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Basics of Design and Gameplay

DooM editing is an incredible outlet for creative energy, limited only by your imagination. Here are a few things I've learned along the way; perhaps they'll be of some use to you.

1. Start small, but stay ambitious. Think of your first few levels as a training ground, where you learn the basics and become familiar with the tools. Beginners sometimes get carried away and bite off more than they can chew -- going for a 32-level megawad TC with new graphics, sounds, music, etc. is best left for a team, or for someone that's been around the editing block a few times.

2. Write down your ideas and draw out sections (or all) of your map. This will give you a sense of your scale. Avoid large areas or rooms, as they often give rise to visplane overflow (VPO) errors, which cause DooM to crash. Also, large areas that are plain tend to look ordinary and boring. Detailing large areas takes a lot of work, and can often lead to visplane errors when a source port is not used.

3. Add angles, recesses, and beams to your rooms so that they'll be visually interesting. Playing in square or rectangular rooms is all right, but adding these variations makes for a nicer looking map.

4. Incorporate height variations. Have a section of a map that is one or two levels up from the main level, and a section that is one or two levels down. Elevators and stairways make for interesting gameplay while providing a nice look and feel to a map.

5. Incorporate lighting variations. For outdoor areas in daylight and reasonably well-lit indoor areas use a light value of 160 and up, for indoor areas not under direct light use 128 to 144, for unlit corridors, etc. use light value of 96 to 128. Avoid excessive use of very dark areas, as it gets old after a while.

6. Use a balanced approach to gameplay. Always provide the player with a fair chance at finishing the level or an area. Sometimes you may want to make a particular area very tough, forcing a player to find an alternative way in or to get better weapons, etc. But make sure that the player has a way of beating the area, one way or another.

7. Pay attention to the general look of the level. Define a theme and generally stick to it. Try to use texture variations to provide visual relief to your areas. For example, use STARGR1 as the main texture in a room, but occasionally insert a STARGR2. If you have a plain wall that's more than 256 units long, add a wall-bracket or "support" that uses a different and contrasting texture -- e.g., STARGR1 as wall texture, METAL1 as support or pillar texture.

8. If it's consistent with your theme and level design, incorporate outdoor areas into your map. A good mix of indoor and outdoor areas lends appeal to a level.

Good luck.

Layout & Structure in Doom


Standard doors (or those which do not feature remarkable linedefs and/or which are assigned a typical door texture) are for the most part used scarcely in Doom. Doors which require keys, lead to secret areas or are activated by shootable switches or walkover lines are to be considered exceptions to this generalization as they typically do little to disrupt the fluidity of gameplay. Doors serve more toward area segregation and combat control than as aesthetic dividers, and are used to grant the player easier navigation and time to either prepare or contemplate before entering the next room. As is often the case, this somewhat liberal use of doors allows the mapper to create a contrast in design between rooms separated by doorways, lending to some interesting shifts both visually and in terms of gameplay.

Here’s a selection of maps from each episode that we may use to illustrate door use, as well as a general overview on how doors are used between episodes:

Knee-deep in the Dead:
Of the three episodes, Knee-deep in the Dead uses regular doors the least. Most areas are separated by shifts in height or direction, which differs greatly from the slightly more uniform layout of maps in The Shores of Hell, and to a lesser extent Inferno. However, there is still a great deal that may be learned from the study of door use in E1. E1M3, 4 and 7, for example, all place the player in a room isolated from the rest of the level by a standard door.

The first and only standard door (if we choose to exclude the exit for its being canon) allows the player to prepare before encountering the first monster in the game. It is expected that the player is still getting to grips with the controls of the game at this stage, and having a door here gives the player time to set his priorities and make the game move at his pace. Since M1 is a small and linear map, the function of the door could be seen as similar to those used in E3M1 for example, which is equally a one-way street. Doors cannot really obstruct the flow here as they are passed through only once (see M7 below for further examples).
E2M1, if we are to take the final M1 counterpart, is an also linear map which introduces teleporting to the player, and so the role of the door as a means of compartmentalizing and segregating areas is somewhat usurped, or at the very least expanded upon.

At the opposite end of the episode is E1M7, which interestingly features only 3 standard doors of 17 in being perhaps the second most sophisticated level in the episode after M6.

The use of all three keys and a considerable amount of backtracking makes the use of doors particularly interesting. The lowermost door indicated [O] leads off to an optional area of the map which is not reachable via any other means, while the centremost door indicated [F] similarly leads off to a segregated area, but one to which a visit is deemed necessary for the player to complete the level. With the first example we might accept that the player will be unlikely to return to the southwest part of the map, and so the use of a door helps familiarise the player with the area beyond it through compartmentalization. Similarly with the second example, the centremost regular door (which stays open), the player is unlikely to visit the northwest portion any more than once, the red key having been obtained. Between these two doors however and elsewhere in the level the player is quite likely to revisit areas more than just once for both access and explorative purposes. The rising pillar, for example, gives the player access to the flanking slime pits in which multiple secrets reside, while the overlook closer to door F surveys these accessible areas.

The topmost door indicated [.B], just as with M3 and 4, allows the player a moment of collection, as well as a chance for the music to intimidate the player!

Other doors:

  • Doors [E] and [I] are trap doors which are located in areas that see heavy traffic. Door [C] is an exception to this, as the player is likely to only pass by the one time, but critically, all three examples occur in somewhat unpredictable locations, rather than immediately behind the player following the collection of the yellow or red keys, for example.
  • [L] is a rather interesting door that can probably be certified in being aesthetic rather than practical. Note the unique switch rather than door texture here.
  • Door [J] is located within a trap location. The player is rewarded by exploring new facets of the level as they open up, however small.
  • [P] is a remotely controlled door.
  • As with all other maps in the episode bar the final one, door [Q] is the signature exit door leading to the “airlock” or “exit chamber”.

The Shores of Hell:
Doom’s second episode is where doors are first seen being used in drastically different ways, no doubt as a by-product of Petersen’s mapping style. Whereas Romero’s door deployment is more precise and controlling, Petersen’s is a great deal more haphazard, if not impossible to deduce. If you’re mapping for The Shores of Hell, you could probably get away with a great deal more in this department than you might in the first, and even in the third episode.

layoutandstruct2E2M5 & E2M6
These two maps, fortunately, have a very distinct procedure when it comes to door placement, in that they both feature very tightly framed doorways that branch off from a central passageway or area. The below diagram indicates, as before, the whereabouts of all the standard doors (those without remarkable linedefs and which are not secret related), but also the use of standard doors using a switch texture as indicated by the blue circle; a trend which is largely omitted in other maps of the game (E2M7, E3M3 and E3M5 sees some semblance of this style return, but it is here that the epitome resides!).

An astounding 35 doors in E2M5 sees the player drawing to a halt almost every couple of paces, and at first glance the whole setup can seem sort of chaotic. However, there is a great deal of order to the door arrangement here both stylistically and with relation to gameplay.

You will notice that a few of the doors lead to areas that, unlike E1M7, are not accessible only from one direction. Indeed, there are still many that do (such as with [M], [J], [Q], [A2] and [F2]), but there is a great deal of connectivity here, regardless of most entrance and exit points being located just feet from one another. Doors [A] and [G], [V] and [W], and [X] and [Y] all lead to looped pathways/areas, giving a stronger sense of perceived non-linearity, and many others such as [I] and [R] or [H2] and [I2] are linked via distinct, feature filled areas. A key thing to take note of here is that even the passageways are detailed. In addition, many of the blue circled doors (those which have a switch texture) branch off from hub-like areas.

With regards to gameplay, it is plausible to suggest that the doorways were used as a means to encourage the player to go exploring. While vast tracts of secret area are stowed away in the northwest of the map in a place which is everything but compartmentalized, there’s a great deal of goodies stashed behind closed doors.

Other doors:

  • Door [T] is less so a door than it is a lengthy passageway that functions as a door in its entirety. Though the placement of the door-passage itself is purposed with hiding a secret area, the effect that is created might be considered wholly aesthetic.
  • Doors [Z] and [A2] are placed symmetrically opposite each other, but [A2] leads to an area of questionable significance. In this case, the map’s symmetry takes priority over any indication of where to go, and is further indication that the doors here serve solely to compartmentalize rather than control combat.

For the most part, the use of doors as presented in E2 is replicated here, but a decrease in orthogonal design and an increase in abstract shaping sees substantially less intricate compartmentalizing of the sort seen in E2M5 and conversely more focus on the aesthetic - though not obstructive - and the experimental. Those who are mapping for E3 should seek to consolidate the flow retention seen in E1 with the more abstract or even gimmicky qualities of E3 maps such as Limbo’s gate system, Cathedral’s patterned layout, or Slough of Despair’s severed hand...

As was mentioned with E1M1, E3M1 is a linear map that employs a many doors of which are passed under only once. There’s not an awful lot to say about this one except that it affirms an increase in standard door permissibility where linearity is descriptive of level progression.


Unholy Cathedral has a monumental 38 doors in total, but pulls of the impressive feat of not having a single one of these standard doors interfere with the flow of gameplay. This is because they are not at all spread out, unlike in E2M5 or 6 for example, and are in fact grouped strictly with regards to map layout. Each group of four, central doorways links the corners of the map to the centre, and the player is able to deduce extremely quickly because of the remarkable structure of the map just where all the doors will lead, and how to navigate from one corner of the map to the other. In an instant, almost all of the doors in the map are less an obstruction and more an indicator of where to go. It is the perfect example of how best to combine symmetry with door usage while still giving the impression of having ample space to run around in and a clear sense of location and baring.

Also important to note are the first 4 doors in the map which allude to the maps structure and means of progression before the player has even made a move. After passing through one doorway and observing the way in which the map curls around the centre, the player, just as before, is able to develop an idea of where those other doors might lead.

Other doors:

  • Secret doors [A] and [F2] are marked not by any offset, but by their positioning between two symbols. This is an interesting design motif that is usually unseen in other wads, where it is preferable to have decorations, lighting or texture variation give away a secret location.
  • Doors are substituted twice in this map for another unique design motif involving the simultaneous raising and lowering of interlocking bars to allow passage. Both examples (in the north and northwest areas) lead to areas of the map that are somewhat distinct from the rooms adjacent to them.


  • Regular doors are used sparingly in general, though even less so in episode 1.
  • Regular doors are used less in areas that see a lot of heavy traffic, where other design motifs such as height and direction are used to separate areas and retain flow.
  • They are mostly used as area dividers and for combat control rather than for aesthetic purposes, although in Petersen's case the two can be made to cooperate under a highly stylized motif.
  • Irregular doors (secret doors; key doors etc) are exempt from following any strict rule set, and may be used freely as long as they adhere to strong connectivity.
  • Petersen loves using doors to compartmentalize areas both central and extraneous to map progression.


It might seem a trivial subcategory to go under Layout and Structure, but there’s a considerable difference between how lifts are used in most modern maps and how lifts are used in id’s. In Doom’s case, most lifts are not used for rescuing players from slime pits, for instance, or for entirely separating areas such as is the case with doors. Instead, they function as dividers within an area, as an atmospheric piece, or again as a means to control the flow of combat. Crucially with regards to this last point, the speed at which they rise or lower can make them a unique tool for forcing a player’s stay in a combat scenario, whereas a door might allow an easier escape. Lifts, like standard doors, are not all that common in Doom.

Let’s take a look at a few of the ways in which lifts are used in Doom, to what effect, and in what ways they might be exclusive to each episode. If at all.

The Raised Platform:
This is a basic technique which is commonly used in Doom, and especially in the first episode. Simply put, it is a lift that doesn’t lower or raise the player into an area that is out of sight when viewed from the top/bottom. While all lifts in Doom are technically “raised platforms”, this name is meant to signify the fact that many lifts do not really separate different areas, and can be seen more as a means to get from one part of an area to another (If we are to pinpoint what exactly is meant by “area” in this case, we can suppose that it is in most instances the movement from one distinct location to another via a sort of geometric standard in connectivity - doors, teleporters, connecting lifts, hallways/tunnels etc.), often accompanied by a shift in visual style. In episode 1 they will often take the player to a ledge, doorway or dead-end rather than leading them to another part of the base.

Here are a few examples of the raised platform type as seen in Doom. Please skip to the summary of this chapter to view some of the discrepancies in lift use between episodes:


Example #1

At the top of both lifts featured near the starting area of E1M2 is a ledge. The ledges themselves cannot really be considered a separate area, and although the area surrounding the lifts at the lowest point is probably too small to be considered an area either, the lift does not raise the player into a area which could not be seen by the player prior to being stepped onto.

Example #2
Again in E1M5 and 6, we see more raised platforms. However, both of these lead immediately to doors rather than ledges, though all 4 examples showed so far lead to places that are incredibly small by themselves. If we are to count in such examples as the lift next to the secret exit of E1M3, the chaingun secret in E1M3, the blue L shaped ledge reached from the lift in E1M4 and the yellow key area of E1M7 (as well as behind the yellow doors), we begin to see how, as previously mentioned, many if not the majority of lifts in episode 1 take the player into some sort of cul-de-sac or doorway.


Example #3

E2M4 is one of the few maps in episode 2 that actually features lifts, so when we are discussing how they are used between episodes it’s worth keeping in mind that if they are to be used at all, this is probably the best map from which to draw principle. The raised platform lowering into the circular pit here is similar in a way to the non-raised platform - or closed lift - that is used at the end of E1M2 (see below). In this case, a switch needs to be pressed in order to lower the lift, and its functioning as both an atmospheric piece and as a way to prevent the player from escaping quickly the many Barons and Cacodemons is affirmed (note too the spinal texturing).

All the lifts in this map are raised platforms, and two of them lead into symmetrical areas. It is similar to Petersen's E1M8 in that the room of symmetry is aligned with a lift, but different in that one lift is "closed" and the other is not, a point which could either show the triviality of differences between the proposed lift types or the further tension gained by sealing the player from view of the Baron's lair.

The Closed Lift:
There certainly aren’t many lifts of this sort. Unlike the raised platform, the closed lift is encased by wall from all sides bar the point of entry (prior to being stepped onto). It blocks the player from view of its destination, which can be incredibly useful in such circumstances as the aforementioned E1M8 or E1M2, as shown below, where the mapper intends to surprise or bewilder the player as they are struck by new surroundings. Closed lifts are perhaps the best example of how lifts may be used to separate areas in a similar way that many doors do, and so to that end whether or not the player uses it is a matter less to do with blocking the player's view but maintaining a sense of diversity in tight spaces.

Example #1
E1M2’s descending lift toward the end of the map is perhaps the best known example of this lift type. It forces the player into a somewhat difficult situation, and intends to prevent him from escaping without at least some damage being sustained or the opposition killed. It is also accompanied by a sudden albeit analogous shift in lighting. In other words, it is intended to push the player into harms way. It may also be worth noting the introduction of remote switches as a means to open doors (disregarding the earlier secrets), which is again similar to E2M4's own introduction for lowering lifts remotely. In both circumstances the player is required to work out how to escape the sudden ambush should they opt against killing everything off.

layoutandstruct6Example #2

E3M3’s closed lift has no monsters waiting at the bottom. Nor does it have any real shift in lighting or effect. It simply stands to segregate the areas in their style. The dual stairwells that branch from the symmetrical wooden area close to the start represent a similar shift, but if we are to consider the geometry here we might also suppose that the lift was opted for to conserve space and retain variety: something this map does particularly well on the whole. Again, it’s use is somewhat experimental, and it lends the purpose of the closed lift to the mapper’s discretion, if not at all proving it to be hopelessly negligible.

The Doorlift:

Exclusive to E3M1, the mighty doorlift is as its name implies: a door that lowers as a lift rather than raises as a door. It is difficult to provide any explanation as to why this trick is performed other than to say that it was probably intended to freak out the player a little bit. “Now you’re really in Hell!” sort of thing.


  • Episode 1 consists of many “raised platform” style lifts, and the majority of lifts in episode 1 take the player into either a cul-de-sac, ledge or doorway of some kind.
  • Petersen uses lifts considerably less than Romero, but uses doors considerably more!
  • Petersen seemingly does away with Romero's tendancy to use lifts as dividers rather than gateways to new areas - regardless of type
  • Episode 2 has almost as great a lack of lifts as episode 3. The few that are seen are followed either by areas of symmetry or violence, or function simply as raised platforms without the first episode's trait of leading the player to a dead end or door. The lack of lifts allows for a bit of variety as to how they should be used here.
  • Episode 2 introduces switches as a means to lower lifts.
  • With the slightly ambiguous use of the “closed lift” in E3M3 and the use of the mighty "doorlift" in E3M1, Episode 3’s use of lifts, though limited, reveals the more aesthetic principles underlying the unequivocal quirkiness of Hell. Even more so than episode 2 thanks to the abstractedness in design, the mapper is free to experiment with lifts as long as the number of lifts used remains... well, close to zero.


Doors and lifts exist. This much is true. But because teleporters don’t yet exist, were relatively new inclusions to the virtual gaming world on account of its being so young, and because Doom is a game of emersion, how teleporters are presented even before the considering of their use with regard to layout and structure is critical to their implementation. This chapter covers both how they are presented and how they allow the player alternative (or necessary) means of navigation. The two never seem to correlate, but they are of equal importance.

layoutandstruct7Episodic Differences
With only two of the three teleporters featured in Knee-Deep in the Dead being usable by the player, and only one of those two taking the player to a location that won’t see him torn to tasty strips in a matter of seconds, it might seem at first reasonable to say that the role of teleportation in episode 1 is negligible. Quite to the contrary however, the inclusion of teleporters in episode 1 is of great importance because of its being central to the story of the game. Having a teleporter feature in a secret area of Phobos Labs demonstrates clearly the intended experimental nature of teleportation in this episode, as does perhaps the red cobble texture for representing the “red dust” over which the anomalies were built; so explained in the Doom Bible. Clearly its use here is aesthetic and does not in any drastic way alter gameplay or change the means by which one might realistically navigate the map, but it remains relevant to the story, and in that sense necessary to making any mock Knee-Deep in the Dead episode a complete one; provided an identical storyline.

With The Shores of Hell and Inferno episodes teleporters are used primarily as gameplay devices central to map layout and navigation. Between both of these episodes little difference can be seen, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning. Much like the lifts in episode 3 being used more experimentally, teleporters here seem almost to transcend any set of rules that they should follow with regard to their appearance (see below). Presumably, this is because the laws of reality in Hell are suspended, and teleportation is a slightly less remarkable or perhaps even naturally occurring phenomenon that merely requires a lesser means of establishment (a plain texture). Consider, for instance, the Demon in E3M6 that teleports just a few feet upon sighting the player in the wooden building to the east.

Episode 3 teleporters are often one-way, in addition, and in E3M6 will typically take the player to a destination which is visually bare of teleport markings. We could claim this to be something unique to an outdoor setting in Hell or as a result of an increase in teleport permissibility due to there being a Hell, or we could simply put it down to preference and allow unremarkable teleport destinations to occur in any episode 3 environment.

Finally, episode 2 teleporters often give the impression - through the various shifts in design that the 3rd episode often lacks - of being either manmade or demon made (again, see below under “appearances”). This strengthens the concept of the Deimos base undergoing demonic subversion.

layoutandstruct8The Dumbbell Complex
Now then. Call me an inadequate wordsmith, but it’s true what they say about pictures. Here’s one of them now!

Harmless looking enough, isn‘t it? But just in case you don’t yet have a strong enough idea of how teleporters are used (turbo pun!), or haven’t quite gotten to grips with how they are presented, here’s a pretty handy analogy for you to memorize:

Teleporters in Doom are never used trivially except in the sole case of E1M5 - for reasons I hope have been made clear enough. Episodes 2 and 3 really focus on using them primarily as integral gameplay elements, but that isn’t to say that they completely disregard their impressive implications. Remember that the idea of teleportation was a great deal more popular in the 90’s in the realm of science fiction, hence its inclusion, and to have the player merely teleported from one side of a room to another - for however practical a reason - wasn’t doing it justice.

You really had to go places.

Where does the dumbbell come in then? If we assume that each weight on a dumbbell is representing an entirely separate area in a Doom map, and that the handle between the two weights is the line of teleportation, then we can apply this image to every single use of teleportation in the entire game and find that both the point of departure and the destination lie in separate areas and that the analogy holds true - with just one exception (that exception being E3M5. We can call this a “Waffleport” or a piece of Swiss Cheese if you prefer. I’ll let you figure out why). Obviously this is a super typical use of teleporters and isn’t anything at all unique to the stock maps, but it needs mentioning because of how the respective areas are designed aesthetically with relevance to this original “idea” of teleportation. In exaggeration it would be the difference between teleporting from the Himalayas to the Amazon in one instance and a living room to a lounge room in another. There are, interestingly, many ways in which we can show this without the need for silly dumbbell analogies, although it would require digging into far less objective grounds...:

First Impressions
What do you want the player of your map to see when they arrive at the other side of your teleporter? Reminding ourselves of the “closed” lift type which encourages a greater shift in atmosphere or pace of play due to a sudden revealing of information (E1M8; E1M2), the teleporter will unfailingly thrust the player into a new bearing. It’s what the player sees first off that causes me to draw this comparison with the closed lift, as this can promote a greater sense of shift in an area even if it is otherwise pretty similar.

layoutandstruct9Case in point is this teleporter in E3M5. Instantly your movement stops. You click into a different mode. You can’t just barrel through these idle Demons without getting munched on. Note however that the room is otherwise fairly ordinary. More ideally the shift in geometry would be pretty considerable, but this is an effective way to take good advantage of the sudden shift while keeping consistent with the Doom design. Put something of value to see right at the immediate, and to be even more effective make it more than just visual impact. If you can change the player’s train of thought or pace of play, you’ve bagged yourself a real winner.

Other examples include E2M1’s Demon ledge, E2M5’s Lost Soul surround (secret), and E2M4’s scrolling face texture (note that this texture had not been used up until this point).

The appearance of the Doom teleporter is an important one, and not something that is restricted to mere texture selection. Geometry is vitally important, and it’s evident that the game designers were interested in having teleporters thought of not simply as a set of linedefs for the player to step over but as physical world objects / setups - like doors and lifts. Episode 1’s teleporters are obvious examples of this with their five point stars (the scientists behind them possibly (un)intentionally emulating a necessary demonic design), but let’s look at some of the latter cases:

E2M1’s first teleporter is an immediate departure from those couple seen in the first episode, but not just in its size, shape and texture. There are candle decorations surrounding it for starters, giving the air of a ritual having taken place, and there is a mock star shaped step as well, which could easily mean to be a makeshift mound of some sort; something the demons might have placed in hurried preparation. E2M7’s teleporter is almost gate-like in its appearance, and is similar to the previous example in that it too appears makeshift, what with the tunnel branching off from an insignificant looking vat, as though it had been bored out in secret.

As mentioned, Episode 3 forgoes some of these design principles and opts for just having a plain teleporter texture with no real geometric feature. Admittedly E2M1 does this as well with the exception of the first, but when we consider the connection between teleportation and anomalies as presented in the Doom universe we can make sense of the fact that again, as mentioned, Hell and teleportation are fairly synonymous. The visuals can be downplayed.


  • Episode 1 teleporter use is primarily aesthetic, but is also implicit in the portrayal of teleporters in the Doom storyline (experimental; mysterious etc.). They are therefore key to the identity of the first episode.
  • Teleporters featured in episodes 2 and 3 take greater priority in gameplay than in the aesthetic, but do not forego the latter in favour of this gameplay; particularly in the case of episode 2.
  • In almost every case, teleporters take the player to and from completely distinct areas (the dumbbell complex).
  • In both episodes 2 and 3 it is important to impress the player with what is immediately seen upon exiting a teleporter, taking advantage of texture usage and monster positioning / facing in particular.
  • Teleporters are thought of typically as actual geometric objects like doors or lifts are rather than just a set of linedefs.
  • The previous point having been mentioned, the appearance of teleporters in episode 3 can be downplayed slightly, featuring either just the typical teleport texturing as opposed to any unique geometric feature or even no texture at all.

Mapping Art - Great Conception

CHAPTER 2 : The Art of Great Conception
So, after fighting your way through the first chapter of my mapping article that dealt with tricks and ideas how to achieve a good level of detail, it's now up to me to take on the most important thing concerning mapping: The Conception of your map, which later can turn into an unforgettable atmosphere if done right.

Honestly, your map can have more than 5000 sectors and still that's no guarantee for success, believe me (and some doomers won't trust their eyes, that I am actually writing this, but it's true ;)). A real good map is just as good as the idea behind it but as we all know after the 38974th UAC Bases and Dungeon Caves, it's not always that simple! What you get here are several tricks to get a good idea, a memorable map and beyond some guidelines to set up a atmosphere that the player really can feel...

One of the real important things before you start with your map is to think about the setting. What is your map all about? Another UAC base? A Dungeon? A Spaceship? If you want a map that really gets some public attention, think about something, that hasn't been done before or something that can be done better. There are thousands of uac base/city maps out there, but just one map like Cyb's Void (shot 2) or Russel's Null Space (shot 3). When both of these talented mappers started with their maps, they thought about something new, something that has never been done before and that was the reason (beyond the fact, that they did a great mapping job on their wads) why both of these maps were so damn successful! So, if you are about to choose your setting, be creative, the only frontier you have is your imaginary, because nowadays, most of the source ports out there are capable of doing everything, even such an Armageddon effect seen in TNT4 (shot 3) And don't misunderstand me: I don't say, that yet another UAC Base can't have such a effect to the Doomers out there, but - as we are all curious and keen on sensations - many of us want to see something new, something that hasn't been done before and if you look closely at the "Annual Caco-Awards" you will see that most of the laureates are WADs with stuff that is new, something that exceeds the player's expectations! Go and convince yourself ;)

Summary: "Be Creative, Be Innovativ, Do Something New!"


1void.jpg 1nulspace.jpg 1imaginary.jpg


Another question every new mapper asks himself is: What makes my map/setting "real"? A lot of new mappers start off with a location or setting that doesn't need a lot of creativity and so did I. I though about creating a UAC Base with some resting rooms for marines, with a bed, a computer, a toilet and all that stuff that - out of a logical thought - must be found in a certain area of this UAC base, but honestly: "Little Did I Know!" Shot 1 shows a very old map of mine (my second map overall) and to be honest, it looks like total crap and has nothing to do with a "Real Place!" Two important rules: 1st, never ever create sector based objects from your real world (beds, wardrobes, and so on), use sprites and 2nd, if you still want to create that, never use original Doom textures for that (create new ones). You see, this is somehow a bit complicated: Although it makes sense to have toilets, beds and wardrobes in a UAC Base, it totally destroys the map!

Now you may still ask yourself: "Eh? So what is it all about with this Realness in my map?" The answer may surprise you but it is indeed quite simple: This doesn't depend on the amount of real objects in your map or on the architectural logic concerning routes to go or how the statics work, it only depends on the arranged atmosphere and beyond on the overall theme of the map. You don't believe me? Well, just check "The Ultimate Dooms" maps and ask yourself: Does any of these rooms or halls make any sense? The majority does not, so stop searching for rooms. Still, Episode 1 of Doom is one of the most popular mapset. Or think about Torment & Torture 2. A lot of people told me, that they loved the map because it felt so damn "real" but if you take a closer look on the whole installation (rooms & roots)...in some places, it absolutely has no sense :) It felt so real because I made the atmosphere and setting go hand in hand, it made sense how things turned out in the end.
The contra example (shot 3) is "Batman Doom". It actually presents a lot of beds, wardrobes, computers and other things in its maps,but (!) it doesn't interfer with the 2 important rules, because it uses new resources and new material and beyond - being a TC - has a certain overall theme that allows the usage of these things.
So you see: It doesn't matter if you are about to create a super realistic city with all the bureau rooms, toilets and cars or if you create something out of your mind that doesn't actually exist. Both things can feel perfectly real, it just depends on the execution.

Summary: "Reality Depends On The Arranged Atmosphere And The Overall Theme, Not On The Amount Of Real Things In The Map"


1realness.jpg 1realness3.jpg 1realness2.jpg


One of the most important things in maps (and one of the things, most newcomer mappers don't consider) is the "Size & Scale" of your map. So what is meant?
If you start with one of your first maps, you tend to think in small dimensions, little rooms and tight corridors, because you don't have a lot of space left later where some portions of detail are required. This saves time and work but heavily decreases the value of your map. It's hard to fight and move in such small places and beyond doesn't look that good, if these areas also get cramped (shot 1). So if you create new rooms ore hallways, make them large, large enough that even 4 players could battle demons in there without getting in their own way and later fill them with some necassary detail and monsters like I demonstrated that in the second shot. It doesn't just look better, it even plays better because you have some space to move and dodge the demon's fireballs.
And for the second reason, why "Scale & Size" is so damn important: I can just say you already read this some paragraphs before: "Keen On Sensations!". Just think about large sector arrangements in "Phobos Anomaly Reborn" (Chris Lutz), the huge floating castle in "Torment & Torture 3" (shot 3) or even some maps from the game Unreal (Epic Megagames). These places are so damn large in scale, you will never forget them and surely visit these "sights" once more which makes up for a good replay value! Sure, they need a lot of work and sometimes even tricks but believe me if I say: It's worth the work!

Summary: "Size Does Matter,Cramped Rooms Are Bad Rooms"


1scale_a.jpg 1scale_hall.jpg 1scale_imaginary.jpg


The choice of textures in your doom map is art! You have to consider hundreds of different factors if you skin your map. Color, Style, Transition, Material and Surface to mention the most important! It's easy to create a little cave out of different brown rock variants and to create a UAC base by just using silver textures but it's a real challenge to combine hellish flesh and bones with industrial metal and rusty engines.

Everything is possible as long as the Style of textures is almost the same (for example "Hexen & Doom 2" or "Quake & GothicDM" can be mixed, but never mix "Chex Quest & Strife" or "Blake Stone & Ogros"). If you have problems of finding matching color shemes, Google This!

If you start to work on maps with a totally new theme, you will come to a certain point, where one texture won't fit to another texture or floor (or vice versa) and the Transition from one Material to another might look to abrupt. This is when we start to use the power of sector borders again, with textures that fit to the overall theme (SUPPORTx textures, METALx and other textures that seem to support the architecture fit quite well). Shot 1 shows a good example (although the choice of textures/colors totally sucks) how drastic texture changes and clashes can be reduced!

The big problem a mapper always has are texture clashes of any type, wether the materials from one to another structure are similar or not, often where floor textures and wall textures meet on an edge. Take a look at Shot 2 (upper version) where all the brick stones are quite the same material but the transition seems too hard and looks not really realistic. Compare this upper version with the one below to see how to solve this with a simple extra sector!


The last thing to mention here is the importance about texture alignment. Map editors like Doom Builder and SLADE (and maybe even some more) inlcude a feature called "Auto Align Textures" and I recommend using that. Nothing looks as crappy as unaligned textures and these totally destroy the realism of you map so spend a lot of time by fixing misalignments!

Summary: "Reduce texture clashes and drastich texture changes with sector borders!"

1neutral_texturing_a.jpg textureclashes.jpg


Since Zdoom 1.23 Beta 33 everyone's favorite sourceport is capable of Unreal style skyboxes if I can recall correctly but still this feature is often heavily underestimated. This is the only explanation why there are still ZDoom wads out there that just use a texture as sky. The great power of a skybox isn't the fact that it is a 3D object instead of a 2D texture, it is what you can do with it.


Shot one shows a screenshot from a map of Torment & Torture 4. Hundreds of burning meteors devestate the structures, thunder and lightning brawls through the bright enlightened sky... and almost all is done with the help of some scripts that change the sectors responsible for the sky.

The second shot shows another way how to use a skybox. Unfortunately this isn't animated but I think you can imagine what this is upposed to be. The simulation of a spaceship rushing through the space was always a big pain in the ass with vanilla doom or boom. But with the help of skyboxes this is very easy to achieve, making it almost look like the Starwars Hyperspace flight in the millenium falcon!

The third shot - last but not least - shows a full 360° skybox that makes you think, these platforms are floating high above a see of lava. In the background, a bright huge energy beam shoots plasma into space, hundrets of miles far away and you have to take care to not fall off the edges of these metal platforms.

I learned that with the help of these skyboxes every single scenario you have in mind is possible with doom. Just think about other places where a skybox might be helpful: Submarines, Space Ports, Planet Atmospheres... think about events and settings that have almost biblical proportions and you will see: It is possible with skyboxes!

Summary: "Do not underestimate skyboxes and if possible, always use them!"

1imaginary.jpg 1sky_windowing.jpg 1skybox_full2.jpg


This is for those who have always thought: "Doom lights are the way they are and there is nothing you can do about them!" because you can. And you know it: Better lights means better atmosphere if done well.


Shots one and two demonstrate the first light enhancement that is already available since Boom and Hexen introduced the TranslucentLine special. But although this trick is already well known and has already been used in a few wads, most of the active projects don't use it at all. The idea behind this is adding a color gradient (from black to full color/brightness) and placing this at the correct offsets as middle texture with the TranslucentLine special activatet (additionally arg1 = 1 making it additive for a better effect).

Shots three and four demonstrate a very new light effect that is done via ZDooms DECORATE feature and was developped by Paul "NMN" exclusively for Knee-Deep in ZDoom. Here we are using circular sprites instead of gradients that use the Additive Translucency effect for new actors and decorations where the sprites themselves are just circle gradients (from black to full color/brightness). With DECORATE you can adjust their size (scale) and their brightness (translucency amount)

I think it is still a matter of taste if you want to use these new light techniques or not but in my eyes they are a real enhancement and therefore part of Knee-Deep in ZDoom.

Summary: "If you like em and if they fit into your project, use them, cause they are simple but convincing!"

1light_enhancee.jpg 1light_enhancec.jpg 1light_enhanceb.jpg 1light_enhancea.jpg


Another underused and underestimated feature of many new sourceports is the Fog/Haze feature, in ZDoom used with the Sector_SetFade ACS special. So "What's so great about having different fog/haze colors and the option to use these?" The thing about this feature is their value for the overall atmosphere of the map and even a single room.


The problem with computers is that they can't make you really feel how cold an area is or what the consistency of the air is. But with a right fog or a good haze factor, your map can achieve this to a certain degree.

Let's check shot number 1, showing the snowy icey peak from Torment & Torture 3: Just looking at it gives you an idea on the coldness of this place and its frosty and aching air. 

Shot 2 shows the mining area from the same map and comparing to the first shot, this feels totally different. It's obviously warmer and beyond the air is dirty and dry, making you breath very tight.

Feel free to imagine other colors that make you feel even more different, for example dark green (like in a jungle with high air humidity), dark red (like in a metal processing installation, very warm, very hot and dirty) and even light green/yellow (bio hazard accident where the air is stinging painful). 

Summary: "Fog and Haze creates temperature and consistency of the air so use it if it supports the place you are working on!"

1fogone.jpg 1hazeone.jpg


After all - without considering EDGE and GZDoom right now - Doom is still a 2.5D game and therefore very limited. But with a clever usage of sky windows (and sky boxes as well) you can make your map not attracting the player's attention on this restriction.


Just think about many old and new maps you have played before where you have thought: "Yes, another map that shows dooms limits!" but also think about Scuba Steve's Action Doom that is full of tricks that make you think that doom actually became fully 3D!

One of the simple tricks you can always use that achieve these "I am in a 3D world" effects are sky windows. Openings in walls, floors and ceilings (or more of them at the same time) that are just there to make the player see what's beyond this room.

Take a look at both shot one and shot two. Imagine how they would look like without the openings and now see what they affect. The rooms get larger and also more realistic, as it feels more 3D instead of limited 2.5D. The power of these additions is obvious and don't forget: With the right skybox you can use them everywhere: Space Windows, Bull Eyes in the Sea, Atmosphere, Floating Hell, Burning Cities... you're restricted only to your imagination!

Summary: "Sky Windows are powerful as they are one of the things being able to create a certain reality 3D feeling!"

1skywindows.jpg 1skywindows2.jpg  


In the last chapter I told you to use new resources if possible or create your map based on a texture pack but I missed something that is very important: Don't limit yourself to this texture pack because that autimatically limits your creativity. If you are in the need of special resources like textures, sounds, sprites or anything else to make your "idea" really look good, try to create them on your own. And if you fail, look for it in the internet and other resources and wads. And if you fail once more, ask for it in the community forums. My experience tells me that there are many nice persons around who are glad to help you in any way, just ask for it.


Summary: "A one man project is always a hard thing, but don't limit yourself on your momentaneous skills, ask for help or learn something new!"


So this is the end of my second "Art of 2.5D Mapping" article. I hope that some of you might find this useful and helpful, that's the reason why I wrote this. And have in mind most of these tipps are things that I am used to and that both articles are based on experiences I made. Sure, there might be persons which absolutely don't understand why I wrote something or do something just the way I did it but that's just the thing about editing for this old engine :) If you have proposals, fixes, ideas or language tipps for me, feel free to comment this and I will do something about it if it makes sense for me. ;)

Mapping Art - High Detail

CHAPTER 1 : The Art of High Detail
First at all, detail has always to do with lots of effort. Don't think that after this article, you will be able to build a supreme-eye-candy map in just 2 or 3 days (as I did in Torment & Torture ;)). Also if you have some of these tricks in your mind, the developement of your maps will still take weeks and months, it's likely that they will take even more time then ever before, but believe me, the results will speak on their own!

Worst Wad 2009! Beware! Detailing is a powerful tool to improve your maps' visuals; but detailing alone is not enough to make a map aesthetically pleasing; done tastelessly it will instead detract from your map. You should also remember to avoid making the map details hinder gameplay: avoid tiny protrusions that can block movement, do not overdo floor detailing that causes the view to bob up and down. Maps misusing this detailing guide collectively earned the Worst Wad 2009 Cacoward.

In this part of the article, I will show you some of the editing standards, I use in my maps to achieve a high sector/linedef/vertice count and thus a high level of detail.

At the beginning you have to know, that everywhere, where you just have a plain wall, a plain room, a plain floor or ceiling or a plain scenery at all, there is a lot of space for detail and that's a big problem, new mappers have: Many areas in their maps - whether it is a indoor arena or an outdoor scenery - seem empty, without any effort put in because they mostly consist of 1 - 5 sectors. Often this has nothing to do with lazyness, it's just a lack of knowledge. New mappers don't know how to fill their rooms with detail, because they don't have enough experience with what can be done. But with a few easy steps, you can do sth. about it, just take a look at the following possibilites:

On thing that is heavily underestimated - although it is that easy to achieve with DoomBuilder - is the creation of borders, whether in rooms or outside your buildings.
Many texturesets - the doom one included - are very hard to combinate to develope new mapping styles. Often, their edges, where ceiling/floor and wall connect, look damn ugly.

In the first shot, we see a combination of TEKWALL and this E1 metal floor. Everyone knows how terrible this would look like without the metallic brown border. On the other hand (as it was done in E1M3 of the original Doom), another border has been added to the top of this TEKWALL construction, where we can see the red TLITE flat. This border makes also the crossover from one to another texture much more professional and visually more admireable. (buildtime: 2-3 extra minutes)

In the second shot we can see another place where I heavily used this "Bordering" method to develope easily a high level of detail: A border was added to the left, where CEIL5_1 and the bright brown wall (BROWN1) meet, another border was added to the top where you can see the sky window, easy to achieve, but the effect looks amazing. (buildtime 6 extra minutes)

The third shot finally shows another alternative of making connections between different materials smoother, the "irregular bordering". Let's say you have a artificial floor and want it to connect in any way to something more natural. Well, just make it look as it is destroyed in some way. Just take a look at the screen and you will know what I mean. The good thing about it: It looks damn cute, although the floor is maybe not supposed to be destroyed but who cares? It's a science-fiction game and no-one will ever say/ask: "Why the f*ck was this floor destroyed?!"

Screenshot number 4 shows us another tip concerning borders, especially those in outside areas with some kind of natural origin. Although this BROWN96 texture shouldn't have this border at it's bottom (it's a rock, why should rocks have a border?!), I added it and you have to admit, it looks better then just leaving the brown rock as it is in E1M1 or E1M8! This is just here to prove, that you can add borders everywhere and truly they will always look better after this medicin ;)

Summary: You can use this method of adding detail almost to ever room or place you work on, it is fast, the result looks great and it isn't that hard to create. 
Extra-Buildtime: "2-10 minutes" (depends on room-size)
Build-Difficulty: "Low"


Well, this one will get a bit longer, because lights are by far the most important things in doom: Every resource texture wad has different light-textures and -flats, so this is generally usable, no matter on what you are working on (also in Heretic maps or other non-futuristic worlds, you will find places where to add lights).
So, let's consider the fact, we are n00bs, our room is empty (although it has some crazy borders ;)) and we absolutely have no idea what to do with this. Then a simple idea comes to our mind: What about "LIGHTS"? So we create one sector in the middle of our room, alter the height so the light withdraws from the rest of the room and add a 255 brightness to this sector, finished! ... well ... to be honest, it isn't that easy to add lights to your room, as you will see now.

In shot 1 you can see one of the more simple but still nice-looking ceiling/floor light details. The border around this one is simply done by a heightdifference of 8, textured with the FLAT20 flat and the center of this is just a TLITE flat at the same height of the ceiling. These two textures can surely replaced with alternate versions. The result will look qualitative the same. To make it perfect, we just have to graduate the light from the center (between 200-250) to the outside (your rooms light level), this counts for every light design variation in this document! (buildtime 2-3 extra minutes, then copy&paste)

The second shot shows off another variant, but this time with two more borders and other texture variants (SILVER, SHAWN and this blue computer flat). In this shot you can also see how beautiful this looks on the floor (just to let you know, that we don't depend on using this on the ceiling). The height differences in this one lay between 4 and 2 units which makes this looking very flat. But this can also be variied. (buildtime 5-7 minutes, then copy & paste).

In the third shot we see a light very similar to the first and second screenshot but this time, the light-bulbs itself (including some TLITE floor material) have been stamped out of the ceiling, which adds 4 new sectors to your level statistics ;) (buildtime 4-5 extra minutes, then copy&paste)

Okay, most of the time, I just showed off lights from the ceiling, but don't forget, that we can do the same thing translated on the floor, why not? Shot four demonstrates floor lights/floor light platforms very well and they can also be used widely in every large outdoor or indoor area as you can see.

Finally in the fifth shot we take a look at a completely new variant of light-sources, the wall lights. Normally, just to achieve simple detail, we would add a LIGHT texture to the wall, build some small sectors around it (for the light gradient) and that's it. But in this case we want a high level of detail and that's why I have added (from the Nightmare Texture Packs) recolored LIGHT textures to the wall and placed 2 sloped TLITE variants in front of this, surrounded by a border as always (thx to the upper part). As a final touch, 3 round sectors with a light gradient have been placed in front of this wall light, floor/ceiling parts spotlighted by the planed TLITE's. I think the result is quite okay ;) (buildtime 6-8 extra minutes)

Another variant of a wall light can be seen in shot number six. Fredrik has used this effect the first time in Vrack 2 or even in Vrack 3 and when I created this light, I was directly inspired by his work. What you can see are several small sectors with a thickness of 1 unit, and each has its floor 8 units lower/ceiling 8 units higher then its parent sector. Also a light gradient has been added. The main textures used here are LIGHT and SILVER/SHAWN ones to get this high-tech space-light flair. It is an easy to achieve effect but a lot of work is connected with this. (buildtime 10-15 minutes)

In shot seven we will now get back to our ceiling-lights. In this screenshot, you see a almost floating light-construction in front of a skybox, which is just held by a few FLAT20 variant bars. Once again, you can see a border around the lights which make it look like a solid METAL object with a lot of electronical stuff in them to make the bulbs glow. (buildtime 10 minutes, then copy & paste)

In the last shot number eight we can see a variant of the light-source in shot six: This time, it just looks like a simple street-lantern and it is indeed, easy to do: Create one rectangular sector away from your building, add an 8-corner sector and within another TLITE thing, adjust heights, add border/lantern textures, adjust the light (gradient, as always) and finished is your simple but great looking - in a architectural sense - street-lantern, all belong to UAC :) (buildtime 5-8 minutesn, might take longer on complicated buildings)

Summary: Lights can be added everywhere and the good thing about it: You can reuse them as often as you want (just make prefabs or copy&paste them). The other interesting thing about them is, that they highly variabel, there is an infinite count of light-structures and everytime you start a new map, you start a new light-source. Just don't forget the following things: "borders, light-gradient, extrasectors for spotlights", then everyone will love you ;)
Extra-Buildtime: "2-10 minutes" (per light variant)
Build-Difficulty: "Low - High" (depending on light variant)


Gates are wideley spread in every doom map, whether the standard GATE flats in combination with the SUPPORT3 is used or if they are metallic/spacey with lots of SILVER and SHAWN. But most of the time, not much time is put into these teleporters, usually it's just one sector so there is not much space for detail, isn't it? However, there is space! Think about the reality: If we would already have teleporters, they would be much larger, because they are very complicated constructions, lots of technique and/or hellish material. This is where we start to develope better gates!

In shot one you can see a very simple advanced space-gate, a bit larger then their originals. I haven't done that much to this, I just added a border and 4 steps around the teleporter, but as you can see, it looks much better, better then a teleporter with just one sector could look. (buildtime 2 extra minutes)

In shot number two I developed another method to build up a interesting detailed gate. A huge border (with 8 corners) was added and over this border, 8 pillars of COMPSPAN and CEIL5_1 continue over this SHAWN-y construction. The result is beautiful and the new scale of the teleporter makes it much realer! (buildtime 6-8 extra minutes)

Shot three shows off the teleportergates you can see at the beginning room of "The City Of The Damned", this time I used a normal GATE flat in combination with lots of METAL and some SLIME metal floor parts. This one is almost the same as the gate shown in shot 3, just altered a bit. And don't forget the little extra detail, the particle fountain (always make it the same color as your gate floor when you work with ZDoom) (buildtime 6-8 extra minutes)

The last shot number four shows another small teleporter-gate variant, this time it's base is a COMPSPAN/CEIL5_1 combination, hold by planed metallic SHAWN pipes. Although this is also one of the easier gates, the slope effect does a very good job concerning the visual detail. (buildtime 2-3 minutes extra)

Summary: Gates were used consistently in Doom maps but most of the time, their full potential wasn't used. Design your gates wisely, scale them into larger dimensions and gain a feeling of reality for the players, and don't forget the additional sectors and linedefs for your statistics :)
Extra-Buildtime: "2-8 minutes" (depends on size of the gate)
Build-Difficulty: "Low - Medium"


This is a method to add detail to your maps, I developed some months ago, when I was working on some Stronghold maps, and I called it "Flat Sectoring". So, what's meant with this? Flats are normally supposed to show off a certain structure, surface and roughness. Yeas ago, Doom & computers weren't able to show this via sectors. But in the days of high end machines, we can do this. So, "Flat Sectoring" is a method to accent the special structure of a flat or we just build our sectors as we have to use the flats itself as base, tile by tile. But screenshots often say more then words ;)

In shot 1 you can see a simple usage of the method, when the marble tiles merge into the dirty floor. As border I used the exact sizes of the tiles, which are also aout 4-5 units higher then the normal floor. This effect can be done to almost every flat, whose single parts (in this case the different marble tiles) can be differed from the rest of the flat. The effect is mostly very easy to achieve but it looks amazing ingame. (buildtime 7-8 minutes extra time)

Shot two shows another way and possibility to add some detail with "Flat Sectoring". The brick floor really suits great for this although the effect isn't that clear in this example but you will get to know how it works. So, what have I done here? I "broke out" several parts of the floor, but just as the floor shape makes it possible for me (size of the bricks are around 32x16 pixels = 32x16 map units). I just drawed my sector in this simple shape on the bridge, moved i about 4 units down, changed the flat to something more natural and added the lower textures, and that's it. (buildtime 4-6 minutes)

Well, in my eyes, shot three shows the best example of this method, because the achieved detail r0x0rs my b0x0rs, so here we go: In front of the door, you can see several tiles of this METAL1 texture thingie, used often in different UAC installations. This time, I also "cut the floor pieces out", gave them a new height (+2), added the lower texture and that's it.
The only problem is, the more complex your flats are (diagonal contures, etc) the harder it gets to "flat-sectorize" them but also the more amazing the result will look (as you can see in this shot!)

Oh and by the way, you are not forced to just use this method on flats, it also possible to do the same if you are working on walls and complex sectors, just take a look at screenshot number 4 to find out what I mean. Here, I was creating a computer panel thingie with a COMPBLUE variant texture. I added to this normal recangular sector some other sectors for much more depth concerning this object!

Summary: You can see, it is a very simple but powerful method to create new and interesting effects in your maps, so if you have some space and need a smooth passage from (example) a hellish world into a UAC base, try this! 
Extra-Buildtime: "7-20 minutes" (depending on the complexity of the flat)
Build-Difficulty: "Medium"


...is absolutely incredible. "But why? They are just terminals!", some wise newbie would say now ;) Well, the interesting thing about "Terminals" (with this, I don't just mean computer terminals, also hellish installations, flesh-textures, spine, marble-ornaments; just "complex textures/sectors included (or excluded) about 8-32 pixels into (out of) a plain wall (or even floor)") is the fact, that they are some kind of "emergency solution" for advanced mappers. Why? You can add them always, and if I say always, I mean it! If you don't have any creative or innovative ideas for some new areas of your map, add "Terminals" :) It always works and looks good!

Shot 1
demonstrates this usage very well. I really hadn't andy good ideas while developing this room, so I just thought about adding some computers. On the left side, you can see an excluded complex machine (with a border ;)), in front of you, you find another computer in the wall with ligh and a sloped PLAT flat and finally at the top of the screenshot, you see some very long COMP texture below the sky window. They are everywhere but no-one minds and everyone likes it, because it looks like detail ;) (buildtime 10-20 minutes extra time)

In shot number 2 you can see a more simple usage of this feature. The upper balcony on the left side would look very empty if I just left it with its plain STARTAN texture. This is why I added some computer panels which aerates the whole thing a bit. (build time 5-6 minutes)

The last shot numbered 3 demonstrates once more the easier and faster terminal work. You can see a simple COMPSTA monitor at the wall in front of you (just one sector, though detail) and also some machines at the top with lights (and border once more). It is really not much work done, just 3 new sectors, but the room looks much better (although this one still lacks of detail in my eyes, but it is under developement as I write).

As already mentioned, if you lack of creative ideas for your areas, add "Terminals", they fit always, are easy and fast to do and look great! And don't forget the following explanation from the top: "[..]with this, I don't just mean computer terminals, also hellish installations, flesh-textures, spine, marble-ornaments; just "complex textures/sectors included (or excluded) about 8-32 pixels into (out of) a plain wall (or even floor)[..]" and now go and add terminals :)
Extra-Buildtime: "5-30 minutes" (depends on the complexity of the machines and the level of copy&pasting)
Build-Difficulty: "Low - High"


Normally, I didn't want to add this, but as I reconsidered the fact, that every texturepack has some bricks and every mapper will - sooner or later - work with bricks, I added this little part. Many maps already include a lot of BRICK mapping work but only few of them exhausted their potential. Here are some nice tricks you could incorporate in your map.

Shot one
shows one part of the hellish cave in The City of the Damned. With the usage with about 10 or 12 new sectors, we can make this alley look like it has been broken out, and you see how good it looks, but it is also a lot of work, adjusting the texture alignment, the height of the bricks and the x-pegging of the walls. (buildtime 15-20 minutes)

Shot two
demonstrates another way using this method. Think about an old building whose windows have been blocked up years or decades ago. Well, with time comes curiosity (or war) and some persons or ugly demons might have broken in the building through one of the windows. By adding some new sectors as different brick levels of the opened window and also some brick stones in front of the window, the effect is perfect and looks pretty cool. (buildtime 10-12 minutes)

In shot three, we take a look at an older shot from the lesson of "Flat Sectoring" because it is absolutely the same think, just translated on the floor.

The good thing about this method is the fact, that you can use it always and as often as you want if you work with BRICK textures, whether it is Doom2 or Heretic/Hexen or even some new texture pack (because all of them include bricks :))
Extra-Buildtime: "10-20 minutes" (depends on the complexity of destruction)
Build-Difficulty: "Med"


Since version 1.23 b33 (as far as I can remember), ZDoom is capable of bridge-things (inspired by Hexen and the K2-Bridge developer Kurt Kesler) and since then, doomers often use this feature to enhance their realism and feel for real 3D. Well, but often, being able to do a bridge in ZDoom doesn't mean, that it automatically contributes to the realism and 3D-feeling.
Think about bridges which are far to long, almost floating in the air without any pillars or chains to hold them. Think about by far to simple floor patterns for the bridges or about missing rails.

Well, with the help of shot 1 I will try to explain the standards of bridge-design for a realistic result in ZDoom. First at all, don't always use the standard-bridge pattern of simple squares being connected to each other but rather vary the forms and shapes. In my example bridge, I used diamond shapes to build the floor, ut you could also use triangles, pentagons or even abstract forms. Another important thing is the length: Don't make your bridge-parts longer then 192 units without adding some pillars or chains to hold their weight. Just think on real bridges, their leverage and the way they were built. And at the end, add rails to your bridge (with the help of some ZDoom tricks, you can make them passable (jump) for the real 3D illusion). The example shot demonstrates all this very well as I think. (buildtime 20-25 minutes)

Bridge is not bridge! Many small details - floorpattern, rails, physics - added to your fake-3D-object make up for a real good illusion, a real good K2-Bridge. Without these details, your map heavily losts its authenticity, so work hard on them if you want to have bridges!
Extra-Buildtime: "20-25 minutes" (depends on size and complexity)
Build-Difficulty: "Med - High"


On of the most heavily underestimated features in ZDoom are the spark particle objects. They are that easy to implement (just the SPARK thing and some OPEN script in a cycle and that's it) but though, they were used very seldom. But why?
They add such a great special detail to the alround atmosphere of your map, if you place them on broken lights or broken doors. You can put them almost everywhere in your map - as long as you don't work on a Heretic/Hexen map or resources without any technical/electrical stuff in there - in just two simple steps. Additionally you can set up some flickering/randomly blinking lights and maybe also another interactive script (if you shot the terminal/light, it gets broken and sparks!). It's just up to your imagination. (buildtime for simple sparking 3-4 minutes)

I use the sparks the most time on broken lights, broken doors or broken terminals in addition with some flickering lights and special scripts for the broken objects itself and it really isn't that hard to do!
Extra-Buildtime: "3-15 minutes" (depends on the extra scripts you add for interactivity)
Build-Difficulty: "Low"


Carpets in Doom? Sounds kinda strange, doesn't it? Well, no, it's a great invention to add some more minor detail to your maps ;) So, how to add beautiful carpets to your UAC Livingroom? Well, this is very easy and also very fast to achieve, just create a new sector in your "room", make it 1 or 2 units higher then the parent sector and put some carpet-like flat on the floor and the lower texture of the new sector (for example the blue one heavily used in E1 maps, maybe place also some UAC logos on the carpet!). 

In shot number one I demonstrate this feature very well with the Blood Resource Pack which has beautiful carpet'ish flats to use. You can see a long, very long carpet in the chapel of the city leading to the altar over some steps as you can see (yes, I know the alignment can be done much better, but it was my first carpet ;)). You see once more, how simple this is done but how greatly it enhances the room itself (thx to the new contures and a guidance towards the altar). (buildtime 5-8 minutes)

The second shot shows of a Heretic'ish medieval room from Netherworld and it has (omg!!!!!) a carpet :) This time it is a rectangular one but as you can see, it adds much more depth and detail to the room itself and it is soooo easy to add :) (buildtime 1-2 minutes)

Carpets can be used everywhere
Extra-Buildtime: "1-10 minutes" (depends on size and stairs)
Build-Difficulty: "Low"


Another great thing you also can always add are ceiling windows and additional structures to this windows. Think about the many openings Episode 1 in Doom had, they all looked beautiful and enhanced the feeling of real 3D alot. Today, with the help of high-end pcs and skyboxes, we can triple-enhance this feeling with just a few simple additional steps.

In screenshot number one you can see a sky-opening in the ceiling out of a organic structure. In the middle of this window, you see a metallic girder, part of the former building. With such windows and girders, you can play a lot with different light levels which also affects the floor. Result: The human eye of a player sees a lot of contrasts, differences and colors and thinks: "Wow, detailz0r!!!" Another great trick in this screenshot was developed by me and I call it, the "fake translucent flat". The part of the room uses 2 skyboxes, a bright one and dark one (can also be done with different colors, not just light-levels itself) and with the help of the VIEWPOINT PICKER I can tell which parts of the girder are completely translucent and which are only half translucent. Nice, isn't it? :) (buildtime for the window 5-10 minutes, buildtime for the special sky effect 5-8 minutes)

The shot two shows off a very advanced way of adding detail to a sky window. The hard part (takes a lot of time) of this are the metal parts which directly connect to the rock behind them, so it looks like a backup preventing the ceiling to collapse. The other metallic thing (the METL1 one with the bolts on it) is just a room-filler, nothing special, just one sector around the ROCK construction. (buildtime 10-15 minutes)

Adding windows to the ceiling adds always depth to the game and if you use it wisely, you can add lots of detail within the nice architecture of the opening!
Extra-Buildtime: "5-20 minutes" (depends on size)
Build-Difficulty: "Medium - High"


Well, if you work with a mapeditor for Doom, you will sooner or later come to a point, when you finish your first room in which you have at last 3 corners ;) The funny thing about this is, that it happens very seldom, that you add something in your corners. Your main focus always os set to the large plain walls, not to the corners itself, which connect these walls. That's the moment, when high quality and heavy detail starts. Normally I also don't add anything to my corners (sometimes some ammo, blood and bones, candles but nut much more) but in a few cases, the room cries something like: "Edit my corners, I look ugly!!!" and well, here we go ;)

Shot number 1
shows us a massive SUPPORT2 lightsource build directly into the corner itself. The mainthing you do, when you detail your one corners is the addition of some more corners, make 11 corners out of just 1 as the example shows us, and to be honest, without any arrogance: This looks just great :)
But you don't have to add always such a complex object to a simple corner. Sometimes it's just enough, if you add 2 more vertices and place some - so called - bordertextures to your corner (like SUPPORT, LIGHT, DOORSTOP, METAL and even DOORTRAK). It's a small change but the overall-result makes up for much more eye-candy.

Don't leave your corners as they are, add bordertextures or even add new corners and complex objects to spice your rooms up! It's worth!!!
Extra-Buildtime: "1-4 minutes" (bordertextures don't even take 1 minute at all)
Build-Difficulty: "Low"


Yes, they really are some kind of an allroundsolution because - like terminals - they can be used always everywhere. Crates look cool, vary in look and behaviour and are easy to build, what else would a detail-addicted want for his latest map? :) For sure, the original standard crates from Doom itself might be a bit outdated, because they have already heavily been used in E2M2 and other original maps. That's when I recommend the wooden crates from Final Doom TNT Evilution, some shawn-crates from Nightmare's texture packs and also these beautiful Strogg-Crates from the Quake Texture Packs.

In shot number one I have just a very small demonstration of the usage of crates. As you can see, they different sizes of crates combined together look brilliant and now imagine: You could place this bunch of packages in every sort of style or map, it would always fit in some way :) Another good tip I didn't incorporate yet in this wad is the usage of a platform below the crates (just as a border once again), which might be helpful if you want to put crates in hellish maps.

The combination of different sizes and colors of crates is one of the secret-recipes for persons who lost their creativity concerning "senseless stuff in senseless rooms", and thx to the resource-creators, we have a big choice regarding the crate design ;)
Extra-Buildtime: "1-10 minutes" (depends of complexity of the crate arrangement)
Build-Difficulty: "Low"


It's always very hard to design outdoor areas because you always have the aim to make them look as natural as possible, as never ever someone has changed something to the landscape. But in many maps' outdoor areas - (thx goes to experience™) - I had never the feeling, that I was somewhere outside in the wilderness. Mostly I though of another UAC courtyard. So how do I try to achieve a realistic outdoor area?! Well, almost as everyone else, I use the DoomBuilder sector drawer, create the basic shapes of my area, add a wall texture and a floor texture, make the ceiling F_SKY1 and well... then I am almost finished, just the detail is left ;) and that's the essential part of the production!

In screenshot number one you see one of the many rocks, I add to the center parts of my large outdoor areas. To simplify it, it's just a basic stone-shape with different heights and on its top, some grass is growing, not to forget the HUGE BROWN TREE on the top of this all ;) The important thing with this is also the choice of colors, which always depends on which planet or place you are at the moment. But try to use just 2 different colors and one of them always brown (rest can vary between gray, green and a very light brown like the one from BROWN1).

Ok, so far, we have a rock now with a tree placed in some parts of our outdoor area, but can this be all? Screenshot 2 shows another very good trick to emulate a real outdoor area - beyond the fact, that yo will have to put several differen "rock-stairs" in the style of shot 1 directly to the walls of your outside area to make it look much more real and not only like a "1-sector" canyon. What you really need in outdoor areas are different floor-flats and a few small height-differences of this floors (as you can see the one in shot 2 , GRASS). Well, have you ever stood in front of a natural grown meadow? I don't talk about that 1,2cm english meadow, I mean a real grassland in the open countryside. If you look close, you also see that some grass-surfaces have different colors as others. On some places you can see small trails from animals or humans and this is exactly what you have to add to your outdoor areas to make it look realer. Oh well... and a good sideeffect of this is the growing level of detail ;) 

The "Outdoor Area" Formula: One takes some linedefs which vary in length and angle, adds outside textures and flats in two colors (one brown), adds some stones (with border) and trees to the center- and border-scenery, adds some different floor-surfaces, adds a trail and finished is the outside area ;)
Extra-Buildtime: "30-45 minutes" (depending on size)
Build-Difficulty: "Medium"


This is a method I use very often to add detail to caverns or underground areas but also to outside areas (with water or dirt). The simple trick is, you just create a sector in form of some crackles (everyone knows how the look like, if not, try to draw "clef", the first 3 tries to produce this will be perfect crackles ;)) But as always images say more than thousand words, here we go:

Screenshot one
shows a crackle from TNT : LE - Fury of Fire in which I used this detailing-method. I just drawed this crackle-sector with DoomBuilder, lowered the thing 8 units and changed the floortexture (and adjusted the lower textures from the parent sector to be also rock) and that's it. Furthermore you can change the crackle's light level, if the liquid you placed there is self-lighting. (buildtime 1-2 minutes)

Another great example for good crackles is shot number 2. You can see crackles everywhere, surfaces, where do old material broke away and the new "glowing" one appears. Imagine, I just used 2 different textures to create this rock, though, it looks high-detailed and like a hard effort (well, it really was ;)). The floor crackles are created as described above (almost look like tribals), the serious hard work was, where the ceiling-crackles move into the wall itself, where I had to use many small sectors but the build-concept is logical and easy to reproduce. (buildtime 20-30 minutes)

Crackles add  lot of spice and atmosphere to your outside and inside areas (cavern or technical), they are easy to produce and they look very natural (if you do 'em right ;)) and in combination with slopes, rock-textures and lava-stuff unbeatable regarding the work on caves! :)
Extra-Buildtime: "1-30 minutes" (depends on variation of the crackles)
Build-Difficulty: "Low - Medium"


Also the design of pillars have to keep up with the time. Far gone are the days when we mappers have been proud of creating a round pillar with 12 or 16 vertices and non-aligned STARTAN textures. Today's pillars have to be outrageous regarding quality, detail and also scale.

The room in shot number one isn't that interesting at all. Just take a look at the plain usage of one single texture, the few crates, the enemies and the light sources. Normally, no one would ever talk about this room but fortunately, I forgot to mention the huge TEKWALL4 pillars (also with border as you can see to make the connection between pillar and room better). In a small room like the E1M1 startroom, such a pillar would look totally deplaced but a very large room, you need large and impressive columns like this one in TNT:LE. (buildtime 15-20 minutes)

The great thing about pillars is the same as with lights: As long as you have enough space, you can place them wherever you want. Also, you can vary their design in every single small aspect from smart & slim columns to huge and impressive (in scale) pillars, carrying a weight of hundreds of tons. Just be creative and try what can be done :) Just as with lights!
Extra-Buildtime: "5 - 10 minutes" (depends on complexity, can be copied and pasted)
Build-Difficulty: "Low - Medium"


The behaviour of light-sources and the shadow drawn by objects is normally not that important at all. If you are working on outdoor areas, the light falls directly from the top, so who cares? Well, "Detail-Addicts" do :) If you have somewhere a light-source and an object, which could prevent the light from getting to every little corner of that place, take advantage of it! The better the game between shadow and light is worked out, the more realistic and detailed the final result will look!

Shot one
demonstrates the behaviour of crate- and building-shadows in the mainpart of the city in "The City of The Damned". The interesting thing about this is, if you take a close look on the skybox, you will nowhere find a light-source. However playing the map itself, you have always the feeling as the sun is rising/setting in the northern part of the city, and that's just because of the shadows I placed beyond big objects. But there is yet another useful optical carmouflage: With shadows there comes contrast and with contrast there comes eye-candy - believe it or not - but it works :) The outside area of my city isn't that overdetailed at all but with the frequent change of bright and dark areas, it looks like a heavy detailed part! (buildtime is uncountable, shadow for crates took about 2-3 minutes, for buildings about 10 minutes)

The second shows some of the big trickeries in the world of map design. What do mappers, if the are even too lazy to copy & paste some stuff from old parts of the map into the new one? Well, they simply darken some parts of the map and leave non-detailed parts lost in the darkness, so no one will ever see how lazy they have been ;) The room before the grey skullkey has been darkened exactly because of that reason but no-one ever cared and - thx to the contrasts - it still looked like I have put a lot of effort into this :)

Like in the RealLife™, you can create many different tricks with the strange behaviour of light and shadows, you just have to use it in your maps ;)
Extra-Buildtime: "uncountable minutes" (depends on level-size)
Build-Difficulty: "Medium"


Well, I never liked the way how light gradients from single light sources (out of terminals or door-borders) where created because it didn't look that realistic, if mappers formed one sector around the other and then adjusted the light. So I played around with new different light-models and well, this is what I have achieved (first time in TNT3):

In screenshot number 1 you see the lightning of two LIGHT3 bars next to one of this nice Quake door-textures heavily used in my TNT series ;) If you now compare this light model to some other versions (this sector-in-sector-one) you will see how much has been improved, because this one looks by far more realistic and cute then all the other ever had (in my eyes at last ;)). This is mostly because the light no more travels around corners, it is seen as a light-beam and behaves in this way! (buildtime 2-3 minutes)

For sure, you can't use this light-model not everywhere, for example not for floor/ceiling lightsources or light-sources which don't fire the light as one single beam (formulated in a simple way) but further spread the light in every direction. Nevertheless, this alternative model is useful and looks much sharper then other models
Extra-Buildtime: "2-3 minutes" 
Build-Difficulty: "Low"


Window design is a very important thing in your Doom-engine maps because you always encounter a place, where you want to put a small opening into a wall, but what to do if you don't have anye idea to spice it up? Well, this is the way I do it!

In screenshot number one you see just a simple window of BROWN1 with a metallic/spacey border around it (SHAWN). It's a simple addition but it makes your window look damn beautiful and very real! (buildtime 5-10 minutes, mostly because of aligning textures)

The second shot just shows another window of the same style, but this time, I put another texture (SHAWN1) into the middle of this metallic thing, made it translucent (120) and then added the BLOCKEVERYTHING flag to this line. The result is a very solid and beautiful window in your very own UAC base ;) (buildtime 8-12 minutes)

And the third shot shows the last alternative for Tormentor667-styled windows. This time, I also put another line into the center of our metallic border, but this time it's a transparent texture (MIDSPACE) on which we just put the IMPASSABLE flag, so the player and monsters still can shoot through this. (buildtime 8 - 12 minutes)

These 3 examples are - as the name implies - just examples of base structures for your windows. Without any problems you can change textures, size, style and overall-look of your window to make it fit in other styles of maps (for example a combination of a METAL border and a MIDGATE center-texture). Play around with this and develope your very own style of windows :)
Extra-Buildtime: "5-12 minutes" (can be copy&pasted easily)
Build-Difficulty: "Low - Medium"


As we all know very well: "The small things in life do the difference", same goes to detail as we also know! In this part, I will give you several pieces of work from me. If you play my maps, you will maybe don't see them, but though these are the littlenesses making a new mapper also soon a detail-addicted-one, believe me! :)

At shot one you can see, how much effort can be put just in a normal bench, but that's why this one looks so damn good in the chapel of my City of The Damned. It consits of 6 sectors, 3 for the back, 1 for the seat and 2 more for the armrests. For sure, I also could have done this with 2 sectors at all but would the result be the same? I don't think so! :) (buildtime 3-5 minutes) 

Shot 2 shows off some important trick concerning the LINE HORIZON special. I saw a lot of wads using this feature without any care. It's unlikely (exceptions affirm the rule!), that you will find somewhere on Mars, Phobos, Earth, Moon (except seas) or any other planet a place where you stand in front of a flat ground ranging into infinity and that's why it looks always damn ugly if you don't do something about it ;) The few tricks I have to prevent this ugly side-effect is to place some sectors and objects in front of the LINE HORIZON special, some rocks, some trees, maybe a smll building, just to make the commonness of the infinite horizon a bit smaller. Check the screenshot and you will know what I mean. It just looks better and not that unrealistic anymore!

The next shot number 3 shows how much simple detail can be put in something very trivial ;) I don't have to say much about it, it just proves once more, that you can find everywhere a little place where you can add detail! In thix case, I added wodden panels to the outside of my building in form of pillars, just to give it a few more contures and something, your eye-candy-addicted mind can look at :)

Another unnecassary detail of the map is shown in screenshot 4: If you look closely to the upper left of the screenshot, you see a building behind the brown stonewall. Why this is unnecassary? Well, you will never get to this building (and 9 other buildings on the map), you just see it :) For sure, I could have left out that work, if you will never reach it, but the map is supposed to be part of a city, so it's sometimes important to look beyond the borderlines of your creation. This is now just a concrete example for cities, but I am sure there are a lot of other map-types where you will need such a thought!

I know it is often hard to start with a complete new designing idea regarding the work on sectors, vertices and linedefs. And then, if the worst-case appears behind your back - the so-called "creativity-hole" - you only have one chance left to get back into editing: Play other games as inspiration or just check out the latest resources for your favorite 3D ... sorry, 2½D game :) When working on The City Of The Damned, I also got to the point when I thought: "Damn, I have absoultely no idea what I could put into this building!" so I started to browse through my blood resources and well, after some time I got to this new ideas as shown on screenshot number 5

Another nice trick of adding very simple detail is shown in shot number 6. If you take a look at this one, you see windows, small in-build lights, flat-sectoring and ... yes? What? :) Exactly, an open door which has absolutely no use at all ;) And the very bad trickery about it is: Everyone knows that the BIGDOOR textures have just a height of 128 units and if we would close this door, the texture would tile and look terribly but it doesn't, it stays open as it is and will never move. Though it looks great ;) You can use this simple detail in hallways or openings which look plain and for which you don't have any spicing-up-ideas.

The most important thing with this is: If you create a new object, a new piece of your room that hasn't been done by anyone else, work on it until you think it is perfect, until it almost exactly resembles what you had in mind. And if this object has already been build by someone else, improve his version and make a far better one, because then, people will remember your wad!
Extra-Buildtime: "uncountable" (depends on level-size and personal level of detail-addiction)
Build-Difficulty: "High" (the final step for absolute detail!)


So, I think a demonstration in form of screenshots from a room in his different building states will be the best thing, I can supply you for the end of this chapter, here we go: One room in 7 simple steps ;)

Ok, let's start: In step one we just create the basic shape of our room, give it some nice walltexture (STARTAN in this case) and two fitting ceiling and floor flats to round up the thing, not that hard at all.

Step 2 shows one of our first tricks we learned above to gain some detail, the borders (textured with BROWN1 and STEP5). The upper border was lowered 64 units, the bottom border was raised 8 units to make it look like a small step. Also I raised one part of the room for 128 units to show off some nice height differences.

Next step - number three - I added one new ceiling window to the center of the room, also with a border, and another ceiling window in the backpart of the room further away. After this, I adjusted the lightlevels of these sectors because I already have my lightsources fixed at the top ;) Finally, I added an elevator to the backpart!

The next step, number four, looks most complex but to be honest, it is the one that makes fun and it is therefor really easy to do: "The Terminals!" :) I added several recesses, added computers, added panels and added one door. I also added some metal bars to the front top window (which you unfortunately can't see, just the shadows) and some metal bars to the ceiling-window in the background.

Step 5 adds some smaller detail which isn't visible first at all comparing shot 4 and shot 5. I added SUPPORT2 parts to every corner of the main-room walls, this spices up the plain corners a bit.

In step 6 I finally added light-sources to the ceiling and some platforms to the ground to make the floors/ceilings look more interesting diversified.

And last but not least, in step 7 I added the things to my scenery, barrels, lamps, monsters and some gore. This room has been done in 25 minutes and it really looks beautiful, doesn't it? :)

Well, with this small demo ou see how fast you can create a completely new over-detailed room within just a few minutes if you learned all the simple tricks above, that's all about it and I hope it helps :)
Extra-Buildtime: "20-30 minutes" 
Build-Difficulty: "Low - High"


Okay, this is now the end of our first lesson concerning the "Art of 2½D Detailing" and I really hope you enjoyed this and you learned something by reading this. All these simple things above are meant to give you some help if you stand in front of your just created room, your new walls, your empty floors or other things and you start to think: "Damnit, how can I put some more detail on this place?" For sure, this help doesn't prevent you - the mapper - from working a lot on your map, from putting much effort into your piece of work to make it look incredible. It just gives you some ideas and the knowledge how to do it.

window_gate_comps.jpgIn the last shot of this text you will see one final room in which many of the elements and methods described above are used in: The light-source/gate at the very left, the MIDSPACE window in front of you, the terminal to the right, the computer panels left and right to the window (all with their very own borders), the varying light levels, the different floor textures, the light sources build in the computer panels at the ceiling, the borders on the stairs at the right, the detailed corners at the right and very, very left and for sure, the thing placement (marine & particles). All these simple details make up this high-quality UAC-Base room!

So thx for reading and feel free to give me some comments on this in my very own guestbook, so I might improve this in the near future.


Swimming Water / 3D Bridges

Creating maps with GZDooM features allows you to break free of many of the bounds imposed by even advanced source ports such as ZDooM. True 3D architecture, the use of models, and dynamic lights are a few of the features that break GZDooM out of the DooM source port mold. In this section I'll provide the basics of exploiting these features.

A. Creating a 3D Bridge

    1. Create the sector that you want as the 3D sector. Often, as in the case with a bridge, this will be a sector within another sector (let's call it the "main sector" to distinguish it from the 3D sector). You do not need to assign any new attributes (e.g., lighting, floor/ceiling texture, sidedef texture) to this sector that you want to appear on the 3D portion, as such attributes will only affect the area of the "main sector", not the 3D sector. In other words, it will simply be a sector that is identical to the surrounding sector, exceptthat it will have a unique sector tag. (That's not to say that you can't assign it other properties, such as height, lighting, floor/ceiling texture; it's just that these properties will manifest themselves in your main sector, not in your 3D sector (except lighting, which will affect the 3D bridge. But more on lighting later.)

    2. Assign a sector tag to the 3D sector (say it is tag = 1).

    3. In the void space of the map create a sector. This is known as the "control" sector. I usually place this sector in the general vicinity of the 3D sector so that I can readily identify the control parameters if I need to.

    4. Set the floor height of the control sector to be the same as the bottom height of your 3D sector, and the ceiling height of the control sector to be the same as the top height of the 3D sector. So, suppose you have a "main" sector that has a floor height = 0, and ceiling height = 256, and you want a 3D bridge crossing this main sector. You want the bottom surface of the bridge to be at a height of 112, and the top surface to be at a height of 128. Your control sector will have a floor height = 112, and a ceiling height = 128.

    5. Say you want the top surface of the bridge to have a flat texture = STEP1 and the bottom surface to have a flat texture = SLIME15. You will give your control sector a floor flat texture = SLIME15, and a ceiling flat texture = STEP1.

    6. Say you want the sides of the bridge to have a texture = METAL6. You will assign one linedef of your control sector a texture = METAL6. (There's a reason I chose this particular texture, but more on that later.)

    7. If you want the space below the bridge to be "shadowed", you can change the light value of the control sector to be slightly below the light value of the 3D sector. Usually, an 8-unit or 16-unit difference is sufficient to provide the shadowed effect.

    8. Now you will need to actually assign the GZDooM special that will make the magic work. Select the linedef of your control sector that has texture = METAL6, and give it the Sector_Set3DFloor special. How you do this will depend on which map editor you are using, but in DooM Builder you simply scroll down the linedef specials until you get to 'Sector', expand the options and scroll down until you find 'H Sector Set 3D Floor (160)'.

    9. In the same menu as the one you used for 7, above, assign your tag number of the 3D sector (in this case tag = 1). For 'Type' select the value 1 (for solid 3D floor) and for 'Alpha' insert the value 255 (for completely opaque). Ignore the 'Flag' and the 'Tag HiByte' arguments for a simple 3D bridge and if you don't have an inordinately high number of sector tags in your map.

    10. Save your file, and you have a 3D bridge that you can walk under, walk on, place enemies or things on, shoot, etc.

    11. Now about the choice of METAL6 as texture. You'll notice that the texture has a light strip at the top. If you want the light to appear on the side of the bridge, you're in good shape, because the steps I outlined above will take care of everything. (Note that the light strip is only 12 units tall, but your bridge is 16 units tall, which will result in a slight bit of the metal to appear on your bridge.) If you do not want the light to form the side of your bridge, change the y-offset of your 3D sector (not your control sector). Something like y-offset = 32 will do the trick. Also note that having the top of your 3D bridge at height = 128, and using a texture with 128-unit height means that you won't need to worry about upper unpegging the sidedef. If your bridge height changes, or you use a different texture, you may need to play around with unpegging and y-offset to get your bridge-side texture just right.

B. Creating Swimmable Water

    1. Follow Steps 1-3 for Creating a 3D Bridge, above. The main difference is that in this example you will be creating a "hole" in the ground, so you will need to give textures to the lower sidedefs of this sector. (You can also create "columns" of water, but that's a tutorial for a different day.) Create a sector that's 64 units deep within the "main sector", assign it the lower sidedefs, and change the floor texture if you wish.

    2. Set the floor height of the control sector to be the same as the bottom height of your 3D sector (i.e., your water or slime pool), and the ceiling height of the control sector to be the same as the top height of the 3D sector. So, suppose you have a "main" sector that has a floor height = 0, and ceiling height = 256, and you want a 3D water pool in the main sector. You want the bottom surface of the pool to be at a height of -64, and the top surface to be at a height of -16. Your control sector will have a floor height = -64, and a ceiling height = -16. I have chosen the surface of the water to be just 16 units below the floor of the main sector so that it will be easy for the player to "climb out" of the pool. However, you can lower the surface of the water even further if you want the player to have to "jump out" of the pool.

    3. You will give your control sector a ceiling flat texture that corresponds to your water texture (i.e., FWATER1). Of course you can do the same thing for blood (BLOOD1), lava (LAVA1), nukage (NUKAGE1), or slime (SLIME01). Your control sector's floor flat is generally immaterial, and you can assign it whatever you wish.

    4. If you want the underwater space to be "shadowed", you can change the light value of the control sector to be slightly below the light value of the 3D sector. Usually, an 8-unit or 16-unit difference is sufficient to provide the shadowed effect. You can also assign a 'fog' effect, or provide an underwater color. These are best done via a script. A line in an OPEN script such as: Sector_SetFade(tag, 40, 119, 205) creates a nice turquoise-colored underwater. Play with those values to suit your needs. Incidentally, the 'tag' referred to in the script is the tag you give your control sector.

    5. Select any linedef of your control sector, and give it the Sector_Set3DFloor special. assign your tag number of the 3D sector (in this case tag = 1). For 'Type' select the value 2 (for swimmable 3D floor) and for 'Alpha' insert an appropriate value less than 255 (the lower the value the more the translucency). The texture you use for your linedef is irrelevant in this case; it becomes relevant if you have a water column.

    6. You're done.

Good luck.

What makes a good map?

Gameplay and level design are what people generally look for in a map. Here's my take on each of these.


    1. Atmosphere. Many maps strive for a creepy atmosphere, with somewhat dimly-lit areas and the presence of monsters heard but not seen. Others go for reasonably well-lit areas, and even a brighter look to the map with new blue-sky textures, etc. Each approach works well, depending on the intention of the author.
    2. Surprises. Some maps, especially the creepy ones, will spring traps on the unsuspecting player, perhaps without warning. It's best, however, to give the player either a clue that there's a trap, enough health & ammo to deal with the trap, or a way out. The key is to make the player sweat without dooming him/her to failure.
    3. Action. Some maps will have enemies sniping at you from a distance, forcing you to duck and hide until you are close enough to deal with them. Others will have hordes of enemies swarming around. Others will require you to run through or retreat or cause enemy in-fights. All approaches can work very well if implemented properly.
    4. Health/Armor/Weapons/Ammo Not too much, not too little. As always, keep the player on edge, but give him/her a chance.
    5. Skill Levels. Not all players have the same skill. For wider appeal, skill levels should be implemented. Otherwise, in the text file specify which skill level the map was built for.
    6. Replay Value. A good map will typically have a high replay value. In other words, people will want to play the level again and again. Among the elements contributing to high replay value are non-linear routes, secret areas that are visible but not easy to access, and varied types of battles.

Level Design

    1. Theme. The most common themes appear to be tech/base, medeival, and hellish. When designing a level, try to stay within the theme, unless the story-line indicates otherwise. That's not to say that some elements of one cannot be introduced into a map with a different theme (e.g., the selective use of MARBFAC textures in tech/base maps). But this ought to be done with some care.
    2. Architecture. The better the architecture, the more pleased your audience is likely to be. However, do not sacrifice gameplay for architecture. Most buildings you create will have corridors. Avoid long, straight, and featureless corridors. Make the corridors turn and/or double back; add cross-beams on the ceiling, support pillars along the way, pools of light; skylights; and recessed sections of wall. The same applies to rooms in the building.
    3. Map Layout. While there's nothing inherently wrong with a linear map, providing the player alternative paths to a given objective is often appreciated.
    4. Map Structure. Avoid a map with the same height attributes throughout. In other words, make some rooms with higher ceilings or lower floors than others, make rooms that are higher up (accessible via stairs, elevators, or teleporters), etc. Add windows, especially to areas that the player will only access later in the map, or secret areas.
    5. Secret Areas. Most players consider it fun and challenging to discover some or all secrets. Include secret areas in your maps whenever possible. Provide some sort of clue that a secret exists -- a deliberately misaligned texture, a razor-thin recessed area, a flickering light. Avoid hiding required keys or switches in secret areas, particularly difficult-to-find areas.
    6. Texturing. Same principles as Themes, above. In addition, make sure textures are properly aligned.

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