Need some advice on mapping

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UnrealWarrior
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Need some advice on mapping

Post by UnrealWarrior » Sat May 22, 2021 6:33 pm

I recently started using UnrealEd and wanted to make a map, like a CTF or Deathmatch, But I always end up with a block-ish kind of map, like every room is block and it doesn't look very good...
I'm trying to download map packs, go in UT99, zero bots, and go around seeing the layout of the map to get some ideas...

So, I know there's a lot expert mappers here, what makes a good map and not just like a block after block separated by a door?
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Red_Fist
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by Red_Fist » Sat May 22, 2021 6:48 pm

You are the creator, it's hard to get away from cubes. You have to get good at using the 2d editor to make brushes not be cubes.

Like rounded hallways, trapezoid shape hallways, pillars, weird roofs. etc etc. At the same time not making complicated brushes with huge amounts of junctions-nodes that will bog down the game engine later on.

In the 2d editor I would say to only use grid 16, or higher. because when you want a new brush to line up to another brush, you will get way less problems mapping and creating. You could less complicate things if you tried a grid of 32 or 128 in both the 2d editor and unrealEd windows. So that way it will be easier to see and do, how to learn the 2d editor, later on you could stay with 16 grid on both for more detail brushes.

Plus if people went to actual architectural college I imagine they would know so much more on what fits and is a logical structure, as opposed to people like me who make cube-ish maps.
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papercoffee
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by papercoffee » Sat May 22, 2021 6:55 pm

Well you can go creative with dem cubes...
viewtopic.php?p=33283#p33283
Non released map ...

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Pikko
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by Pikko » Sun May 23, 2021 2:05 pm

I'm no Pro myself, but i think its fun to create something in UED. Feel free to PM me with any question, if you like. Maybe i can be of some help sometimes.. :shock:

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Neon_Knight
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by Neon_Knight » Sun May 23, 2021 3:11 pm

If I can recommend you to check something, you can read Hourences's "The Hows and Whys of Level Design", he put it for free 4 years ago.

http://www.hourences.com/product/the-ho ... -design-2/

I still haven't found time to read it, real life is keeping me very busy lately. 😭
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TexasGtar
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by TexasGtar » Mon May 24, 2021 4:07 pm

I think you first need an idea or concept you want to tackle. Once you have a decent idea, you need to decide what gametype would fit the idea the best.
I see you are thinking about DM or CTF. These are 2 completely different kinds of gameplay and require a completely different approach to building your map.

Room>hallway>room>door>room etc can get very boring when you don't have a concept behind what you are building. I like to think about creating an atmosphere, a feeling, a vibe that can guide you through the build, and thinking logically what might "belong" here in this place and what would an interesting way to get the player to each area.

Building a map is a lot about gameplay. That is really the most important, It's great to have a beautiful, looking map, but if it doesn't play well, then what is the point. Like when you are making furniture, there is a rule, Function over form. I think this applies to maps too. The function is more important than the form. If you design a great looking chair but it is uncomfortable to sit in then what good is it?

If you want to see what I think are the best maps ever made look at FNB's maps. You can't get better feeling like you are in a real location, and still have solid game play that is well thought out than his maps.
Thaddeus, Orions Curse are incredible. I think you can see what you are striving to accomplish by walking around in those 2. Great maps and fun to play.

First....you have to come up with an idea. The more you build, the rest will come. Follow your concept to the end. A lot of times you will have to sacrifice beauty for frame rates. But initially, try to be super creative with your room>hall>room connections. Once you start to get something, you'll know it. The lighting and sounds will follow the design. Have fun and save often. Good luck!

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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by OjitroC » Mon May 24, 2021 5:09 pm

As a follow up to TexasGtar's excellent advice, here's an extract from Hourences's book that I've just come across - it deals with gameplay (it's about 30 pages long so doesn't take too long to read through).
TheHowsAndWhysOfLevelDesign2ndEd_Gameplay.pdf
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UnrealWarrior
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by UnrealWarrior » Tue Jul 27, 2021 12:21 am

I know it is been a while but I got caught with a lot of in life...so...
Okay, I'm making a map, I settled down with a SP map, doesn't matter much, I made some little progress, I don't know, this is two days work...

Entrance?
Image
Image
Image

First room:
Image
Image

Temple entrance?
Image
Image
Image

more:
Image
Image
Image
Image

room with the key:
Image

I know the textures are aligned, and it looks horrible, But I'm trying to come up with something...Hope you have a good laugh.
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Hellkeeper
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by Hellkeeper » Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:45 pm

UnrealWarrior wrote:
Sat May 22, 2021 6:33 pm
I recently started using UnrealEd and wanted to make a map, like a CTF or Deathmatch, But I always end up with a block-ish kind of map, like every room is block and it doesn't look very good...
I'm trying to download map packs, go in UT99, zero bots, and go around seeing the layout of the map to get some ideas...

So, I know there's a lot expert mappers here, what makes a good map and not just like a block after block separated by a door?
Yo, this has been my problem when I began mapping too so here's what I can tell you about this issue:

One issue is the shape of your rooms, the other is the shape of your map (the layout). First, let's tackle the layout: depending on what gametype you're mapping for, your map has to be cyclical (DM, DOM) or linear (CTF, AS). It's harder to map for cyclical gametypes because your map has to loop in on itself seamelessly, whereas a CTF or AS map is, schematically, a line with a beginning (your flag, the starting point of the attackers) and an end (the enemy flag, the final objective of the attackers). Your map floorplan is the single most important thing because it's what makes your map unique. An interesting layout with common decoration is nicer then a very nice map with a dumb "2 rooms with a corridor" plan. For some reason, people seem to believe a room can simply be a cube with at least two doors and that's fine. It's not. You'll want most if not all your rooms to have at least 2 eight levels (be it a walkway, an elevated path on the side of a cliff, a way to get on the upper beams under the roof, etc.). If you room is just a floor with walls around it, you're mapping for 2d and wasting your time and mine. You want to have enemies above and/or under the player so he has to look up and down.

Now regarding room shapes: you don't want them to be cubes? Then don't make cubes, it's that easy. If you need a room somewhere and you find yourself thinking about a cube, add some angles so the corners are not 90 degrees, use diagonals, etc. The most common floorplan for DM and DOM maps consists of 2 to 3 atriums linked on several levels by doorways and corridors. What you need then is for each atrium to be something else than a cube. And by cube, I mean any default shape: a large cone or a tall cylinder is just a small variation on a cube. Make your great room L shaped with niches and alcoves, etc. The most efficient technic in my opinion is to have each level in each room be a different shape. Something as simple as having an L shaped floor and a T shaped upper level makes for more variation : the lower bar of the L can be a hidden from the upper level while the upper bar of the T can be linked with a walkway running above the L floor underneath. That makes a nicely shaped room. Now you just break the surfaces to remove anything left of the cube-ness in your room : split your floor in two, with one area slightly lower than the other and add stairs to link them, carve a large trench in the walls with engravings inside, etc. And of course, when you're decorating your room, don't rely on textures, that's thinking in 2d. I don't care for a fake pillar which is baked in the texture on the wall: we want to see the pillard in 3d and be able to hide behind it.

If you want to look at a good example, I'd suggest studying the geometry of DM-Closer. It's quite blocky with a lot of cube-shaped stuff, but you don't feel like in you're inside a noob's first map because the simple shapes are used smartly, the rooms, which are made of cubes, are not just cubes, you can't learn a lot from it.
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TexasGtar
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by TexasGtar » Wed Jul 28, 2021 6:06 am

Looks good for a start. These things take time before you start to like how it's going. Just keep going and keep what you like about what you have and redo or delete things you don't like.

I know I have rebuilt an area of a map and the second time it always comes out better because I have a direction to head towards.

Don't be so hard on yourself. It looks good so far. I see creativity there. Keep chugging along and it will get there.

I liked hellkeepers advice too. Good thoughts.

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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by EvilGrins » Wed Jul 28, 2021 7:05 am

I'm not sure it looks horrible, but the lighting seems to be a bit much.

Less is more... and provides shadows.
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by Aspide » Wed Jul 28, 2021 9:24 am

Making maps requires a lot of patience, especially for a first timer, but experience is the best teacher of them all.

Now my advice to you it's that before you add detail to the map, make sure that the map its fun to play, (for example the geometry it's not to complicated or the map has the right size, etc). Also something that I do is draw the layout of the map in a piece of paper before I start building, so that I have a better idea of what kind of map I really wanna make.

Also since you are making a SP map, I will be glad to help you with any questions you may have since I have a lot of experience in Single Player content. :tu:
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by Swanky » Wed Jul 28, 2021 11:03 pm

Looks good for a first effort. As for general tips on mapping and layouting...

First few maps / projects should probably focus on getting the hang of the editor, focussing on getting a clean bsp structure, aligning textures, importing stuff, the basics really, but it will come in handy when you start working on more complex projects. Everyone has a bit of a different work flow - for example Fragnbrag uses grouping which I don't - so parts can vary from mapper to mapper and it's good not to have technicalities hamper your own work flow. Instead, you want to use your skills for problem solving on how to get the shapes fit your imagination. Note that keeping the bsp tree clean is important. Complex forms will have a heavy strain and can often result in the engine making weird bsp cuts, resulting in invisible barriers or hom effects.

Speaking of shapes, if you have trouble getting the right forms, this issue consists of two parts. The first is the technical side. Try figuring out the 2D shaping tool, and the intersect / deintersect functions. The first will help you create more complex shapes (and I think you've already figured that out judging by the screenshots above - just leaving it here for anyone else), the latter can cut and clean brush structures to help you with that and keeping the bsp tree clean. I also know that some mappers - Revelation and S'Calain - used to work with Blender to get some more complex shapes done and import those via the t3d forms, but it may need some additional work to keep the bsp tree clean of errors.
The other half of the issue is getting the actual architecture right. Very old architecture such as castles can have interesting curves and structural solutions that can result in interesting forms and shapes. On the other hand, modern (abstract) architecture can have wonderfully wild forms at times - try looking up some photos and get the imagination going from there.
If you're feeling particularly brave, a drug trip may also yield interesting results but you may find it difficult to recreate once you sobered / cleaned up. Not that I suggest anyone taking drugs, most of what I've heard from professionals is that it only enhances your feeling of being able to be creative, when in reality, they're probably not (and they're dangerous to your health).

Last part is to integrate that into an actual layout. Again, everybody's workflow tends to differ here. Some people prefer to build one part of the map fully detail it out, some people tend to do a rough sketch of a layout first...
Personally, I like to have a rough plan of an idea where I want to go with a map - a general idea of a theme and map size can greatly help setting the stage of what you want to go for and plan ahead for interesting landmarks in your map. The layouting process can be influenced by many factors as you noted, looking at other maps, other games (like I recently replayed Torchlight 2 and the second hub of the game gave me an idea for a UT layout), reallife places...
It can help to draw a layout on grid paper (I'm using those old math blocks on a 128 unit scale) to get an idea how the map will look and flow. While not all kinds of maps are working with that, it does a good job of giving you an idea of how to plan around certain things. However, I found multilayered maps to be very difficult to do using this method as several layers and levels will overlap. But then again, these layout drawings usually translate to the engine pretty well and you can make out landmarks and eye candy, making your map more interesting overall.

...just a couple of thoughts, hope it helps. :)

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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by jmartin » Thu Jul 29, 2021 12:58 am

Swanky wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 11:03 pm
Looks good for a first effort. As for general tips on mapping and layouting...
Holy Moley! You're THE Swanky? I thought that name looked familiar!

Love your work in Nano Shoppingmall.

I have a picture of it in my own mall "Hall of Fame" store.

Image

Just finished playing Crescent Sun too.

https://unrealarchive.org/maps/unreal-t ... b2e2d.html

Nicely done. :tu:

UnrealWarrior wrote:
Sat May 22, 2021 6:33 pm
So, I know there's a lot expert mappers here, what makes a good map and not just like a block after block separated by a door?
I was going to recommend Wolf's (Tony Garcia) and Lode's tutorials for starters,

http://www.hypercoop.tk/infobase/archiv ... inner.html

https://lodev.org/unrealed/

but it looks like you already got the basics.

Are there any lights in your map, or are you using only Unlit textures?

I find the best most interesting ideas for maps are favorite movies, or places you always wanted to visit but don't exist it the real world like M.C. Escher's Waterfall, Tihomir's "Indiana Jones 2", or Rob's "All Good Things". Eclectic stuff like that.

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Swanky
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Re: Need some advice on mapping

Post by Swanky » Thu Jul 29, 2021 7:00 pm

jmartin wrote:
Thu Jul 29, 2021 12:58 am

Holy Moley! You're THE Swanky? I thought that name looked familiar!

Love your work in Nano Shoppingmall.

I have a picture of it in my own mall "Hall of Fame" store.
Just finished playing Crescent Sun too.
Nicely done. :tu:
Thanks! Personally I think Nano didn't age too well but I'm happy you like it anyway. :)

Also, yes, me. Mostly making Gandalf like appearances the last couple of years, like an old greybeard chiming in every now and then to drop a new goodie or ramble on some interesting topics.
jmartin wrote:
Thu Jul 29, 2021 12:58 am
I was going to recommend Wolf's (Tony Garcia) and Lode's tutorials for starters,

http://www.hypercoop.tk/infobase/archiv ... inner.html

https://lodev.org/unrealed/

but it looks like you already got the basics.

Are there any lights in your map, or are you using only Unlit textures?

I find the best most interesting ideas for maps are favorite movies, or places you always wanted to visit but don't exist it the real world like M.C. Escher's Waterfall, Tihomir's "Indiana Jones 2", or Rob's "All Good Things". Eclectic stuff like that.
Didn't knew those tutorials, good to know someone still keeps that knowledge around.

@ Any mod, do we have a list of resources post pinned somewhere?

UnrealWarrior wrote:
Sat May 22, 2021 6:33 pm
I recently started using UnrealEd and wanted to make a map, like a CTF or Deathmatch, But I always end up with a block-ish kind of map, like every room is block and it doesn't look very good...
I'm trying to download map packs, go in UT99, zero bots, and go around seeing the layout of the map to get some ideas...

So, I know there's a lot expert mappers here, what makes a good map and not just like a block after block separated by a door?
Call me a pickle and put in me in dill but I think I missed a bit of the mark with the last post.
In regards to that question it does answer SOMETHING but not the core of your inquire.
What makes a good map? And what does make a good map that isn't room door room?
First of all, most of all UT maps were made back in the late 90's and early 2000's meaning they were very 90's influenced. Most just had a very loose theme strapped to the maps in form of some architecture, a landmark feature and some supporting architecture. They often did not have thought through processes of how those landmarks could function together and often used arbitrary detail to fill in the gaps to create some illusion of a map. Nevertheless often enough they were quite good and that's mostly due to their core gameplay.
The art of a good Deathmatch map has been somewhat lost since then for most bigger titles I've played and it's reduced interest compared to Battle Royale and military shooters also meant that other forms than hardcore deathmatch was becoming more popular. While these type of maps isn't bad by default, they can only be somewhat arbitrarily recreated in UT for various reasons and even then have to be carefully balanced.
What ultimately makes a good map is the question: is it fun? So the question should be: How can I make a map that's fun to play? And can that support the core gameplay of the game itself and vice versa?

While it depends a little on what makes a map for various people, most maps in UT set up different, overlapping zones of action with different ranges of engagement. A good map has you running in loops over various levels. A flat map ultimately becomes boring very easily, but shifts in its floor height and a second or third floor spanning over an attic can create much more interesting combat scenarios than just a flat room. Nooks and crannies where people can hide or break sight also creates interesting situations in firefights. Having the situations have more than 2 exits can also lead to tactical choices in a firefight - "can I break out of a fight? Can I reach an important power up from here before my opponent does?" It can also lead to a mexican stand off if the match has more than two players. Take Deck16 for example. It has multiple levels of action that you easily navigate up and down from, has you running in circles without dead ends except when there is a very strong goodie waiting at the end and many if not all places give you the option to break out of a firefight or steal a kill from.
These points are the fundamentals of a good map in my humble opinion, long before graphical and technical execution - but those will help of course in making a map truely memorable.

Now how can you incorporate this while avoiding doors at the same time? Honestly, I have no perfect answer for you there given our society is using doors for so many things. It will probably help basing maps more in that weird 90's vibe and expand rooms into whatever they need to be for the gameplay. Choosing different non-urban or tech based map themes may help. Best advice I can think of is put the gameplay ahead of the theme process and try to incorporate gameplay solutions that don't involve doors before you decide on the map theme.

Now for the last part - incorporating into non linear forms. This is possibly impossible depending on what you are aiming for given that the engine will handle non-uniform brushes with utmost disgust, often resulting in errors unless you're extremely careful in your build. But you can use single slopes and round forms to create outstanding vantage points, create walkways that lead into other areas, that kind of stuff. Using terrain can also help setting up non cubic combat areas but they are very difficult to do correctly and bugfree in UE1.