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About StoneFrog

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  1. I was born in '93 so I count as a millennial, but just chipping in that I've always had a lot of fondness for modding games of the late 90's/turn of the century. I used to be into RPGMaker2000, with all of those ripped tilesets and MIDI music, then moved on to bigger and better things like Half-Life. So I didn't actually grow up with Doom (got started around 2009), but for me it captures the era of the kinds of games I grew up with and loved to study. But I just love all the mental and creative exercise, pre-visualization and whatnot, that's enabled by working with an engine that's so easy to mod for. You fill in a sector or delete some linedefs, and all kinds of new ideas come to you. I appreciate that more than ever now, in fact, I'm probably spoiled by it.
  2. It's tricky. I also used to go room by room, fully detailing and putting in monsters, and never got anywhere. Then I tried the opposite approach - beginning with what I call a "paper edit" (describing the map, both thematically and the flow and important encounters) verbally on paper, drawing a rough layout, and then working it out in Doom Builder. But then I get too reluctant to begin adding things, even though in the case of Doom, a lot of the level's naturalness comes from you being driven onward by fighting monsters. And I rarely adhere to that paper layout too closely, anyway. If you ever get stuck with that layout stuff though, I suggest changing the negative space. Make more sectors in between areas or something.
  3. +1 for loving the look of that layout. I already feel the urge to start a new map of my own. You could try filling in some of those empty spaces with new sectors, creating some low canal/water areas with open sky. Although, that may detract from the fast-paced feel I'm getting from this, if you make it too complex. Great work!
  4. This is too much. But I guess that's what I get for preferring Plutonia. That guy talks funny.
  5. I feel that way sometimes. But greater opportunities for use of upbeat MIDI music = greater nostalgia for Doom. Didn't you used to post on Bethsoft and the DaggerXL boards?
  6. Jimi- Really sublime aesthetic there. Low contrast textures and a breezy, open sky with a captivating color to it. Atmosphere reminds me of so many early 90's games, even Daggerfall in a way. It only took months of errantly adding random things to the outer regions of the map to avoid working on the rest of it, but I've finally filled in the center and developed an aesthetic I'm fairly proud of:
  7. Ha, you can't win if you keep comparing your map to those of others. My earliest maps were too linear and segmented, and now I think my current one is too open and aimless, even though at face value I have played and enjoyed many maps that are clearly no more strictly organized than my own. A lot of it is just excessive self-criticism.
  8. Plutonia 2, basically. A high level of connectivity - not in the sense that you're in a wide open arena all the time, but that you could run circuits throughout the map and through all sorts of overlapping buildings, height levels and enemy encounters, constantly feeling "exposed" in a sense. I also prefer simplicity in detailing, with general large-scale architecture and interesting texture usage as the main source of visual interest.
  9. I'm another oldschool RPG fan and there's always just been a certain "expansive" quality to Heretic's sound design, music, and levels that I find immensely compelling, a sense that there's always much more than you ever actually see. It's a shame that the later episodes tend to have relatively simplistic/gimmick-based levels. Something about maps like The Glacier and Halls of Fear feel positively cozy to me, all the warm/earthy colors of the architecture and precious lights against those deep menacing red and blue skies. I consider kristus' Curse of D'Sparil PWAD an exceptional example of bringing the gameplay flow of Heretic up to that "vast" feeling I've always gotten from the game's atmosphere and architecture. Mind you, this is basically the only Heretic PWAD I've ever played because there seem to be so few of them with serious effort behind them.
  10. I've always loved Heretic's garish color palette. It has this (for lack of a more precise term) radiant quality to it that reminds me of 70's and 80's fantasy camp, before everything became "majestic" and digitally painted. But Doom is definitely tops. I never liked Hexen, atmospheric though it may be, the level design and pacing never did anything for me. I love older RPGs and adventure games, but in the Doom engine it always just struck me as somewhat depressing to play in spite of how technically impressive it was. However, I'm still intrigued by the idea of a more ambitious and open-ended Hexen PWAD.
  11. I wonder how much of it has to do with our expectation towards older games. Anybody who's ever attempted to do high resolution textures for DOS and Win9x-era games has probably noticed that it can be very difficult to remain faithful to the originals. On one end, you have people who think that the higher resolution means there ought to be a higher level of "realism", which means creating lots of visual noise through grungey overlays - this helps fill in what feels to be bare and underdetailed space you never had in the low res originals, but it can tile pretty badly and usually never looks good. Other people try and sort of interpret the pixels into a sort of painted style, but I've seen very few people do that particularly well rather than it looking borderline cartoony. At the same time, I think that "small" scale detail in Doom, clutter and 3D computers lining the halls, is distracting. I wonder if it has to do with the fact I never play the game at a resolution higher than 640x480, and there's some sort of subconscious ideal proportion between the amount of distinct visual elements on the screen versus the total screen real estate. Another thing to consider is when abstract, architecturally-based maps began to look "off". I think a lot of it simply has to do with the switch from brush-based engines to entire rooms being virtually a single model, something which I feel has considerably hindered level design because people are no longer working with "low-level" building blocks. We seemed to get away with making games look more detailed but still abstract up until 2003 or so. Many newer games, stylistically, have too much visual noise for my liking. As an avid Elder Scrolls fan, I want to give the example of how jagged and exaggerated the proportions are in Morrowind's characters, versus Oblivion which had an extremely "inflated" and bulky look. As with texturing, maybe a higher polygon budget means less attention given to the placement of each, and so things don't seem as resolutely designed. The same thing can happen with lower poly art too (Thief's models have always felt somewhat formless compared to those in Deus Ex or Half-Life), but I don't seem to notice it as often. Do you think that was a stylistic choice on the part of the Classic Doom team to make the mod look the way it does, or a direction that it sort of had to inevitably gravitate towards? That's the tricky thing, because I guess they could have gone with something more abstract, but it would have felt weird, and less like a "remake."
  12. I always break down and use the Plutonia bricks in situations like that because I like how they have more depth to them.
  13. I have a very verbally oriented way of going about detailing and design. I sketch and then outline the general style of each "region", the critical keys/switches and the order you go through them, as well as any really fancy encounters i.e. blocking off an area and having enemies teleport in. My thing is that my drawings are a rough guide at best, better sense of scale in-editor and all that, so I quickly stop following my notes down to every exact detail. Not really a problem, but once you fill in a few empty spaces or add some new ledges and windows so more areas can open out into one another, there's a sense that the structure starts to kind of disappear. No, that's the "build a cool overdetailed room and hack things onto it" style of mapping. I became self-aware of that and graduated to the "envision how the map would flow in multiplayer" style, taking it to its logical extreme and making things too overly connected!
  14. You know I traditionally get existential about my maps being too linear... But for once I actually think it's become too non-linear. I traced it over on a piece of paper and have spent a good hour or so trying to figure out how I want to distribute the locked keys/doors. Mapper's world problems.
  15. A tip that someone gave me when I was last lamenting my maps as being too cramped and linear was to imagine how they would play out in deathmatch. Though that needn't necessarily be the focus of your map, it helps greatly in imagining how you can increase connectivity. Try and fill in negative space between sectors - mix up the ceiling and floor heights to make areas that are visible from multiple sides, but only accessible from one. Speaking from my own (relative) improvement, mind you. I myself have yet to release a map, though I am currently feeling pretty good about my latest attempt. Yeah. Like art and writing, being exposed to more work by others and finding what you like/don't like about their styles helps to expand your internal repertoire of techniques. When I first started mapping for Doom my maps very much suffered from "make that one cool room and forget about everything else" syndrome and that was probably in part due to all of my time mapping for more setpiece-y games like the original Half-Life. Plutonia 2 was the PWAD that finally opened my eyes to the style of maps that I enjoyed and I began thinking about my maps more in terms of making them flow like those ones.