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How Do You Design Your Stuff?
I was enjoying the talk about mapping methodology in the RMQ thread and I personally think it could make an interesting thread in itself...

I plan a lot (far from all) of a basic layout on paper first, just for a rough flow overview, usually changing it a lot when adding monsters and such and then finding out it doesn't work as I expected. Although I often make something out of throwing together one area/fight I like and bolting bits onto the sides. As I said in the the RMQ thread I dislike doing architecture and it's usually the last thing on my mind, apart from thinking about grander elements such as large buildings or centerpieces... this btw is one of the main reasons I haven't properly finished anything yet :P

I don't have a scanner so sorry for cack pic

Anyone else care to share their ideas/techniques? :)
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What I'd Like To Think I'd Do 
if I ever make some single player experience is plan it as a succession of thoughts and feelings I want the player to go through and then build the world around that.

Then you could also measure how well you do by interviewing your testers. 
Thats 
Kind of my approach, but I think there is a set structure for it. Especially when in a game like Quake there are very specific emotions you're wanting to provoke.

A lot of it has to do with the flow of a level. A high is not a high when its swamped in highs.

On the other hand, Quake is a game about running around lightning fast and blowing the shit out of monsters.

I suppose its a balance.

For such an emotional design concept I think you'd have to have a big team of testers, but I don't think it'd need custom progs if done right. 
 
I think as feelings are involved variety is a key point. Combat is the central aspect but not all combat is the same, so it's about pacing the player and taking them through an ebb and flow of building up to a bigger fight, and then allowing them to relax again afterward. This is certainly the main focus of my base map :E

Usually points out a bad map for me is one where the combat remains of the same form and same intensity all the way through. 
True 
But I'd say thats a mediocre map. A bad map is one where you get lost and don't know what you're doing.

Or worse, you do it, then wander around because the exit wasn't compelling. 
Awesome Post, Gb 
and ijed, I think these ideas will help me, and others :-)

When mapping I get the most immediate gratification from building little "nibbles" of gameplay; maybe 1-2 rooms with 4 or 5 monsters. Usually starting with browsing through the id1 textures and finding something inspiring, and then building on to it until I have something that looks cool. This is fun, but I struggle with making interesting gameplay and have trouble building full maps...

Right now I'm working on a small map pack, and trying to do a better job of top-down planning so that the maps make sense and have better gameplay and progression 
Cat Out Of The Bag Time 
Something I've noticed, both through playing episode 4, and remaking one of the maps, is that episode 4 has a lot of flat or fairly flat maps. There aren't many places that you can go over/under. I do wonder if this has something to do with Sandy Petersen being a Doom mapper before being a Quake mapper...

For both the levels that I've worked on since joining the RMQ team (the aforementioned ep4 map and a chainmap with gb) is that sketching out the levels can often mean you end up with a flat, Doom-like map. Yes, you can have height variation. But there's very little over/under unless you actually put some in. Which can be difficult to visualize on a piece of paper.

Having multiple height levels running throughout your map not only means you can do a lot more revisiting, but it also allows you to get to different parts of the map a lot easier. There's less travel time, especially if you provide a way of getting up faster (down is usually less of an issue).

that's a pretty German-efficient method for building a level

Vorsprung durch Technik as they say on Trac... 
 
Something I've noticed, both through playing episode 4, and remaking one of the maps, is that episode 4 has a lot of flat or fairly flat maps. There aren't many places that you can go over/under. I do wonder if this has something to do with Sandy Petersen being a Doom mapper before being a Quake mapper...

Nail on the head I think. On the other hand e3m7 is one of the most vertically designed maps in ID1 and most of the time you don't even notice it. 
 
Ha, I saw e3m7, decided to launch Quake to see what map it is then already planned to reply to say how much I love The Haunted Halls with its vertical gameplay (and creme de la creme metal looks). 
 
See I'm a fan of verticality when it's about creating interesting combat scenarios, but since I like fairly tight control over player position and progression, creating vast open vertical towers of stuff isn't that inspiring for me.

I should perhaps give it a go though, I'll try making an Oil Rig style level :E 
 
vast open vertical towers or generally big open areas are boring and broken in Quake so thanks god you don't. I don't think anyone meant that either. Quake was designed as a tight and close-up game so obviously that's what works best (and to me by that is most fun). Still you can have a lot of vertical elements in small space. 
 
Ceremonial circles is pretty tight, but has lots vertical space.

Playing it in a mod that has Z-Aware Ogres is great. 
DM4 
is also a good example. 
 
But there's very little over/under unless you actually put some in. Which can be difficult to visualize on a piece of paper.

True, this is why I usually make no sketches.

It can also be good to just lay down a floor plan, then give your map to someone else who creates the height variation (decides where you should have stairs etc) and maybe adds a second level / walkway that winds around the map, connected by lifts for example. This will give you a pretty good amount of verticality often (and you can place sniping monsters up there).

It's also sometimes good to put different parts of the map at a completely different height level.

DOOM btw has a lot of height variation in terms of ramps, stairs and lifts, just no room over room.

Actually room over room is rarely required in Quake either, except where you have a lift or something similar. It's a big step to have a second level inside the same room - platforms with ogres on them, catwalk crossing the room etc.

Many commercial shooters are very flat these days. At most you'll see two levels in the same room, which is "enough" - but sometimes more can be nice.

It often helps to just cut out doorways higher up the wall and connect them. This allows you to reuse the area, as well. 
Ceremonial Circles 
is one of my favourite maps. 
Vertical Designs On Paper.... 
how about drawing a side view? 
My Idea Is... 
... each time to do something that has never been done... else, it is yet another Quake map...
Well, I do not have the talent of necros (as example), and I am a poor qc coder, but I am trying to innovate in each map in each part (topic, sounds, texture, etc...)

So basically, I try to put the rough architecture layout on the paper, as well as main player route (i.e SK/GK Doors, etc...) and the final fight must be epic as far as possible...
Once done, it clarifies what needs to be done, and then I start to map...
... and if I am lucky 6 month later I release my stuff.. but I guess nowadays, it will be longer, unless if I am not aiming a giant map ;) 
Thinking Sideways 
how about drawing a side view?

I find that harder to visualize than a top view. Also, there's more going on sideways; there's usually at least one "sideways" you can't show with a side view... 
 
there's usually at least one "sideways" you can't show with a side view.

So draw two side views... In most technical drawings, there's generally 2 or 3 views per layer that are
- top view
- front view
- side view

with all this you can have a good idea of what will be the 3D rendering of your stuff..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_drawing#Types_of_technical_drawings for further details ;) 
Seems Like A Lot Of Work To Draw 3 Views 
I mean, you might as well just make a rudimentary version in editor. 
 
ya at that point if I still wanted to draw it I'd just do a perspective sketch :E 
 
same here, I'd rather do a perspective drawing than a side view.

It's faster to just make the stuff in the editor though.

Top down view is the one that gives the best overall view of the layout. 
 
top down is best for a horizontal layout. I think what metslime was driving at was that a vertical map or section of works better drawn that way.

As for doing more comlex stuff, i think a rough perspective would be most useful, and easy to do. 
 
I've got to try perspective sketches sometime. 
Rawr 
I just tend to go straight into the editor after looking at some reference shots of the kind of thing I want to make. I usually have a pretty good sense of the visual aesthetic already but things like layouts I just tend to build them as they come to mind.

Sometimes this means I have to rip up and rebuild areas as it becomes clear that they won't work, but I've never really been good at planning maps ahead of time so I just accept that it's going to happen :)

I also tried something new with my l4d2 map, I basicly finished the entire map before I even posted any screenshots online of it, as a trap I've fallen into many times before is making a really cool section of a map, getting excited about it and uploading a bunch of shots only to never work on it again. I found with the l4d2 map I had more energy to finish it the further in I got without actually showing anyone what I had made so far. Not sure why this was the case but it worked great for me! 
 
It's faster to just make the stuff in the editor though.

This, for me, 100%. If you just keep it rough blocks and ignore any aesthetics or detailing, you can easily block something out from scratch, and also experiment with different connections and verticality, and be able to see how it feels to move through, much more clearly than via any sort of drawing or 2d plan. 
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