How do you build your map?

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How do you build your map?

Postby Vertigo » Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:07 am

This is more aimed at the seasoned mappers but any input is welcome. How do you go about building a map? Do you first come up with a concept, sketch the map and work from there? At the moment my maps feel like set pieces connected to one another. I don't go in with some predetermined idea for the map, I pretty much just wing it. What's a more efficient approach? Do I just need to keep mapping until I become comfortable enough that I organically start designing maps or do I need to try to force this process? Thanks in advance~
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Re: How do you build your map?

Postby Phobus » Fri Dec 31, 2010 7:21 am

I've tried a few different approaches over time, which include:

-Coming up with an idea for one bit of the map and making the whole thing around that
-Winging it entirely based on a theme or concept
-Listing out a set of key ideas in a text file then making the map to satisfy that list
-Drawing a vague sketch and filling in the map based on that
-Making the entire layout in DB in the simplest way (everything is default aside from the shapes) then adding heights, functionality, textures and things (in that order).
-Building Room-by-Room as I think of areas and connecting them
-Building Room-by-Room the way the map is to be played
-Making a large open area and filling in smaller sub-areas in gameplay order

And frankly, each approach has had a good outcome as far as I'm concerned. Not every map has been a massive success though. I think it's about picking the right approach for the map. The ones that involve little planning are good for small maps, as one or two vague ideas and concepts will do. Highly planned out maps are easy to make bigger I find, but for some reason I always get bored if I'm following a plan for too long and end up stopping or stalling on the map, possibly even abandoning it entirely.

From the sounds of things your approach is a bit like my favoured one, where I get a couple of good ideas and wing it to make a map around them based on a theme (which tends to be techbase). I'd recommend that you keep mapping, making things that you like in whatever way you fancy trying until you settle on something that works for you. My second recommendation is that you don't spend too long working on one map, as that seems to be a very good way of getting "mappers block" and then not finishing it at all. Whether this means making small, quick maps or making more than one map at a time is entirely up to you :)
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Re: How do you build your map?

Postby Jimmy » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:10 pm

The only way I can get things done is by getting some ideas down on paper (however vague, although of course, the more detailed, the better) and speedmapping whatever I end up with, setting strict goals for myself as to when I start/finish the maps in question. Of course, I frequently fail to adhere to my own time constraints and ending up overrunning my deadlines by matters of days, but I still manage to produce some satisfactory results. Jenesis is my magnum opus in this regard.

As for my actual mapping process, I've found I prefer to build each room/corridor/arena completely, before moving on to another part of the map and expanding it from there, as opposed to doing vague outlines and then retexturing. Sometimes I will save the more arduous detailing until the map is otherwise pretty much complete.
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Re: How do you build your map?

Postby 40oz » Sat Jan 01, 2011 12:21 pm

Draw out a few isolated large "main rooms" + starting room and exit room first.

Draw out some smaller intermediary rooms isolated from the rest.

Create hallways and lobbies interconnecting each room

Monsters/weapons/health/ammo/keys/whatever

I think a problem most mappers run into is that they start a map but don't know where to end it. I found my mapping is way faster and efficient if I create the starting room and exit room first to establish a "goal" for the player, then create the smaller goals like getting weapons and keys and stuff after, then everything else in between is just filler.
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Re: How do you build your map?

Postby Phobus » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:09 am

An easy way to achieve the above is to have it so that the entrance and exit are very close to eachother (possibly even visible from eachother) and there are some bars or remotely opened doors in the way. My latest map was built this way and it did make filling in the other points on the checklist quite easy, as I already knew where I was heading.
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Re: How do you build your map?

Postby Sonnyboy » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:50 pm

I just work room-to-room. I generally don't worry much about gameplay until all of my detailing is done, unless I get an idea that I want to carry out right away.
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Re: How do you build your map?

Postby Xaser » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:52 pm

The only time I ever seem to get anything done is if I make up everything on the spot. Any attempt to plan leads to me never finishing the wad. :P
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Re: How do you build your map?

Postby Shadelight » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:34 am

Very carefully.

Serious answer: Basically just try to come up with some new rooms. I think I've got a problem with using the same texture over and over though. :(
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Re: How do you build your map?

Postby Vertigo » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:24 am

Thanks so much for all the replies. Seems like I'm on the right track with going room to room and just letting it flow out of me. I will definitely try creating the exit room just after the entrance and see how it works out.
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Re: How do you build your map?

Postby Phobus » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:27 pm

If you do it wrong it just makes a very short map ;)
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