Having alot of trouble with mapping.

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Kaz, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. Kaz

    Kaz L1: Registered

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    Hey Everyone,
    I've been lurking here for a while now, but I only just registered and this is my first post.
    I've been playing with hammer for a while now, I really enjoy mapping and I find it a really fun thing to do.
    I have never actually finished a map however, in fact I've never even finished a first alpha on any map at all.
    I can never get focused enough on what I'm doing to progress very far, although I think this is mainly caused by my lack of knowledge on how to do anything in hammer.

    I thought it would be a good idea to try and actually finish a map for the new competition.
    So I begun making a push-ctf styled map and I did a plan for the first 2 stages on paper, and I'm really happy with it.
    The problem is that I can't put my ideas to practice and that makes me get frustrated and quickly bored and lose all my motivation for the project.

    So I'm wondering how you guys got into mapping and where I should start.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Psy

    aa Psy The Imp Queen

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    What do you mean by "can't put my ideas to practice"?
     
  3. eerieone

    aa eerieone

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    just start with the terrain layout, then buildings and keep going and going, there is no big secret about that
    whenever you run into a problem, check the forums and the rest of the internetz for troubleshooting or reference material for ideas
    there is really not much to it, if you are dedicated enough, slight problems or unknowledge shouldn´t hold you down or frustrate you.

    what you might describe is the "blank sheet of paper" dilemma, which i don´t really believe in, it just takes time and patience to fill the paper with substance, and that annoys people

    first rule of mapping.... keep on going
    it takes time until you see sth good coming out of the work you put into a map
     
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  4. Psy

    aa Psy The Imp Queen

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    Good post, Eerie.

    Another thing to remember is not to keep putting yourself down. If a map isn't quite working then evaluate it and ask yourself what's wrong with it then try to resolve the problem. There might be an easy solution or it may take you several attempts to get it perfect. It's just how things are. :p
     
  5. Marcinkonys

    Marcinkonys L1: Registered

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    I am having a similar problem with mapping. I would so love to make my own map, and I have an idea of how I'd like it to look in-game, but I struggle to even make the basic layout in Hammer, worrying that it would look disproportioned, not like TF2, etc >:l This site has helped me a ton, though.
     
  6. fubarFX

    aa fubarFX The "raw" in "nodraw"

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    if you're having problems with proportions, be sure to have an info_player_start entitie in your map for reference.
     
  7. Sgt Frag

    Sgt Frag L14: Epic Member

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    ^what they said.

    Everyone gets frustrated, bored sometimes. I do, I'm sure other mappers like eerie and Psy do to. And they make great maps. But they push one and work through the difficult parts or maybe take a break and come back later refreshed.
    I know I've got one or two maps sitting around waiting for me to get remotivated on, they might never get worked on again.

    It's probably best to get the basic layout done. Don't worry about looks or details, just make a fun area that's fairly simple. Really complex maps aren't more fun to play, simple is usually best for everyone.

    And don't be too worried about making it exactly like you envisioned it. My current project is really nothing like I had imagined, that kindof bums me out because I failed at the initial vision or just had to make changes that made it different. But it's still coming out alright.
    Sometimes you just have to adjust and except it. Maps can have a life of their own and forcing it just makes it harder.

    Keep at it, once you get a map to playtesting and start to actually see it as something that can be finished and fun to play it gets easier to stay motivated.
    The hardest part is always turning that blank screen into a cool map.
     
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  8. Psy

    aa Psy The Imp Queen

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    No! That model is not correctly to scale with TF2 instead, use a prop_static and one of the TF2 characters. ;)
     
  9. ghouly

    ghouly L1: Registered

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    You're going to fail a few times before you get it right. I spent about a month, very hardcore learning everything I could about mapping and studying how Valve does things. The number one rule is to read the interviews with Valve mappers, which explains his basic theories on scale. It helped me SO MUCH to read them, and follow his basic ways. Here is the parts I used. I saved this into a text file, and went over it when working on my current project.

    Taken from Valve employee interview from this site:

    "1) What gameplay type should the map be?

    a. Which gameplay type is most popular?
    b. Is any gameplay type under-represented?
    c. Do we want to create a new gameplay type?

    2) Initial map blocking phase. If the gameplay is new, code will be written in this phase.

    a. To begin with I build large gray-textured brushes on the 64 grid to build a rough layout of the map.

    b. I use models/props_farm/doorframe001a.mdl as a doorway reference and models/props_2fort/window004d.mdl as a window reference.

    c. I place doorways as access points, windows as visual portals and use 256 or 320 as the major height variants between ground levels.

    d. Once a basic flow is layout is done, I decide where the spawn rooms will be. I usually just have a large brush with models/props_gameplay/door_slide_large_dynamic.mdl on the front where the exit will be.

    e. I will place prop_ragdolls at points that I think each class will function within the game. This helps me in several ways. It allows me to get a good sense of scale, and it also allows me to start picturing how the map might be played by each class. I always want each class to have ways to enjoy the map, and using these props at this point in the production process ensures that I don’t leave anyone out.

    f. I place prop_dynamics with the model of models/buildables/sentry3.mdl at points that I want to be defence positions. I can visusalise each sentry’s range by giving the prop a fade distance of 1100. When you select the prop, it’ll have a yellow sphere around it giving you a precise picture of how effective the gun will be, and which points it can be out-ranged.

    g. I pay particular attention to flow. I like to minimize the number of turns players have to make on their path through the level. The flow through a map should be as simplified and intuitive as it can be. Paths should only be as convoluted as they need to be for vis reasons, or deliberate path elongation for balance reasons.


    3) Initial playtesting phase – I like to start collecting playtesting data as soon as the initial blocking phase is complete. The map should have signs, and fully functioning entities before the first playtest. Use as few details as you can in this period, because it allows you to make adjustments to the level very quickly. It also means you can make major adjustments if necessary without throwing out a lot of detail work.

    4) Continue to playtest! Once the changes made to the map are getting smaller and smaller, the artist can begin to work on the map. Usually there will be some high-level art concept defined at the beginning of the process, but this is not essential.

    5) When the art is done, we playtest continually to find exploits or bugs in the map. Clip brushes are used to smooth catchy edges, and to prevent players from getting to areas they we don’t want them in.

    6) Finishing touches are added like cubemaps, soundscapes, HUD messages etc.

    7) Rlease!


    What compile settings do you use for your maps? i.e. soft shadows, hdr, etc.
    We use VRAD -staticproppolys -staticproplighting –textureshadows –both. Always use VVIS without the –fast option."
     
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  10. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    Actually use a prop_dynamic that way you you don't get bombarded with a million error messages in the compile log.

    If you're stuck for idea's, slap up an image in steam chat and someone's bound to give feedback on what they think would look nice "there". If it's an issue with gameplay, one of the more experienced level designers would be a good source of inspiration and knowlegde on how to best design a particular area.

    One good source of inspiration is to download the decompiled versions of the official maps, particularly Valve's own. IT also helps in understanding what's been done and how.

    Link: http://forums.tf2maps.net/downloads.php?do=file&id=911
    It looks like you can thank MrMuffinMan for this vmf compilation.

    It sounds like Friday nights ingame detail chat session would have been a lot of help to you, I'm not sure if you were present? It's good to get involved in the community events, it makes learning more fun.

    I wont bore you with a list of what to do, but you're starting where everyone else started and it only gets easier (if you honestly have an interest in level design). Make sure you have a lot of height variation and oppotunity for flanking in your map and you're set with the basics. Generally at your stage you will throw out experiments and this is good. It wouldn't be practical to intend to throw out a map off the bat. I started 8/9 years ago and didn't release a map for atleast 4, just made box maps, single players maps for my friends and experimenting with entities, then i made some death match maps (easy and simple concept to start with) and eventually released a DoD map 3 years ago. I ended up here from my love of TFC.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
  11. Psy

    aa Psy The Imp Queen

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    That tip about setting the fade distance on a sentry model to 1100 never ceases to amaze with its ingenuity. :p
     
  12. Artesia

    Artesia L6: Sharp Member

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    if you use Boojum's FGD it replaces the player start model to an engineer, then you could use a player start.
     
  13. ghouly

    ghouly L1: Registered

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    Also, if you ever get stuck with something you've seen in a Valve map, look through the decompile, grab every single part that makes that section work, and open up a new map. Spread each piece of the puzzle out so you can easily check how each piece works. This helped me very much when I was working on my map, also.
     
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  14. ihadabadname

    ihadabadname L1: Registered

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    You know you could just edit existing maps adding or balancing the map or just make your own version of that existing map.

    to give you ideas you could draw on a piece of paper what you would like.
    or just think what could you add to that map or what would be cool if this map had that.

    of course you get bored when your mapping or you get in a knot and feel like giving up because you have alot of problems i do to i still have 2 maps unfinished because i had to much problems with the maps.
     
  15. Waif

    Waif L7: Fancy Member

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    I like to find a key theme, or quirk that I think would be awesome and build around that.
    For example with my map atm, pl_nuclear I wanted to have a massive looming nuclear reactor with a killer lazer inside of it.
    Some valve examples include well with trains, sawmill featuring the blades of death, nucleus with doomsday device/ pit of death.
    Just picture in your head what you would think would make a awesome fighting area and work off that.

    Making your maps based on things (and game modes) that you find cool and fun will keep you interested for longer and make you want to keep working on them.
    I tried making a a plr map for the contest, but when it really came down to it, I don't like plr that much so my map would never really keep my interest.

    Best tip however would be to use the tutorials on this site.
     
  16. Burnzoire

    Burnzoire L1: Registered

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    I suffered from the same problem as you for quite a while (technically I still do, until I get my current map to alpha). It wasn't that I wasn't proficient with hammer, it was more that I kept trying create maps that were too different from the predefined themes. For example, my last idea for a TF2 map was based on the giant underground water catchment tunnels in Japan (G-Cans). It looked great until I tried to texture it - it was simply too different to all the other TF2 maps and so I abandoned it. Instead I've centered on a sawmill/lumberyard style cp map. It has been a breeze to detail so far, and yet I'm not copying any of Valve's brushwork.
     
  17. TotalMark

    TotalMark L6: Sharp Member

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    If all else fails, save your work and take a break. Losing focus is something all too familiar with me.