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MeetyourUnmaker

Why don't the majority of mappers plan out their creations?

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I noticed something from watching sessions of people who make map creations, they do not really plan out their creation, or have some kind of document where they detail what the gameplay of a level entails. It seems like from the sessions I've watched, that people just map randomly. The original Doom maps were based around gameplay from Tabletop sessions, correct? Why don't more mappers plan out the gameplay of their maps in a document beforehand? It would dramatically improve the pacing of it. Do you?

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because i'm not even remotely creative or talented enough to envision an entire doom map and then draw it out at the snap of a finger

 

in fact, my best maps have been ones where i essentially copied something that already existed instead of thinking of something original

usually once i have something solid established as a base, it's much easier to build off of it randomly from there

 

i'm 100% aware of how effective planning and drawing maps ahead of time can be, as when i came off of finishing my first very tiny map after months of work, a friend drew up a dm map he wanted me to make for us to play, and i managed to create it and finish it up in under 6 hours (which was pretty impressive for me)

but that doesn't change the fact that i myself cannot create, plan, envision, or draw at all :c

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Drawing up map sketches before starting in the editor is pretty common, and I do find it very helpful. I doubt that creating a design document would help most mappers very much; you can't really tell how things are going to play out and whether your ideas are going to work until you've got the rooms in front of you.

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Posted (edited)

As pointed out at the current end of this thread this was probably more common before. I think contemporary Doom mapping has become sufficiently advanced, convoluted and intricate that sketching out something beforehand has become a less efficient way of conseptualising a final result, as you might do for character concepts intended for 3D rendering, etc. I think increasingly, visualising a concept for Doom has become so mapper's own style-, resources- and skill- dependent that the best tool for trying out what you might be able to achieve is the editor itself. For example, you find the right light-, shading- and gradient- values by playing (Ribbiks) around (Ukiro) with the incremental light values and sector settings, not by hand-painting some nefarious scene (Martin) in colors and lighting that can't be fully/exactly achieved anyways. Or so I assume, I really don't know how the current masters work their magic (Skillsaw), but I've found less use for paper sketches as time has gone by anyway, trying to progress my own humble style.

Edited by Soundblock : grammar, etc

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Didn't Romero just design as he went along, designing everything from the start point ? I think I heard that in an interview with him. He is known to have photographic memory though, so that might have helped him.

 

The others did it the Tabletop way I think.

 

I myself make a broad outline of the map, never a intricate layout, no way to know how much of that actually works when I add enemies + a billion other issues might come up. The pacing issue is more related to testing the level many times over by yourself and others. I'm guessing many people don't have the luxury of having so many people to playtest it. Then there's the quality of the feedback too.

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Because it's boring to map when you already pretty much know what you're going to make. It's much more fun to just improvise since that way you can surprise yourself.

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17 minutes ago, pulkmees said:

Didn't Romero just design as he went along, designing everything from the start point ?

 

Romero at least partially sketched out some of his maps on paper. He posted some of them quite recently, though I don't have the images at hand.

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as much as I plan out my maps on paper; they never match what I end up with--it's kind of like when I make spaghetti sauce, I have a recipe but it is adjusted continuously based on ingredients, tastes, etc.

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Sometimes I draw a sketch first, sometimes I don't. But when I don't, that doesn't always mean I'm "mapping randomly" or doing it unplanned. It's possible to keep very specific plans and ideas in one's head, y'know. :P

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Planning maps out on paper is a pain on the ass and boring as hell, since I don't have a clear instance of what the map would look ingame or in an editor.

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Posted (edited)

I plan maps out in advance and sometimes even drawing what rooms look like because otherwise if I'm completely making one from scratch in editor, I tend to make a couple rooms, not know how to continue, close it, and never open it back up again.

 

Planning stuff out lets me think of ways to make the levels work overall and plan backtracking and certain battles. It also gives me a reason to go back to it because I want to see the whole thing through; I have levels I planned out years ago either drawn on paper or written down somewhere I go back to and slightly modify and plan to finish.

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I feel like it'd be a lot harder to get into the flow if you're planning on paper first. Things like being able to scroll through the textures can spark an idea for the next room/encounter as well.

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Pre sketching simply takes more time than I have, in addition to the other good reasons provided here. With the time I've got set aside for mapping, I want each moment to have tangible results. If something ends up not so great it still seems to take a lot less time simply revising it a bit.

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When I played a lot, I would have visions of completed maps, and I simply just make those. Usually though they never really were great for playing pvp on, being average or filler or sub-par, usually. After a while I just started thinking in themes and pieces, like trying to fit a puzzle together in terms of maintaining something unique/interesting in terms of layout, but also plays well (along with presenting a particular theme or aesthetic that I really want players to see, get the same feeling I had). There were some maps I sketched out beforehand, including one of @Doomkid's favourites, progduel map02: Fade (I went looking for it but seem to have chucked it out). Was interesting for me to see how the sketch draft was very different than the final product, with only the overall layout shape intact, but not its flow or variation.

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Posted (edited)

I've vacillated on the pencil-and-paper method, as seems to be the case with most mappers whose methods I know something about. Regardless, I doubt anyone generally maps "randomly," though this could be an interesting exercise (wasn't there talk of Oblique Startegies for mapping here somewhat recently?). I think "improvisationally" is closer to what you're describing. And here's the thing: for us mortal mappers, there's always an interplay of planning and improvisation, whether you're working directly with an editor or have an elaborate plan drawn up. Maybe Ribbiks, franckFrag, dobu, etc.-tier mappers have become One With the Game and don't need to play around with their maps any more than Beethoven needed to actually listen to his late music. But for the rest of us, I suspect, mapping is a long series of playful iterations, where something you planned isn't working right and needs to be rethought on the spot, or Just the Right Idea suddenly pops into your head and causes you to throw your plan out the window.

 

I think there *are* important differences between the "affordances" of pen and paper (e.g., you can lay out high-level structure and progression really quickly) vs. pure GZDoombuilder improv (e.g., you can come up with strong visual/gameplay motifs and build out organically from those). But they're ultimately each just different ways of tweaking the balance between planning and improvisation for me.

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Although mappers may opt to sketch a layout, with today's stable, fluid, flexible editors, it isn't really necessary. These days, the Doom Builder grid is as good, or better, of a sketch pad to conceptualize your map than pen and paper. 

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Because it's really hard, at least for me.

 

I would like to be able to plan and make less mistakes along the way, but I just can't so I make it up as I go.

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I have been asking myself this question more and more recently. I've lately realized that I enjoy mapping most and am the most efficient when I do have a pretty concrete plan. improvising something from start to finish feels awesome when it works - but for me it works rarely enough that I feel sort of in awe of myself in the cases when it actually does. but after reading @rdwpa's recent advice on speedmapping strategies, I've been having a lot of success textually writing out a plan for a map's gameplay before opening up doom builder. I've also been using demos on youtube of random maps pretty liberally as inspiration for gameplay setups, which feeds into this planning strategy pretty well for me

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Personally, I enjoy the flow of working randomly. I have created maps by planning, but I don't think either way is inherently superior, I think a good mapper can make a good map regardless of how they go about it.

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Posted (edited)

Well, I always do and it helps me a lot. :P
Here's an example: http://i.imgur.com/XyeN0oD.jpg

 

Not everyone needs it, though, and you only know that it will actually work after you get the level constructed. For example, stuff like monster placement only works after many playtest sessions. (some major setpieces can be planned out on paper, though). More experienced mappers probably have much more easier time creating and visualizing things from their heads, I guess

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Posted (edited)

my planning process is usually opening notepad, writing down the key textures i wanna use and a few iconoclasic mottos like "Keys suck", "Commander Keens in plain sight/Arch-viles behind fake walls", "have a trap that teleports the player into the middle of a lava field", "do whatever the opposite of power metal is", "place Evil Eyes where you should place shell boxes" etc, but the more progress I make on the map, the more those ideals fade, the map swiftly normalizing towards fighting revenants and arachnotrons with the SSG

 

plus frankly I can't speedmap at all - enough days pass between me starting a map and finishing it that my whole approach will change several times along the way

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Posted (edited)

I do make a sketch... in my head. I just think about the basic concepts of the map (like what the map is about, the theme, the objectives and key/door placement, etc.), It's better to leave the rest up to the imagination and make things on the fly.

The only time in my life I actually decided to draw a sketch in paper of the whole map before opening doom builder was ArmageDoom's Map02 (the sewer level), needless to say its the shittiest map in the wad and the "square corridor to square room" nature of it makes it look like something out of Wolfenstein.

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Posted (edited)

This thread is the equivalent of questioning why musicians don't write all their music out first before actually playing a note.

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6 minutes ago, Scotty said:

This thread is the equivalent of questioning why musicians don't write all their music out first before actually playing a note.

 

Not quite, sketching out maps on paper is an effective way of planning as it's something visual that you can then turn into something that's also visual. A more accurate equivalent for music would be jamming out a melody or a chord progression on something like a piano or guitar then turning that into a fuller arrangement if needed (I did this for The Given's soundtrack)

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14 minutes ago, Eris Falling said:

 

Not quite, sketching out maps on paper is an effective way of planning as it's something visual that you can then turn into something that's also visual. A more accurate equivalent for music would be jamming out a melody or a chord progression on something like a piano or guitar then turning that into a fuller arrangement if needed (I did this for The Given's soundtrack)

 

Whenever i played in a band in the past most of the stuff we wrote was born from jamming (or spontaneously expanding on a raw idea) rather than anything really meticulously planned, and when i map i just try out ideas and see what works in what feels like a very similar mindset to me... hence the comparison. I guess it could be different for others though.

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16 hours ago, Big Ol Billy said:

I've vacillated on the pencil-and-paper method, as seems to be the case with most mappers whose methods I know something about. Regardless, I doubt anyone generally maps "randomly," though this could be an interesting exercise (wasn't there talk of Oblique Startegies for mapping here somewhat recently?).

 

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20 hours ago, pulkmees said:

Didn't Romero just design as he went along, designing everything from the start point ? I think I heard that in an interview with him. He is known to have photographic memory though, so that might have helped him.

From what I recall from interviews that I've seen, his process was to design an area first. Apparently, he would have some sort of sketch to start from. Then he would play the area he just designed and see how it worked. Then he would tweak the design based on his playtest and test the new design. He would repeat this process of playtest, tweak design to fix issues in playtest, until he was satisfied.

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Because its more about the feel of things rather than making a map. How does the map feel when you play it?

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