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SOSU

A little level design tips thread.

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If you're going for a realistic feel, you can try making all actions reversible. From a practical standpoint it doesn't make sense to have one-time triggers. If there is a button that closes the door there should be one that opens it as well. If a bridge can be lowered there must be a way to rise it back too. Imagine if you had a S1 light switch in your living room.

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1 hour ago, Jayextee said:

There's a little thing I've been doing (though not exclusively -- sometimes you just can't) in my maps that I feel helps the 'readability' of them whilst playing: I like to use a darker ceiling flat than the floor flat in general. From a 'realism' point of view, it makes sense to have the underside of any structure in shadow, and a darker ceiling helps convey that illusion. But also (given the way gravity essentially binds you to the floor) it makes more sense for the floor to be more visible than the ceiling, as that's the one you'll be navigating.

This is a smart thing I wish I'd thought of before.

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5 hours ago, scifista42 said:

... include bathrooms with sector toilets. :P

Doom Core, Reverie and Eternally Yours all have at least one. :D

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8 hours ago, Jayextee said:

the use of colour and contrast to highlight something important:

 

 

It took me way too long to realize how important contrast was. Still, realizing its importance doesn't translate to me having the skill to properly utilize it - another thing that makes me admire simple pre-'98 maps. In the absence of more advanced tools and ports and hardware, this was one of the only visual tools you had to make a scene pop.

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22 hours ago, Vorpal said:

 

It took me way too long to realize how important contrast was. Still, realizing its importance doesn't translate to me having the skill to properly utilize it - another thing that makes me admire simple pre-'98 maps. In the absence of more advanced tools and ports and hardware, this was one of the only visual tools you had to make a scene pop.

Experience is key although some people just have a feel for it. It's similar to the sprite art in Metal Slug, I've marveled at the way those are animated.

 

This is a bit off-topic but I think quite a few people here will enjoy this GDC talk by Mark Ferrari which pretty much deals with doing more with less:

 

 

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53 minutes ago, BadLuckBurt said:

Experience is key although some people just have a feel for it. It's similar to the sprite art in Metal Slug, I've marveled at the way those are animated.

 

This is a bit off-topic but I think quite a few people here will enjoy this GDC talk by Mark Ferrari which pretty much deals with doing more with less:

 

 

I only said "design" tips and not "level design' tips so you arent off topic at all ;)

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On 7/30/2017 at 2:35 PM, Benjogami said:

Which reminds me: in the "things you hate about mapping" thread, I was surprised by the number of people that hate playtesting. Make maps that are fun for you to test!!! If you do, they will surely be fun for others to play.

Having played many maps of different types and styles, one thing that I've noticed is that if there was mention of multiple playtesters in the text file, etc. then generally the map would run much more smoothly and I could really enjoy it. there are exceptions to this but in most cases maps that are playtested to tend to play better for others. ^-^

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Wherever it gives; For a doom level I like to think of the non incidental encounters like a string to avoid repetition. 1 pop up monster, 2 hidden compartments 3 teleportation monsters back to 1 pop up monster etc -  obviously I have yet to try my hands at completely non linear maps here. I often try to do visual cues ("show don't tell" is sacred) - orange lights means doors are non functional, then I stick to that rule in a level.

 

to be edited ad infinitum.

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Step 1: Remove barons

 

Something that helped me progress with Doom level design was to forsake realism to a degree. Just let your Doom levels be Doom levels. Getting hung up on realistic details will slow you down.

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4 hours ago, JPL said:

I'm not nearly as experienced a WAD author as many folks here...

...says the actual professional level designer. :P

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In addition to all these useful tips -play maps. Play loads of fucking maps, and find mappers you like, then play more of their stuff, figure out exactly what it is you like about it, then get those maps open in the editor and try and figure out how they made the thing you like. That way you'll learn how to make stuff that you actually enjoyed playing yourself. There's no point knowing theoretical mapping tricks and such if you don't know how you want to apply it.

Edited by Scotty

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  • Always show the players where to use a key before they get that key
  • Always make it clear what a switch is doing (unless it's a secret). This can be done multiple ways. Show the players directly what a switch is doing (opening a door, lowering a floor etc.); show it indirectly, like having close and remote bars of the same style lower with one switch; through sound, although that will put players playing without sound or a hearing impairment at a disadvantage
  • Teach the player idioms you're using in your map early on. For example doors that only open from the other side could have another color than regular doors.
  • Try to avoid backtracking (i.e. having to go back the exactly same way you came after picking up a key or pressing a switch). If you can't avoid it try to spice it up a little with new monsters (like monster closets opening or teleporting them in). Note that this does not include revisiting areas. That's a good thing.
  • Try to place doors and stairs and the likes at angles that are not aligned perfectly horizontal or vertical once in a while. That doesn't mean to use crazy angles all the time, even placing a stair at a 45° angle can work wonders in how a map feels

 

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In regards to playtesting, always do a no-monsters/iddqd test for functionality after making a change to your map. There's a high chance that something won't play out as intended and it wastes time to pistol start and play legit. After making sure everything works as intended, then test for gameplay balance.

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Outdoor areas are great to add to a map.  Not only will it add contrast, but it will change an area drastically from something looking cramped to suddenly feeling open.  Be aware of your sector heights when making outdoor areas though.  Make sure your indoor structures do not exceed the height of your outdoor areas to prevent the ceiling(s) of your structures disappearing into the sky.  Basically, make your outdoor areas the tallest part of your map.

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Barons of Hell slows down the action(way to much hp) if they are not allowed to infight. I typically never use them in my maps, preferring Hell Knights instead. Speaking of which - I realized yesterday that a hell knight and a chaingunner is a good team, because if you are skilled you can maneuver them into infighting with each other.

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I came here to say just how much I appreciate all of the very informative posts so far. This thread has been tremendously helpful and something I check often. I regretfully don't have any tips to contribute myself as I'm still pretty inexperienced and wouldn't be of much help, but a big thank you to those who gave their thoughts on the topic.

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