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Matthias

How do you make maps?

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I've been creating maps for doom-engine's games since I was a child. I started with "Wadauthor"...

 

And I get much more better since then I guess... But I feel stuck recently, because I do the maps in the same way as always.

 

So I wonder - how do YOU make your maps?

 

Do you just start or you think about the design/layout first? Do you even make some draft on paper or something? Is there any preparations or you just choose topic and start to put the sectors together to get some result? And is the result as it was in your head before or it's completely different?

 

When I play megawads like Valiant or Acient Aliens, I really wonder how it's possible to make so complex and professional wads with so much details.

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I remember all the old Doom tools - I preferred Waded but WadAuthor definitely rings a bell.

 

I have always wanted to use a more elaborate method to design my maps, but I have to admit that for the ones I have made so far I just mapped along and then recombined these "map artifacts".

A good partial approach but using only this method may mostly come down to being lazy and therefor having a rather fragmented "big picture" of ones work... which makes it hard to have work unleash its full potential.

 

So in essence I have a vague idea of a whole, start off with lots of visual testing various floor/wall combinations which set the mood. Lots of it depends on the feel I get of the current "mental impression" of the map in progress.

Then building/chiseling singular environments as I go along - imagineing the situations, impressions, actions, etc.

Kinda like Columbo thinking about the player. I fine tune and reconnect according to this until I feel satisfied.

 

What I have witnessed after some time of mapping is a kind of staleness creeping in where the designs may get rather functional, boring and shallow. It's the moment where one has to reset, scale down the established "manufacturing mode" and concentrate on the initial fascination which makes such "undertakings" great and unique. This of course does not only pertain to mapping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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23 hours ago, Matthias said:

So I wonder - how do YOU make your maps?

I just imagine the world or area which I just trying to recreate. No paper drawings or some special preparations (except texture packs and decorate packs).

 

And mostly results looks like what I imagined.

 

P.S.: I saw a lot of dreams where I'm playing some level wads but they doesn't exist. I'm thinking to recreate them by using my memory...

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Sometimes go in with a vague idea. Mostly an idea of how it plays rather than looks, looks are secondary to the layout (at least for me) but still important. Basically just build as you go and try to imagine "what would be a fun way to mix it up" either in appearance or playstyle. Throw a new trap in there. Use a different monster. Ect.

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Mostly "getting inspired" by all the good maps, and also while playing games other than Doom, I usually try to recreate stuff but at the same time add my own touch to it, different theme, altered sections ... etc, although I rarely release maps I work on, and even when I do I'm not 100% confident of how they will turn out.

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Most times I start with a general idea like "Valley with multiple buildings within a mountain range". Then I add details - just in my mind - like "nukage river between buildings" or "large, dark area with crates in one building".

This is where I start. After that I sometimes make some test areas to choose textures and then simply start mapping, without any detailed plan.

Of course this sometimes ends in situations where I have to remap some larger areas and it all could have been prevented by just making some minor scribbles. But for now I don't seem to become any wiser in that regard. ;-) 

Sometimes those maps end a lot different from what I was imagining in the first place. But generally I am quite happy with the result.

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Do any of you guys sketch these ideas out on paper before starting up the editor - thinking about the map as a logical route with skirmish-, puzzle- and trap sections?

 

 

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I used to draw Doom levels when I was a kid, and Commander Keen levels and Jetpack levels. It was a lot of fun, even if I never got around to actually building them.

 

Now I just draw a few sectors and beat my face against the keyboard until I'm happy with it. This rarely works out.

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On 20/2/2018 at 8:25 PM, Royal_Sir said:

I usually make maps using my computer.

 

I dunno about the rest of y'all though.

what?

i always used my toaster to make my doom maps.

what are you talking about?

Edited by DanielAlexander

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I start with as detailed a sketch as possible; writing down textures to use, monsters, items, trap ideas etc; then I go into the editor and duplicate the sketch as best as I am able until I hit a creative wall.   I stop there, print out what the map looks like or the section I'm working on and then use the printout to draw out my ideas on.   Go back to the editor and work off the new sketches.  Rinse, repeat.

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Once I have a theme in my head, I just build the map as I go to fit that theme (or whatever rules there are if it’s a community project). I usually troll around Realm 667 looking for assets, which also can inform some of the design choices I make. 

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20 minutes ago, Szymanski said:

I usually doodle something in 3d

o,o Never heard of people sketching Doom maps in 3d. Pictures please!

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I generally try to come up with some kind of encounter first, before laying down the geometry and detailing. Having a rough idea of where the enemies will be coming from, what the player can use as cover, and where I can throw down obligatory pain sectors gives me a sense of purpose behind drawing the lines in GZDB. Basically, I try to make a series of fights that I enjoy, and then detail around them to make them look cool.

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On 2/21/2018 at 0:46 AM, _bruce_ said:

Do any of you guys sketch these ideas out on paper before starting up the editor - thinking about the map as a logical route with skirmish-, puzzle- and trap sections?

I like to always do that. It really helps me having a predetermined plan and generally following it, with some random additions here and there.

 

Most of the time, I grab a paper and either force myself to think of a cool room or I get an idea (it comes as a flash in my mind) and then I sketch, as best as I can, while thinking if it is viable in the Doom engine.

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Im not the best mapper in the world, but generally for every map i make i envision a general theme about the location and feel i want to build, if it's an open map, or it's claustrophobic, then try to visualize in my mind some of the main rooms for the map and after setting a general idea of how the level it's gonna flow, and from then on i just start building trying to keep the theme and flow that i set out to make

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On 1/1/2018 at 4:03 PM, DeXiaZ said:

P.S.: I saw a lot of dreams where I'm playing some level wads but they doesn't exist. I'm thinking to recreate them by using my memory...

Funny you should mention this, because I also used to see dreams about running around in Doom wads that don't exist. Only I haven't exactly contemplated recreating them from memory, because the layouts were frankly 1994 wad levels of bad. :P

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11 minutes ago, MFG38 said:

Funny you should mention this, because I also used to see dreams about running around in Doom wads that don't exist. Only I haven't exactly contemplated recreating them from memory, because the layouts were frankly 1994 wad levels of bad. :P

I'm really want to recreate some dream-maps due to their quality. I remember 2 maps which are reminds something like "Alien Vendetta". That's not so bad, I think x)

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My process for a mapset I'm working on is basically just doodling it out on graph paper, then I put it together in GZDoom Builder.

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On 2/20/2018 at 5:40 PM, Stocki said:

Most times I start with a general idea like "Valley with multiple buildings within a mountain range". Then I add details - just in my mind - like "nukage river between buildings" or "large, dark area with crates in one building".

This is where I start. After that I sometimes make some test areas to choose textures and then simply start mapping, without any detailed plan.

Of course this sometimes ends in situations where I have to remap some larger areas and it all could have been prevented by just making some minor scribbles. But for now I don't seem to become any wiser in that regard. ;-) 

Sometimes those maps end a lot different from what I was imagining in the first place. But generally I am quite happy with the result.

This is like exactly what I do. I often have hideous geometry as a place marker to remember my general idea. Sometimes it changes. Sometimes I put some monsters or other things in to remind me of a specific counter I have in mind. Basically, I go from general to specific but I give myself reminders of specifics.

 

I also plan my key progression on Excel with something like: "gr/gb, ur+ub, gy, uy." That would indicate a key progression of get red key OR get blue key (and then the other), then use red AND use blue key simultaneously, then get yellow key, then use yellow key. 

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First I decide on a theme/style (goth, tech, surreal etc).

Then I make a room/area totally on the go with (usually) no idea or vision beforehand.

I usually decide on what size I want to make the map before I start, but I guess in 50% of the cases I end up with a bigger or smaller one.

Then I decide on the main textures for the map.

Then I just go on with mapping and the ideas just comes to me while I work (a reason many of my maps end up bigger than planned).

Gameplay is added at the end and is based on the architecture and layout, not the other way around. A reason for why most of my maps suck.

 

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I usually listen to midi's and think about what kind of maps I can theme off them. Then I usually take my time and make isolated rooms based on the theme, connecting them with halls and smaller rooms.

 

I don't really plan anything out aside from some rooms where big fights happen. I often have problems with architecture though.

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I mess around with an editor until I create something that isn't steaming hot garbage.

 

I then whack some enemies, guns, ammo and health packs in it.

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I usually start out with a theme or concept, like "dark castle-like area with lightning" or "fiery temple" or "techbase in mountains with crazy lightning".  That becomes the overall plan for my map.  If I have any specific fights I want to do, I put a basic description of them down on a whiteboard I keep next to my computer.

 

From there I start designing rooms, almost always starting with the start area.  Each room is also themed - "vertical-oriented combat", "pretty hallway just meant to connect areas", "arachnotrons as turrets on high alcoves while the rest of the combat is in a pit", "room based on a sound-oriented trap", "as much 3d combat as I can fit", etc.  From there I do a basic layout, usually putting in just a few details.  I then test it to see if it feels like it'll work, tweaking the design as I need.  Sometimes I fill it with temporary monsters at this phase to better test the design.

 

Then I go to town with detailing and lighting.

 

From there I move onto the next room, always keeping my overall theme (and any long-term map plans, like "this needs to lead up to a battle I already planned out for the yellow key") in mind as I go.

 

I usually do some testing and balancing as I go.  Not doing so, I found out, is much harder on me.  This is the same reason I detail as I go.

 

When the map is pretty much finished, I start testing the heck out of it.  To balance difficulties, I expect to die 6+ times on UV and feel somewhat pressed for ammo or health.  On HMP, I expect to die at most once or twice and worry only about health.  On HNTR I expect to not die at all, finish with 75%+ health, and never feel like I need to worry about health or ammo.  I also record the amount of ammo, health, and armor I have each time I finish it, averaging it to get a better feel for the level's ultimate difficulty.

 

Then I let it sit a day or two, then go back and test it one last time on UV.

 

That's my basic workflow.  Obviously I adjust it as I need, like recently when I left an less important part of a room (it was just to present a switch) unfinished in Umbra of Fate while I worked on something else.

 

EDIT: Oh yeah, some general rules of thumb I go with: Corners should almost always have something in them or be angled.  Never switch textures on the floor/ceiling/walls unless there's a "border" texture in-between them.  Doors need frames.  Ceilings should have varied height to give a better sense of 3d.  Light always needs to come from a source.  Lighting takes precedence over detail.

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I usually start out with an idea for an introduction, setting the theme and such, or an idea for a specific triggered event or scenario. If the start turns out good, then I get inspired and start adding lots of stuff. Then, I test the map in chocorenderlimits, and delete or rearrange half of it due to HOMS and VPOS. (Visplane explorer is a nice plugin, what about a hom explorer? =) After getting about 60-75% of the map done, I quit and start another one next time I feel like mapping. :D

 

I probably got half a megawad by now, and that's not 15 levels, but 32 half-baked ones. And several "unreleasables".

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