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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.

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For Detailing 
I like to make a separate map and just put junk detail ideas in their. Fully textured, detailed, etc, and even make entire prop scenes that I think look cool.

Then I like to make func_statics out of them (not possible in Quake, but you can make func_walls instead although I wouldn't recommend it unless necessary) and then populate my world with detail where I've designed for it. I find that can also save a lot of time and helps you nail down your look early without having to spend time in your map working solely on one area.

If you do this early on, this also lets you build with an eye for details later while still balancing for gameplay.

But that's just what I do. 
Just Make An Algorithm 
2 do it for you, using those textures. 
By "it" I Mean "the Brushwork" 
looks like a sequel to White Room.... Blue Room? 
You know this actually makes me wonder if there is an exercise that wouldn't be too bad trying out, something similar to a speedmap. I think something more focused on the discipline of the process of map building, done over the course of several hours instead of just doing whatever jumps into your mind.

It needs some refinement, but how about this for a process-oriented exercise:

1 hour of just doing basic layout, do as much basic layout as you can, start wrapping everything up 10 minutes before the time is up.

1-2 hours of gameplay, enemies, traps, secrets, balance

1/2 hour to an hour of detail playground in a separate map

1-2 hours of detailing the actual map, texture alignment

1 hour of lighting

The idea being that the preparation of drawing your layout or thinking about it isn't important, but just working within the framework of this bottom up kind of approach is. The time limits might need to be refined, it might turn out that basic layout only needs 30 minutes or something, etc.

Any thoughts on that? I would imagine getting used to this kind of exercise would allow some mappers to speed up their map-building process a bit. 
I need a kick up the proverbial arse anyway.
We should do an event for this.

Monday - Layout
Tuesday - Gameplay
Wednesday - Messing with details of another map (what Zwiff??!)
Thursday - Detail map, texture alignment etc.
Friday - Lighting.

Give any potentially busy participants until the following Friday or something, and there could even be some participation. 
You forgot this step...

6) Get hot chicks!

or possibly

6a) Get Zwiffle's steamy ringer.

P.S. Good plan, looking cool so far. 
"Huh? I don't think he said that anywhere. Willem talked about doing detailing/texturing as one step. Unless I'm misunderstanding you. "

Right, the first step isn't necessarily detailed, it just implies the shape of the level. It shows where arches go, where detail trims go, etc. It doesn't really dictate anything other than a medium level overview. The texturing/detailing stage comes later.

"looks like a sequel to White Room.... Blue Room?"

Haha, believe me, I was tempted. But I'm going to follow it through and texture this thing up properly.

"You forgot this step...

6) Get hot chicks!"

Damn it, I always forget something! 
Or 6a) 
Ricky, I basically like to open a separate map and just do pure detail stuff, like how doors might look, etc so that I have a playground if details that share a theme for reference.

That step can be skipped if you don't do it that way. 
That's a cool idea, Zwiffle. It gives you a way to scratch the visuals itch if you get restless while working on the layout. 
Sounds Like 
A prefab library. 
Well it sort of is. I explained upwards somewhere that in other games you can just make these things into func_statics or func_details or what have you, but you don't have that ability in Quake. But it's still a good visual reference.

The post is up there somewhere, I swear. 
lots of good ideas.

maybe I'll give the outline on post 41 a try. 
you guys map strangely. i start on 1 area/room, and do that room completely until it's done. including the structure, detailing and lighting. then i move to the next area.

for me the most fun part is the detailing and texturing, so if you spend a month building your level without any detail, just doing the layout, FUCK that would be boring. there's no point mapping if your not having fun. and besides, the textures dictate your architecture so god knows how the guys at hl2 built the entire game without textures first.

then, once the entire level is finished, i go back through and do all the gameplay. this is the really boring part for me!. actually, if i could just build the levels and then someone else did all the gameplay, i probably would have built a lot more levels.

jago it sounds like your wanking around for far too long on 1 section rebuilding it over and over. just do it once, then if you can think of a better way to do it, move on to the next area and use your new idea there.

2-3 hours a day for 6 months? that's 500+ hours on 1 level?????? i could make a whole episode in that time lol 

Everyone works differently. I currently work on Quake stuff the way you're describing - what I'm interested in finding out is if this other way will work better. It's all about growth, man. :) 
Kona You Map Like Me 
cool. I dont exactly do it like that. Ill do the brushwork for an area, pretty detailed, than after it gets to a certain size Ill fill it with entities, than I expand out from there.

I tend to do all of the gameplay related entity work (triggers, monster positioning, ammo etc) after I have made most of the level, because I figure you cant really tell how the gameplay is gonna work out (generally) until all of the layout is done. I pretty much imagine my maps/area in my head and then build em. I sorta plan as I go.

And for the first couple of years it was great fun! :)

I think thats the difference in ethoses - it can be fun to do 1 map, or even 1 area while the idea is fresh and you're being openly creative. And it gives you satisfaction! But when that gets boring where do you go?
The answer: you start thinking about making something more substantial. Like an episode! The satisfaction must be greater. But it takes a lot more patience.

If doing it professinally I would guess that you have to work as a team, everthing must be delegated and broken down into phases, even the overall design stuff is probably done by a team of people, i.e. the brief.....
Because you HAVE to get it done. Or else you arent being productive enough to support you organisation.

How to make an interesting layout for a comprehensive progression:
First you make the layout. I like to make a huge environment and then figure out how the player will be guided round it. You might start with an area which seems like it could be the start, but ends up being the middle, or part fo the middle. Whats more important is creating an immersive semi believable environment and then bringing it to life with gameplay. So getting stuck in the rut of room of badguys - corridor - room of bad guys - corridor (over-simplifying here) is just bland and boring.
Being patient enough to finish the environment before being able to play your creation always worked better for me.

Just my own thoughts/opinions....... 
I've never done much SP mapping but my thoughts about it has been that it seems like a good idea to first think though (and perhaps write down) what you want the player to experience both in terms of ideas going through their head and feelings. Then use your architecture/lighting/audio/whatever vocabulary to try to induce that. Play the player.

For MP I think it's better to do many finished maps that has gone through the whole process than to get stuck at trying to make the perfect level and just rebuilding the low detail phase over and over. 
"For MP I think it's better to do many finished maps that has gone through the whole process than to get stuck at trying to make the perfect level and just rebuilding the low detail phase over and over."

I assume you're saying here, "It's better to get some levels done so you can see the whole process than to get caught up trying to create the perfect layout the first time you make a map". That, I agree with. Get your "my first map" levels done and out the door (figuratively speaking). That experience is worth it's weight in gold. 
Blueprint Experiment - Day 2 
It depends on the map size. It's always better to have as few people working on a map as possible to avoid bad merges and corrupt data.

In a prototyping phase there'll be the full design team on the map or else making the plug in entities (monsters, props - template stuff) one in charge of the environment (layout) who gets his or her stuff from art (chunks or tiles) which they first passed to them as simple boxes from a 3D package.

That's how we do it anyway. 
That looks pretty cool.

Does Toetag have a texture replace feature a la worldcraft? You just select one texture and then it can be automatically replaced across the whole map. Obviously can cause some headaches for sub-themes, but very useful.

Although what you've got there looks like a castle format in theory there's quite a few different themes that could be applied. Giant reactor structures? 
Yeah, ToeTag will let me select a face and then select all other faces that match that texture.


Yeah, a typical Gears of War MP level goes like this:

- An LD makes a simple shell that can be played (has cover, collision, etc)
- That shell is iterated on like crazy until it is deemed "fun"

- An LD/artist does an initial visual pass on the level, adding meshes and lighting and establishing the theme for reals

- An LD does a gameplay pass, making sure that all of the cover is still in place and no collision got borked during the visuals pass

- An artist will typically then do a final visual polish pass where they add as much as memory/framerate will allow to make the level look as good as it can

The "LD" mentioned in the various steps above doesn't always end up being the same LD. A level generally passes through many hands before going into the game box. 
Reflecting back on my previous work I am wondering if one of my main problems is that I nearly always end up creating gameplay around existing map layout and design features instead of doing it the other way around. It's very easy to get caught up in long flow of brain-to-editor creativity process and design a lot of stuff which does look good but then you try building some gameplay around the things you've built and you realize it's very clunky and end up having to rework the layout and visual features A LOT (often having to throw away and completely rework large chunks) until you are satisfied with both.

This is actually even more true for engines which have editors with proper lighting preview (read: UnrealED) because you don't feel the pressure to test the level inside the game too often. Actually, I just realised that my UT3DM map with 35+ different saves... I haven't yet launched it inside the game even once, I only used the "Play the map from here" feature of the editor which lets you run/jump around the map. This actually makes me quite scared of how many things might be out of whack "in reality" and will have to be reworked because I've neglected proper in-game testing. 
"Reflecting back on my previous work I am wondering if one of my main problems is that I nearly always end up creating gameplay around existing map layout and design features instead of doing it the other way around. "

Good point. I suffer from this as well. I don't dream up combat scenarios and then build the level around them - I fit the combat into the map after I build it. That always felt more natural to me but maybe I should consider at least planning out a few show piece fights and working the geometry to fit them ahead of time... 
I Think You Have To 
mix both together. Like build the map using brushwork first but as you are building it think of gameplay scenarious for each area, like "Shambler ambush would be good here" or "there will be a couple of ogres up there, but as the player notices them a bunch of knights will come out of here" or "this would be a great room for a vore attack" or "I could really envisage the player getting chased back out by a hoard of feinds here, that would look cool" kindofthing. 
I think I'm gonna give this a try this weekend. 5-7 hours of mapping, we'll see how it goes. Anyone want to suggest a theme/texture set? 
koohoo? it's a great set and rarely used. quite a lot of variety, while still staying very green. :P

only thing it lacks is terrain textures (the rocks and stuff in there aren't made for large swathes or terrain) but that's easily remedied.

incidentally, i really should look into my own mapping process. some good stuff in here. 
Ill Have A Blurt 
Im gonna use obtex2.wad, unless anyone wants to throw in a better suggestion? And it might be Quoth. 
I could do a non-base map :O
Koohoo could be fun.... Or Egyptian.
Or eldar type thing. I dunno. I'll sleep on it

There's Always The 
'mix a bunch of random stock quake textures and pull off a badass texture mix'... :P 
I actually love the koohoo textures. I always try to use them to make a map but it ends up failing each and every time. :( 

I think it would be a beautiful fit for you with your style Zwiffle...

And I'd love it if Ricky did a Koohoo...

Or maybe like a jjspq3 style - clockwork kingpin style. not quite base but sort of. 
I've got/had around twenty scraps of Koohoo stuff - it'd be great to see a turtlemap event. 
Is there an actual Koohoo WAD for download somewhere? 
I Made One! 
I Assume 
koohoo is a heretic2 wad? 
I just opened koohoo.bsp in texmex and that's what I used. 
I Just Used 
BSP2WAD on koohoo, koohend and start.bps, and compiled all of the textures into one wad using Wally. :S 
It's From 
The Castle of Koohoo. One of the best short episodes ever made (skill select, main map, boss map).

I'd reccomend 'dark' texture set for the natural tex's though, always found them to fit better. Black stone with glowing moss and a decent mossy floor tex. 
Looking Closely 
One's in there as 0text_59. 
that textire set is from heretic-2, iirc sm32 - shut up RPG, also was using the same set 
Blueprint Experiment - Day 3 
last time I downloaded the heretic2 wad, it was in the wrong palette - anyone else finding the same thing? as a former heretic 2 mapper there's a ton of great stuff in there beyond the Andoria set that Vondur used. 
Try This Link

And yeah, lots of great stuff in there. 
Who Said Koohoo, Mortals? 
Well, for me, fastest way to make a make is to invent general style. Usually certain style has number of visual elements that repeat themselves through the level, that helps to make some kind of prefabs (meshes in nextgen) and use it all over the map. Also, basic mockup is the key.

1. you invent style
2. make mockup based on the style and gameplay
3. polish mockup till u're satisfied
4. make properly detailed map based on mockup

All in all u have to have one single image of your future level in your head. This image must contain main concept of the level as from gameplay as from visual pov. This will not let you to get drown in the swamp of ideas that will clogg your map and slow down the development. Get rid of everything that spoils the original style and keep this style.

my 0.02 roubles 
to make a make = to make a map

(i'm too old for these forums) 
Are You Working On 
Koohoo2 in your iceberg?

But yeah, that's a decent formula to map from that I seem to have been coming around to myself.

I'd post screenshots but since alot of what I'm working on now was started months ago there's no real point of reference.

Especially since one of them has changed style completely . . . 
i stopped making custom maps 3 years ago or so, making them at work now which completely satisfies my mapping needs. 
We need real mappers to make a real maps... you are the man of the situation: go map !! 
I purpose you also stopped playing custom maps since that time 
WoW, your job fully satisfies your mapping needs? WoW.

I Am Maniacally Laughing 
Hahaha, thank you Fribbles. 
That's interesting. Mapping at work and mapping at home are completely different things for me. One is more structured and disciplined while the other is more freeform and just goofy fun. 
Blueprint Experiment - Day 4 
The reason I map at home is because mapping at work doesn't satisfy the mapping cravings.

The committee design thing means its very difficult to make anything I really like. Generally the best stuff I make is in bonus maps that nobody really cares enough about to fuck around with.

And I don't have the cash for a startup. 
. . . And 
I tend to do more documentation and fixing of others maps now. 
Let's say different mappers induce different methodologies... so the thing is to find what is the more suitable...

Personally it depends in which mod I am. As other said, I tend to use a mix in all the different method presented above according to what I want to do, and the progress I'd like to obtain.
Globally, I put my map layout rough idea on the paper (and it is not the general rule), then trying to have a theme (as vondur said), then I start to build the map, pieces by pieces, trying to polish the map in term of lightning and gameply progressively till the end... Sometimes the result is good, sometimes not... then I loop till I am satisfied with the part I am working on.
It is not that fast, but at least it works for me... 
F: Imagine, but yes. I like limitations of the game and design. Probably this goes from the Quake limitations, I loved to fight them, keeping r_speeds below 800-1000, etc. Atm, I'm making a game that uses vertex lighting and overall low poly modeling, hence I'm constantly falling into the tricky situations to make it look good and with appropriate FPS. So I'm quite full of such work after the workday ends and just wanna relax at home rather than invent something again ;)

Pulsar: No, I still play new Quake levels. But I tend to choose only hi-quality ones and miss averages and below. 
the screenshots on that site all link to .zip files. o_O 
As for me, i map in a such way: first i make a concept in my mind, then i select a textureset (sometimes in a opposite way). For me, many of design elements base on textures i use. I always keep the basic layout in my head, because it's easier for me to see 3d layout in my mind, than on 2d paper. Then I make layout with basic detailing and rather raw lighting and also i place triggers, buttons and monsters that are necessary to progress and those that are used with design elements (with funcs). Then i make proper lighting, detailing . Finally i place all monsters and tweak the gameplay plus some polishing.

Sometimes when the map is large it's necessary for me to make a break and then continue with more inspiration and new ideas. 
Im Patience 
if i explain how i map my rapidness slows...
if my rapidness slows i wonder how i map...
then I forget explaining and i wrong...
so I don't explain and start all over again...
then my rapidness catches me and ask me where's my good map...
I won't explain because then I wrong again...
so i just map on staying out of the rapid
and the ness gets a better map. 
Learn When To Let Go 
I have done a little thing to my map yesterday which is actually kind of big for me.

Almost since the very beginning of the map I am working on, there has been a small area that's been causing me grief. I've tried to rework it multiple times but always ended up with something which I considered to be of sub-par quality. Quite often, when I would pick up my map after a long break, I would come back to this area, try fixing it and again gave up on the map for a while after being unable to.

Previously, I would always stubbornly and consistently try to rework a piece of a map I am unsatisfied with until I get it right, irrelevantly of the amount of time it takes me to do this, out of some silly pride (I guess). However in this case, I came to the conclusion that the amount of time I've so far spent and was likely yet to spend on this part of the map was simply unwarranted, because it wasn't even a critical part of the map, but rather something that the map could very well exist without.

So I flat out deleted the entire thing (the troubled area, not the entire map). Not even 20 minutes later, I had come up with with a piece of brush/meshwork to be used in the exact same place where the removed map part used to be, which not only looked noticeably better than what I used to have there, but also offered some very good and unique gameplay options.

Lesson of the day: learn when to let go.

P.S: I am still mapping fucking slow, but at least lately I've been seeing some progress on my map instead of staring at the editor for 15 minutes before closing it. 
Definitely a valuable skill. Learning when to let go and start over on an area is something every LD needs to learn. It's important to recognize situations like when you've wasted too much time tweaking the lighting in an area that the player will be in for maybe 2 seconds and not even notice it. :) 
I used a method -don't know what to put here, need coffee- to this a while ago.

I ended up spending alot more time on the map than I was comfortable with and produced alot of additional pieces that were never used - but alot of people seemed to like it.

Basically I was putting a big brick into the map with a couple of other bricks on it to show where the exits / entrances were needed, then copying it out to another, empty map in order to build it and do the brushwork.

When I was happy with it I'd copy it into the main map and slot it into its place instead of the brick.

I ended up making lots of stuff I never used, so this is probably for 'slow map development' but the process seemed to work ok. Not having all the rest of the map as a distraction seemed to help. 
thats a good idea. 
isn't an example of "rapid mad development", but a cool overview (with screenshots obviously) of how an UT3 map evolved from few basic blocks into a full blown beautiful map: 
Very cool! Yeah, that's more or less what we do at work. 
Very Interesting Thread 
My Problem is that everything I start gets boring after a while. Not only quake maps: paper models drawings when i want to make them perfect. Those quick and dirty short sketches seem to be better than the final model.
And I don't have that much time at the moment for mapping. Wasn't mapping since september.
Now I have a little bit of time for mapping, winter break. trying to make screencasts to analyse progress. Today was the first one I tried to speed things up by thinking less. Spent 1:13h for 196 polys.
Unfortunately the screencast is too big (1.5GB) to upload it. my internet sucks.
Does someone know how to transcode ogv theora videos? 
mencoder and ffmpeg should both be able to. The rest depends on things you did not ask or mentioned. 
Funnily enough, I lost interest. I guess this isn't the answer for me, QUake wise. I'll have to keep experimenting with techniques... 
Oh Dear. 
I find that odd, since your favorite part of mapping is detailing and you just got through with (or were very close to finishing) the layout portion and were about to get started with detailing. 
just as an fyi, i'm attempting to do this with a doom3 map atm while i take a break from quake for a bit.

typically, i get bogged down when working on d3 content because of the sheer amount of things that have to be taken care of.

it's not blueprint textures, but i'm building with the absolute bare minimum, 99% simple brushwork and only adding in map objects when they are necessary for gameplay. ironically, in order to stay interested, i'm creating the gameplay at the same time as the layout. while it slows things down a bit, it also makes the gameplay a more active element in the map layout. 
sweet bro, is it gonna be single player d3?

yeah that ut3 map turned out looking quite good didn't it. the first few screenshots i was thinking omg this look awful, worst layout ever this is gonna be a steaming pile of crap. 
"I find that odd, since your favorite part of mapping is detailing and you just got through with (or were very close to finishing) the layout portion and were about to get started with detailing."

It's a little odd, yes. I dunno, I guess maybe I hurried the layout and wasn't really happy with it and don't want to rework it? Beats me, at any rate ... bored. 
You still have that larger map in the works, don't you? 
sweet bro, is it gonna be single player d3?

yeah, it'll be a minimod that uses my tweaked gameplay stuff. it plays a lot like quake atm esp with movement speed boosted up and max 5 damage from falling.

the ai stuff in d3 is pretty awesome. aas pathing owns. 
"You still have that larger map in the works, don't you?"

It's there. Lurking. 
what kind of food does it like? maybe we can coax it out of hiding. ^_^ 
What Maps That? 
Looks cool :) 
Its The Same One I've Been Making All Year! ;) 
The only one I've made this year except coag3, you know which one it is! 
Don't forget the code requests ;) 
Looks good, can't wait to play it Ricky.
I hope its brutal as usual! 
Its A Remake For The RemakeQuake Project! 
So if you wanna play it then we'd better finish the pack! 
I thought so.
And yeah, you totally should. 
Map Development 
I uploaded 73 minutes mapping. It's unfortunately rather big 669.2 MB
user: joee@banan

I'm also very interested in the workflow of other mappers. 
Reminded me I found these on - several videos for L4D2 workflow - scroll down and you'll see "L4D Environment Workflow"

Fascinating to watch and some generally useful information. Videos are sped up to 2x and about 6-10 minutes in length each. 
I didn't watch the whole thing, I mainly jumped around a bit and then sped up the last 5-10 minutes to 2x, but it looks like you spent 70 minutes making acouple of rooms. Cool rooms, admittedly, but still all that time for 2-3 rooms, when you could have tried blazing through half the layout in that time (assuming single player.)

I'm interested in knowing if this is a single player map or a death match map. I'd like to see the next vid focus on laying out the path the player will take over making some cool arches and cliffsides. 
What are those textures the guy is using in the videos posted by Zwiffle? It looks very interesting. 
The orange/grey textures are the development placeholder textures. If that's what you're referring to. Find them by searching for 'dev' in Hammer texture application. 
I've been reading this stuff I got from the site all about time management and how to just get shit done. I can't really go into it because by doing so I would be against the copyright laws (yeah, I paid to read someone's opinions on level design.) So I'm gonna try this out and see if I can get something done. 
Go map.

(That'll be $30 please) 
If you had read what I read, you'd know that's the exact WRONG thing to do. 
it's not a copyright violation to paraphrase, sumarrize, or otherwise convey the essence of a copyrighted work in your own words. 
I Heard And Read 
Th site a while back and found it too abstract and theoretical. Maybe I'm biased by what I've been hearing recently, but 'go map' does fucking work.

I'm tired of theory. I did that years ago, for years. 'Go Map - For Fun'

Intellectualisation is a retreat for not getting stuff done.

Or so I find. Another theory might be... 
Quark Hollow Maker 
Hearing the Quark digger mentioned in the mapping help thread reminded me of the hollow maker. It's an even more "extreme" version of the digger: it provides the outer bounding box brushes implicitly (and only digs against them, so you can put other brushes in the room with no problems). Basically you can map with one brush per room, and intersecting brushes in the hollow maker automatically become corridors.

I know this sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I was thinking that this could be an awesome tool for building a throwaway map prototype. It could at least improve your "sketching" speed, and get a map to a point where you can work on gameplay really quickly.

I haven't really tried doing a map this way.. so maybe it encourages box map design, but I'm planning to try it out on my next map. 
well, that's basically unreal mapping right there. :P

i guess if each of these hollow makers are only carving from themselves and not against other brushes, it'd be fine, but i dunno, it'd probably still be pretty messy. also, if it's auto combining other hollow brushes, if the joints aren't square, it could cause carving problems. no way to be sure unless you try i guess. :S 
I Once Tried It 
For a wheel type design - basically a big cube and a single complicated carving element. I built the single element then subtracted it from the big cube.

The cube ended up with the correct geometry and hacked to pieces, but I never edited the cube, just deleted it and edited the negative to make changes.

It seemed to work ok, but it was a small DM map. 
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