Combatting Mapper's Block

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by StoneFrog, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. StoneFrog

    StoneFrog L6: Sharp Member

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    Well, after a few months of tinkering in Source hammer and a good 2 years or so mapping for Goldsrc, I felt I was ready for my first Team Fortress 2 map.

    I've played around with its entities before and have even figured out how to do much of the architectural detailing Valve's way. 'Tis a sin to go against art direction. So I'm set, right? Apparently not.

    I've learned from far too many past failures that I should never map unless I am stricken with an idea brilliant enough to make me say "EUREKA!" (or void my bowels). Why force the ideas when you end up doing a half-assed job and then wasting a week or two of your life before the map crashes and burns on the wayside?

    The problem is, I can't get a TF2 map concept in my head I'm overly passionate about. So how do you guys get your inspiration?

    I know this kind of problem is quite common and people ask this question all the time, but I'm just not keying on anything lately.
     
  2. Mar

    Mar Banned

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    Take a piece of paper, a pen, and think, what kinda of map do I want?

    GPit style, 5 CP, dustbowl style, PL, CTF?

    Then think,

    How do I want it, more indoors, out side, big landmark?

    Then take the pen and start skecthing/writing what ever comes to mind.

    Once you're done brainstorming, take a break, come back the next day, and pick out the good stuff and work from there.
     
  3. Icarus

    aa Icarus

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    My creative process is usually

    -Think of a map I like
    -How can I twist this around a bit?
    -Block time!
     
  4. GrimGriz

    GrimGriz L10: Glamorous Member

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    The inspiration for my first map, desperation, was the awesome times LANning HL1 deathmatch when we rigged up 6 computers at a friends house. My two favorite maps were crossfire and the cliff one, and I wanted to combine those experiences to share with people I played TF2 with.

    The inspiration for my second map, dustribute, was an attempt to recreate the fun I had playing WC3 mod CS 1.6 on dust, and sharing that with ...

    The inspiration for my 3rd map came when I was testing entities for dustribute on a test map and the person helping asked for no clip. He ran off into the skybox and when I saw him running around in there, I was inspired to make BattleOfTheGods.

    and then while working on BOTG, i was inspired to make cp_geyser.

    So, I'm guessing inspiration for me just comes when I realize I have the power to experience things I'd like to try...
     
  5. psihomir

    psihomir L4: Comfortable Member

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    Well, I'm usually motivated when I'm struck by an interesting idea, like you said. For example, for the map I'm working on, I wanted to make a different theme... and despite how much I love Dustbowl, I hate its chokepoint-ishness sometimes. So I went out to create a snowy attack/defend map with more emphasis on open spaces and side routes. For my next one, I'm going to do another twist on the setting. I get motivated to work further when I imagine the final result.
     
  6. luxatile

    aa luxatile deer

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    When I came up with the idea of a side project I'm working on now, the first thing I did was to think about a theme. Out of the blue, I thought about some beautiful farming scene, and I thought "this would be awesome for a map". Thinking of a theme first can often make it easier to do the rest of the job. I tried to imagine specific parts of this farming landscape, and how you could interact with it.

    Maybe I make this sound easy, but I've never really been the victim of a longer lasting mapper's block. The best advice I can offer is what I said - in a nutshell, I believe starting with the theme will make the rest move along easily.
     
  7. StoneFrog

    StoneFrog L6: Sharp Member

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    I agree. I'm probably a bad person in the eyes of many for this, but I'm one of the guys who likes to make his gameplay integrate smoothly with the environment instead of vice versa. I'd rather envision some beautiful map and build off of unique qualities such as high places and open fields than come up with a gameplay concept and then shape up some artificial and unrealistic world to serve the sole purpose of working well with that gametype.

    Of course, it's hard for me to do that in TF2 where environments are still fairly limited. I'm not ambitious enough so as to make a whole new environment, so it's kind of hard building off of what Valve has given us without being unoriginal.
     
  8. Supersausagedog

    Supersausagedog L1: Registered

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    Basically, just think of your favorite tf2 map, then think of all the things you dont like about it that you think could be better. Than create this. (NO i don't mean decompile the old one and edit it :D)
     
  9. Kill_the_Bug

    Kill_the_Bug L14: Epic Member

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    Well, I'm psychotic.... so thoughts come into my head automatically - and it you've ever played any of my maps you'll know what I mean!! - LOL

    A lot of people do certain types of maps where I try to do really odd stuff just to break up the routine of playing the same type of maps. Recently, it was shown on the the site here a map with a payload race on it maybe.

    Stuff like wacky races, ravine_test and balloon maps are different? Why not go through the entities of the game see if there's something that catches your eye - then make a map around it.
     
  10. TMP

    aa TMP Abuser of Site Rules

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    My maps are created by randomly throwing various bits of square modeling clay in an area. Take that and expand.
     
  11. StoneFrog

    StoneFrog L6: Sharp Member

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    Am I supposed to interpret that as a joke or as a serious remark? :mellow:
     
  12. Mar

    Mar Banned

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    Oh, and sometimes, good ideas just don't work out, and you should let them go until a later time.
     
  13. StoneFrog

    StoneFrog L6: Sharp Member

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    Well, it's been almost two weeks now and I'm stumped.

    I just can't think of anything, unique or otherwise. I've been playing TF2 nonstop and haven't touched the SDK for some time, but nothing's working. :\
     
  14. Mar

    Mar Banned

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    What's your idea so far?
     
  15. StoneFrog

    StoneFrog L6: Sharp Member

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    I have two so far - a Control Point map centralized around a valley to the forest environment. The neutral control point would rest on a pinnacle in the middle of the chasm, or possibly in a shack on said pinnacle. It'd have a lot of emphasis on vertical combat as the two bases kind of are elevated and overlooking it. Think of the stereotypical and cliche'd position of the two feuding hillbilly houses on the hills.

    The second idea is a simple CTF map between two nuclear power plants.
     
  16. Ezekel

    Ezekel L11: Posh Member

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    seriously: about half my maps come to me in dreams.
    the other half come from sitting down and working on a basic idea - a gimmick if you will.
    for example, roundhouse's gimmick was the raised walkways around point A, and the idea of having a pit on one side of the map for a CP and a hill on the other for a different CP. trainsurfer's gimmick is riding trains - which came from the fact that many people enjoyed doing that in roundhouse (which i put a train in, for no reason more than i felt like having a train in it).
    and there are maps that are combinations of both: devils brew's layout was dream inspired, but the gimmick of moving CPs was something i'd wanted to try out since i 1st started mapping.


    having said that, a map doesn't have to be "unique" in it's design to be good or memorable. - i'd say halfacre and swift are both pretty standard in their basic design, but are very good maps. swift though excels in that it is chock full of very well made signs and adverts.

    if you're still having trouble, then do a google image search. search for things like "industrial" or "factory" etc. if you find a pic that strikes you as interesting, use it as a basis for your map's layout and theme.
     
  17. HeaH

    HeaH L8: Fancy Shmancy Member

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    Take a look at the buildings and areas that you see every day. Try to imagine them in TF2. For example, my school is the perfect place for a 5cp map :)

    If you can't get anything from your everyday life, go for a bicycle ride and look at the things you pass. Maybe that will give you some inspiration :)
     
  18. StoneFrog

    StoneFrog L6: Sharp Member

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    My town (Fort Lee, NJ) has some awesome abandoned industrial plants down by the riverside, although I'm not really sure how I could recreate them (or at least create something inspired by them) in TF2 form.

    My biggest annoyance is still how limited TF2's environments are when it comes right down to general regions. It's not like TFC where there were two WADs and I could envision something just by looking at a texture. I'm also not ambitious enough to make my own new environment from scratch yet, so my options are kind of limited.
     
  19. Mar

    Mar Banned

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    Ok, hillbilly wars? Let me think. You're going to want a big canyon, with a river running through it. (Think grand canyon). In the middle you have a house balanced with something important inside (maybe gold?) that will be right next to the point. The house has 2 floors and kinda looks like the first point on Castle 4. There are 2 main bridges leading to the house on each side. It is a big felled tree. next to it is a rope bridge.

    Or maybe rotate the canyon and put it on both side so it make the edge of the map?

    Heh, maybe we should work on this map together stonefrog.
     
  20. mtv22

    mtv22 L3: Member

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    I got most of my general ideas from trying to incorporate some of my other favorite games into this one. Although I haven't had any luck with that, hopefully something will hit me sometime.