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Egg Boy

How do YOU start a map?

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I've recently been having trouble getting maps started. I want to make maps. I love making maps. But I just can't do it. I even have ideas for how they should start. But I can never get anything down. I like to give players an immediate goal, and a number of different places to go, but it can be very difficult to start the map in an exciting or interesting way. So let's hear it, how do you guys start a map?

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Platforming is pretty good I hear... Can also put a timer of some sort on players to push them into the map. Dangle important stuff in front of them and have them make a run with a few surprises for whatever you put there. Make getting the first weapon interesting, don't just resort to lazy "pistol that shotgunner, then shotgun the imps" kinda openings, because that rarely pulls anymore I think. You can also make players run from a stronger monster, or several ones, and provide some cover and some items along the way. Make it more difficult for people to establish a foothold, keep them moving, have them wake up lots of shit as they run around trying to make a stand.

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As usual, I start the map with a rectangle, divided into different quarters. I'm working on detailing one of them, experimenting with textures and detailing, suitable for a room or a corridor. When the quarter is ready, I replace the rest of the rectangle with it to make a symmetrical room. Having one such sample I copy it several times and experiment with new details, for example windows, doors, etc. In other copies I try to change the forms and style, increase the volume. I create new such samples and mix them with each other. And when they are accumulated enough, I peer at them, and the general style of the map and some small locations are already emerging in my head. I will design them without taking into account the gameplay, separately from each other. After trying to combine. It often happens that one location is completely different visually from the other, or is at a different altitude. Then this prompts the construction of buffer zones containing features of both locations. In the course of this work new elements of detail are involuntarily born, which require the design of new samples, mixing them with others, and so on. When the closed locations begin to delineate a plan for the future map, open sources grow between them, with their samples of detail, experiments with altitudes, etc ...


Somehow everything happens ... The main thing is to experiment with the samples. Find a successful combination of textures and details in a small form 320x320. Then put new experiments and new ...

 

The main thing - not be too involved in symmetry, it makes the map predictable and ordinary in terms of gameplay.

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Interesting visuals to hold attention. A sort of objective like hey I need to get that key, gun, or enter that very important looking door. Also explosive barrel action is always great.

 

If none of those then just making a wacky shape with some good paths will work. Maybe just making the starting square room like the old iwad maps will get you going when thinking about what to come after that opening door.

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I always have a story in mind. Often the story is more developed than what the player will be told but it is such a source of inspiration and direction.

 

So far I've done 19 levels in my current pwad and every time the start, flow and end points were completely obvious. Well, sometimes the end isn't quite so obvious and I just put one when I run out of ideas for that level, but so far having a story in mind really helps.

Edited by alowe

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Have some monsters in plain sight, and monsters-only walk-over triggers right in front of them, which move geometry (with yet more monsters on them I suppose), for a flying start.

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7 hours ago, Soundblock said:

Have some monsters in plain sight, and monsters-only walk-over triggers right in front of them, which move geometry (with yet more monsters on them I suppose), for a flying start.

One of my favourites is the walk-into-an-ambush-you-shoulda-seen-coming method, though not at the beginning but usually after an easy stretch.

Or the you-think-you're-safe-but-you're-already-in-an-ambush trick :D

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i think up a bad idea then open doom builder or something and draw thousands of linedefs and then abandon it because I thought up a refinement of the idea during that time... about four times before I start making the map I actually intend to finish

 

I can literally only map to completion when I'm pissed off about something in real life, my megaproject map is about our government condescendingly talking about rebuilding the north while letting people frack it and chop down all the trees

 

gameplay considerations come about sixth in importance

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One approach I use when setting out to build a map is to have the exit immediately obvious - either the exit is in the start room, or visible nearby. (Of course, the player must complete some objectives before being able to enter the exit area.) This allows me to think of suitable obstacles to create for the player, as s/he attempts to navigate to the exit.

 

Another approach I use is to offer the player a choice of two or more paths at or near the start area. This tends to increase the replay value of the map.

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2 hours ago, ReX said:

One approach I use when setting out to build a map is to have the exit immediately obvious - either the exit is in the start room, or visible nearby. (Of course, the player must complete some objectives before being able to enter the exit area.) This allows me to think of suitable obstacles to create for the player, as s/he attempts to navigate to the exit.

 

Another approach I use is to offer the player a choice of two or more paths at or near the start area. This tends to increase the replay value of the map.

Haha, a close but inaccessible exit is what I call a prick tease :D

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13 hours ago, ReX said:

One approach I use when setting out to build a map is to have the exit immediately obvious

 

Foreshadowing rocks in every way.

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I draw it on paper. It's a great way to get unblocked because I can go through a bunch of bad ideas in the first hour rather than blocking out just one layout, and there's no temptation to get lost in details. Also convenient after, when I can write notes down right on the paper.

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7 hours ago, zodiac said:

I draw it on paper. It's a great way to get unblocked because I can go through a bunch of bad ideas in the first hour rather than blocking out just one layout, and there's no temptation to get lost in details. Also convenient after, when I can write notes down right on the paper.

That's the kind of thing I do when on long distance flights that ban anything larger than a mobile on board. Turns a 16 hour flight into something more bearable. Pencil and paper save the day.

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