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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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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. 
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