First 'Completed' Map - Suggestions and Tips Please

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First 'Completed' Map - Suggestions and Tips Please

Post Aug 13th '13, 04:11

I finally got around to making an actual map as opposed to just experimenting or writing weland plugins. This map was originally inspired by RyokoTK's Claustrophilia project, though I didn't read the constraints/requirements closely enough initially and only realized what I was working on wouldn't be appropriate for that project after I was well into it. So, this is a small, single player map with (almost) no overlapping and a plan for a goal which could easily be worked into just about any story. I say a plan for a goal/objective because what I had planned may not work - at least not the way I intended to.

It's not exactly complete - there's no monsters or weapons, though it's pretty obvious where those will end up. There's also no scenery items or sounds, but again, I think those will be fairly simple and quick to add if it turns out this is worth bringing to absolute completion.

I'd really like to get some constructive feedback on the overall layout as well as architectural details, lighting, etc. (I added a bunch of labels/annotations to make it easy to refer to different areas.) It definitely has some problems:

I know the texturing sucks. Besides being color blind, I don't seem to understand the texture sets. I look at the textures and try to figure out which ones are flooring, wallpapering, etc. and get nowhere. Also, I have no idea how to deal with texturing surfaces that aren't even multiples of 1/8 WU, or floors and ceilings where the edges aren't exactly north/south or east/west (see the drop lighting in the hallways for an example of this).

I don't think there's enough variation in elevation, but I tried to mix it up as best I could given the overall design.

The lighting in some places just doesn't create enough contrast. Part of the problem with this is that most of the textures already have some differential shading inherently, so I find it really hard to apply lighting in a consistent way.

The switches for the garage area doors (in the north and south control rooms) don't work like I thought they would. I have two switches controlling the same tag, but they don't remain synchronized. I thought if two switches are controlling the same tag that flipping one would automatically flip the other, but apparently this isn't the case?

I haven't decided which (if either) detail I like better on the side walls of the garage area, so there's two distinctly different things going on there. Also, despite multiple revisions, I really don't like the gantry crane (across the center of the garage areas).

The platform in the incinerator room is supposed to be secret, but it still has a big bold outline on the automap making it completely obvious. No idea how to fix that. At least the switch for it is decently hidden. (The idea is to put a couple of shotguns and a bunch of ammo on the low ledge on the far side of that room, which should be very useful for fighting in the smaller rooms.)

There's probably a number of other problems, but this post is already too long so I'll just post the damn thing.
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jonny

Post Aug 13th '13, 10:47

A small tip: Don't try and find floor or wall or ceiling textures or whatever, just find a texture that looks good on as the floor or the ceiling or whatever. Doesn't matter what the texture was intended for.
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craZboy557

Post Aug 13th '13, 18:09

Yeah, that's kind of what I meant - most of them (the Infinity textures) look ridiculous on the floor, regardless of what the designer intended. Ultimately, I figure that's a minor problem and probably easily fixed by using larger texture sets. I wish I had the skills to create my own textures, but I'm afraid my artistic talents in that area are, uh, less than adequate.

Any thoughts on the overall layout?
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jonny

Post Oct 4th '13, 01:30

Actually, the textures looked pretty decently placed to me, though I'd understand if they weren't exactly what you intended.

As for the overall layout, I liked it! Admittedly I'm not the person to ask when it comes to Netmaps and placement of things, but I think you did a great job on the architecture.
"The greatest lie is that of omission." -Marathon: Silence (Coming sooner or later)
ColdGoldLazarus
Earth, presumably...

Post Oct 6th '13, 05:33

A few thoughts...
  • Learn to make good looking curves without the oval plugin. With practice you'll get a feel for where you don't need to use so many line segments, and it'll serve you well when you want to make different kinds of curves than regular arcs.
  • I thought there were too many switches, and too many of them were out of sight from the platforms they affect. It's not very fun to flip them one by one and then run around the map trying to figure out what you just did. One can argue that's just part of the game, but more than a few in the same area becomes cumbersome for the player. Ask yourself, is the switch there to impart a sense that this is a big, important door? Is the door part of a larger plan for how the player progresses through the level? If not, consider if the switch is even necessary.
  • Combining textures the way you are in some places is tricky. I think the split wall detail work in the octagonal rooms, and the hallway outside them, looks good and works well. I think the pfhor/lava texture combo on the walls of the garages don't work as well. It's harder to make work when you combine texture sets. The texture sets are designed to go well color-wise with each other. So for someone that's colorblind, I recommend against mixing & matching sets within the same room.
  • Yes, texture alignment can be tricky. Since you can't stretch the textures, your options when things don't line up are to adjust the geometry (such as by pushing the vertices around so the perimeter is a little longer or shorter, or adding a line of 'trim' that uses a different texture), use a more seamless texture, or do the best you can and live with it.
  • I was going to offer tips on lighting since you asked about it. Then I took a look at the map in Weland.
    WelandScreenSnapz003.png

    Yikes! Okay, after seeing that:
  • A rule of thumb: if it's half a square world unit in area, and you have to break it up into multiple polygons because it's more than 8 sides, you're using too many sides.
  • You really should be able to pull this off with fewer than 43 lights. A new map starts with 20 lights at 5% increments in intensity. The difference between 85% intensity and 80% intensity is very small: small enough that putting them side by side, it's hard to notice the seam where it changes. It looks like you're putting more effort into getting a smooth gradient than is worth it.

Lastly, let's look at this part.
WelandScreenSnapz003.png

  • You don't need so many segments for that semicircle. The player won't see the difference, and you'll save yourself a lot of unnecessary texturing & lighting.
  • To connect the semicircle to the rest, you want to use the vertices that are there, not put a bunch more vertices in the middle when there's no reason (height change, texture change, light change) for a break in that spot.
  • In the corners of this area, you have clusters of vertices where you should just use a single vertex.
Put together, this would be a better way to do that area.
FinderScreenSnapz001.png
FinderScreenSnapz001.png (10.6 KiB) Viewed 2064 times
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Crater Creator

Post Oct 15th '13, 06:49

I've been away for several weeks, but I was happy to see some feedback on this.

ColdGoldLazarus - Thanks for the compliments. It's definitely not a netmap, and would absolutely suck as one even if I connected all of the octagonal rooms north to south.

CraterCreator - Thanks for all the input. I think you misunderstood some things, though:

Crater Creator wrote:Learn to make good looking curves without the oval plugin. With practice you'll get a feel for where you don't need to use so many line segments, and it'll serve you well when you want to make different kinds of curves than regular arcs.


Yeah ... since I'm the guy that wrote the circle drawing plugin, I'm not likely to stop using it. Also, I think you don't understand how it works. The number of segments used is a user controllable parameter. It can make circular curves with as many or as few segments as you need depending on radius, smoothness required, or (as was the case here) lighting requirements. I probably did use too many on the pillar at the western edge of the garage, but the counter example you give below looks like shit. I'd completely notice how blocky that is, even in the middle of a battle.

As for doing curves that aren't circular, I can either do them by hand as you suggest, or just write some other code to do it for me. It'd be super easy to rewrite the circle plugin with, say, a sine wave plugin or an ellipse, or any other curve which can be mathematically modeled (which is essentially anything).

Crater Creator wrote:I thought there were too many switches, and too many of them were out of sight from the platforms they affect. It's not very fun to flip them one by one and then run around the map trying to figure out what you just did. One can argue that's just part of the game, but more than a few in the same area becomes cumbersome for the player. Ask yourself, is the switch there to impart a sense that this is a big, important door? Is the door part of a larger plan for how the player progresses through the level? If not, consider if the switch is even necessary.


Can you be more specific about this? There are two switches (one in each of the control rooms in the garage area) that don't do anything and in fact were nothing more than placeholders. I probably should have put a 1x recharger or save term in there instead. Other than that though, there are only two switches (again, in each control room) where you can't directly see the results of hitting a switch, and both of those control the nearby heavy doors connecting the garage to the other half of the level. IIRC, you can hear them quite clearly when you flip either switch. Also, as noted in the original post, I had a problem with the switches that control the outer garage doors getting out of sync. If you flip one and then go to the other and flip it, nothing happens. I'm still not sure how to fix that, i.e., how to keep two tag switches in sync. I thought that was supposed to happen automatically.

Crater Creator wrote:Combining textures the way you are in some places is tricky. I think the split wall detail work in the octagonal rooms, and the hallway outside them, looks good and works well. I think the pfhor/lava texture combo on the walls of the garages don't work as well. It's harder to make work when you combine texture sets. The texture sets are designed to go well color-wise with each other. So for someone that's colorblind, I recommend against mixing & matching sets within the same room.


I kind of liked the lava brick texture next to the pfhor "blue stone" textures. Does that not look good to folks with normal color vision? The side walls (north and south) of the garage were still undecided. I never did figure out a great look for that. The textures on the gantry crane were crap as noted in the original post.

Crater Creator wrote:Yes, texture alignment can be tricky. Since you can't stretch the textures, your options when things don't line up are to adjust the geometry (such as by pushing the vertices around so the perimeter is a little longer or shorter, or adding a line of 'trim' that uses a different texture), use a more seamless texture, or do the best you can and live with it.


Yeah, I'm learning to live with it where I can't do anything about it. I've been waiting for 1.1 to be officially released to make a new feature request to allow for texture scaling and rotation in addition to translation (which we have). It used to be possible with the OS 9 tools (Forge+Chisel), and I think it's worthwhile to integrate that functionality into the engine. It actually shouldn't be too hard, but we'll see what Treellama and Hopper think about that.

Crater Creator wrote:
  • I was going to offer tips on lighting since you asked about it. Then I took a look at the map in Weland.
    WelandScreenSnapz003.png

    Yikes! Okay, after seeing that:
  • A rule of thumb: if it's half a square world unit in area, and you have to break it up into multiple polygons because it's more than 8 sides, you're using too many sides.
  • You really should be able to pull this off with fewer than 43 lights. A new map starts with 20 lights at 5% increments in intensity. The difference between 85% intensity and 80% intensity is very small: small enough that putting them side by side, it's hard to notice the seam where it changes. It looks like you're putting more effort into getting a smooth gradient than is worth it.


Ok, you don't understand the lights in the garage area. That absolutely cannot be done with fewer lights. You might not have seen an earlier post I did about that exact feature, but it's specifically designed to create a really cool effect in which the lighting fades when the outer doors close except in the areas that are lit by the lights on the central pillar. There are some very small polys that I could probably nix, but never really needed to since this was such a small map to begin with. There are a couple of issues with the lights and shadows (e.g., when the outer doors are closed I can't make the shadow on the elevators disappear when they are raised), but overall I really like that effect. The reason it takes so many lights is because there are several distinct fades between specific values. The biggest problem with it is that there's a good chance the player won't notice it when flipping the switch in the control room. The answer to that, though, is to open up the control room, not to get rid of the effect.

Crater Creator wrote:
    Lastly, let's look at this part.
    WelandScreenSnapz003.png

  • You don't need so many segments for that semicircle. The player won't see the difference, and you'll save yourself a lot of unnecessary texturing & lighting.
  • To connect the semicircle to the rest, you want to use the vertices that are there, not put a bunch more vertices in the middle when there's no reason (height change, texture change, light change) for a break in that spot.
  • In the corners of this area, you have clusters of vertices where you should just use a single vertex.
Put together, this would be a better way to do that area.
FinderScreenSnapz001.png


Yes, I probably used a few too many segments on that pillar, but your counter proposal looks like crap (no offense intended). Also, your solution completely ignores the lighting situation there. I'm pretty sure I can do a better job with it (and the entire map for that matter) and if I recreate this map in a larger fashion I certainly will fix that bit and the similar nightmare on the pillar under the command room just east of there.

I may have come across a little defensive on this, but I don't mean to be. I just wanted to correct some assumptions and/or missed features. I've definitely learned quite a bit since originally posting this first attempt, and I really appreciate any feedback/input/constructive criticism I can get.
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jonny

Post Oct 15th '13, 07:09

It's been a while since I looked at this map, so I forgot the switches in the Pump Control Room. Yeah, you don't have direct view of what those two switches do, but seriously, if you have a hard time figuring those out, you probably shouldn't be playing Marathon. The platforms they control are in the room immediately next door and are loud as hell!
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jonny

Post Apr 19th '14, 19:22

Overall I don't think it's bad. The lighting is a bit flat, and I don't think the use of multiple texture sets is justified.
Try more variation between floor and walls and between different rooms, interior/exterior, etc.
Johnman


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