Starting Areas in Wolf 3D maps (Vanilla)

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gerolf
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Starting Areas in Wolf 3D maps (Vanilla)

Post by gerolf »

For many newcomers, they run into issues getting started with mapping, and one issue they may face is how to even set up the introduction to their level in the first place. Here's some tidbits of info and suggestions that may help newcomers when they're plotting out their map. Whether you design the starting area first, or put it in later once you are ready to begin play-testing the level, it doesn't matter. You may end up moving it around or changing the setup later regardless.

When designing a level, there are many ways of putting together the starting area of the map:

Outside area behind player: Typically behind the player are columns or other blocking sprites that create a barrier between the inside of the map and the outdoor scenery area. Another option is to put a truck-rear sprite in a narrow passage that leads outside, to make it look as if BJ is exiting a vehicle to venture into the level.

Dead guard in front of player: Typically used for prison escape situations. This could be used in any level if you don't have a starting area in mind. BJ could be undercover in your story, deep inside a Nazi office, only for his cover to be blown and now he's stuck in the heart of a Nazi fortress and needs to get documents back to the allies.

In front of an "Entrance to level" wall:
These are walls that look like elevator doors that BJ starts in front of in many levels of Wolf 3D. By far the easiest to set up as it is just a single tile behind the player. You could use a fake door or fake locked door wall too if you wanted to.

Inside a dead elevator: BJ starts inside of an elevator that he must open the door to access the level. This elevator is nonfunctional.

A combination of the last two, having a nonfunctional elevator that BJ starts in front of could allow you to place an item or secret within the nonfunctional elevator. Many players will miss this item or secret, so it could be a useful item such as an early access chaingun or 1-up to award the more observant player.

With the exception of floor 1 or levels that start new chapters of a set, most mappers prefer to keep things consistent from one level to the next as far as if the player starts inside or outside of an elevator, but it's entirely up to you.

With that said, feel free to leave any extra tips I may not have considered here.
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ack
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Re: Starting Areas in Wolf 3D maps (Vanilla)

Post by ack »

Great thread idea.

One thing I’d like to mention is first impressions. A lot of people I know will only play a level or two in a new set to get a feel for what’s being offered. If things look promising then they continue otherwise, well… that ends that. Because of this I suggest adding some eye candy and/or interesting gameplay to start your initial level. Much like a novel or a movie, a good hook never hurts.
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gerolf
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Re: Starting Areas in Wolf 3D maps (Vanilla)

Post by gerolf »

ack wrote: Mon Mar 25, 2024 1:43 am Because of this I suggest adding some eye candy and/or interesting gameplay to start your initial level. Much like a novel or a movie, a good hook never hurts.
I absolutely agree. Perhaps this is why John Romero’s level design rules (for Doom) included one that if I remember correctly states to make the first level of your set last since it needs to shine the most, and get the point across to the player of what is to come.
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Thomas
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Re: Starting Areas in Wolf 3D maps (Vanilla)

Post by Thomas »

For me it's all about atmospheres. Some maps deserve a head-on attack start, some demand time and space and room for exploration, and some just need to plain look good. There was a time when I couldn't stand the flat elevator wall start (mainly because of it taking up a wall tile that could be used for an "actual" wall) but for the longest time now I have tired of starting in actual elevators. This kind of makes every map introduction the same, even if one should feature three mutants and little ammo or a Home Depot situation with plenty of plants and ornaments and little anything else.

The most intriguing maps for me in terms of starting points I trace back to mainly ack and AReyeP. You start a map and it's almost deserted, it seems, and you are able to explore the initial grid in finding numerous locked doors, see treasure or ammo/health pickups hidden behind columns, creating a burning ambition in the player in getting there as fast as possible. The baptism by fire of E6M7 or Spear of Destiny level 2 I must admit I've always had a penchant for. I really love maps where you battle it out within the first second you have arrived, reaping the rewards soon after. But then again - there are many, many different ways to welcome the player to a map. And there is always room for experimentation.
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Re: Starting Areas in Wolf 3D maps (Vanilla)

Post by serpens »

I usually stick the player in front of columns with the outdoor texture in view. That's for the first level, on subsequent ones I always use the flat elevator wall. Other than that, anything goes, though it's generally a relatively small area. Sometimes I immediately star the player out in a combat situation, sometimes it's their own fault because they fired a shot too soon.
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