I remember hearing the term "filler maps" thrown around and I assume they mean maps that don't have anything too special about them, or don't leave as big of an impact as a majority of others. It's nice to think about a WAD that's all killer no filler, but then I wonder if there can be exhaustion in that if it seems every map is competing with the other for the most awe-some map with no breather room. "Breather maps" is also a thing, but is the only differentiation between a "breather" and "filler" map their place in the map lineup?
What do you think is a "filler map," and do you think they have a purpose in serving the player well in large mapsets? Thoughts?
"Filler maps" in general is an insulting term. Its origins are from the music industry where hit songs would need to be accompanied by additional tracks in order to fill out an entire album, so low-quality, unoriginal or uninspired works were quickly put together to "fill in" those gaps, hence they were referred to as "filler." I consider the term always negative given what it means.
Pacing for a full map set is important, of course: "breather maps" have an clear place. Long maps need to be balanced by short maps, heavy action by quieter areas, etc. Without this the player will become overwhelmed.
Thank you for the context I understand it better now. So it'd kind of just be a map whose sole purpose is to pad out a WAD to reach that full 32 map megaWAD status with nothing interesting about it. And yeah "filler maps" is an insulting term, especially if the map actually did have inspired and such qualities about it. Oh well, differing interpretations
A textbook example of a mapset with filler maps is Requiem, which has like five or six short shitty maps made to pad out the maplist. You can tell they're filler because they're mostly in that tricky MAP10-25 half of the megawad that's the hardest to get done. All of those filler maps were made by the same guy, I can't remember who now.
The idea of a filler map (i.e. dosn't particularly stand out) seems a tad unfair for 'conventional' maps, since it just comes down to whether or not the player connects with the map, which itself comes down to the stylistic preferences of the creator...
Anyway, filler maps help, but they're by no means required to fill out a cohesive map lineup. Best two examples off the top of my head are Fractured Worlds and Sunlust - they both avoid filler in their own ways, and both were amazing, with every detail of each map burned into my memory.
SL manages to avoid being exhausting by not being in any rush to overwhelm the player (contrary to its reputation). Aside from the first, every map brings new and interesting ideas to the table, but until the late maps, they don't pile on any more than necessary. As a result the maps, while hard, are never unduely taxing to play, demanding 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 level of attention, while doing what it can to 𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯 said attention.
( I think this is where magnum opus syndrome comes from - demanding attention without earning it - but that's all tangential)
FW is different - rather than not having filler maps, it is almost devoid of filler fights. The effect is exhausting when starting out, but once you get going, it is exhiliarating. It avoids the phenomenon of every map competing for attention by continuously escalating the stakes, each map more dramatic or intense than the last. (map06 is the exception to this, but makes up for it with the single best secret area ever made)