Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mapping tips and tricks #1

This list shows tricks which can boost your mapping workflow. Although they are geared towards the goldsrc engine, source mappers will also find it useful.

Changing 3d view background color
You can change the background color of the 3d view by going to tools > options > 3d views and clicking on the pick color button on the bottom of the page. Many people do this to help them differentiate between different textures and brushes.

Moving around quickly in the 3d view.
Move your cursor in the 3d view and press z. Now move it around and scroll the mouse wheel. You can now move around much faster then the camera tool.

Making multiple profiles
You don't need to change your preferences whenever you want to many for other mods. Just go to tools > options > game configurations and add a new configuration. When you start making a new map, hammer will ask you which configuration you want.

Entity properties will be altered
If you click on the group ignore button. After pressing this, you will be able to change any entities properties but it will be messed up if you change it again. To avoid, just deselect the group ignore and make any changes to entities.

View connections
This helpful option renders a line between every connected entity. This is particularly useful to test complex entity systems. To enable this option, just go to view > show connections and you are done.

Optimizing your map
Make everything covered in the null texture when you start mapping. Only when you need to test the map; add some textures. You can also use the bevel texture but keep in mind that it removes solidity from the brush.

Optimizing arches
Use this method to make arches. This is the most effective method to make arches. Also, group together the brushwork to make the arch easier to work with.

Optimizing brushwork
When placing prefabs, keep in mind that they are placed 1 unit above the floor. This will ensure they don't cut the floor texture. This also results in better lighting. If a complex prefab is placed, just convert it to a func_wall. In this case, it is unnecessary to place it 1 unit above the floor.

Design workflow
Even if you are making a small aim map, it helps to first draw a diagram showing the breakpoints and the arena structure. Only then you should start making it. Concentrate on making few but quality maps. Also, keeping wads and rmf files in seperate folders helps keeping everything tidy.

Adding res file
Many mappers forget to add a res file. You should always add a res file unless you haven't used any custom textures, models or sound files. This is a tutorial on making a res file. Also remember, never name you map name or custom assets in capitals as server admins who use linux servers know that linux servers won't serve files with their names in capitals.

Polish your map
It is always a good practice to playtest your map a few times before distributing. Before publishing your map, add decals and overlays as these are cheap and boost the visuals of the map. Also, add zbots to your cs 1.6 installation as they are useful in playtesting.

Archiving your maps
Make an archive of your maps. Bundle the rmf or vmf file with it. Also keep custom textures and their sources with it. This helps in the longer run as you can use many prefabs from your older maps and they won't get lost or deleted. Also, saving your map every few minutes is helpful. There is also an option in hammer where it will autosave your map every few minutes.

Play different games
The key to make good maps is to make unique maps. Play games, watch movies, read novels. This all will help you get inspiration for your next map. Think about how you can add a unique feature in your map. Think about adding a story to a map. People are tired of playing the same boring aim maps. No one innovates nowadays.

Make your custom gametype
Goldsrc is now 14 years old but people still haven't stopped making maps for it. But people still make the same maps with the same game types like de, cs, as, etc. Make your own gametype. Quite some time ago, I made a system where players would have to destroy a certain relic to unlock more parts of the map. This was quite similar to the rush gametype of bfbc2. Think outside the box. Right now, I have made a module where the map geometry changes after every round. Now how cool is that. Innovate. Don't just spam aim maps.

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