player who plays the game".

As a player, I don't like purely abstract design. I feel a need to have a definite explanation and justification behind everything, and I also enjoy seeing recreations of real life (or known fictional) objects in the Doom engine, whereas random curves and shapes tend to leave me cold.

As a mapper... I make whatever comes to mind, and I'm not much good at it, so it's not worth discussing here.

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I think that a minimal amount of representational effort needs to be put in a map.

I just have to think about those city maps in Doom 2, which not only did not look like anything even resembling a city but also were lacking any TEXTURES that resembled how a city may look like. So what we got was a silhouette of a city that on closer inspection just were some random structures without any apparent purpose.

Of course one should not forget that the Doom games were among the last ones that were hampered by distribution size on floppy disks, but it's still a major turn-off for me that so little in the game appears to make sense.

I am fully aware that trying to make a level look like a realistic part of an urban environment is not going to work, any map that tried ended up a colossal gameplay failure, but DN3D clearly shows that it's not impossible to combine these two in a working fashion.

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scifista42 said:

The words "form" and "function" might be misused, but I think it's clear that GoatLord wants to talk about "abstract" vs "representational" visual style.

As a player, I don't like purely abstract design. I feel a need to have a definite explanation and justification behind everything, and I also enjoy seeing recreations of real life (or known fictional) objects in the Doom engine, whereas random curves and shapes tend to leave me cold.


I assumed that's what GoatLord meant as well, heh.

I personally am in the other camp. I love weird abstract shit that doesn't make any sense. The appeal of Doom mapping for me is seeing what sort of crazy monstrosity people will make next. Doesn't have to make all that much sense, for me, it just has to have a general 'theme', and be interesting to look at and to play. 'Realism' in Doom on the other hand doesn't do it for me; IMO Doom mapping is best suited for making things that simply don't (or can't) exist in the real world. It's one of the reasons why I love e.g. ribbiks maps despite being terrible at them \ o /

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I think it's clear that GoatLord wants to talk about "abstract" vs "representational" visual style


TBH I genuinely didn't understand that. Your explanation makes a lot more sense.

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I probably should have used those words instead, they convey what I was trying to get across more clearly.

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It'd only be fully clear if you wordly pointed out that this discussion doesn't concern the map's gameplay, but just the appearance and "in-universe" meaning of things in it. (Is that right?)

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Honestly, there's a time and a place for everything. There are some good looking extremely realistic levels, there are some realistic city levels with good gameplay (Happy Time Circus 2, though some might find it boring).

Then there's purely abstract stuff that just works, usually using the more abstract textures.

Personally, I like places that try to tell a story. Like half a dozen dead marines at the entrance to a base. A gibbed body near a hole in the wall, maybe preceding a Cyberdemon. A medical bay transported to hell with flesh growing everywhere.

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scifista42 said:

It'd only be fully clear if you wordly pointed out that this discussion doesn't concern the map's gameplay, but just the appearance and "in-universe" meaning of things in it. (Is that right?)


It kind of IS about gameplay too, not just aesthetic. If you focus purely on form, you may miss out on interesting architectural opportunities that relate to real-life circumstances. If you focus purely on function, you may miss out on the unexpected wonders of abstraction. In either case you can enhance or take away from the flow of exploration and combat.

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