I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need advice

Tutorials and discussions about Mapping - Introduce your own ones!
Skerion
Average
Posts: 65
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 12:04 am

I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need advice

Post by Skerion » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:54 pm

I'm a bit familiar with UED2, though I haven't really done many actual deathmatch maps, just test maps. I feel like it's time that I attempt to be serious about making a deathmatch map. Although the project might end up being a bit ambitious and out of the scope, so I may need to start with something more manageable, but I'm not entirely sure.

Image

The dark grey boundaries are supposed to represent trees similar to the ones in this thread. I was also thinking about making the area that leads to the long green oval on the right side of the map a cave.

I'm willing to bet that this layout needs work since this is one of the few times I've tried to make a good layout. I tried to make the layout not too linear, and I tried to spread some of the items around (which will likely have some kind of landmark accompanying them such as the houses. I also plan on adding some cover, such as rocks and vehicles. Although, I feel like I'm going to have to go much more into depth into this. I need to be specific in where I place items and what kind of items they are, and I have to be concerned of terrain features like high ground and low ground, too. The most important part of map design is probably focal points, and honestly I'm not entirely sure how to go about that along with the high ground and low ground stuff. Plus, I'm not entirely sure what theme to go with, which could end up making the map look visual unrealistic.

If you guys have any suggestions and advice, feel free to post them, because I may seriously need them as someone who's kind of a novice at the science behind fun map design.

nogardilaref
Masterful
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:00 pm
Personal rank: ⚋⚊⚌☰⚞⌖⚟☰⚌⚊⚋

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by nogardilaref » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:11 am

It seems you have most of the ideas in order already, a whole drawing even.

The only thing I advise for you to do is to use an actual 3rd party 3D modeler to build the terrain at least, like Blender for example.
It will be far easier to handle, and it will become incredibly stable BSP-wise once you import it back to UEd.

Or you could use UEd2.1 from Unreal 227. I never used it myself, but it seems that any BSP built there will be far more stable as well (or so I have heard).

As for theme or decoration, hard to say from the layout alone, it could become anything really.
But you could look into existing forest-like maps for both inspiration and figure out what you can do and what you cannot.
The best ones out of the top of my head is one made for Siege which name I don't remember (it's originally a CTF map, but you can ask about it here or at UnrealKillers), and one from a very old community mappack made here, called DM-Kamah if I am not mistaken.

Both use UT2004 assets such as grass, flower and trees, which do look very good in UT maps.
Or you can opt to go with something darker, with dead trees and the like for which UT2004 has assets for as well if you want to use them.

Skerion
Average
Posts: 65
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 12:04 am

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by Skerion » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:33 am

nogardilaref wrote:The only thing I advise for you to do is to use an actual 3rd party 3D modeler to build the terrain at least, like Blender for example.
It will be far easier to handle, and it will become incredibly stable BSP-wise once you import it back to UEd.
I was planning on doing something like that, especially for the trees. I tried doing that with a map some time ago, though I noticed that there was a bit of incorrect collision (There were a couple of invisible short triangular cliffs in the group). Because of that, I may need to divide the terrain into multiple parts (no more than around eight)
nogardilaref wrote:As for theme or decoration, hard to say from the layout alone, it could become anything really.
But you could look into existing forest-like maps for both inspiration and figure out what you can do and what you cannot.
The best ones out of the top of my head is one made for Siege which name I don't remember (it's originally a CTF map, but you can ask about it here or at UnrealKillers), and one from a very old community mappack made here, called DM-Kamah if I am not mistaken.
I was thinking that it was going to be like a regular countryside forest. I just wasn't sure on whether it was going to be like a campsite or a boot camp. DM-TigerHunt][ was kinda something I had in mind in terms of inspiration.

User avatar
papercoffee
Godlike
Posts: 9480
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:36 am
Personal rank: coffee addicted !!!
Location: Cologne, the city with the big cathedral.
Contact:

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by papercoffee » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:41 am

For everything forest themed look for maps from Creavion. He was a master mapper regarding jungle and vegetation maps.

Edit-------------------
Your layout looks somehow very big and also very cramped on the thinner pathways.
Lesser ways and some bigger open areas for fights would be my advice.

Skerion
Average
Posts: 65
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 12:04 am

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by Skerion » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:31 pm

I decided to remake the layout based on papercoffee's advice.

Image

Although, I may have underestimated how big some of the areas are in comparison to the thinner pathways (Which are mostly around 512 units wide). I think I may need to figure out how to execute the high risk areas properly, as well.

Eviltom
Skilled
Posts: 150
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:08 pm

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by Eviltom » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:36 pm

Don't forget z axis, maybe add cliffs/mountains? Have your paths cross, maybe using a bridge, tunnel, waterfall, rivers etc. Try and build your areas at different levels so the map doesn't feel flat.

I always try and have 3-4 exits from each room/area in a DM map at least one should be z axis (drop/lift/jump pad/ladder) it gives the player more options to attack/flee

The new layout looks more manageable!

Skerion
Average
Posts: 65
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 12:04 am

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by Skerion » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:43 pm

Yeah, I was thinking about doing some sort of cave system. That alone probably isn't going to solve the verticality issue, but it's one thing I'm considering.

Oh yeah, speaking of cliffs, I could probably have a high-risk-high reward item on top of one.

nogardilaref
Masterful
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:00 pm
Personal rank: ⚋⚊⚌☰⚞⌖⚟☰⚌⚊⚋

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by nogardilaref » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:56 pm

I just thought about something: if this map ends up being a floating island instead, you can do a lot of things with it.

First and foremost, this means the map will probably get a lot more stable BSP-wise, since you no longer depend on subtractive mapping, you do additive instead.
This also means that, if you end up doing the terrain in a 3rd party program, you may even do it through voxels, which makes the creation of caves super easy (as you just have to quite literally dig them out).
And finally, a floating island gives a much more grandiose perception of volume in the Z-axis, so there are a lot of neat details you can add in the end, and you can do a lot of Z-axis mapping through caves which end up being exposed through the island sides, making the caves feel a lot less claustrophobic.

Now it all depends if this is really the direction you intend to go, or if you're already set in doing it at the "ground level". :)

Skerion
Average
Posts: 65
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 12:04 am

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by Skerion » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:53 am

nogardilaref wrote:I just thought about something: if this map ends up being a floating island instead, you can do a lot of things with it.

First and foremost, this means the map will probably get a lot more stable BSP-wise, since you no longer depend on subtractive mapping, you do additive instead.
This also means that, if you end up doing the terrain in a 3rd party program, you may even do it through voxels, which makes the creation of caves super easy (as you just have to quite literally dig them out).
And finally, a floating island gives a much more grandiose perception of volume in the Z-axis, so there are a lot of neat details you can add in the end, and you can do a lot of Z-axis mapping through caves which end up being exposed through the island sides, making the caves feel a lot less claustrophobic.

Now it all depends if this is really the direction you intend to go, or if you're already set in doing it at the "ground level". :)
I kinda wanted to try out the tree boundaries thing, so I'd probably have to make the map grounded in order to be able to do that. Although, I get the feeling that people aren't going to like walls that you can see through but not shoot through, so I guess it's something I should probably consider a bit.

For context, this was what I was thinking about going for:

Image

I was thinking about having invisible walls that go vertically beyond the forest walls that you can shoot through just in case a player somehow gets launched in the air past the contour of the trees in the back. I could probably scatter some tree models around the walls to make it look less flat. I get the feeling that there's a decent chance that a lot of players aren't going to think that this is fun at all, but it was something I thought was worth experimenting with and could potentially be executed well.

I did have an idea similar to the floating island thing. I was thinking about having part of a town/city on a floating chunk of earth in orbit that you could navigate around in low gravity. I tried making a test map based off on that idea, but I'm going to have to tweak with the nodes a lot to get the AI working decently on that map.

nogardilaref
Masterful
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:00 pm
Personal rank: ⚋⚊⚌☰⚞⌖⚟☰⚌⚊⚋

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by nogardilaref » Sun Aug 06, 2017 1:57 am

I see, you want the map to be in the middle of an actual forest, makes sense.
Flat trees are indeed a problem, specially if they get way too repetitive. In those screenshots they're worse than this though, they're clearly a flat wall.

I can think of a way around that though: you can define the kind of trees you're going to use "inside" the map (I imagine you will use or build some in the gameplay area itself), and then use those trees to also add to the edges of the map.

From there, you can set up a small room somewhere where you add nothing but these kinds of trees, and setup the walls as unlit with a vibrant solid color which does not match the color scheme of the trees (pink is generally the chosen color), setup some lighting, and do some "photograph" work: you can take screenshots of the "scene" you set up, without the HUD, then you can edit the screenshots in a image program to turn them into viable images to use as masked textures (pink, for example, would be the first indexed color to be transparent).
The idea here is to create textures which have the same or similar visuals to what you actually would end up with if you used the same kind of trees to expand the florest "forever".

In the end, you would have trees inside the map, trees outside the map but which the player couldn't reach but projectiles could, and after the edges you would need to only setup sheets with textures representing the exact same trees but without the overhead of hundreds or thousands of meshes actually being there.

Skerion
Average
Posts: 65
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 12:04 am

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by Skerion » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:35 am

Do you think you could come up with a quick example of that, so that I can visualize what you're describing better?

I get the sense that you're suggesting using a tree model and then placing a bunch of them and rendering them together as another texture.

I do want to have at least some depth to the trees, so maybe I could limit the tree planes to just a couple layers around the edges, and then after than use the rendered sheet texture that you were talking about.

nogardilaref
Masterful
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:00 pm
Personal rank: ⚋⚊⚌☰⚞⌖⚟☰⚌⚊⚋

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by nogardilaref » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:13 pm

I just created a quick rough example for you (check the attachment at the bottom of the post).
The result is something like this:
Image

As you can see, you cannot easily discern what's a "real" tree and what's just a sheet, and this is the whole point of this technique. Some do stand out, but that's because I made it quick and wasn't very careful in aligning everything properly when "photographing" the trees.


Steps:

1 - Build a chamber with an unlit solid color, and put the trees there. Be sure to add some natural illumination so the meshes are lit properly.

2 - Launch the game, then in ghost mode and with everything disabled HUD and weapon wise (as well as no bots), go there and take one or more screenshots in the right angles.
Also be sure that, in whichever renderer you're using, set useAA to False (essentially, disable anti-aliasing, or the masking won't look good later on).

3 - With a program like Paint.NET or other, open the image so you can crop it to a square, replace the background color to bright pink (RGB[255,0,255] -> in the case of Paint.NET it has a recolor tool which works great), and when resizing use the "Nearest neighbor" method, so there's no antialiasing messing up the masking edges.
Then save it back into a .bmp file.

4 - Use the Bright command line tool from Epic Games, which is able to convert true color images into indexed pcx images with no perceivable quality loss.
When using it, use the following arguments:
Bright -pinkmask trees.bmp

5 - Then import the .pcx file and create sheets with this new texture, and the end result is something like you can see in the attached testing map.

The most important things here are the lighting and angles, they should match as closely as possible what you would see if you put real trees on the background.
Furthermore, this way, you can make it as dense as you want, since once they become sheets, the rendering time is always the same.
Attachments
trees_test.zip
(214.45 KiB) Downloaded 52 times

Skerion
Average
Posts: 65
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 12:04 am

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by Skerion » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:13 pm

I can see where you're coming from with this, though one issue with this is that it won't be as easy to tell what the exact boundaries of the map are, especially since the sheets aren't connected together.

I guess if I were to go with this technique, I'd have to use a fence instead. I could also make the tree texture in the screenshot I posted less dense, or do tree backdrops in a similarish way that HL2 Ep2 did tree backdrops except not on top of cliffs (So I guess kinda like GM-BigIsland, which was made for Garry's Mod).

nogardilaref
Masterful
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:00 pm
Personal rank: ⚋⚊⚌☰⚞⌖⚟☰⚌⚊⚋

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by nogardilaref » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:12 pm

I understand what you mean.

Well, a fence could indeed help you on that, or the entire edge could be a damage zone, as if it was inhabited by wild ferocious animals, and you could simply have signs stating so.
That way, the player won't feel "closed" as much, but at the same time won't be able to leave the intended map area.

There are other ways around this as well, such as the edges of the map being bottomless cliffs, but with the other side of the cliff filled with these trees sheets.
It would end up being something close to a hybrid between the float island and staying at the ground level with trees filling the horizon.

User avatar
Dr.Flay
Godlike
Posts: 3234
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:26 pm
Personal rank: Chaos Evangelist
Location: Kernow, UK
Contact:

Re: I'm working on a layout for a forest map, I may need adv

Post by Dr.Flay » Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:15 pm

There is a lot more plant and tree decos available, but if you want to keep it to commonly installed files, check the Chaos resources from CD2 and you will find a bunch of animated vegetation (moves when triggered).
If you want other trees, inc. more animated stuff I can point you at useful distros.

Creavion did post a tutorial somewhere about doing his landscaping for DM-Kamah http://www.ut99.org/utr/kamah-dm.html
I have hunted but cannot find it. Many problems were had with BSP.

My best tip would be to use UEd in Unreal 227 until you are adding UT specific actors or resources.
It may also be worth installing more advanced brushbuilders. See Hellkeepers site for a handy source
http://hellkeeper.net/files.php https://wiki.beyondunreal.com/Legacy:Ta ... shbuilders
There are others https://wiki.beyondunreal.com/Legacy:Cu ... ushbuilder
....but I am going to have to fix the dead links ! oops, some of those are from my old site. Google drive it will have to be.

Post Reply