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Serious Editor Discuss mapping ideas & problems or show tutorials and maps.

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Old 11-17-2016, 06:11 AM   #1   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Newbie creator tips?

I'm making maps for a while now and I'm pretty confident that I know what I'm doing, but still.
I was wondering, what do you like in SS levels and what do you hate in them and just general tips.
Give me as much information as possible, this way I can improve and make my stuff better.

It doesn't matter if those things are small details or if they're very important. Take this as a poll of sorts and tell us. It'll help me and newbies and people who like listening to other people's opinions.
Thank.
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Old 11-17-2016, 07:36 AM   #2   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Newbie creator tips?

Here's a list of personal stuff I try to keep in mind. It's purely subjective, so do with it as you will.
  • Don't listen to others on how to make a map, it all comes down to what works best for you. Some people make a top-down plan first with the layout and maybe some 3D sketches, some people like to make a basic ugly boxed version to see if the gameplay works before they start adding details. I generally just wing it, I have a plan in my head of what a level should contain but most of the time it's not specific and I make shit up as I go (sometimes I have general ideas of what it should have and even rarer do I draw it). Find your groove.
  • Find balance in the gameplay: Maps with constant fighting aren't fun, but maps where you have to spend minutes just walking without action is just boring. Combine simple scripting (enemies are already there or appear in small numbers at a time without locked area) with arena style fights (locked area with complex scripting) or no enemies at all. When you force the player to backtrack always make sure to keep them occupied with enemies.
  • Make use of verticality. Enemies just running at you on the same plane is a mistake a lot of mappers make. I'm not saying everything has to have layers, but smart use of the Y-axis in design gives the impression of complexity where there is none.
  • Make use of odd enemy combinations. Using only a few enemy types per fight gets boring, enemies in Serious Sam are made to complement each other with their strengths, so experiment and keep it interesting. Also you can mess around with it like the Kami/Bull in Valley of the Kings or the cannon Bulls in City of the Gods.
  • Exploration. This is a personal thing but nothing gives the level depth and complexity like having optional areas that lead nowhere, open shortcuts or stuff like that. The perfect example is Harobed Village of Unreal: After you exit the structure you can go straight ahead in the canyons and follow the main path, or you can head left and explore the small village. Inside you'll find some houses, a well and a church with graveyard. If you explore around enough you find a hint that one of the graves is a passage and can reach the caves leading under the church and find more stuff, or explore to find the hidden weapon in the top of the church. It's like layered optional exploration.
  • Give the player the idea that they're in a big level: If you only make rooms and yards without anything beyond it, it shows that everything is only made for them and breaks immersion. So spend some of the rendering resources creating fake simple structures and details for example to give the impression of complexity.
  • Purely linear progression isn't fun. Create some paths that are found early on but are initially locked, then allow the player to come back to open them or even come back through one of the locked doors. Surprise us.
  • Don't make a player mistake cause a lot of backtracking. If you use verticality the player could fall down to the start, forcing them to walk the same part without enemies to keep it interesting. So make use of clever shortcuts to prevent this: a branch or pillar falling or simply a switch at the top layer opening a door.
  • Spend a lot of time testing and tweaking. And make sure to have at least one tester whose gameplay style is the polar opposite of yours, otherwise it might be really difficult for certain types of players.
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Last edited by Discy; 11-17-2016 at 07:39 AM.
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Old 11-17-2016, 09:13 AM   #3   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Newbie creator tips?

I say this a lot to beginners, but it's the most annoying thing I see: Don't make hallways or door entries too small - try playing your map in third person, if the camera jumps around too much you know they're too small. (This counts for single player and versus both, but especially in versus)
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Old 11-17-2016, 05:00 PM   #4   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Newbie creator tips?

I never make levels with sketches, I just do everything spontanousely.
I do it mainly, because verything that looks good on sketches look shit in the editor, also about exploration, this sounds very interesting, I may just steal use this idea!

I got some experience in creating from LittleBigPlanet, so tweaking and testing after applying every new change isn't that new for me.
I actually got Team Picked there!

Scratch, on small hallways, I have never noticed the problem or at least I didn't care about it that much, but do you mean like, hallways you can barely fit into or what? Could you elaborate a bit?
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Old 11-17-2016, 05:33 PM   #5   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Newbie creator tips?

I mean hallways where the camera jumps a lot if you look around in third person due to it being small. Eg. the camera doesn't fit. Small hallways are also annoying with projectile weapons, because it's very easy to accidentally kill yourself with a rocket or something.
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Old 11-18-2016, 02:19 PM   #6   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Newbie creator tips?

Ok, that sounds bad. Will keep that in mind.
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Old 11-25-2016, 01:33 PM   #7   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Newbie creator tips?

Pacing is one I personally find important. I don't like it when every single enemy type and weapon gets "discovered" in the first few minutes, with nothing "new" appearing again. Start out with only a few enemy types and limited arsenal. Then expand on it slowly. Depending on how quick-paced of a map you want to make.

Despite what many people would tell you, there is no set in stone weapon or enemy order you have to follow. You can put a lasergun at the beginning and a chainsaw at the end, demons at the beginning and rocketeers at the end. Go with what works for you and the map you're making.

Atmosphere. You can see me describe most of my maps as "atmosphere-centric". That's because I pay a lot of attention to how playing the map feels like. Slaying gnaars and rocketeers with a tommygun, deep inside a mayan temple, feels a lot different than killing grunts and zum'buls with a chainsaw, in an ancient Egypt setting. Experiment with the synergy of the enemies, the weapons, textures, architecture, models, lighting and triggers, and see what kind of feel works for your map. It's also good to put in events, that don't relate to fighting enemies or are purely aesthetic.

Also, story is a lot more important than what most people would tell you (although I might be saying that because I'm a writer myself). Don't go for the most obvious settings and please don't be it something like "we left Grand Cathedral, but we left something here, so let's go back". If you still decide to have a story like this, make it interesting.

It's also good if you can dissociate from the usual settings (mayan, medieval, egyptian, babylonian, etc.), make up something your own. I use a lot of unique settings of my own. I encourage people to do the same. Unless you purposefully want to imitate a certain style. In which case go nuts, but your map better be damn great.

And last but not least, grammar. There's nothing worse than someone misusing their/there/they're, messing up the proper usage of apostrophes, or Anubis help us, writes "should of".

Last edited by Jester Of Destiny; 11-25-2016 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 11-26-2016, 12:11 PM   #8   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Newbie creator tips?

Probably the most notable mistakes I see in custom maps are making areas too small (this is a 16 player game), putting too many random objects in them (breaks enemy Ai), unbalanced weapon choices (needs more powerful weapons), too many or too few ammo/health pickups, and poorly scripted battle sequences (not enough variety and not planned well so you end up with one spawner that keeps going long after the rest have stopped).

It is also a good idea to use the difficulty bits to make the game easier or harder by having more spawners for higher difficulty and less (or less powerful enemies) for lower difficultly. You can even try having some weapons only available in serious difficulty (haven't seen anyone try this yet).

Just some thoughts.
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Old 11-26-2016, 11:25 PM   #9   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: Newbie creator tips?

I remember John Romero had a lot of tips for when he made levels in the original Doom. A lot of these principles translate to other games.
Quote:
If your level includes powerful monsters, it should also offer powerful weapons. Very few people want to fight a Cyberdemon with a pistol. (However, if the player has an alternate way to kill the monster they may be willing to forgive this; see Cyberdreams.)

Do not give out the most powerful weapons right in the beginning. Giving the player a BFG and a large amount of cells right away is rarely a good idea, since it tends to lessen the suspense of the level by making the player feel all-powerful and the monsters much less of a threat.

Items (especially the best powerups) should be used sparingly, except for ammo.

It is often a good idea to visualize the basic layout of the level before actually building it in a level editor. After the layout is ready, you can build the actual map and add the details. Adding a huge amount of detailed architecture is not necessary (improperly detailed architecture can even snag a player), but few people like, for example, square and flat levels ala Wolfenstein 3D either. In the end it does not really matter whether you use very detailed architecture or a more simplistic approach, as long as the level looks good.

Always changing floor height when I wanted to change floor textures.
Using special border textures between different wall segments and doorways.
Being strict about texture alignment.
Conscious use of contrast everywhere in a level between light and dark areas, cramped and open areas.
Making sure that if a player could see outside that they should be able to somehow get there.
Being strict about designing several secret areas on every level.
Making my levels flow so the player will revisit areas several times so they will better understand the 3D space of the level.
Creating easily recognizable landmarks in several places for easier navigation.

Do not create inescapable traps or areas, such as pits without exit, which force the player to noclip their way out of them or reload a saved game. (You may be able to get away with this if it is in the very beginning of a map, thus when the player dies, not much progress is lost when the player restarts.) An inescapable sector with a damaging floor or a crushing ceiling might be easier to forgive, but it is usually in good taste to include a teleporter out of the sector.
He also described creating Doom's levels as a process of building and constant playtesting. He would build a little and run through the map constantly to get a sense of how the level should flow naturally and where he should place weapons/items. It's very important to get a sense of how the level feels like to play through since you can create a very hyper detailed map that is confusing to actually play.

Even though Serious Sam isn't story driven it's important to have some kind of relatively simple plot in mind for where the player is going. Like understanding what kind of environment the player is in. Because it's very jarring to go from one level where Sam is in Egypt to immediately exit to one where he's in a lush jungle with no explanation. To use an example Serious Sam TFE starts out with the player in very wide open levels like Hatshepsut before transitioning into much more grand and city levels like Luxor and Metropolis before heading towards the Great Pyramid. Which is the location the game is building up to. This contrast is noticeable on a subconscious level and makes the player feel more invested.

Last edited by ReindeerFlotilla; 11-26-2016 at 11:40 PM.
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