I have a few things to add to Wilou's assessment of your map, though it must be said I'm a *lot* more pedantic than most.
- Wilou already commented on some of your transitions from one theme to another, but I think it needs to be emphasised. In both shots below, two clashing textures are placed together and the alignment of said textures is not at all clean. Ideally you need to make choices of textures that flow into each other.
Worse still, the step sector that's between the opening room and the hallway isn't textured consistently. Its side walls are dark black, its floor and ceiling green, and its upper and lower walls green too.
Even if the step textures had been better chosen, they're cut off in a way that isn't particularly pleasant to look at. That's why the game has specific textures for 8 or 16 unit steps, because the other textures are often (but not always) ill-suited for this.
- This is a bit more pedantic, but I don't like the red light texture being used on the walls containing this red key door. They don't fit very well with the standard red key stripes or the surrounding wall and floor, to my eyes. They're also not consistent with how the other key doors were handled in the level. If you want to mark this particular door as distinct because it's the exit door, exit signs might be a better way of doing so.
- This transition seems a bit better, since you at least used a dividing texture to separate the two different themes, but I feel like it might be better if you changed the ceiling and floor of the 'dividing sector' to have a similar metallic texturing to the walls. That would also require you to change the bottom and top step textures so they're consistent with the floor and ceiling textures adjacent to them, which is not currently the case. I also think the hallway in the screenshot would benefit greatly from ceiling and/or wall lights, since it looks fairly drab due to the particular shade of grey that's been used.
From this angle it's also apparent that the sector leading into the opening room cuts off the wall texture (at the top) in an extremely awkward looking way, so I'm thinking you should make the entire top, bottom and sides of that opening of a totally different texture to avoid this. These are the kind of things you have to think carefully about for every area in the map. Currently you don't seem to have that attention to detail with regards to texturing, but it will come with practice.
- The light textures here look absolutely terrible since they clash with the much lighter texture used on the sides of the fixture, which doesn't even look like a metal texture. Consistency with texture choices is important, you can't just put two textures of completely different textures side by side on the same surface if you want it to look believable.
I also note that the bottoms of those hanging computer terminals are a light brown for some reason. They should be the same colour as the rest of the terminal.
- These two shots illustrate the same fundamental issue. When you have two separate walls or a wall and a floor (both with the same texture) directly adjacent to each other, it's difficult to get the alignment such that the surfaces 'flow into each other'. If you get it a bit wrong, as in both of these screenshots, it looks pretty bad. The way to get around this is to add a 'buffer'. That is, put another sector between where the two surfaces meet, and make sure you texture it in a way that doesn't clash with the other texture.
The second screenshot also shows something I've only just noticed and can't believe I didn't spot until now. The backs of the hanging down computers are textured with bricks. This is your fundamental problem. You've yet to grasp fully the principles of proper texturing. It isn't the only problem with the map, but it's the biggest, in my view.
- I wonder if you've ever played a PWAD made in 1994? One thing you'll often see from mappers around that time is the strange compulsion to fit every possible theme imaginable in their map somewhere, even when this is completely inappropriate. This is a flaw that tends to be found in inexperienced mappers who feel the need to make the biggest and best map that does everything at once, and subsequently you get a disjointed mess that should never have left the hard-drive of the mapper in question. This map also seems to suffer from this tendency (though to nowhere near the degree of some maps I've seen), and it's quite visible in this hallway, where you suddenly have three sectors with completely different texture schemes, ones that don't fit well together. Just look at the walls in the below screenshots. Then look at the ceilings. Surely you would have to agree with me that there are a lot of clashing textures here. I don't even know why you felt the need to go for such a dramatic combination of textures. You added transitioning metal supports to the walls, but they don't in any way improve matters, mostly because the ceilings are still an absolute mess. Please, try to be more constrained in your use of textures. As Wilou said, experienced mappers don't vary the colours of their rooms too much at once. They also generally tend to stick to a handful of themes throughout the map, and use tasteful floor/ceiling variation, wall detailing, light variation and complex architecture to create coherent maps.
Apart from the texturing, the corridor is too sharp and too bare. Although it's hard to create curves in the doom engine, you'll find that you can approximate them by splitting the linedefs to get more vertices. I think your map would look better with fewer sharp edges and more curved ones in it.
- I didn't like the lifts setup you have going in this room. It seemed like pointless padding to make a small room feel bigger than it actually is, and it didn't succeed too well at that in my case. Not too sure what I would do with it instead, though.
It was minimalistic in looks, but not bad looking, although the green texture seemed kind of out of place, and I didn't much care for the scrolling texture on the platform with the shotgunners.
- This ties in to what Wilou said earlier about the linearity of the map. These two doors are right next to each other, making the layout a little bit too straightforward. Maybe you should add another wing to this area holding the yellow key door. I'm not saying that placing two doors right next to each other like this is *always* a bad idea, but it is indicative of the too simple nature of this map.
- Again I have the impression that the shift between the two themes is far too abrupt. Also this 'outdoors' area is just another indoors room with F_SKY, because it's just a boxy room with no additional sectors at the edges allowing you to look further outdoors. Consider making this wall a rampart with battlements and towers or some such. It might make the map feel as though it extends farther than it actually does.
- You're definitely going in the right direction with this room. There's some floor and ceiling variation and some wall detailing in the form of the corner supports and the fountains.
As Wilou has already mentioned, the room is let down by the texturing. The silver support texture is extremely ill-fitting, but I also think that light texture on the ceiling should be changed. Not only does it get cut off by the rest of the ceiling in parts, the colour is out of place. It also has such a simple and repetitive pattern that it's probably best used on very small expanses of ceiling. I don't like the bricks for the ceiling either, their colour seems out of place.
This area could look substantially better if you'd make this pool of slime flow out into the outside pool using some river sectors. Currently there is sludge flowing in, but it apparently never leaves, nor does the level of the pond change.
I also agree with Wilou that the animated textures here look out of place.
- Again, I don't like the ceiling flat, but the worst thing about this room is the scrolling green texture which looks out of place and as if it had been put there solely because you had no idea what else to do there.
The shape of the corridor is also incredibly weird, and not in a good way. Maybe you intended that outcropping of wall there to shelter the player from the attack of the archvile, but I think most players are going to be resourceful enough to duck back into the previous room when required, so there's no real reason for this irregular eyesore.
The texture on the side supports is also not one I would have used (it was evidently intended for shorter steps or walls) and it clashes with the flats adjacent to it as well.
Finally, I should say that I do like the intention of looping back on the main part of the level to prevent backtracking with the extra blue key door, since it makes the level feel more interconnected, but the map isn't big enough to fully benefit from this. The archvile trap is nice, but it seems to hinge on players not sniping the archies through the bars, something which is very easily done with the SSG.
- This is quite a nitpicky suggestion, but I've always thought lowered bars look better when they don't extend entirely into the ground, but remain, say, 8 units above it. Apart from that, this little corridor looks pretty good.
- Why is the button here recessed so far back into the wall? It looks extremely strange to my eyes. I don't like the light texture being used on the inner recess here either, and the switch texture itself is not the best one available, I think.
Alright, at this point I'm starting to realise that if I try to point out everything I find objectionable in the map I'll be sitting here for days, so I'm going to take things a little faster and point out mostly the more glaring problems. Don't assume that just because I didn't mention something I think it didn't need improving. I can only hope that you'll take the general thrust of my comments and be able to look at your map with detachment from there.
- Again that horrible ceiling texture :/
Also, the way the light runs directly over the bottom step looks a little weird. This can be solved by moving the light forward by a few units so there's a clear break between the line and the step.
- This transition really needs work. Not at all convincing at the moment. Textures getting cut off, no buffer, etc...
- The edges here feel too sharp, and there's not enough detail. Try adding some ceiling borders or something.
- I like the detailing here, but surely you can see the alignment of the textures on this ascending step is completely inadequate?
- This screen is badly aligned. The actual readings certainly need to be lower down on the panel. Also, it might have looked better stationary. Especially later on in the map, I feel you get too carried away with scrolling textures.
- I see the effect you were going for with the bars on the side walls of the lift, but it looks pretty goofy to me in practice.
- Very unconvincing use of textures transitioning to the cave area. Why would the sides of that doorway be metal when the material around it is clearly composed of rock? Completely 2D strips of metal would have had to have been bolted directly onto the rock. Maybe the doorway should be made of rock instead?
- The same points apply here as above regarding the texture use as you segue into the cave area. The door is also way too thick, and despite having a *lot* of lights in this room at no point does the lighting level differ from that of the rest of the cavern. Come to think of it, how can the cavern be so well-lit when there are no gaps leading to the outside and no lights? It should be pretty dark.
The gameplay in this area is also unsatisfying. Just a few easily taken down heavy damage dealers. I would add some weaker monsters to the fray and position them awkwardly for the player.
- I suppose at least here you tried to create the illusion that the river extends further than it actually does, but it looks bad because of the awkward way the grate's aligned (the hole is clearly not big enough).
- When I referred to you getting carried away by the scrolling textures, this was what I meant. It looks silly, (they scroll really fast) and this room would look a lot nicer if the lights were entirely still.
- I agree with everything Wilou said about this room, but I must also wonder why there's armour here. There was a poorly hidden suit of mega-armour just a couple of rooms ago and no real resistance in the meantime.
- The texture on the bottom of the door itself (not the floor of the door sector, the ceiling) is ill-fitting. Also, the blue skulls get cut off by the floor and look bad. It's good that you introduced a different floor for the buffer sector to transition more cleanly, although maybe that isn't the best texture. Certainly a step in the right direction.
- The ceiling texture doesn't work because it appears to have a circle of light on it, maybe it was intended for being placed above those torch sprites in the original doom. Here, there is no such light source. Also, the top and bottom of the recessed sectors should not be blue.
The corridor as a whole feels like unnecessary padding. It winds around for a bit before it goes anywhere, and its theme is nothing like those of the surrounding areas.
- I think the texture choice here is terrible. SHAWN should not be used on such a scale and it doesn't match well with the other major texture used here. Again this all feels very linear. We can see a door but can't open it yet, so there's really only way to go. At least add some optional side rooms with the occasional power-up.
- Again the theme shifts too drastically. And why on earth does the pipe scroll?!
- The SHAWN/flesh wall combination looks a lot worse to me than it must to you, and the transition is virtually non-existent. I'm left to wonder why there would be flesh walls here all of a sudden, when they haven't even been hinted at so far in the rest of the map. Your detailing in this area looks like a rather crude attempt at train tracks, even though it must have been something entirely different.
- You're obviously trying to convey a broken down techbase here, but it really doesn't work. Texturing the whole (almost entirely flat) wall with SHAWN1, one of the dullest and ugliest stock textures, was not a good choice. Although I can see slime flowing into the room through that hole in the ceiling, I don't see where it leaves, and I don't see how it reached that piece of floor to the right that is elevated higher than it but still has slime on it. How did the floor get to be arranged like this? Surely the slime must flow down into the less elevated sectors and hence vacate the more elevated ones and level the floor out? If the slime is really just trailing over a pre-existing floor, I don't see why the floor should be arranged in shelves as it is. Where did these bits of rock and soil that aren't the same colour as the ceiling come from? Why are there random computer panels high in the otherwise sleek, featureless wall? None of this really makes sense, and it's too artificial by far.
- If the base is really broken down as suggested by the room I've just discussed, which looks as though you intended us to think an earthquake had hit, then how come these holes in the wall which lead into seemingly natural caverns are almost completely regular?! One of them is a perfect rectangle! What are those weird bits of rock in the walls of the caves? Why does the right cave have a semi-walkway of SHAWN1 when the wall and ceiling are almost entirely dirt? The transitions between dirt and metal are, needless to say, not well handled, and the level has lost whatever internal consistency it had by this point.
- I'm not sure why what seems to be a natural cave should go back to a disjointed room in the base again. That's really how the map seems to me by this point, just a bunch of disjointed rooms with no real logical connection, no consistency, just the whim of a not particularly careful mapper.
- And then we have this twisted excuse for a corridor, which is reminding me of a lot of 1994 maps with its extremely thin walls, extremely high ceiling, monotonous texturing, complete lack of detailing, sharp crescent shape that you'd certainly not find in any humanly built edifice and incongruous looking lift at the end because the crescent has apparently led us somewhat further down than we're supposed to be.
Wilou spoke of your map lacking consistency, and this is a prime example. A good mapper realises that rooms of this horrible quality drag the rest of the map down in the mind of its player by association, and so endeavours to ensure that there are no such rooms. Some rooms are decent, but they're dragged down by others which are completely mediocre or worse.
- Why do you feel the need to put more than one backpack in your map, more than one in the same room for that matter? It's another indicator of inexperience, since a more experienced mapper would have a good enough idea of which weapons will have a lot of ammo and which ones won't to place ammo individually. Very few maps that I would classify as good do this, even though it shouldn't have any bearing on the quality of the level, per se.
I also don't understand why those sectors are lit up, since the ceiling doesn't seem to be comprised of lights or gaps to the outside (though I admit it's hard to see the ceiling flats for sure).
- Again, is there any reason why the sides of this metal platform are scrolling? Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
Well, it looks like I'm finally done. I realise I have been quite negative here, especially towards the end, but all I can say in my defence is that I was actually in a fairly good mood sitting down to test this and willing to be lenient with a mapper who hasn't released many levels to my knowledge. However, I've been sitting here for several hours, even with the decision to skip over some stuff, and my mood is pretty deflated now. That obviously doesn't help me to refrain from being too snippy and too critical, especially when a lot of these errors seem so glaring that I shouldn't have had to see them in the first place. But you do seem inexperienced, and I don't doubt that if you take at least some of the testers' criticism to heart you'll be able to improve the map considerably.
Overall, the map is let down by texture choices, lack of consistency regarding to theme, and at times detailing. It is, as Wilou said, maybe a little bit too linear, and could benefit from some branching paths and optional side areas here and there. A few of the worse rooms (like the maze, which I see you've decided to remove) should be done away with, and the rest of the map needs some fine-tuning.
Regarding gameplay, I feel there were too many bigger monsters and not enough small ones, and the fights seemed pretty insubstantial due to being composed of mostly small numbers of big monsters which were nevertheless easy to deal with because of the surplus of ammo available.
Didn't really encounter any bugs. I expect I'll have a clearer picture of the map after some improvements have been made, and I apologise if I repeated things that had already been said by Wilou and other testers.