The mappers block. How to tackle.

I posted some of this as a reply to another thread, however I think this is pretty important, so I went ahead and made a new, more detailed post. The mappers block is when you run out of inspiration and can't create anything else. You've tried drawing the map on paper. You've tried listening to inspirational music, playing other wads, etc.

Try this: Write down each room in detail. Example of a gothic room in a wad:

You walk into a big room. In front of you there's a pillar with a demon face. In the background you see several windows with the sky texture outside. To the left there is a door, but it needs the red key. To your right there is another door, but this doesn't need a key. You walk towards the door and try to open it. It didn't work. Instead the pillar behind you has lowered and a baron is revealed. Several other demons teleport into the area. After killing the demons, you can collect the red key and access the door.

All you have to do now is translate the words into a map. You already know how it should look as the picture is fresh in your memory.

Why does this work, you say?

Well. There is basically no difference between drawing a map and actually mapping it in the editor. When you write, you take it on from a whole other angle. When you describe how it looks and plays from the player's POV, your creativity is used in another (and more appropiate) way than when drawing/mapping. You also get a much more detailed drawing inside your head, so mapping it afterwards should be a walk in the park.

Why do you get a more detailed drawing in your head?

Because one word starts a thousand thoughts at once. You won't need to write more than a few words before you have described a large room in detail.

I hope this helps the many mappers who experience the ever-so-annoying mappers block.

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That was a very insightful post, Maonth, and extremely useful for someone that has an image of the room/area in his or her mind. However, mapper's block seems to occur mainly when people run out of ideas (hence don't have those images in their minds).

To put those images back in their minds, players could also try a few other things:

1. Play other people's maps, where the maps are similarly themed to those planned by the author.

2. For realistic-type architecture, just drive around a few city blocks and take in the building styles.

3. Play <bite your tongue> other games -- the Quake series, Duke3D, Half-Life, Hexen/Hexen2, Heretic/Heretic2, etc. The level design in these games is obviously professional, and ought to provide ideas.

4. Take a break from mapping. This often tends to clear one's mind and allow those images to re-form.

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You got it wrong. You don't write the pictures in your head. You write SO you get pictures in your head.

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Shaviro said:

You got it wrong. You don't write the pictures in your head. You write SO you get pictures in your head.

Yes, I did get it wrong. And yes, your ideas could just work. I'll give it a shot the next time I'm drawing a blank.

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ReX said:

Yes, I did get it wrong. And yes, your ideas could just work. I'll give it a shot the next time I'm drawing a blank.


Cool! It worked for me :)

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if you suffer from mappers block i recommend that you play abunch of levels that have what your looking for in your map then do the map the way you like it

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Shaviro said:

*snip!*

Very good idea Maonth, I've never tried doing that before. Maybe I'll give it ago next time I'm stuck for ideas :)


ReX said:

1. Play other people's maps, where the maps are similarly themed to those planned by the author.

I do this all the time. One thing though, make sure you don't copy other people's stuff TOO closely...

2. For realistic-type architecture, just drive around a few city blocks and take in the building styles.

I got inspired to make a large-ish city area just from a brick and metal railing fence around the corner from where I live :)

3. Play <bite your tongue> other games

This is becoming increasingly difficult with more modern games, which tend to have architecture that's simply too advance to re-create in the Doom engine. There are plenty of ideas in older games, of course.

4. Take a break from mapping. This often tends to clear one's mind and allow those images to re-form.

Just don't make this break a couple of years long or something ;)


hypr said:

if you suffer from mappers block i recommend that you play abunch of levels that have what your looking for in your map then do the map the way you like it

Heh, as you can tell from the quotes in this post, that was already suggested :)

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Thank you maonth, this post was insightful and helped me develop a new udm2 map. Great work :P

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UDRalphis said:

Thank you maonth, this post was insightful and helped me develop a new udm2 map. Great work :P


I am the king.

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That was a very insightful post, Maonth, and extremely useful for someone that has an image of the room/area in his or her mind. However, mapper's block seems to occur mainly when people run out of ideas (hence don't have those images in their minds).


And to this I reply:

I noticed recently that the way I get inspiration to make maps (and thus to beat mappers block) is to write down a meaningless description of something that might occur in doom. The way I discovered this was whenever someone would tell me a description of an idea they had, it would spark ideas in my mind that did or didn't have anything to do with what the person was describing. Reading (and writing I suppose) sparks the imagination. If you write about a doom scene, it's going to spark your imagination - you are going to imagine architecture, lighting, atmosphere etc. For me, I usually don't end up mapping what I had written down to help inspire me. But, nonetheless, I get an idea for what to make next.

Sometimes all I have to write is some basic concepts or key phrases: dungeoun with a passageway leading out, prison cells hidden in darkness, catwalks, stairwell, [right now all sorts of cool architectural atmospheres are sparking in my head] a platform with stairs going up one side interspresed with two pillars.

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I havent tried writing things out yet because I've been busy. But at the same time, I havent had much time to sit at the computer either, so I think my head is clearing and Im starting to get some ideas again. Thanks for all the advice though (to everyone who posted).

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Assmaster said:

I havent tried writing things out yet because I've been busy. But at the same time, I havent had much time to sit at the computer either, so I think my head is clearing and Im starting to get some ideas again. Thanks for all the advice though (to everyone who posted).


That's why this thread should be ATTN:
It's too important to be flooded, imo.

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You could always watch films as well, cos they can give ideas from the various locations etc. (esp. action, spy and horror films cos they're a bit closer to DooM than others)

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Ultimate DooMer said:

You could always watch films as well, cos they can give ideas from the various locations etc. (esp. action, spy and horror films cos they're a bit closer to DooM than others)


also alien, starwars/trek.

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Shaviro said:

also alien, starwars/trek.

In fact I got some recent ideas for architecture from a Star Trek episode.

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ReX said:

In fact I got some recent ideas for architecture from a Star Trek episode.


heh. I've never watched a single episode of Star Trek :P

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Well, I'm not a fan of ST myself, but the locations would be good inspiration for space/hi-tech DooM levels. (and the Elite Force game is good as well)

But Star Wars, Alien, and also Event Horizon are good sources of inspiration.

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Ultimate DooMer said:

Event Horizon

I gotta watch that movie some day. Is it good?

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Shaviro said:

I gotta watch that movie some day. Is it good?


Not bad. Better than I thought it would be. The architecture is very Doomlike now that I think of it.

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It's a bit like Alien (the same creepy sort of atmosphere, but not as gory of course). It's set on a lost spaceship which has plenty of Doom-like things in it.

(Funnily enough, it was on TV last Saturday, so I watched it again, and those green ducts are just like Doom, right down to the oscillating lights)

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I've had a similar problem recently, working on map11 of the Underworld wad. I've stopped and started several times, but i think i'm finally onto something.

I was completely stuck for ideas, so i started thinking of films - Aliens has provided a source of sorts; long, dark corridors with steel lofters in the ceiling and textures exclaiming 'sub level 1'... i'm sure anyone who's seen 'Aliens' will know where i'm going with this (think of a demon-hive on sublevel 3 :)). There's a 'control room' finished, and i'm building up the base complex... once the basic layout is complete, i'll start adding objectives.

Usually, however, i start with a mental image of how it's going to look. Then i jot the map down on paper to refine the idea, then finally take it to the PC to perfect it.

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Only if my mapper's block disappeared after I completed E3M4 of my megawad 3 years ago, maybe it would be a full 3 episode replacement!

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Ultimate DooMer said:

It's a bit like Alien (the same creepy sort of atmosphere, but not as gory of course). It's set on a lost spaceship which has plenty of Doom-like things in it.

(Funnily enough, it was on TV last Saturday, so I watched it again, and those green ducts are just like Doom, right down to the oscillating lights)


Yep, fairly good movie, those green ducts rocked

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When Doom was in it's earliest conception stages id Software considered making an Aliens themed game. I think some of the textures was also concieved at that point.

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Heh - i've just gotten the ambient sound and coloured, flickering lighting figured out on Jdoom - this level is gonna be fun :)

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ReX said:

2. For realistic-type architecture, just drive around a few city blocks and take in the building styles.

Heh, I'm already planning an absolutely massive map that is based on my own neighborhood.

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Archvile64 said:

Heh, I'm already planning an absolutely massive map that is based on my own neighborhood.


We had the same idea - Liverpool city centre, filled with demonic creatures and smelly beasts.

Frighteningly realistic.

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As nice as those neighbourhood type levels sound...aren't you very strictly limited in terms of vertical and outdoor size by the Doom engine, source port or not?

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Livo said:

As nice as those neighbourhood type levels sound...aren't you very strictly limited in terms of vertical and outdoor size by the Doom engine, source port or not?


Not in terms of the engine, but you are limited in choice of textures/flats, none of which are really like the real thing (unless you make your own of course)

I built a coruscant-type level once, and it ended up rather plain-looking at times, and the same goes for city levels in general, especially high-rise ones.

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