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nxGangrel

Does a level designer's emotional state reflect their levels

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I just had this thought in my head, I was wondering if levels can be affected by the then current emotions that the level designers feel while mapping. Would a mapper who feels depressed create a level that has very low light levels, tight corridors, and monotone texturing, either on purpose or just naturally without thinking about it? Where as some one who is happy or content create brighter and more larger arena like levels for example.

 

In music, artists typically write what is on their mind and the sound usually reflects this. Nine Inch Nails it is a great reflection and example of this. In the 90's Trent Reznor was an alcoholic and a drug abuser, full of depression, anxiety, and personal demons. His music during this time reflected this. And as he sobered up and matured through out the years his music became lighter and less heavy. I know music is used as a way to express or convey your feelings, where as levels and games are to play and enjoy, but they are both part of entertainment, and both are created by someone, or multiple people. And both can have an atmosphere and make a person feel feelings of terror, fear, empowerment, etc. Looking at Quake for example, think of how dark and atmospheric the levels are. And how odd and unique the world is.

 

For me personally, I don't technically make levels based on my mood, but I do create the things and images that are in my head, typically being something dark and empty. Or something eerie and disturbing. Akin to Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral, mentioning NIN again, if it had manifested into a real world structure. I don't have a very bright or peaceful state of mind, having a lot of stress and anxiety, I do tend to create dark and creepy levels, although I do make the type of levels I want to make and I enjoy and have interest in the macbre and darkness in general (being the gothy person that I am).

 

So what are you guys thoughts on emotional imput on your levels or level designing in general? I feel it is something that affects some people, but maybe not everyone. Though I'm not an emotional person I would consider it to affect me.

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There may be some truth to this; but I think most mappers try to achieve a particular mood or atmosphere and take whatever steps necessary to bring them there.   When I made Dementia I wanted to create a haunted and oppressive atmosphere, so I listened to a lot of Tool and late-Ozzy Sabbath (specifically the Sabotage album) to get there.   I'm sure mood helps select lighting and texture families, not so sure about combat/action levels.  It's an interesting question.

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If this is true then when people make slaughter maps they must be really pissed off.

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4 minutes ago, Nevander said:

If this is true then when people make slaughter maps they must be really pissed off.

The irony is, that if this is true, slaughter maps tend to piss me off.

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Interesting question. But my answer is...it's not true in most of the cases. You can get some inspiration from places, games, even from the techniques used for other wads. But not from your mood or anyone else. However, the exception to this rule is the terrywads, troll wads and some slaughterfest maps imo.

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Have you played Lilium? Lainos has said that it reflects a really rough emotional period, and I think you can feel that playing the level.

 

My mapping so far hasn't been about releasing emotions, but I could definitely see myself doing this.

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2 minutes ago, Not Jabba said:

Have you played Lilium? Lainos has said that it reflects a really rough emotional period, and I think you can feel that playing the level.

No, I haven't played it yet. But I'll check it out!

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I know personally for me, I've been growing a lot angrier lately towards the world and the rest of humanity. So in my maps, I've noticed that I am starting to add a lot more "fuck you" moments throughout the levels. In a map I just made, I added an evil trap where the player has to get a key before going through a teleporter, or else he gets trapped in a room and has to restart the level. In fact, that entire map is just pure evil. It will be in a megawad that me and a friend will release probably sometime next year, so stay tuned.

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My emotions don't reflect my mapping output, they come from ideas and inspirations on what I see and come to thought.

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2 hours ago, nxGangGirl said:

So what are you guys thoughts on emotional imput on your levels or level designing in general? I feel it is something that affects some people, but maybe not everyone.

I think this really depends on the situation. Assuming a mapper was going to create a map for a megawad that needs to fit in a specific spot in terms of gameplay, atmosphere or both, the room that allows for emotions to bleed into the design might be somewhat limited, thus emotional aspects could be a lot more subtle and less discernable for the audience, I'd imagine.

 

If we assume on the other hand that somebody simply feels like starting a map, out of context to a set, and without a general design idea in mind, the likelyhood that the map reflects on the mapper's state of mind drastically increases. But even in this case it can be difficult to "read" these things, because they may get overshadowed to some degree by said mapper's personal "gameplay-bias", of preferences in regards to visuals.

 

I think it would be interesting to try the opposite approach here: Look at a map you're familiar with, and try to guess what the mapper's emotions were during the time it was made. Or take a look at some of your own maps from different periods of time, in which you also felt different, and try to see if/where it shows.

 

Speaking for myself, during my "doodle stages" with doombuilder I didn't have any specific design goals in mind, which resulted in some weird sceneries here and there. So these are screenies of one of my earliest attempts at using DB2. It looks dreadful, but maybe you can guess what mood I was in, if not it could at least be good for shits and giggles:

 

Spoiler

Screenshot_Doom_20170507_062644.png.a068feea213c9b1b4df0d6473245129f.pngScreenshot_Doom_20170507_062721.png.13d9bdbed9a55c5d95f553914e034e8b.pngScreenshot_Doom_20170507_063135.png.ec1e0b5a45c94c75cfc441b6d6c8938c.png

 

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Many of my earlier maps came from dream design which were in turn influenced by how I felt. Essay duels for me is a prime example. I'd say feeling often has some play or factor in mapping output whether or not an author thinks so, and sometimes maps that are explicitly labelled as such can be very interesting to play.

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Most of the maps i've done never reflected an emotional state, only an objective which was to design a map in a particular way

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Unfortunately I can only design levels when I'm in a cool, "nothing more important" state. When I'm angry, the modern editor (GZDB, Eureka) interfaces only piss me off more, because they just look unfriendly and tiresome. There's something ugly and uninspiring about starting with a grid and drawing first sectors, then being greeted with default generic textures. I hate how you cannot just angrily scribble some shit, because it will simply turn into an invalid linedef blob, if not just crash the editor (see? Anger doesn't help here).

 

When I'm in love, I don't find Doom mapping to be very useful. Doom monsters and weapons don't evoke love.

 

When I'm feeling happy or even awesome, it means I probably have better, more exciting things to do than Doom.

 

Doom level design is ultimately highly rational, because you have to put enough resources and enemies for the player to make it both challenging and fun.

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Personally, if I'm ever depressed, or stressed, I simply wont map. I design levels when i'm in the mood for it, and when i'm depressed or stressed that simply isnt the right frame of mind. But, some people could use map designing as a way to cope with depression and stress, so there could very well be something behind your question that has merit..

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It's hard to work when srsly emotional. But emotions can affect the ideas behind the map.

 

Ultimately, I think everything affects everything, even if it's not always in any apparent way. You decide to take a tea break - you come back with a new idea. If you wouldn't have decided to take a tea break at that particular moment, the map might've gone in a different direction.

 

Or exactly one texture would've been different. Who knows.

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I actually can provide with an example, Ever Shrine's map02 was made when I was severely depressed and I thought it was actually a good idea to make a map in that state to see what comes out. What came out is probably the best map i've ever made, the depression since has gone away (for god knows how long), what also helped was the melancholic Jimmy midi called "Cyanide Downpour", that in itself kickstarted the idea.

 

Link to the wad here: https://www.doomworld.com/idgames/levels/doom2/Ports/d-f/evshrine

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Hmm, when I'm annoyed/irritated I feel I'm more likely to create 'shitlord-y' maps or map segments than usual, heh. Aside from that, no. If I'm feeling down, I simply won't map.

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For me, a lot. As a super emotional person who had managed to get "high" (like, when using drugs) just by watching a right movie, I can confirm that I invest a lot of my emotions into my maps. But it mostly depends on what happened beforehand.

 

If I got "rekt" by life, school, weather that day, I try to make a serene and mostly calm level, doused in shades of blue and a bit of yellow "candle" light, and make it as wide and open as possible. i often use a midi with calming sounds, chimes and all.

 

If I am feeling "retro" but not nostalgic, I try and copy vanilla Doom levels, or at least the feel of it.

 

If I am chill, I make a urban themed map while listening to bass-heavy songs with a basic rhytm. These urban maps reflect my "fantasy world" where everyone has guns and everyone can respawn until they die of old age. So yeah, trains, shops, schools, hospital, they all have to be defended from the demons from hell so we can continue shooting at each other ! :D

 

If I am excited/super-excited, heroic fantasies are a must! Slaughtermaps most likely. Or "invasion" maps, where players stick around one point while demons flood in from all sides. Or "escape" maps, where the player has to run from the "flood" of monsters (pinkies at most) until he can get to a safe spot and fire back.

 

If I am angerrryyyyyyy (or when my perpetual fury levels go critical), I make anti-slaugther maps. Aka, all the player has to do is to step in some room and the monsters get destroyed en masse by the map itself. That, or I don't map at all.

 

Thing is, I rarely map, I mostly write original fiction and a occasional fan-fic. But when I map, I design the basic area and add as much detail as possible till I get sick of it and then I throw in enemies and healthpacks.

 

EDIT: If I am feeling any diffrent than the states I have said, I simply don't map. Either I am too satisfied with myself and everything to bother with mapping, or I get so anxious and terrified I am more on a lookout to escape as soon as possible so I can't map, because that requires time.

Edited by Battle_Kirby : EDIT FOR THE EDIT GOD!

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6 hours ago, nxGangGirl said:

So what are you guys thoughts on emotional imput on your levels or level designing in general?

It's a fine-tune balance when feeling like shit but still having the drive to map. I find that emotions affect me a LOT when mapping, or at least, when starting a map and deciding on it's theme. For example, when I was depressed due to an awful job and living in a shitty house with people I didn't know, I put on some music to suit the mood (Nemertines) and made a horror map over the course of a few days, complete with jumpscares, gore and that kinda stuff. Doom always makes me enthusiastic though, so releasing it when finished wasn't too hard with just a little convincing from my doom-friends.

Alternately when I am really happy, I often decide to make more fun maps which are much more lighthearted in theme and gameplay. Evidence of this would be most of Skulldash's maps.

 

34 minutes ago, AD_79 said:

Aside from that, no. If I'm feeling down, I simply won't map.

This re-iterates what I was saying. If I'm too down I won't map. :P

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I think for me personally, the answer is 'not really'. I'm simply unable to map if I'm not anywhere between neutral and happy/positive in terms of mood, when I'm down the drive to do anything in Doom Builder is nonexistent. Pretty much everything I've made was while I was in at least a decent mood, so my entire wadography is pretty consistent in that regard.

 

EDIT: Since I sometimes add little custom bits of content like MIDIs or the odd custom texture/easter egg thing, there is definitely a reflection of what music/general pop culture I was into at the time.

Edited by Doomkid

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See if you can guess my emotional state when I made this map/midi. 

 

 

 

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I definitely noticed I was more prolific while stressed and possibly depressed. Escapist stuff. Since I ran out of ideas for doom I pretty much don't touch it.

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did anyone play Sheer Poison

I try to let my emotions, obsessions and phobias and paranoias show in my work and stave off the idea of professionalism

it helps that I've felt that I've been living in a fantasy world since halfway through 2012

 

more discussion of this if you care, I know a lot of doomers are too lighthearted to want this

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I can pretty much only make maps when I'm relaxed and feeling pretty chill about everything.

 

Too angry and/or depressed, and my attention span is too small to do more than a room at a time. Too happy/hype/energetic and I'm off doing something else anyway. So it's only within that pretty small gamut of "feeling good, but not too good" that I ever make maps.

 

3 hours ago, Battle_Kirby said:

If I am feeling "retro" but not nostalgic, I try and copy vanilla Doom levels, or at least the feel of it.

 

OH WAIT I DIDN'T KNOW RETRO WAS AN EMOTION ACTUALLY THIS IS ME ALL THE TIME EVER NVM

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Strangely, I find that whatever I'm feeling doesn't affect my levels much, as I'm usually focusing on fashioning the world to affect what the player will feel. It doesn't even seem to affect the theme of the level (although that might be somewhat due to it being Doom, where there's no "happy" theme - but brightly-lit techbases and natural/green areas are the alternative, I guess?).

16 minutes ago, Jayextee said:

OH WAIT I DIDN'T KNOW RETRO WAS AN EMOTION ACTUALLY THIS IS ME ALL THE TIME EVER NVM

SAME THO

 

(Nostalgia is an emotion. It's strange, because although it's defined as a single feeling, it can be happy, sad, anything inbetween, or its own thing entirely =| )

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I draw smaller places when I feel sad, people often think that I did this with intention to make them irritated or angry. Also,I love dark colours and dark sectors and lots of monsters in every corner,like problems which chase everyone in real life. I see some my maps like train tracks-one wrong move and everything fails into long corridor. Anyway,I think I shouldn't map when I feel negative emotions. 

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44 minutes ago, Jayextee said:

OH WAIT I DIDN'T KNOW RETRO WAS AN EMOTION ACTUALLY THIS IS ME ALL THE TIME EVER NVM

DID YOU ALSO KNOW THAT "CHILL" IS A EMOTION AS WELL?!
 

I think ppl know what retro means in this case.

Sunglasses, 90's music and bunch of anime/game references, all day & night. And on occasion a blue/yellow tracksuit :D

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I've noticed it with my shity maps, there was a time back when I was making maps like itwas.wad, temp.wad and the middle maps of that failed TPBM shit I was doing where I wasn't miserable and actually pour time and effort and care into those maps, then leading up to now everything just got plain, generic and brutish as I became miserable and entire maps and projects were just axed for being such primitive unforgiving brutery (the later levels of TPBM and anything I released in late 2016 reflect this).

 

Now I'm actively trying to fight this but change remains to be seen.

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