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t3hPoundcake

Help on detailing my geometry

Question

Obviously anything that hinders gameplay is going to lose it's appeal quickly for the player. I personally have a hatred for rooms of cubicles/computers in the middle of the floor - I believe the middle of the room should be open unless there is something there designed for a reason (dodging an Arch Vile or Cyberdemon).

 

I often end up mapping in a unique way I think. I design one area, the spawn for example, and then detail the shit out of it until I'm happy, and then move on with only a limited idea of how my map is going to progress at that point. The downside of this is that my rooms end up being all squares, lots of good looking detail mind you, but the rooms have no real interesting geometry usually. I'm very OCD when it comes to dimensions and texture sizes etc so I struggle making rounded edges or rounded stairs, everything is at right angles. I absolutely CANNOT force myself to map like John Romero and do random angles or weird sized rooms. I just need some tricks that will make my square rooms more enjoyable to play. I can do round rooms, rounded corners, etc but I'm hoping for other tips here. Thanks.

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4 hours ago, t3hPoundcake said:

I just need some tricks that will make my square rooms more enjoyable to play.

1. Make rooms rectangular, instead of just square. [Unless, of course, you meant "square" in a generic, orthogonal manner.]

2. Make rooms that are L-shaped.

3. Make rooms that are cross-shaped.

4. Make rooms that are a combination of the above (e.g. swastika-shaped).

5. Use corridors to connect larger rooms.

6. Make corridors branch out in different directions, and connect them to different destinations.

7. Have narrower rooms connect to wider ones.

 

All of the above can be done with strictly right-angled walls. In addition, you can:

 

1. Create walled courtyards, where non-orthogonal walls do NOT seem unnatural.

2. Create "natural" outdoor areas with rocky ledges and columns, where orthogonal walls would actually seem unnatural.

3. Create caverns, etc, where you must also move away from strictly right-angled walls.

 

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Two thoughts:

 

Not to suggest that this is what you're doing, but be mindful not to get too hung up on how the level looks from a top-down 2D perspective in the editor; things like repetitive room geometry and orthogonality stick out a lot more in the editor than they do in the game, while things that make a significant contribution to the way an area looks and feels - like the relations between its parts on the y axis - are not represented.

 

A nice thing about visuals is that they can come for free with structure, but equally structural limitations can have a limiting effect on visuals. One such limitation lies in confining playspaces to straightforward rooms and corridors. If you're comfortable with orthogonal geometry, but want to implement it in more interesting ways, perhaps try thinking about levels less as collections of rooms, and more as single interconnected spaces, composed of many smaller intersecting spaces. Try drawing a biggish square, and carving it up into smaller shapes, as blocky and orthogonal as you like (tetrominoes are good); you'll be able pull any number of interesting playspaces out of this, just by switching to 3D-mode and altering the floor/ceiling heights of the various sectors in relation to one another; take note of the way changes in one sector can affect the way the broader space looks and feels. (I'm not suggesting you should actually build a level like this - it's just an exercise to get you thinking in a different mode.)

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I've been experimenting with the mirror symmetry technique, it is great for us OCD types in that you get interesting map geometry while preserving the pleasing symmetrical nature.

 

1) Draw a sector with some random alcoves and angles

mirror-1.png.96fff3c20bd2cbc94cfc7fe7251bb5a9.png

 

2) Duplicate, mirror vertically and merge

mirror-2.png.634dbb948121a2083806cfc93d880a10.png

 

3) Duplicate, mirror horizontally and merge

mirror-3.png.298e062ce5039a6dd3edfa07405704a0.png

 

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@beast: Nicely done!

 

What I've found, however, is that proper texturing is a challenge in the type of geometry you've created. Non-orthogonal lines tend to have "odd" lengths, and typically do not fit into the 16, 32, 64, 128, or 256-wide scheme within DooM. I'm not suggesting that proper texturing cannot be done; just that it becomes a challenge.

 

And if you try to create angled lines that fit into the texture dimension scheme of DooM, then many of the orthogonal lines are not laid out on the grid.

 

You can't win, for losing.

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1 hour ago, ReX said:

@beast: Nicely done!

 

What I've found, however, is that proper texturing is a challenge in the type of geometry you've created. Non-orthogonal lines tend to have "odd" lengths, and typically do not fit into the 16, 32, 64, 128, or 256-wide scheme within DooM. I'm not suggesting that proper texturing cannot be done; just that it becomes a challenge.

 

And if you try to create angled lines that fit into the texture dimension scheme of DooM, then many of the orthogonal lines are not laid out on the grid.

 

You can't win, for losing.

In those cases, what I've found works well (sometimes better than others, depending on the surrounding textures) is to break up the texture. Some ways to do this:

  1. Make a small portion, such as a corner, out of a different texture, like METAL or SHAWN2 or something like that. That way, it looks like you have a "support bracket" on a corner, and you can just align everything on 1 side of the corner without having to worry about the other.
  2. Similarly to suggestion 1, make a small alcove that is inset slightly and add one of the light textures to the back of the alcove. Then align one side of the alcove essentially independent of the other. The added benefit here is that you can play with the light levels, flickering, etc.
  3. In a more natural outdoor setting, the same effect could be achieved with water/slime/blood falls.

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It's difficult to offer advice here without a better idea of what you're currently doing and what you're finding unsatisfactory about it. So if you can, post some screenies :)

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14 minutes ago, Pegleg said:
  1. Make a small portion, such as a corner, out of a different texture, like METAL or SHAWN2 or something like that. That way, it looks like you have a "support bracket" on a corner, and you can just align everything on 1 side of the corner without having to worry about the other.
  2. Similarly to suggestion 1, make a small alcove that is inset slightly and add one of the light textures to the back of the alcove. Then align one side of the alcove essentially independent of the other. The added benefit here is that you can play with the light levels, flickering, etc.

Ha, ha! Yes, this is precisely what I do when I have lines of odd length. Thanks for providing succinct examples.

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Posted (edited)

I think it's best to find a middle ground between all right angles and "random" angles (in particular, random angles will give you a real headache when you try to add detailing later). You can make just about anything you want with a combination of 90- and 135-degree angles, plus some smoothing-out when you want a circular structure, or more random angles for cave sections and other natural formations. Example:

 

G2ueY1Q.png

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2 hours ago, durian said:

It's difficult to offer advice here without a better idea of what you're currently doing and what you're finding unsatisfactory about it. So if you can, post some screenies :)

 

https://imgur.com/a/s5xBD

 

Here's an imgur link to a short album with some descriptions of my areas on the map. I feel like I do great texture work but I can't create interesting geometry to follow up on it. Am I overthinking it? Will square rooms at right angles be just as good looking as weird crazy geometry if textured correctly?

 

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Layout seems nice, maybe try play with light gradient or add some sort of outside area? Windows with some landscape often makes maps better. 

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1 hour ago, t3hPoundcake said:

 

https://imgur.com/a/s5xBD

 

Here's an imgur link to a short album with some descriptions of my areas on the map. I feel like I do great texture work but I can't create interesting geometry to follow up on it. Am I overthinking it? Will square rooms at right angles be just as good looking as weird crazy geometry if textured correctly?

 

 

Nothing wrong with that geometry IMO. Everyone has their style and I see enough detail and height variation in those screenshots. To answer subjectively: yes, square rooms are just as good as weird rooms. It's all about how they fit together, for example consciously design rooms to be revisited by the player, and ensuring there is at least one element in each room that draws the player's gaze, but not too many that they steal focus from each other.

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2 hours ago, t3hPoundcake said:

 

https://imgur.com/a/s5xBD

 

Here's an imgur link to a short album with some descriptions of my areas on the map. I feel like I do great texture work but I can't create interesting geometry to follow up on it. Am I overthinking it? Will square rooms at right angles be just as good looking as weird crazy geometry if textured correctly?

 

I agree with @beast, I don't see any problem with the geometry of those rooms. There's nothing inherently wrong with a square room so long as it isn't a blank square room. You have different textures, height differences, windows, grates, etc. I second @Myst.Haruko's suggestions. Otherwise, don't get too wrapped up with regard to switching up the geometry because you think your levels are too angular. I think what you're doing, and how you're doing it, is fine for the type of level you seem to be aiming.

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Especially for oudoor areas, instead of long straight linedefs I like to randomize short linedefs 


 

Spoiler

 

d7oP6NE.jpg

 

e2hmAJE.jpg

 

 

for that chaotic look.

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1 hour ago, Kappes Buur said:

Especially for oudoor areas, instead of long straight linedefs I like to randomize short linedefs 


 

  Hide contents

 

d7oP6NE.jpg

 

e2hmAJE.jpg

 

 

for that chaotic look.

NEAT. I haven't really used GZDoomBuilder, I hear it has built in tools for doing complex geometry and this randomize feature is pretty cool as well, maybe I'll switch over.

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5 hours ago, t3hPoundcake said:

 

https://imgur.com/a/s5xBD

 

Here's an imgur link to a short album with some descriptions of my areas on the map. I feel like I do great texture work but I can't create interesting geometry to follow up on it. Am I overthinking it? Will square rooms at right angles be just as good looking as weird crazy geometry if textured correctly?

 

I like your texturing in these shots, very clean look.

 

Honestly I'm not a architecture/detailing-oriented mapper, but basic things such as learning about texture banding can add some nice, if basic, architecture to an area and will help get you started. In addition, you seem ready to break out of the orthogonal mindset. Don't fight it; try to figure out some good nonorthogonal angles to work with and add them to your repertoire. As Not Jabba said, 45° angles alone will add a lot to a map's design. A set of angles I found that work really well together is basically just this, but turned to be totally nonorthogonal; 2:1 and 1:3 are great ratios for vertices to make good 45° angles relative to one-another, and combining these with some tasteful orthogonal lines makes things look wild and beautiful.

 

As for general architecture, my recommendation would be to check out mappers like Mechadon, Ed, Skillsaw, Ribbiks, Antares031, Xaser, and others that really make some awesome architecture for their maps. Play their maps, find stuff that looks really cool, then open it in the editor and study how it was made. I'd also like to note on the more minimalistic side of detailing/architecture: rdwpa is a mapper who uses a mapping approach of detailing through architecture, and his maps really pull off the minimalist aesthetic well, while also being totally accomodating to the gameplay side of things; a fun romp through an aesthetically pleasing area makes for a good time :)

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Something that really helped me produce one of my most interesting maps was just starting with a large, unusual, un-orthogonal shape and splitting it up into chunks on the sides, using that as the entire map. It's definitely an interesting approach that can move you away from just boring old squares and rectangles.

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