help with designing a map

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L1: Registered
Sep 24, 2018
Hi guys I would like to make a map i always dream for team fortress 2. but, i always be messed up and lose motivation.

i wanna ask questions. first, what is the order of mapping process? like props,brush (etc.) and where should i start?

I have a lot of practice with hammer editor so i have knowledge about tools and stuff

also, do i need to sketch the entire map on the paper before start with hammer editor?

thank you for your answers.

Wizard the Almighty

L1: Registered
Aug 22, 2018
Im not very experienced mapper myself, but I may help from my perspective. First you may start with is just thinking what kind of map you want. what style, gamemode and overall image of what it would be. then start by doing whatever you feel is awesome. You dont have to sketch anything, though it really helps to develop you map. When you finished thinking, start from building up with dev textures your height variations and distances, walls and routes. Now that you are fine with what you made, begin making up the triggers, doors, lightning, ambience etc. at the end when your map has gone through tests and got enought positive feedback, you can start to detail it and finish up by checking if everything is alright. I hope I helped you in some way


L3: Member
Jan 10, 2017
I used to always recommend sketching a map first, but recently I’ve changed my mind. Sketching in a 2-D overview doesnt take an entire axis into account. I recommend you compile a lot using occluders to make sure your scaling is good and seperate gameplay areas. Depending on the gamemode you’re making there are tons of amazing tutorials on the site that you can read through

Coding Ethan

L2: Junior Member
Oct 12, 2014
I think it's best to start designing key areas of your map first, detail can be good, but will often need changing so you should focus more on that once you know that area works.
Maps typically go through three phases, but they aren't rules, just guidelines:
  • Alpha - Layout and gameplay
  • Beta - Detail and polishing
  • Release - Finalised layout, minimal changes typically
Having a plan can help when laying it out, but you can also go with the flow and see how it turns out.
Staying motivated can be tough on longer projects, I would recommend just working on it for at least five minutes every so often, you'll get motivated and work on it for a few hours hopefully.

Two replies as I finish up.


master of fast travel
Jun 27, 2016
I tend to do it out on paper first and any theme ideas I may try to incorporate into the layout. As for props in all of this, I tend to do it after I get all the walls done, however it can be done anytime after some walls exist I'd say. I like to have a whiteboard to sketch ideas and erase and adjust if something doesnt flow correctly.


L1: Registered
Jan 19, 2018
For me I tend to do three things:
1.) Sketch out my layout/designs on Paper or Paint.
  • I personally use paint for a very sketchy Sketch on what I want to do. This lets me get a basic visual layout of what I want and I can get that initial birds eye view of what my map would look like and flesh out any areas that need more concepts.
2.) Start with the Objective
  • Example: With a Koth map I start with the Capture point and work my way to Spawn. Your post didn't specify what map type you were making but I essentially if its PL start with track and general buildings/layout.
3.) Play test redesign play test
  • This is usually what you do with the Alpha stages. For your dream map I assume you don't just want it to look good but to play good. In my eyes, beginning map designs need to be fun to play not fun to look at. In a sense its Game play first before graphics.
  • What I mean by play testing is that you should take advantage of Tf2maps map testing servers and add your alpha map in their Discord sever (There are forum posts on how to do this). It's extremely helpful to get outside feedback while getting a recording of at least 2 rounds of usually a full team of reds & blues actually playing your map! Through that feedback you should adjust your map i.e maybe an area isn't being used, so you add incentive with HP or Ammo. Or there is this nasty sightline that you forgot to cover up.
  • Then rinse and repeat by play testing again before heading to Beta in which you can confidently say that your map plays well and now just needs detailing and fine tuning.

This for me is the standard mapping process. You can reference the immense amount of guides on this site. I suggest looking at Brandished's guide ( to see the most common errors/technical aspects to address in your alpha map before play testing.

Hope that helps! c: