Experienced mappers: How did you learn?

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Star Bright, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. Star Bright

    Star Bright L2: Junior Member

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    I'm a bit curious. I want to get better at mapping (I mean, I have the spare time nowadays) and I want to know what people think is better: To make more, less polished maps in order to learn how to map better, or focus your efforts on one or two specific maps and iterate more frequently on those?
    I'm asking because I think I currently find myself in the latter category but I'm curious if trying the former out would help me better as an aspiring mapper.
     
  2. Cream Tea

    Cream Tea L1: Registered

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    Once got fairly decent with mapping, I started mapping for a community server. Because then the maps don't have to be super polished, just playable and nice to be on. And then I gradually got better at creating maps as a whole. There isn't really a "one strategy" because whichever way you go you will make mistakes, and then learn from them.
     
  3. DegruM

    DegruM L2: Junior Member

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    I started mapping when a friend of mine wanted a trade map for his server (even though i litteraly had no idea what anything was back then)
    Most of my maps are abandoned ones, most of them being either trade maps and visual projects. Basiacly if you try out new things you learn alot more, like when i started out with my first 5cp map cp_rocktop_struggle i focused alot more on it's visuals rather than it's gameplay, it looked pretty darn good but it didn't play well and that's when i realised visuals doesn't matter if the gameplay isn't good, also that a solid layout can be a good visual on it's own.

    All in all you improve the more maps you make, as you learn from your previous mistakes. (what cream tea said)
     
  4. Nicky

    aa Nicky Rotten Tops

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    I've been mapping since December of 2014, but before that I've always been a level designer in every other game I played. When I was younger, me and my friends would dedicate whole notebooks to draw pac man and Super Mario levels. I also loved creating mini games and giant builds using lot of red stone in Minecraft when I was younger. Here is my biggest creation I made during the summer of 2014 (and the video has my stupid voice in it :/)

    View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SN73RHLuXQs


    I notice now that every single design of my maps are always sorta "gimmicky" and it seems that I always like to do stuff different. I like more creative, not done before, designs and ideas. They can often lead to failures (cp_camp) or success (pd_meme_machine). Specifically how did I start mapping? No offense to Crash or anything, but I feel his tutorials don't go into as much detail as they could due to them having the fast paced style. Also, they didn't exsist back when I started, so I always watched TopHattWaffle's tutorial series. Some of them are pretty long and go into a lot of detail, and it's all the technical stuff that I enjoy. I've watched this one like 20 times, some of them because I needed help, some of them because I just enjoyed all the technicality of them:

    View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=swBfUW-Bsxs


    Also when I made my first map, I didn't know what ABS was, and made all of my payload logic manually by following the VDC. I'm super glad I did that, because it helped me learn the I/O system very quickly and made me able to do stuff like pd_meme_machine without much help needed.

    Though I really enjoy the mapping process, and before I got into mapping, I animated and made art (and I still do). My goal for my whole life is to entertain and make people happy, and to give them a new experience. I have an everlasting goal of getting a map into the game, but I'm not fueled by that. I'm fueled by knowing people will like something I make, or knowing people will be impressed with me.


    TL;DR: I did level design before tf2. I like doing lots of hours of work and doing stuff manually, knowing people like my creations.
     
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  5. MrHatlf

    MrHatlf engineer main, majoring in exploiting

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  6. Yrr

    aa Yrr An Actual Deer

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    practice and mistakes
     
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  7. fubarFX

    aa fubarFX The "raw" in "nodraw"

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    failing, a lot.
    Just pour your heart out into each project and then when they crash and burn you'll be sure to not repeat the same mistakes, makes for memorable experiences
     
  8. iiboharz

    aa iiboharz Meme Queen

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    Lots of editor practice and overall just experience. Playing other maps helps too.
     
  9. Viperi

    aa Viperi not actually a snek

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    It takes practice, failing and playing the game itself to get experience.
     
  10. Davekillerish

    aa Davekillerish Lvl O: Orange Member

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    Failing, more failing, oh did I mention screwing up? I should have, dam why didnt I.
    Tutorials are good for learning how to use the editor and such, but only by the power of failure can you succeed.
     
  11. worMatty

    aa worMatty Repacking Evangelist

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    I wanted to make a deathrun map so I searched for information about how to make maps. I found out the name of the program was Hammer. Then I searched for tutorials on YouTube and found TopHattWaffle. I must have watched sixty of his videos before I tried to do anything in Hammer myself.

    I didn't start by making my own maps, I decompiled existing Deathrun maps and fixed problems and improved them. I released and updated a new version of a castle-themed deathrun map, adding new and more complex things with each version. Then I did it again with another deathrun map but this time I dramatically changed the traps and style of the map so much that it's virtually a new map now. Then I started to work on some standard game mode maps (1, 2) after I had a think and came up with some ideas. I studied existing maps to see what kinds of play areas they had. I read articles about detailing at nodraw.net, and tutorials about level design by Bobby Ross.

    EDIT: Take every piece of feedback seriously and act upon it if you can. Don't be afraid to rebuild a map from scratch if you need to.
     
  12. MoonFox

    MoonFox L10: Glamorous Member

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    to be honest, I started mapping over a decade ago, doing map and game editing in things like Unreal and Neverwinter. I moved to Sc2 in late 2007, and had some lack luster and unfair maps. then in 2011 or something I switched to Hammer, and here I have been since, of course I learned mainly through idling and doing stupid stuff. My first hammer map, was this buggy and leaking half life 2 ep 2 map. about a year or so later I started with tf2. My god, my first tf2 map was pl_rockslide, and it was this: spawn rooms, broken cart... that was it... it wasn't until like last year I joined this community, so in reality, play around and just do. you can read all the wiki, but unless you put it to practice, you rarely don't ever get it
     
  13. Bogdy

    Bogdy L4: Comfortable Member

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    There is no shortcut.
    Just like in other stuff such as the arts, you get better by mapping more and more.
     
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  14. Star Bright

    Star Bright L2: Junior Member

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    I'm aware. I'm asking which is better: Lots of small projects or a few large projects?
     
  15. Viperi

    aa Viperi not actually a snek

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    Id say lots of small projects. By small projects I mean detail rooms as well. After you have done a fair amount of small projects, you can try a big one.
     
  16. RaVaGe

    aa RaVaGe

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    Of course there are shortcuts, mapping is not all about art, like music or paint or whatever, there is a huge technical aspect behind it, i'm pretty sure you'll learn way faster with a pro who is teaching you everything, than doing it alone from the start.

    But if you want to learn, copying and reverse engineering is the best method.
     
  17. Viperi

    aa Viperi not actually a snek

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    TopHattWaffle is amazing at teaching pretty much everything. For artpassing, you should learn the basics from a pro, then sharpen your skills.
     
  18. RaVaGe

    aa RaVaGe

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    Don't really get the point of learning "the basic", as I said art is a wide concept that you can split into two main topics, technicity and creativity, being a good artist doesn't mean you're only creative, a good artist has to know the technical part completly before he can pull out something great, as for creativity, it's an overrated word which is definitely not as important as you might think, just steal some concepts, put them together in a way that nobody thought of and you'll do fine.

    I'm not saying that stealing is always a good thing, but you have to make the difference between plagiarism and taking some idea from an existant concept. Art is all about stealing at some point, and what makes you a good artist is how you manage to hide your references, and defining someone as creative or not is a subjective subject.

    Of course practicing is the best way to learn, but the fact of practicing for the sake of doing it doesn't mean you'll get better, you'll have to learn some new technical aspects in order to grow as an artist, knowing "the basics" doesn't mean you'll get better, you will have to know everything at some point if you want to be at the top.
     
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  19. SC PL

    aa SC PL local shitposter

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    Meh, I just check decompiled Valve files, watch tutorials on internet and also fixing (or try to fix) mistakes I done.
     
  20. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    ITT: Inexperienced mappers respond to a question posed to experienced mappers.
    (This is only half a joke, half serious)

    I have noticed a common mindset on this site that I feel is the downfall of a lot of people. It comes in the form of "I can't do anything more to this until I get feedback" / "I don't know what to change because no one gave any feedback"

    If you can't identify problems yourself, how on earth do you expect to grow as an artist? You have to be able identify how the work you're making differs from the work of those you're trying to match and learn to improve the areas it's falling behind. It's a general technique that has a far broader application than just mapping.

    You have to master the self learning process too. In any field like games that's changing quickly (admittedly TF2 is a moment frozen in time) you need to be able to learn things yourself without tutoring because the availability of tutoring may be minimal to utterly nonexistent!

    However, video tutorials and the like are often made by enthusiastic amateurs who aren't actually experts, so learning to take everything from a video tutorial with a pinch of salt is hugely useful, for example 3kliksphillip's videos were utter garbage when I started doing TF2 stuff. I think they've improved but at the time the message we sent to new mappers was a loud DO NOT TAKE ANY INFORMATION FROM THESE VIDEOS, THIS GUY IS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING. I bought a source engine tutorial dvd way back, expecting it to be made by a professional, and the guy was so bad at mapping I'd already surpassed his knowledge. He made a hint brush and left the hint texture on all six sides of his brush, didn't really know how to func_detail effectively and he let is areaportals automerge.
    Distilling relevant and junk info from online tutorials is an important skill.

    Then of course there's all the classic things:
    Practice
    Repetition
    Experimentation

    Quote from Adam Phillips: "If you want to be great at something, do it until you're sick of it, then go and do it some more."
     
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