Part 4: The Aesthetic Side of Things
Boy, you can ask just about anybody and they'll tell you the same thing about me: I've got the artistic talent of a 5 year-old. I hit stick figures and just stopped.
I've never been good at this sort of thing. Instead, I let my imagination do all of the talking for me. Sure, I enjoy writing (obviously), and yeah, I was in a high school play (and rocked it, too!). It's just that I never was able to use my hands to craft something into a cool looking piece of art. Shannon got most of that talent... Meanwhile, I got stuck with logic and stupid shit like that. Y'know, the stuff where people go, "Yeah, that'll make you money." Meanwhile, they'll all jaws-open about the fantastic painting hanging on the bathroom wall or something
Patience is something I never really had. I couldn't sit and attempt to craft it because it was boring. Doom, though, gave me something I didn't have: a medium. Now, before somebody's alarm goes off and says, "Doom isn't art, it's a videogame!" Well, consider this: a Doom map starts off as a grid on a screen. That's all. There are no flats, no textures, no presence of monsters... just an empty grid. Until someone decides to build a room, there's nothing there. Just the resources. So essentially, what I do is utilize resources, take nothing, and turn into a fully-functioning environment for the player to roam through. If you ask me, that's close enough to art to call it such, and it's the only thing I've been good at.
Here, consider this. Here's progression of my mapping in pictures:
4 Photos, 4 different "projects," and with each one, an improvement can be seen over the last. I was finally seeing something I made as more than just a collection of rooms, but as an effort on my own behalf to make something that looked good. That looked damn good. I feel I accomplished that pretty well, too. I began to think about what made a map look good, and what I needed to do to improve the visuals if I wasn't fully satisfied. Several rooms I have started transformed in shape, color, proportion, etc. There's a lot of thought being put into it.
You see, there was a lot of hoop-lah that shot off when Roger Ebert, the famous film critic, claimed that "video games can never be art." Yeah, I disagree. Respectfully. Please, keep something else in mind: I don't live, breathe, and drink with Doom on my mind. Most of these maps have come over 2 months at a time. Short, creative bursts. There are several breaks I have sometimes between 2 maps. It isn't my life, and I don't want to attach myself to it. Hence, it always have to be fun when I finish something. So, it's art for me in that it's a hobby. Maybe Mr. Ebert didn't realize that something doesn't necessarily have to have a fully-fleshed message to be art. All it needs to be is a personal medium to channel personal creativity, and that's what I've seen Doom as since I downloaded Doombuilder.
So, there. I've explained the first half of mapping, and that's the "pure art" side of things. How ever, there's also something else, and something that, in my mind, is far more important. That is: how can I make these maps challenging and ultimately: fun.
That'll probably be the essay where I wrap things up in part 5: the gameplay.