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t3hPoundcake

Veteran mappers - What is your method before you start a level?

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I've got so many ideas lately, after playing around and learning HOW to map, I want to start making something more serious, but all my inspiration comes from a ton of different wads. I love the lonely desolation of Doom64, but I love the hordes of enemies in classic Doom. I love the dark corridors leading into mazes of computer terminals, but I also revere the hundred foot tall platforming over a pit of inescapable lava with cacos flying overhead...


What is your method for starting a map. Does it start out wanting to create this amazing megawad or episode, or do you just start mapping and hope you crank out a decent map and then work on it more if you enjoy what you've done? Do you draw out maps by hand to get a rough idea or do any planning before you jump into it? Should I try to think of a "story" so I stay focused..most custom wads I play follow a pretty logical (in Doom standards) line of progression.

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It depends.

If I'm making something quick, I have an inside-out approach where I construct rooms as I go, not really sure where they'll end up, but try to link back to other beginning rooms to create non-linear layouts. From there, I can define a route with a more definite path using locked doors or other obstacles.

If I'm making something that will take me a while, I tend to use an outside-in approach where I design set pieces or landmarks and try to create terrain or other such features to connect them, even if they aren't already made yet.

Back then, I drew maps out on graph paper, since I didn't have enough experience imagining scale in the Doom engine. My ideas for maps weren't so much content or setting-based as they were gameplay-gimmick based. I'd think of an idea or layout that would maybe be fun to play, and try to make a map that illustrated that idea. Or I'd play a lot of maps and really like some other person's layout, and I'd try to make something similar (See DOT.ZIP for some really early work examples).

I'd expect, however, that most veteran mappers, like me, have their ideas in their head, as they have loads of creative experience to draw from. Oddly enough, if you are just starting out, you're better off asking other mappers in your skill set how they stay focused or creative. Motivation isn't something that's easily taught, unfortunately.

Best thing to do is make something, and a LOT of somethings, even if it isn't incredible or some kind of "magnum opus," because what you learn from those things will help you make the big, amazing stuff. You'll never figure out what works or what doesn't until you make it.

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The main thing - you need have many free time to make something serious. I have spent 2 years for my megawad.

-Better start from limit-removing format. ZDoom mapping is hard for beginners. Vanilla have some limitations.
-Play different pwads and look on technical and designer point.
-Reviews on your maps by other people is helps with mapping alot! Read reviews for other pwads.
-Mapping must flow. Sometimes take a brake.
-If you started map pack, create txt file and write features of every map. This is make maps different.

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I start with a particular trick or feature I have in mind - like cacos rising out of a pond or a chapel full of worshiping monsters. I then build other rooms and passageways around it, leading to and from it.

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Being a veteran Unreal Ed 2.0 user. My method use to be to build from ideas that usually were inspirations from different games or movies. I wasn't the type, that planed layouts with blueprints or sketches. I'd have a rough idea and just started building. Everybody has his/her own type of approach. Hourences released a book in 2008 which is a interesting read for level designers. http://www.hourences.com/product/the-hows-and-whys-of-level-design-2/

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I normally start by procrastinating for about 15 years.

…and counting.

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Not a vet but I did start with drawing the schematics in a paper, then modify it in editor if it necessary so people wouldn't think it's dumb.

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I let the idea brew in my head over the course of days, weeks, and in one case, several years, until I have a pretty good idea of what it will look like in my head. Only then do I actually start building it in the editor. Sometimes, I find it helpful to draw basically a flowchart showing where the different areas are relative to each other and how they're connected.

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I usually have a very, very basic theme in mind and a few ideas for encounters (be it SP or DM) and just start slamming down lines til I have a map. I then go back and fix any cosmetic/gameplay errors I find, but even after that my maps still have a very minimalist design. It usually turns out ok, but I often spend a little time working on it again based on the feedback I get so it's actually a fun, balanced romp. I can't spend too long on a map, once I lose momentum the map often dies permanently..

(Also, I can't believe I gave DOT 1 star! It deserves at least a 3 all things considered)

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