When making a map, is your first idea the best way to go?

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Feb 23, 2019
When you're making a map and you have an idea for it, do you make the first idea that comes to mind, or do you do something different (any difference, small difference or big difference)? Which way usually works best in both gameplay wise and detail wise? (I know that in both ways you'll have to change something in it but I'm asking which way leads you to a better map)


The "raw" in "nodraw"
Jun 1, 2009
Well you rarely ever get it right the first time. But the key is knowing what failed. Was the idea flawed or was it poorly executed? To have a good map, both need to be on point. Sometimes the idea is good but just underdeveloped. That's why testing is the best way to go no matter what. It's the time to look back and see if your assumptions were correct. Evaluate what works and what doesn't and see if the execution holds up.

For what it's worth, I think sticking to an idea is good because it gives you a sense of direction which can help you answer various design dilemmas. "Does X support this idea?" is a powerful question. It will serve you a great deal if you have clearly identified an idea you're going for. Now, some ideas are just bad and it's good to recognize when that happens. At that point you need to identify why it's a bad idea and see if you can adjust; it's all about refining. Otherwise you need scrap the idea and move on.

Some people like to scrap maps in rapid succession, in an effort to "get the first couple bad maps out of the way". I don't support that. I fear that sometimes nothing is learned, or at least that not enough was learned. Every bad map is at least a worthwhile case study. I'd say don't be afraid to waste time on those but know when it's time to pull the plug.

in short, your first idea is a great starting point, but it will rarely carry you through. To make the better map, you will most likely need to readjust a couple times and that's completely fine. That's why we have multiple iterations before we settle.

What I've said so far mostly applies to gameplay. Detailing is slightly different in that it relies more heavily on execution. Most of the time, the initial idea is not as important. A skilled level artist can make any boring corridor look like a kickass area to be in.

Hope that answers your question