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I'm working on my first map, and I keep getting sucked into the black hole of detailing, texturing, etc. I know that should be done last, but what should be done first?? When I sit down to work on my map, what is top priority?
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Theres nothing wrong with detailing early. I do my areas all at once, Ill build the area, then do the detailing because I build encounters around the detailing. Nothing wrong with what you're doing.
The reason I keep stressing that detailing should be done later down the line is simply because a higher density of sectors can make editing more difficult or even tedious later on. That's not to say that you can't do any visual polish earlier.
For instance, if you have a couple rooms that you think are done in the sense that they aren't going to get touched anymore, there's nothing wrong with detailing those if you want to have some variety while working on your map.
When I have a room in place, and the mechanics work, I usually also do what I call "minor detailing". Sectors get a basic but distinct shape and the textures I want to have there are also something I put in place relatively eary, so I always have a reminder there as to what I want things to be like when I return to that section later on, while it also provides a sense of atmosphere during test runs. Detailing a functional room that only requires minor gameplay editing, if at all, isn't inherently bad.
Also, if you have rooms that allow for a look outside of the playable area, there's nothing wrong with doing more intricate details there early, since these details won't get in your way when you start working on gameplay elements.
Everybody's different, so is our approach to certain things. Personally I found detailing to be a lot more enjoyable when I have fun with the gameplay that is already there, while it also works the other way around: When the rooms don't look all bland and ugly, the gameplay is more enjoyable to put in place and test, for that matter. Detailing is usually kept for later for practical reasons, but that doesn't mean your entire map should looke all the same until it's fun to play.