How do I make my map feel less empty?

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L1: Registered
Jan 15, 2023
It's my first time making a map, it's a KOTH map and it's a flat square map and has two sniper towers, a small platform to the control point, and the two bases in opposite corners. It has a mix of regular and dev textures but I plan on changing that. Anything else I need to add or change? Also don't worry, the bases have an invisible roof to prevent demomen from shooting over and soldiers jumping over. I also have a death trigger under the map too.


Mar 1, 2010
The biggest thing is to not start with a giant box and fill it. It's a trap a lot of early mappers fall into. Look at how other maps are laid out, you want them to flow more naturally vs creating a big open space and then trying to figure out how to make it less open.


L3: Member
Mar 13, 2021
Hello! Hope you have a fun time making TF2 maps! We're a bit more active on our Discord server but there are a few of us that post on these forums.

Here are some tips for you.

Try designing the point area a few pieces at a time. Crash is right, don't have a giant brush as a floor to build things on.

Try to make interesting height differences that classes can play around. Players love being on the high ground so they will naturally play around it. It also makes combat more interesting. Even a height difference of 32 units can make a huge difference! That much being said, height differences over 512 can be a bit overwhelming. Tying this into the first point, try making smaller ground planes with height differences between them.

Try to think about how combat will play out when you design points and other combat spaces. Keep asking yourself questions about how classes will play around what you've built. Is this too long of a walk/big for heavy players? Does sniper have a place to shine without being too oppressive? Do scouts have opportunities to jump around on things? Do medics have places to duck into cover when falling back or staging a push? Do engineers have a place to set up a nest? Are there ammo packs in enough good places for spies infiltrating?

When designing spawns it's a good idea to make each exit meaningful in that they don't exit into the same sight line. This is less necessary in koth, but just keep the exits far enough apart from each other so they're not easily spammed simultaneously.

Since you're making a KotH map, make sure that routes leading to mid do not bypass the mid. Players should have to push into mid to contest the point and through/beyond the point to forward hold. Routes shouldn't give that opportunity to players for free, as this leads to players dying to flankers without realizing they're there.

Right now you basically have one single massive route into the point area. You should have a few routes into mid and they should serve different purposes. Think about how there are the two main push routes onto the Mid on Viaduct as well as the flank route leading to concrete and the path leading to the high ground on the cliff. It might also be worth having some routes to filter from the spawn lobby to the area approaching mid (think about the narrow building with three exits you have to walk through on Viaduct).

Right now your map looks very overscaled. Try putting down some player models (search for "hwm" in the model viewer) as prop_statics all over your map to get a sense of scale when you are making it. These player models won't show up when you compile your map so you can leave them in. As far as raw numbers go, try to keep sightlines under 2048 units. Damage falloff starts at 512 units and most combat occurs within 1024 units, so make sure that you design your fight spaces around those rough measurements. If you need to, take a look at some of the decompiled stock maps to get an idea of how large their individual areas are.

This one is very important: don't expect to get it right the first time! Your first map isn't likely to be good (all of ours certainly weren't!) so don't worry if your first play test doesn't go well. You'll be in good company. Even when veteran mappers make new maps their a1s aren't guaranteed to be good. Map making is an iterative process! Most maps go through dozens of versions before they hit release candidate, some even more! Keep perservering and don't be afraid to ask other people for help, opinions, and guidance!

Best luck!


L5: Dapper Member
Dec 2, 2012
Don't fill a large empty area with interesting things. Make the area interesting in and of itself. (I mean, unless you want a cp_orange-like map.)

I recommend designing the layout on paper first. Don't forget to write down height differences and avoid long corridors at all cost. Once the map or a part of it is on paper, try to replicate it in Hammer. It will be hard getting the scale right in the beginning, and usually the design looks better on paper than in 3D. You might need to iterate this paper design a couple of times or at least tweak the layout once it is in Hammer.


L1: Registered
Jan 15, 2023
So i changed the layout quite a bit, I also decided to keep some of the dev textures for the cp_orange look.
I added areas out of view of the sniper towers and ramps at the spawn. I might add more ways to the other side so you don't have to go through the control point.

The Asylum

The Clown Prince of Mapping
Apr 5, 2008
Detailing can go a long way to make it look like a real, lived-in world, but you really shouldn't go detail crazy in alpha. Even though I go detail crazy in early alpha but thats because I'm an idiot who can't stop himself, don't be like me. In the really early stages of a map, the blander looking the better- less stuff for you to rework if what you've got doesn't work out.

Really though, the first thing you want to do when making a map is make some sketches of what you want your map to look like. It can be intricate landmark drawing or technical top-down layout drafting. Along the way you can decide what routes will be your mains and which will be relegated to flanks.

Another thing that helps make maps feel less empty is elevation changes. With a flat map you can see a lot more than you could than a map with ups and downs