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Rapid Map Development
I would like to hear what approaches other people take to speed up the development of their maps so that they actually see the day of release and whether that comes naturally or whether you end up having to focus on the issue of development speed.

Back when I first started mapping in 1997-1998, my first few maps took about 3-5 weeks to make each. Now obviosly since they were first maps, they were also really shit. Over time, I learned to understand what actually made any given map good, started paying attention to polish and detail and this has caused the development times to balloon completely out of control.

Apinaraivo / Monkey Rage, the Q1SP I released a few years ago took 6 months of active development time, mapping 2-4 hours pretty much every single day. Right now I also have an UT3 DM map in the works and while I admittedly have been quite lazy, that alone can't really quite explain the numbers: I take a new backup of a map file every new day I am working on the map, judging by the amount of backup files, I have worked on this map on 35 different days so far amd while it does have some interesting things, it not even remotely close to a beta.

At least in part, the problem seems to be that I am not easily satisfied with the quality of my work, random XYZ thing has to be just right before I can move on to something else and this often results in me rebuilding a small section of a map 10+ times, making tiny adjustments, moving things around, etc etc so that at the end of the day, a lot of work has been done, but I have very few things I can actually point my finger at and say that "this is new stuff I've added today", so the progress feels very slow.

And then I see some people making absolutely jawdropping releases using new, modern engines that they have not only made the map itself, but also had to build all the meshes and create quite a few materials, test, polish and release into the wild, all done in a timeframe of 3-4 weeks.

WTF?
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I think the problem is that for mappers like me, the visuals are more than half the fun. I'd say 70% of the enjoyment I get from Quake mapping is in creating cool looking areas. The fighting that takes place in those spaces is fun and I enjoy plotting that out, but the creation of the actual space is what turns my crank. Fussing with textures, playing with lighting, etc. Unfortunately, those things are not entirely productive in terms of getting a map out the door. 
 
I'm going to create a WAD file with basic blueprint textures in it and see if I can't shell a map out completely before bothering to texture and light it.

This is basically how we work at my day job so it shouldn't be a huge stretch for me... I'm going to see if I can get a small map completed like that. 
 
 
I tend to use a complete mix of the above processes. To be fair I haven't finished/released anything in a long time but development-wise I sketch everything on paper first, from rough sketches of how the map would visually look to detailed floor plans.. Infact I go completely overboard in that respect and plan way more than I actually map.

As for the actual building of the map I try and make myself use dev textures wherever possible but often find it hard to go back to these maps as they lack the visual interest that you want to get cracking on straight away; therefore I gotta say that a combination of mapping with a basic set of textures and lower, but not no detail is probably best. I also found with source engine related stuff that you can work with some pretty low poly brushwork and then just throw in a ton of props to imply the detail of an object or building, as well as helping alot with scale. 
Well 
If you have a strong idea of a central area that you want to have a certain look, it's certainly not a bad idea to spend some time setting up a quick, rough detail pass to make sure it looks/feels how you imagine it, then leave the finer detailing to later.

I generally start a map only when I have a good idea about at least the initial layout of a map with strong inspiration for one or two areas. Then while roughing those out in the editor I'll either think about the rest of the layout or go over the existing layout in my mind to see if I can make it better.

I personally think I'm a horrible detail guy, and I much prefer the layout/gameplay aspect of a map the most. I think more about pacing, where I should put ambushes, sniper spots, etc.

Ask Pope, we switched maps, he had a very small map with a lot of detailing done (like two rooms) and I had an entire layout that fell out of the bounds of the Quake grid. So now he gets to do a bunch of detailing and I get to do a bunch of layout stuff.

/me shrugs 
 
I made a WAD file of blueprint style textures (just blue textures with white borders of varying sizes) and started into a small test level.

My plan is to get this small level taken to completion to see how I like the process. My attack plan:

1) Build entire level, unlit, using blueprint textures. This includes monster gameplay, triggers, etc. No detailing.

2) Set a minlight and a sunlight and play with that until the sunlight looks the way I want.

3) Add hot spot lighting and textures. These sort of need to go hand-in-hand since textures can sometimes be light sources in themselves.

4) Take out the minlight and add fill lights to take up the slack in really dark areas.

5) Profit.

Here's hoping this works out! 
You're 
missing the architecture pass!

Which always takes the longest and is the most complicated. At least in dm maps, where the layout imposes such tight restrictions on architecture. 
 
Oh yeah, well, that would probably fall in during the texturing pass. When the map starts taking one more of a real visual personality, the detailing would also take place.

Adding additional cuts to walls, loose bricks, etc. 
 
Note that step 1 isn't big flat walls and floors - the basic theme of the level is conveyed, it's just not textured or lit. It's done through shapes and silhouettes. 
Willem 
If you're making this like a project do you think there's a way you could record your progress either via hourly or half-hourly screenshots or just plain record your progress via some program? I find stuff like this incredibly interesting. 
 
I was planning to blog it a bit so I'll see if I can stay on top of it for documentation purposes. 
 
Keep many many map/bsp files so one can make a sexy progress animation with bsp2bmp. 
 
Can't promise map fragments but I will definitely blog with screen shots.

Don't get too pumped up, this is going to be a small scale test so I can (a) see how this process feels to wear it for real and (b) actually have a chance of completing the level. 
NO! 
HUGE test! Lots of extra .maps! Hourly updates on your Twitter! YOU WILL BEND TO OUR WILL!!!


Or not. 
 
Damn it, there's nothing stopping you guys from trying the same thing. Hop to it! :) 
Careful Willem 
Zwiffle wants to bend you. 
There Is Something Stopping Me 
I have a head ache.

Now gogogogo! 
 
I warn you all that this might not be the fastest experiment. I barely get time to map these days. Prepare for disappointment! 
Something I Always Wondered About 
If you expect to be disappointed and it meets your expectations, are you really disappointed? 
Yes 
I can't do similar since I've only got wip maps, nothing new to do. Yes, those ones. 
 
This Will Be Interesting 
 
Great Thread Jago! 
and great idea Willem!
really looking forward to WIllems blog-map...
and getting some ideas for map dev in general 
Hm 
I never saw much sense in an untextured but detailed pass. If you're working with premade textures, your geometry is so dependent on them that it doesn't make much sense to build architecture first, does it?

Unless you are talking about major architecture only, which then would require a detail pass again ;-)

But maybe all this doesn't really apply to Q1 because the architecture may be much more simple than in newer engines. 
 
I never saw much sense in an untextured but detailed pass.

Huh? I don't think he said that anywhere. Willem talked about doing detailing/texturing as one step. Unless I'm misunderstanding you.

For me personally, Willem's plan is kind of how I've always worked. I actually tend to enjoy the basic architecture + basic lighting phase more than anything else.

I enjoy the detail/fleshing out work too, but there's no "creating something from nothing" feeling like that of making that basic layout, compiling, and running around in it, and deciding how to make it better. That's the part that's 0% work and 100% fun...

I need to make another level. Fuck's sake...I do all my mapping at work now. :(

(Other than Trackmania, which has stolen my soul.) 
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