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40oz

Post your Automap picture/discussion

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Something kind of enigmatic to me is how some maps just look better to me on the automap than others. I’m not sure what it is, because it’s not unusual for a map to look really cool on the automap even though the actual map played may be pretty bland. Maps like E2M1: Deimos Anomaly, MAP10: Refueling Base and MAP18: The Courtyard for example all use pretty unique shapes, and look very visually pleasing from the top, but somehow these maps aren’t the IWADs’ best maps.

There are some pretty obviously apparent automap pictures where I was almost totally sure the map would be terrible. These tend to use very sharp angles, little symmetry, incongruent/poorly measured lines, and often a ‘stringy’ linear design.

I’ve occasionally played some maps that had very cramped, messy, confusing, or linear layouts that often played really well. I’ve also have played many maps that look very neat, consistent with neatly fitted shapes, interesting angles, and a cool mandala looking design that sometimes played like shit. As I’ve been mapping more and more, I’m finding more comfort in using light gradients and contrasting shadows, control sectors, and other things that seem to compromise a very pretty automap, but at least it looked cool to me when I created the layout, and damn if the effects I use don’t make the map look cool as hell.

When mapping, how much emphasis do you put into how the map looks from the top, versus how it looks in game? Do you consider a neat looking automap and a good looking map in gameplay to be pretty mutually exculsive, or does it play a pretty strong role in how good looking you perceive the map to be?

I'd like to use this thread for people to post pictures of their WIPs or maps that look awesome from the Automap so we can talk more specifically about map designs from the Automap or editor view. Perhaps help eliminate some insecurities that people have while making maps and not being confident that they are on the right track, even before the map is ready to be tested.

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I think in a lot of cases the strive for "neatness" of automap is a delusion that can eat a good chunk of your time without giving any substantial benefits in return. I often find myself doing pointless stuff like making sure that the opposite corners of the room have the exact same angles, even though there is no way anyone would notice anything wrong and it's not like it actually changes something important. I guess when you spend so much time looking at the top-down view, your brain starts thinking that it's directly related to the overall quality of your map, but I feel like it's a big mistake. A mistake that I keep making again and again, to be honest. Perhaps it is not so different from that weird desire you get when you look at stuff like this. It's just your mind playing tricks on you.

So in my opinion this stuff is mostly bullshit, but I admit I also find it oddly fascinating. Quite often I open random wads in XWE and just look at the map previews, thinking about the shapes, their balance, etc.

I make a lot of levels for another game, Elastomania, which is purely 2D. In that game I believe this stuff is extremely important: http://mopolauta.moposite.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9014#p251868

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I have a tendency to want to completely fill the bounding area of the map (at least in the editor; it might be that some of the boundary lines are marked "HIDDEN" so as not to appear on the automap without IDDT). This is undoubtedly me being particular, though I justify it somewhat by recognizing that very few real architects would design an actual building with a lot of unused/inaccessible space.

On the whole, however, the automap is not a factor in the design -- sure, I will hide secrets and make sure control sectors and outdoor sky boundaries are marked as HIDDEN, but beyond those bookkeeping operations, I let the map be what it is.

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Ain't nobody need to see those little triangles and arrowheads I have absolutely fucking everywhere I need to drop the horizon or create a sky window. Or those little boxes telling a joined sector where to rise/fall to.

Apart from that, I hide secrets and that's about it. One advantage of my targeting vanilla / not cramming tons of detail into my maps. ;)

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My maps have never been exactly pretty from the top down, but I've learned to stop paying attention to how they look from the top down completely, instead thinking entirely in terms of individual encounters and in terms of design elements (ledge, pit, chokepoint, etc.)

Funnily enough, this has actually made my automaps look prettier and more compartmentalized in addition to the level itself playing better.

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I'm like lutz here but I also have a map that I've been fucking around with for 15 years (!!!) whose entire gimmick is what the automap looks like. Plays like shit, of course.

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There is something wonderful about a great automap though. On the "post what you're working on" thread there are some real works of art. But generally I find a great automap doesn't really have much relation to a great level. It's more a happy accident when something looks nice.

Someone posted the automap of one of my recent levels on reddit, and there was a big long discussion about how good it looked (despite it being a horrible automap pallette!). I think much of that was just people not being used to how wonderfully intricate Doom levels are compared to many modern titles.

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Stapler said:

My maps have never been exactly pretty from the top down,


I disagree, ive always found your Automap/editor shots to be very pleasant.

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Like most i've never specifically gone out to try and make a cool looking automap because actually playing the thing comes first. Although that might be a cool idea for an experimental map or even going as far as a CP/competition, see who can make the best automap/gameplay combo.

I generally find 'vanilla style' automaps the most interesting looking in terms of actual layouts - ultra modern stuff generally only goes as far as the initial 'wow that looks so detailed' factor and really are a bit of a clusterfuck on the automap. Also i've always been a sucker for layouts where areas are set at an angle (see Ghost Town from Plutonia below) - even if it is ultimately meaningless!

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That's Plutonia all over though; the Casalis used a LOT of curved corridors and such, which looks very pleasing indeed on automap.

Also, sharing an image; this is actually DB2, which I gave near-automap colours a while ago (too much white-on-black makes my eyes feel weird after too long).



Also contains a curve or two.

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I've always hidden horizon lines, control sectors, and things of that nature, but lately I've been using GZDoomBuilder's automap view to hide lines that are not necessary for navigation and to generally doctor the appearance of the automap. It results in a cleaner and more streamlined automap view and reduces visual clutter.

Other than that, I'm more concerned with how the map looks from the first-person view than the automap view. Sometimes an area looks great in-game but looks plain on the automap. As long as it looks good and plays well, I'm happy.

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rdwpa said:

Literally hundreds of monsters!


That made me laugh too. I'm guessing the Reddit masses hadn't played too many slaughtermaps!

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I'm a "gameplay > aesthetic" guy, so I believe that the automap is only important as a tool to assist the player in keeping track of their position and of the progression of the map. Any beauty found in the automap should only be left in if it coincides with a map that plays well: granted, an automap that is visually appealing may also make it easier for the player to navigate, but it should by no means be prioritized. Automaps (at least in the vanilla sense) tell you nothing about height variation, lighting, decoration, and most importantly the map from the player's perspective. Even Wolf3D, being a game that is a 3D projection of a literal 2D environment, often benefited from a map design that lacked refinement in that 2D plane in favor of something that played well from the perspective of the player.

Honestly, when I see a "good-looking automap", I immediately worry that the level won't play that well. The pattern I see in numerous video games from the early 90s PC era is that mappers regularly seemed to have designed the level entirely in the editor and barely tested the result in-game. "Why on earth is there an enemy here?? Well, it probably looked good in the editor at the time." It'd be like trying to design a house from the top-down view alone: you're just not getting enough of the picture to intentionally create something practical and useful.

If I'm not mistaken, a mapper could theoretically draw a picture out of linedefs that is completely insignificant to the map itself, then make all of the linedefs that do matter invisible, leaving the player with a useless automap that has a little Mona Lisa or whatever on it. It'd probably be a lot of work, but hey, gotta make the automap look nice!

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Jayextee said:

That's Plutonia all over though; the Casalis used a LOT of curved corridors and such, which looks very pleasing indeed on automap.

Also, sharing an image; this is actually DB2, which I gave near-automap colours a while ago (too much white-on-black makes my eyes feel weird after too long).

Also contains a curve or two.


Would you mind posting a screen of your settings for that? This would be incredibly useful for me.

EDIT:

Fuck, I didn't realize GZDB has an automap view now. Scratch that!

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I love how Map 10 plays! It's kinda unique, in that everywhere you try to move, more monsters see you.

But, yeah, I like, especially in the newer maps, how map authors make control sectors, like monster spawn rooms and the like, look like little houses, all lined up properly. Take a look at DV Map 05. The control sectors look like a big city street with skyscrapers!

You mentioned light gradient sectors, for example. Why not hide those from the automap, so you just see the rooms without all the gradient lines? But I think I know what you mean. To me, the automap looks so different in 2D than it looks in 3D view. I imagine this is not an issue for many people though.

Bauul said:

Someone posted the automap of one of my recent levels on reddit, and there was a big long discussion about how good it looked (despite it being a horrible automap pallette!). I think much of that was just people not being used to how wonderfully intricate Doom levels are compared to many modern titles.

Looks like a battleship steam engine, or something! Nice!

Also nice everennui, Jayextee, and chopkinsca.

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I remember when Nintendo Power had all the maps for SNES Doom. Just something about the simplicity of the maps kind of looked like art. Modern maps tend to be too cluttered with lines, I find. I wouldn't mind printing out an old Doom map and putting it on my wall (it would be better than the generic pictures I have hanging right now).

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