The Ten Commandments of TF2 Level Design. Thou Shalt not compile with fullbright! Before you decide to release your map, type one command into the console, mat_fullbright 0. If your map turns pitch black, then you've got a problem. No one likes fullbright maps, they're ugly, downright ugly. It's hard to tell one wall from another with the same texture and you loose all the power of the 3D engine. Put a light_env in, tweak around with the settings. It makes your map look a whole lot better. Thou Shalt not remake Valve maps! Now, I enjoy Goldrush as much as the next person, but Goldrush CTF wouldn't be fun. No one wants to download another 30mb file just so they can have an alpine rainy 2fort. You could at least change the map while your at it, but why? Barely any of it's your work - Where's the satisfaction? Basically, make your own maps. Thou Shalt build cubemaps! No one likes a map covered in purple and black squares, especially when you move with you, not only is it horribly ugly or doesn't fit in, it confuses the hell out of people. Place env_cubemaps around reflective areas, such as class or tile, and one in every other room. Then follow whats outlined in this link: [ame="http://tf2maps.net/forums/showthread.php?t=4530"]Cubemaps - What and how - TF2Maps.net[/ame] Not only will your map now be full of smexy reflections, it wont look terrible either. Thou Shalt only use TF2 Textures! One thing I hate, hate with my heart, is a horrible tiling realistic brick in a map. When you open the texture browser, most of the textures there will be from Half-Life 2, especially if you own the orange box. It's not a cardinal sin to use HL2 textures, but do so very, very sparingly, and never along a large surface. Use the keyword "tf" to help you, but remember some arn't under tf. And don't use anything that comes off a model, even if it looks somewhat normal, lest you burn in hell. Thou Shalt Artpass (At beta)! Plain walls are boring. Throw some spice into your maps. Add a stain here, or some barrels in that corner. Even better yet are the details that bring a smile to your face, showing that you've really payed attention. If for example, all the lights are connected by wires and that wire then goes to a lightswitch. It breaks up tiling textures and adds a little realism to your map. Thou Shalt Optimize! Optimizing. It has many mappers hiding under their desks. Don't be afraid though! It may take some time and some patience, but it really pays off. It makes it easier and smoother to play your map, and more people will do so. Put some hint blocks in strategic places and some area portals in doors, and when compiled on full VVIS, your map is a lot better. Also, don't make your map in a large box. Fit the skybox to where you can only see sky, improving performance. Take a look a this great guide: http://optimization.interlopers.net/ Thou Shalt make map for all classes! A sniping map can be fun sometimes, but it won't be played much. Many people don't like playing sniper, and when you force them to do so, most people leave the map, thus causing servers to not play it. Pyros also flourish in tight spaces, and Engineers benefit from raised sentry positions. Maps are much better, and more fun when made for all classes. Thou shalt do a full compile! Unless you're testing, compile your map on full settings. Even if you're releasing an alpha, compile on full VRAD and VVIS. Not only does it improve the look of your map, compiling on full can increase performance and cut down on the chance of crashes. HDR is less important but makes you map look much nider! Thou shalt be original! No one wants to play a CP game with the final tower being identical to Gravelpit. We've already seen that, make something new, and exciting. This ties in with don't remake valve maps. Sometimes even custom gamemodes can work, giving a new twist to the game, making your map truly stand out from the rest. Thou Shalt not carve! Most importantly, and I can't stress this enough. DO. NOT. CARVE. Carving creates many, many brushes. It can cause many errors during compile and cause many in gameplay. It can also fracture your original brush into thousands of tiny "micro-brushes", making it hard to work with, and if not func_detailed, make your compiling take a few weeks. It can be "okay" with a simple square, but its much easier to make yourself, and much easier to work with. As I saw somewhere here (Who is it? I want to give credit), Carve not, lest ye be carved yeself. Thats it, I hope this helped someone or maybe informed someone of something or something. If anyone has any suggestions on more stuff to add or change, I'm open for ideas.