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Question for Mappers: Why do you map?

Gambit

Member
I've been wanting to explore what people in the community's motivations are for why you want to create custom maps for SRB2. I've personally been finding it rather difficult to find lately, so I want to see what it is that drives others here.

What motivates you to open Zone Builder? To put up with all the archaic and frustrating methods that define Doom mapping? What motivates you to tolerate the proverbial hell that is setting up landscapes of 3D platforms using arguably one of the most unintuitive methods of development? Why go through all the trouble of setting up all those linedef executors? Do you even feel like any of that is a problem for you? How long have you been doing this for? Is it all too easy for you at this point? Or is it just 'whatever'; simply a mere obstacle toward your desired goal? And what is that goal, anyway? Is there a goal in mind that extends beyond just this map, or this series of maps? Do you have 'plans'? Are you using this as a learning point to jump off into professional game development at some point? Are you 'testing the waters' for something bigger?
Or does none of that matter to you, and mapping is just a way for you to pass the time?


Please only answer if you have created maps in the past, are currently making maps, or aspire/wish to learn how to create maps, and/or intend to do so in the future.

Also, be honest with yourself. If your motivation really is to seek popularity within the community, talk about that here too. This thread is a judgment-free zone. I want as many peoples' relevant input as I can get, and that includes the parts that others may see as unsavory.
Feel free to use this as an opportunity to explore yourself.
 

Ace Dragon

Member
Mapping for SRB2 might utilize archaic methods, but the truth is that SRB2 is one of the few active projects that does not require you to download gigabytes of heavy software before you can start making content.


For instance, many other projects require you to download a full blown game engine (which are up to 20 gigabytes in size and contains far more than what you need for modding). Zone Builder in comparison is small, lightweight, and is configured specifically for the game. SLADE is also not that heavy and there is no need for any special I/O between the apps.

That is not the only reason, the old software techniques just has an aesthetic that stands up quite well when scaled up to take advantage of modern hardware, maybe it is the way you can light things for starters, or maybe it is the grittiness. There is a very recent game made using the Build Engine (which is similar to the Doom Engine) that shows what the tech. can do when massively upscaled.
 

Gambit

Member
For instance, many other projects require you to download a full blown game engine (which are up to 20 gigabytes in size and contains far more than what you need for modding). Zone Builder in comparison is small, lightweight, and is configured specifically for the game. SLADE is also not that heavy and there is no need for any special I/O between the apps.
i dont really see why this is a problem. especially in this day and age. the same thing could be said of playing any modern PC game.
 

WellDoneSnake

Yoko Shimomura
In response to Gambit's questions:

What motivates you to open Zone Builder? To put up with all the archaic and frustrating methods that define Doom mapping? What motivates you to tolerate the proverbial hell that is setting up landscapes of 3D platforms using arguably one of the most unintuitive methods of development?
I just want to make an idea in my head become a reality. At this point in time I'm pretty much used to what ZB has to offer, the only thing that makes me anxious about mapping these days is how easy it looks to make these grand open spaced high-speed momentum slopefest maps that everyone has been doing since late 2.1, as much as I want to hop on this, I'm too worried about bumping into annoying visual bugs like slime trails.

It is possible for me to lessen my chances of being burnt out when mapping by decreasing the scope of what I'm making, a few examples are listed below:

  • When making a zone I have the first act be an small-medium sized exploration level and the second act be a more linear speed level with. The amount of exploration in the second act would be on a smaller scale to GreenFlower Zone 1 as the layout of a map encourages the player to blitz through the level.

  • Avoid making levels that can be completed by all vanilla characters. It can be very time consuming making a level that's balanced around 6 characters and I've personally never enjoyed doing this when there were just 3 characters in SRB2's 2.0 & 2.1 eras. Instead I'll have a few characters share levels while others may get their own type of map which suits their abilities.

  • Don't go crazy with gimmicks/features, e.g. introducing too many new enemy types or lua based linedef stuff. If I introduce a new feature in the first act then I'll just expand upon it in the second act.

Why go through all the trouble of setting up all those linedef executors? Do you even feel like any of that is a problem for you? How long have you been doing this for?
When it comes to level design I tend to have a simplistic approach to how an environment is built. In fact I find myself abusing linedef executors a little less than I did in 2.1 once I started to make lua scripts for certain maps. A main setup that feels tedious when I make a map is creating slopes due how many sectors/FOFs I have to mess with to make some interesting shapes.

I've been mapping a couple months before I initially joined this forum back in 2012. Since then I've been in and out of the community from time to time.

Is it all too easy for you at this point? Or is it just 'whatever'; simply a mere obstacle toward your desired goal? And what is that goal, anyway? Is there a goal in mind that extends beyond just this map, or this series of maps?
It's gotten waaay easier with experience gained mapping independently or with groups. Plus this forum and the wiki helped me a lot in the beginning when I was just getting started or having to do some problem solving.

My goal is to pretty much finish off an old childhood dream lol. Since I originally joined I've wanted to make a level pack or mod in SRB2.

Are you using this as a learning point to jump off into professional game development at some point?
Zero plans for becoming a game dev. This is just a neat hobby for me.

Also, be honest with yourself. If your motivation really is to seek popularity within the community, talk about that here too. This thread is a judgment-free zone.
😂 this disclaimer lol. I don't think it's bad if someone just wanted to create content to garner attention to themselves from a majority of the community.
In my case I do like the attention I get when showing off a concept I thought was cool and seeing other members of the community having a positive/negative/critical reaction to this can change how I'm approaching my work and make me aware of things that can be improved.

TL;DR
IDK what motivates me but I like bringing ideas I have about level designs in SRB2 into reality. The community (referring both SRB2 & Sonic) and its resources have made a lot of stuff easier and enjoyable when it comes to mapping. I don't have as many struggles as before in map making as I tend to avoid tedious or convoluted setups.

This is really just a hobby for me, I don't have much interest in game development. Also popularity alone wouldn't motivate me much, I like attention here and there but often prefer to avoid the limelight.
 

MK.exe

The one and only!
Kart Krew™️
Contest Winner🏆
Boredom, Random spikes in motivation as well as urge to bring an idea to life in one way or another.
 

rocklight124

"Naruto, don’t let your dream die"
It allows the community to express themselves through a digital map, and it gives them free range on what they want to convey to us the players. And in return of their hard work we give them love and support. That's pretty much the only way one would ever make a map. If nobody plays it then what is the point. And if we don't tell them and show them how much we love their content then we are to blame.
 

Othius

[A person in a place]
Contest Winner🏆
I like making pretty places. I deal with ZB's bullshit as a challenge- although now I'm well versed enough in the software that the only thing blocking me from pushing out a map a month are my own level ideas. I'm very competitive in nature so that sorta thing drives me- it's why my maps are for events with harsh deadlines. The urgency to hit that deadline makes it so that I don't stop.

I also get extreme gratification out of people enjoying my works. If I can make someone happy, it makes me very happy, and that's motivation alone to continue going.

It's also very calming to just... zone out, free all thoughts my brain for a couple hours while I endlessly decorate a few parts of a level.
 

sphere

🏛️🌳☁️
Sonic Team Junior
If you think mapping is archaic and frustrating now, imagine creating maps for SRB2 10+ years ago. Zone Builder and SLADE are a blessing, compared to SRB2DB and XWE...

Even then, I've never really experienced making levels, setting up 3D platforms and using linedef executors as being proverbial hell. Part of that is simply that I don't know any better, as I've never used any other tools or engines for 3D level design aside from SRB2 and several of its editors. Additionally, back in the day (2008-2009) I got used to the process relatively quickly, even with the aforementioned less-advanced tools back then. I just really liked SRB2, and wanted to learn creating levels for it as soon as I learned that was possible.

Additionally, the idea of making something & putting it out for other people to enjoy was very appealing to 13-year-old me, and it seemed very easy to do between the Releases section and the frequently-held level design contests, the latter of which also gave me a goal in the form of strict deadlines. However, I would later learn that people could be pretty harsh during the 2.0 era, and I actually almost quit making maps after D00D64 left a rant-review of my first multiplayer level pack... For some reason, I continued working on levels, and luckily my first OLDC entries were received a lot better. At some point during my many entries to the OLDC since then, I discovered I just really liked making places that people could explore and enjoy moving around in. Getting a positive reception is always nice, but I never really entered with the idea of wanting to win, or even with making a "good" Match/CTF level. (I barely ever tested my maps with other people!)

Aside from the obvious "motivation" (for better or worse) of working on SRB2 itself for the last few years, the main reason I still work on SRB2 maps to this day is simply because it's what I'm most familiar with, and it's kinda therapeutic in a way. It's weirdly relaxing to slowly chip away at a map until it feels polished enough, and it gives me an outlet for the many spaces, locations and architectural ideas that appear in my mind, whether inspired by other art/music/media or appearing to me during (day)dreams. My motivation and inspiration have always come and gone very suddenly, so I gravitate towards tools that I'm familiar with to get my ideas "on paper" in time.

However, a long-time goal for me has been to create a full-fledged "game"/campaign of single-player levels, as much by myself as possible (including graphics, music and hopefully even some code). While it has never been my main focus, it does help to have something to work towards, even if I'm not sure if I'll ever actually reach that goal. It has also changed considerably over time, starting as "a 7-zone level pack" and currently being somewhere between that, "a major modification of SRB2" and "an entirely different game". Only time will tell where it ends up...
 

Gambit

Member
If you think mapping is archaic and frustrating now, imagine creating maps for SRB2 10+ years ago. Zone Builder and SLADE are a blessing, compared to SRB2DB and XWE...
Well I was mainly saying that in comparison to the dev tools used in modern gaming. And believe me i'm well aware, just judging by the UI's alone for those programs... XD

Getting a positive reception is always nice, but I never really entered with the idea of wanting to win, or even with making a "good" Match/CTF level. (I barely ever tested my maps with other people!)

Actually, I wanna ask you something about Multiplayer, now that you bring that up. To me, as someone whose only experience with the srb2 community started early last year, it kinda boggles my mind seeing how Ringslinger was apparently just... so popular back then?, compared to now where it seems like practically nobody in the community cares for Match modes. Why do you think that is?
 
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Ace Dragon

Member
Well I was mainly saying that in comparison to the dev tools used in modern gaming. And believe me i'm well aware, just judging by the UI's alone for those programs... XD
Still, it is hard to ignore the fact that things are getting better. Not only is ZB under active development again (with commits that eliminate trial and error for starters), but Mascara Snake has come back and is on fire with UDMF commits (which will eliminate a lot of extra setup work and make some operations just a little more like working in a 3D app). On top of that, the software engine has gotten significant improvements that make it a bit more robust for large-scale level layouts.

That said, it is probable that Zone Builder won't have full blown 3D modeling, but making complex level structures is going to get significantly easier once UDMF is is complete (even for 2.2.10's binary format because it will come with new mapping features).
 
I map because making content for an already good game is just icing on the cake. It lets me make the things I want to see in the game and it lets me SCHMOVE. Making remixes of classic zones and original stuff in kart (and now vanilla) has taught me things appreciating spriting, learning art to make custom texture work and understanding graphical limitations and tricks such as color cycling, dithering and what have you! All this rambling is just to say that every day, this game is teaching me new ways to experience it and I wanna give back to it. Just wish I hadn't gotten into it so late in the game.
 

Gambit

Member
Just wish I hadn't gotten into it so late in the game.
Literally same here. I got into it because of friends of mine who I discovered were also long-time SRB2 fans and they introduced me to 2.2 when it came out. Naturally, I eventually ended up getting into mapping (sort of) once they showed me how to use ZB.

Though, at the same time as I wish I had been into it prior, I also look at 2.1 and 2.0 and I think (with only a few exceptions), "Dear god, this game used to look terrible!" LOL. I guess it's an unfortunate reality that I never actually would have liked the game prior to 2.2, and I have to accept that. Though, I do wonder how different that perception of mine would have been, had I originally grown up with this fangame like all of the veterans in this community?
 

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