Mappers Block - what to do when you have it

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Kill_the_Bug, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. Kill_the_Bug

    Kill_the_Bug L14: Epic Member

    Messages:
    1,455
    Positive Ratings:
    234
    Hey All!

    I'd like to ask you all - what you personally do to solve Mapper's Block. You want to create something but you just can't seem to get motivated to do anything and then there's also the side of it where you have a lot of ideas but nothing seems to gel.

    Right now I have a lot of good ideas for a space based payload map that I'm working on but I can't seem to bring them all together - example:

    1] A Bio-Dome fight
    2] Reactor Core Fianl Battle
    3] Possible Cave
    4] Possible exterior
    5] Lab
    6] Connecting tunnels
    7] A bunch of new stuff I'm testing out in terms of game play

    What do you guys do to get you out of this funk?
     
  2. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

    Messages:
    2,372
    Positive Ratings:
    4,167
    Step 1. Sleep on it
    Step 2. Repeat step 1 until mapper's block is cured

    In all seriousness, when I can't get anything done, I try to plan ahead. And by "plan ahead" I mean "get a notepad, throw ideas at a wall (on your notepad) and see what sticks". Then just blag it in Hammer until you get to the bit you've been looking forward to making. After all, that's what first drafts are for - go back and fix it all later! When you're more inspired! And you don't hate yourself so much for being so utterly useless and pathetic quite so much!

    Fun fact: it took me about seven tries before I came up with the current first capture point on pl_jeanette.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  3. takabuschik

    aa takabuschik

    Messages:
    660
    Positive Ratings:
    308
    Here's how I do it.
    First I have some general idea(s), then I slowly come up with the other areas. I draw the concept in isometric and top views (when I get bored I do it. It's not like I take it very seriously. The drawings look like crap, but as long as I can understand them it's fine), and Then I have it all "mapped out" in my head.
    Some times when I can't think of a part of a map, I build the rest in hammer an the solution might come up by itself!
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  4. Faux Rhinoceros

    aa Faux Rhinoceros Also known as Dr. Element

    Messages:
    1,471
    Positive Ratings:
    1,363
    Since i don't have any illusion of ever having this as a professional line of work, i just do it when i feel like it.

    No good ideas? Too bad. Time to go do something else for a while.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 4
  5. hutty

    aa hutty

    Messages:
    447
    Positive Ratings:
    345
    step 1 ... create an overly detailed alpha
    step 2 ... scrap it ... its crap
    step 3 ... learn from mistakes and make a pure dev texture alpha
    step 4 ... scrap it ... also crap
    step 5 ... realize that dev textures are holding you back and begin work on an overly detailed alpha
    step 6 ... repeat steps 1-5 indefinitely

    and dont forget to spend hours deciding on which dev textures to use

    ...

    although in all seriousness ... thats alot of things to fit into one map
    if im running low on Ideas I usually ...
    1. play tf2
    2. browse the prop/texture browser
    3. fly around a valve map in hammer
    4. read various articles about map development (see link)
    http://www.teamfortress.com/post.php?id=8124

    on a side note I was also thinking of doing a bio dome payload race at some point
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 3
  6. killohurtz

    aa killohurtz Distinction in Applied Carving

    Messages:
    998
    Positive Ratings:
    1,135
    I like to take that "lot of ideas" and plan some main combat areas first, then make quick scaled-down mockups of them in hammer. That way I can group the brushes and shove them around until I get a good idea of how the connecting paths and flanks should work. Usually I find a layout that clicks after a while! Also, seeing everything in 3D helps me find what works and what doesn't before I commit to a full-scale alpha.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  7. xzzy

    aa xzzy

    Messages:
    815
    Positive Ratings:
    393
    Just harvest ideas until something forms in your head. Like if you're playing the game somewhere with active voice chat, whenever someone says "it would be awesome if you could.." take note of it and store it away. If you're playing on a map and have a really enjoyable fight in a specific area of an existing map, try to recreate it with your own interpretation.

    Ask yourself some "what if" questions to come up with ideas to take the standard TF2 game modes and give them a unique spin. Instead of making another 5CP map with standard boxes to fight inside, do something crazy with the layout and see if inspiration hits.

    It shouldn't take more than a couple hours to block out an idea in Hammer, so there's not really any big loss if it turns out it doesn't work.
     
  8. Fr0Z3nR

    aa Fr0Z3nR Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums

    Messages:
    6,391
    Positive Ratings:
    4,902
    My short, sweet simple to mappers block:

    Stop caring about the final product is and JUST MAKE IT. Make SOMETHING.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 3
  9. Moonrat

    aa Moonrat The end of an era

    Messages:
    877
    Positive Ratings:
    502
    I like to think of a unique idea for my map, something different that will affect how it plays out in the game.

    Canal was that fact that the main point is surrounded by a canal.
    Comannications was the idea of making a smaller map for an Attack/Defense map.
    Cliffhill was me trying to experiment with deathpits.
    Countrytown is a in progress thing to see how the Construction Pack can be used to make unique fighting spaces.
    Transition is me trying to experiment with a smooth transition from swamp forest and wooden buildings to factories and metal structures.

    My recommendation is trying to find an idea that will give you the boost to finish up the rest of the map, and then testing it.
     
  10. KubeKing

    aa KubeKing Back home in Jupiter, things are getting harder

    Messages:
    1,211
    Positive Ratings:
    1,374
    I also find that thinking about mapping right before bed and early in the morning helps with conjuring up fresh ideas. Other than that, I enjoy sketching layout ideas from scratch on graph paper.
     
  11. iiboharz

    aa iiboharz Meme Queen

    Messages:
    700
    Positive Ratings:
    1,025
    What I do is - I play a lot of games, watch a lot of videos, listen to a lot of music. The best way for me to get the creative flow goin' again is to consume more media.
     
  12. Joey

    Joey L1: Registered

    Messages:
    23
    Positive Ratings:
    21
    Personally, I just go to others. What I mean by this is I talk to someone else, and be like "would you play this? Do you think this would be cool?" etc. It may be annoying for them, but for me it gives me inspiration that at least one person will play and enjoy it. After all, thats why I map. To see others enjoy something and recreate it to prolong the effect. Another thing I do is just play what I already have, because its always fun playing on a map that can only get better.
     
  13. Fantasma

    aa Fantasma

    Messages:
    882
    Positive Ratings:
    969
  14. Vel0city

    aa Vel0city personal pick-pocketing parrot

    Messages:
    1,883
    Positive Ratings:
    1,488
    I wanted a dam for the Detail 2014 contest, so I started to build a dam. However it never went behind the nodraw textures since I couldn't figure out what to do next. So I started fresh form the inside of the dam (generator room n stuff). I place a model of the Heavy so I could get a sense of how big it should be and I worked from there. Result: a generator room, a huge dam, and a surrounding area.

    If you can't figure something out, do something else. Heck, start up a new .vmf and place some random brushes in there, just to clean your head. It worked for me.
     
  15. Kill_the_Bug

    Kill_the_Bug L14: Epic Member

    Messages:
    1,455
    Positive Ratings:
    234
    Acutally - this thread is starting to help my head clear a little - After reading some of the posts I now have a reactor room (final battle sequence) sketched out(and now partially built), the Bio-dome layout, an idea for a cave and some thoughts for the exteriors - thanks guys!
     
  16. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

    Messages:
    2,372
    Positive Ratings:
    4,167
    Since I started mapping, I've been studying my surroundings a lot more from the perspective of a level designer. I'll look at a building and think "that texture use is interesting" or "I can see how this area could be optimised" or "at least 70% of that would be func_detail".

    And then I remember why I have no friends.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  17. Another Bad Pun

    Server Staff Another Bad Pun bap

    Messages:
    564
    Positive Ratings:
    1,116
    Believe it or not, staying away from the steam chat helps me be productive without distractions.
    You should also take a vacation or go camping in the woods. Go to an isolated place in the country and lie down with your face in the dirt. Imo that is more inspirational than just looking it up on a computer.
     
  18. takabuschik

    aa takabuschik

    Messages:
    660
    Positive Ratings:
    308
    I must say I agree with Mudpie about noticing mapping stuff in real life. There are lots of real places which have bad light design, or have some strange prop placement.
    Sometimes I see something that could fit really well in a map, and think "wish this was a prop/texture in Hammer"

    Real places are the best influence one can get for a map, aside from other maps.
     
  19. Fr0Z3nR

    aa Fr0Z3nR Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums

    Messages:
    6,391
    Positive Ratings:
    4,902
    I've had some instances where I'll see something someone has made and say that it doesn't look realistic or really out of place.

    ... then the next day drive by some old building that is the same structure/design. "Huh, it does exist"