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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2004 5:17 pm
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There you go guys... your area is here...

Wish you luck.. and I'll check in from time to time... All members of the Mapping Masters have Moderator status in this area... and only those in the Mapping Masters Group may enter... (with the exception of the admins).

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2004 5:54 pm
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Thanks BrotherTank!

Now we're ready to go...I'm going to dig up all of the ideas I started putting down on paper regarding level design as an "art form"...in the meantime, has anyone else involved on the project had any ideas regarding delegating responsibility for certain topics/articles, or how we should organize submissions to the greater document?
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:30 am
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My original idea was just to write up anything I can think of to start and if people wanted to write anything, just put them in as additions. That may or may not work, though, and it also makes it less of a community thing. I still think dividing up sections to each person might leave people out of adding something that isn't related to their assigned topic, so I'll see if I can think of another way. If anybody else has any ideas, too, go ahead and put them here.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 1:01 pm
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Ok Jack, Here's my thoughts...

Create 1 thread/topic for each section of the guide...
ie:
  
Building a Storyline
  
Floor Design/Layout
  
Graphics Choices
  
Tricks with Guards
  
Tricks with Floor Codes
  
Using Ceiling/Floor Textures (Darkones Tutorial) Effectively

etc.... and so on...

And then people can post their ideas about the topic. When you have enough input and information gathered, then it can be added to the main guide. Anyone can start a section as long as they make sure that if it is referenced to another that they post within the thread referenced - refering back to the current thread..

How's that for an idea?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 6:12 pm
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Sounds like a good idea, Greg. Though I'm still a ways from releasing a set of levels (I have almost 6 done out of my goal of a full 60), I'd be happy to contribute some of my ideas and suggestions, as well as theories and my thoughts, for my approach to level design here if it's cool with everyone :)

Organizing this monster of a document is going to be a challenge, Jack... I wouldn't expect to figure it out in a day. For now, let's just see what everyone is going to contribute and we'll just figure it out on the fly. The best thing to do might be just to release a document full of everyone's articles and short guides on the basic idea of designing standard (no source changes) levels for Wolf3D and SoD. On topics such as integrating good source code changes with good level design, graphics design, music selection, etc, these may be good topics for everyone to collaborate on as these topics are still new terrain and there are many ways to integrate them all together nicely, if you know what you're doing.

The thing I like about this idea is that every author has the freedom to write their guide however they want. They also get full credit for any of their original, unique ideas instead of having them just tossed in with a million other ideas by a dozen other authors. It also kind of breaks up the document and makes it easier to digest and reference...Instead of reading through one monster article, you can take your time and read each different author's guide one at a time. It also shows the reader just how many different opinions went into this thing, in case he or she has any doubts. The downsides...As Jack stated, it does kinda kill the community thing in a way, and if someone leaves something important out of their article it might prove disasterous to the newbie who didn't read the next guy's article.

The best remedy for the latter problem that I can immediately think of would be to write up a few basic sections on "Getting Started" on topics such as the basic principles of floor codes, guard AI and behavior, getting accustomed with MapEdit and FloEdit, proper placement of doors to avoid errors in your design, bugs in the game which may occur, etc and stick all these at the beginning of the article. The guide could then be divided up into Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, with all the "Getting Started" stuff in the Basic section, the guides submitted by the authors in the Intermediate section, and source code mods etc. placed in the Advanced or Technical part of the guide. This idea is probably what Jack was thinking originally from the sounds of things, but I thought I'd go into what I was thinking (which turned out to be similiar to Jack's idea) and possibly remedy some of the flaws of this basic idea.

Even if this does sound a good idea to everyone now, we still don't know what everyone plans on submitting, and someone will probably submit something that can't be fit into these guidelines but is still an excellent document that none of us would have the heart to cut up :) So, keep those suggestions coming on how to organize this thing...

-Ian
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:54 pm
   Subject: merge test 48
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I have a weird feeling about the way this is being set up, and the things that some people (not Jack) have been focusing on all along. I am glad that the main focus for most of you seems to be on original-style (as opposed to coding enhanced) wolf3d levels at the moment though. I'm going to refrain from posting anything, since I'm not really sure how much outside contributions Jack wanted for the guide; but he seems to be swamped with contributors and pressure for this already with this new forum being created. If you ever want me to help with anything in particular, though, I'd rather if we just PM each other sometime Jack; unless this project turns into a full out community thing (or if a project like this is eventually spawed from it down the road).

There's quite a few threads on Mapping Mania I found good for inspiration, like these:

http://diehardwolfers.areyep.com/viewtopic.php?t=954
http://diehardwolfers.areyep.com/viewtopic.php?t=146
http://diehardwolfers.areyep.com/viewtopic.php?t=1173

Like Jack, I've also been working on something that has do with exploring people's level design styles off and on for quite awhile; but it's alot different than people may think... and more of just a personal experiment than anything (usually been just filling up on a document on my computer as I make new observations for it). Anyways, good luck with your project Jack! If this project ever gets finalized, whatever the results, I'm sure it will provide for some interesting reading material. Smile

P.S. I kept getting the "No post mode specified" error on this forum. If this place becomes too much of a problem, I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to just to transfer it all back to Jack's original thread and post our ideas in different Mapping Mania threads.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 7:33 am
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Don't know if I could contribute anything to this considering the mapping expertise of some of the contributors. I have my own approach to level creation - get a rough idea for a layout, think of original level design ideas (and yes, I'm a big believer in making the most of new features to enhance level design as opposed to just using new features for the sake of it, but then this mapping guide may not be something that should take in this area), start simple and build on from there. I guess a level design often has a unique flavour depending on who made it, so general type tips would be the go?
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 11:58 am
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To put in a few words hereÖ
I think Ian has a good point about making it a guide in more parts. One or more parts presenting the groupís joint features, to make it an effort of the community, and another part presenting every contributorís independent entry so that no one will leave out interesting points. Of course, again like Ian says, it could turn out a big job deciding on the nature of the joint part (for example something like what Greg or Ian suggested or whatever is agreed upon) and organising it, and Jack, being the one who is to do that from what I understand, must decide on this of course.

Where I'm concerned I wrote during the weekend about half of the article I plan to contribute. Some elements that I have discussed earlier in my own guide and at the forum are included, they became necessary, but most of it will be completely new.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 12:35 pm
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AReyeP wrote:
I'm a big believer in making the most of new features to enhance level design


I couldn't agree more. I really think there should be an opening for adding design tips based on new features, though the main emphasis ought to be on designing levels in general (that is for the original game) since Wolf mod makers may use entirely different source code modifications if any at all.

Well, my thoughts anyway...

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 8:21 pm
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Hmmm, I guess everyone has their own ideas as to how to go about designing a level. So the guide would have to stick to known facts I guess (eg: putting a "deaf guard" floor code in front of a door results in invisible door etc). And perhaps then people such as Gary Ragland, BJ Rowan, Ack, Chris, Poet etc could contribute their personal thoughts on the approaches they use when designing new levels, their favourite tricks, what they're trying to achieve etc.

Too many cooks spoil the broth so I hope I haven't just blown into the kitchen here pouring salt into plans for this thing Razz
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 8:43 pm
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I agree totally with AreyeP and Poet on using new source code features to enhance level design. Although I primarily am a lover of more traditional or "oldschool" levels that focus on recreating the atmosphere of the original game while integrating new traps and surprises without source code mods, there have been some great TCs that took a more "modern" approach with awesome results...Spear Resurrection immediately comes to mind. Spear Resurrection integrated the source code changes beautifully with good solid level design and atmosphere. It was just enough to push the game into the 21st century while still retaining that oldschool atmosphere we all love.

As I stated in a previous post in the Wolfenstein 3D forum, I think source code mods are great as long as they are not the main attraction to a game. The point of the game should be more than just to "Wow" and dazzle players of the game... It should suck you into the storyline and atmosphere more and more with each new room or area where you almost forget you're playing a crusty old 16-bit game with no light shading or textured floors and ceilings :)

As far as a section devoted to source code changes, indeed it would be impossible to list and document every source code mod available or possible, as you never know what your designer will dream up themselves. However, I think some basic guidelines could be included in terms of integrating some of the more popular mods for the best results possible. Sections on effectively using light shading to create a good atmosphere (how dark a particular type of room should be, when and when not to use fog, when to totally kill light shading, etc), good tips on using textures (what kind of patterns work and don't work, using the right ones for your levels, choosing good color schemes, etc), selecting good music, tips on importing music into the game for best results, changing ceiling colors to match your design scheme (along with common and not so common suggestions on colors...Eg., instead of a basic "Gray" ceiling color for your level with primarily gray stone walls, why not try a dark red or brown color and see how that changes the tone of the level ?), etc etc etc. Just the basic, popular mods that everyone is using now and how to best use them, yet encourage the readers to experiment so they develop their own unique mod that isn't like the other one released last week by another guy...

This is going to be a monster project that's going to take some time to organize. If Jack can organize this thing, he definitely must be a Die Hard Wolfer.... ;) In the meantime, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what he thinks of as far as organizing and piecing this thing together. I haven't written anything yet as I'm waiting to see who all will be selected to contribute to this document. In the meantime, I'm just offering up some suggestions on organizing it in hopes it will either help or spark some ideas here....

-Ian
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 11:41 pm
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I can help with organizing the whole project into one document (html? ASCII-style textfiles? - I can help with all of it).

I like AReyeP's idea very much, but let's don't over-use it, or the whole project will turn into one big interview Smile. Brothertank's plan sounds good too, and with Ian's stuff added, it should be awesome.

Oh, so who's going to work at what? Are we going to have any "jobs", or everyone submits what he wants? Very Happy

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 12:55 am
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Heh, Martin, I was just about to come back and inquire about what format this document was going to be distributed in and you've already asked the question :) Cool :)

At first, I was going to suggest distributing the whole thing in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format, but then I thought against it. Personally, I hate PDF files as they tend to be huge, clunky to navigate and painful to read without zooming in at 10X magnification :P

My next thought was to suggest distributing it in ASCII text-file format, but I don't know how well that would work as some authors might want to include a few graphics with their tutorials (such as screenshots of MapEdit at work to show the reader what the author is talking about first-hand rather than trying to draw a crappy sketch with letters and symbols that *sort-of* conveys the artist's idea to a novice designer). It wouldn't be impossible to distribute this thing in ASCII format, but it would be kinda ugly looking...

I think the best idea would be to distribute it as a set of HTML pages in a .ZIP archive that could be extracted to a directory on somebody's HD with all the neccessary text and graphics included. The pages would load quick, be easy to copy and reference and available on multi-platforms (even on old DOS machines, provided they have a DOS web browser...I recommend Arachne for a browser in that case).

I think Greg mentioned possibly hosting this document on the DHW site in its own special place (Sorry, correct me if I'm wrong there, Greg). I don't know if Jack is going to do that or not or if there will be a site for this thing or not. Even if there is a site, it would still be nice to have this thing in an easy to distribute form you could take with you anywhere you went without having to visit a website every five minutes... (Of course, you could just save the web pages to your HD from the official site, but that's a pain with larger docs).

Steve (AreyeP): Those are pretty much my suggestions for the organization of this thing, if Jack's into it. There would have to be several sections, of course, but the basic flow would be something like:

PART I: GETTING STARTED
- Setting up MapEdit
- Setting up FloEdit
- Understanding Floor Codes
- Basic study of guard AI
- Making secret areas
- Known bugs in the game
- Etc etc etc... (All the basic stuff covered in the Mapedit guides explained in greater detail here in this section)

PART II: THE GUIDES
- Jack's guide
- BJ Rowan's guide
- (Etc etc etc...All the authors who contributed their opinions, documents and articles and what not)

PART III: MESSING UP THE SOURCE CODE
- Some minor tutorials and explanations as well as code changing philosophies, etc

PART IV: Troubleshooting
- Weird errors that may occur when editing Wolf / SoD

(and on and on and on, but that would be my suggestion)....

Again there's the downside that this route does make the document extremely large, but I honestly like the idea a lot. I don't think it would feel "Interview like" as Martin pointed out, as "Part II" (or whatever it's called) would be just a huge collection of various authors' new guides and their in depth look into what makes this game great. Since all the authors interested in contributing to the document have very different methods of approaching design, I doubt the document would get repititive or mention the same things twice, especially if all the basic stuff (placing doors correctly, basic understanding of guards and enemies, secret areas and how to make them, etc) is taken care of in Part I "Getting Started" of the document. The guides in Part II at this point would focus on how the given designer feels about levels, their methods, how they design, what they think makes or breaks a level, setting effective traps, good guard placement, planning a level and whatever else they felt like including.

ANYWAY...That's what I'm thinking, all mapped out. It would be a big-bastard of a document, but it would allow you to really get inside the heads of the designers you admire and I guess that's what I like about it...Again, it's all up to Jack as this whole document was his fault in the first place ... ;)

Another huge post by
-Ian
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 6:16 am
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I second your thoughts about PDF, Ian - but if someone prefers using Acrobat format, then I don't think it's such a big problem to convert HTML files into it. I could take care of that and the design of HTML files (I'll play around with layouting tonight, will post what I made).

By the way, there should be a "Common Mapping Bugs" section, maybe under Troubleshooting? It could show a few common bugs that people make very often, like creating landscape walls without an empty space from upright (dunno if it's the right word, used dictionary Smile) wall, Boss field of view aspects etc.

And by the way, you know.. the whole Interview-style thing I was talking about, it could be pretty awesome on the other hand - asking the top mappers in our community about how do they make some certain stuff. That type of organizing the guide would be pretty clean, and also would let easily compare and choose the best method for the potential user of the guide. I don't know if it makes sense when we have the Guides in - just a thought, what do you think?

Martin

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 5:58 pm
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Hmmm...Maybe you're right about the interviews, Martin. I was going to suggest putting in a "Summary" at the end of the guide which could contain some final words from the authors (Like some last minute tips that might not have fit into their guides, some words of encouragement, maybe a plug for their websites, etc). As far as using more straight up "Interview"-type documents maybe allowing the authors to explain their work and what they're trying to say with their maps, how they prefer to design, etc, those could be placed at the beginning of each author's guide as a sort of "Introduction" or "Foreward" to allow the reader to choose what they want to read ahead of time, decide if this is or isn't worth their time or to truly hook the reader and make them interested in a particular author or style. Not a bad idea :)

I agree with the troubleshooting and "Common Problems" sections...I think I listed "troubleshooting" in my rough suggestion for organization which would have covered more technical bugs with the Wolf3D engine (eg., too many objects in view at one time makes some of them disappear, 64+ doors on a level, flashing border errors, floor code problems, etc), but a "Common Problems" section covering general complaints about bad mapping design would also be useful to the newcomer who may not have played a lot of the older "crappy" sets of levels or just can't figure out why their own maps aren't as good as the original games'. It could be a good general document on achieving good basic atmosphere and how to maintain that atmosphere, as well as detailing a lot of the gripes people have today with maps that "break the rules" for a more "traditional" set of levels. Showing people basics like setting the landscape walls so they look more realistic and believeable, why it's probably not a good idea to have 149 Hans Grosses on a level, choosing the right types of sprites and enemies for a certain set of rooms (I mean, if it's a prison area, you don't want to have too many potted plants, dining tables, flags, marble pillars, etc in one room as those decorations are usually best used in a more "regal" setting such as a treasury, boss level or dining room...Then again, there are exceptions and I'm not trying to make anyone's maps "Conform" to any standard as there are some times when a certain object just "feels right" even if it seems a little odd), etc etc.

Anyway, good suggestions Martin and some good points :) I don't know what Jack's got in mind as far as distribution goes, but if you can do PDF files and they look good...What the hey :) Just don't make the text too tiny if you can help it...I've got terrible eyesight as it is ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 6:50 pm
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I haven't read through all of the posts yet, but I'm thinking that right now it's more important to get some fragments of ideas and information down and worry about organization later.

With that in mind, I'm going to start creating threads in this forum for the different possible categories (like what Greg mentioned) with some thoughts and have all of you contribute what you want. And, if you think something is missing that isn't really applicable to any of the threads created, go right ahead and make a new thread about it. Anyway, It should be much easier to divide the information that way - although there will be elements of one section that need to be put into another and so on, but at least this will be a start.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 1:58 am
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I agree, Jack, about working out the organization fully later. As I stated previously, it's going to be a huge document and there's no way any of us could figure out how to organize it in a day or two (hell, it's almost been a week now and still no definite ideas thus far...). I think we were all just trying to offer up some suggestions on how we'd approach piecing it together to maybe help you out a little on this huge project :) I mean, after all, this whole idea was your fault in the first place... ;) hehe...

-Ian
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