Introducing myself and pl_snail rail

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by The301stSpartan, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. The301stSpartan

    The301stSpartan L1: Registered

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    The301stSpartan here, after some registration hassle (I can only access the website on Internet Explorer) I'm now here and hope to get something out of it.
    Not sure if this is the wrong subforum for what I'm posting but i didn't feel like putting something in the workshop since I really have no map to show at all yet.

    What i do have are two sketches of what I hope will become a map sooner or later. The initial idea was an upward-style outdoor map with a lot of space to roam and some interesting combat areas. I wanted to try and focus more on fun gameplay and balance than on making a specific "theme" map (like king and such). A friend came up with a basic design and also the imo really fitting name.

    /Wall of text, here is the inicial overhead sketch of snail rail. (My scanner broke so I had to whip out my EOS and photo it- I am THAT professional)
    http://i.imgur.com/BMCqO7f.jpg
    1 square should be roughly 256 HU if I did the maths right.

    And here is a higher-res copy that I made (126 HU/square) with some shopped-in annotations of my thoughts on what might cause problems and general stuff.
    http://i.imgur.com/V8JQsAR.jpg

    I hope this is enough for some early feedback, like if the design itself is really broken (I hope and think it's not, I really like it) and what could possibly be improved.

    As it looks right now, the map will probably include at least 2 major custom building that I will need to model myself and possibly the crane that's in the sketch, too, segwaying to some questions that I have:
    First, I have never touched hammer in my life. I opened it for the first time yesterday ans played around with it a little bit. I will probably be looking at a lot of tutorials to get things working properly. I am experienced in Cinema 4d though and I hope that I'll be able to model most things in there. Is it viable to create large stuff like buildings in C4D and import them to hammer, using it only to create the rooms inside? I really don't see me modelling an entire building out of hammer cubes (brushes?). Do I texture in C4D or in hammer? What formats do I need the models in? Second, I don't really know where to start things. If I can model stuff in C4D, I will do that first but when I do the actual hammer work, how do I start? I heard about building the map out of cubes first and then adding textures and details. I wonder why shouldn't rather include all models (props?) that I want to use right from the beginning, especially those that I am taking out of valve maps anyway. What are the cubes good for?

    That's all for now, I hope you managed to get through my xbox-huge post and I can get some answers and ideas for the map.
    I will dig through hammer tutorials and hope that I'll have something to show soon in a workshop thread.
     
  2. The301stSpartan

    The301stSpartan L1: Registered

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    After working with hammer a bit I have come up with two more questions:

    1) Where do I find Valve's building templates? I didn't find them in the props collection that can be downloaded here, I guess because buildings aren't props? I guess that people don't build spawn buildings etc from scratch every time they make a map?

    2) If they do (and even if not) are there any tutorials that will teach me how to things like that in hammer? I grasped the basics by now, meaning I know how to create a cube, navigate the camera and possibly create simple rooms. I have no idea how to make actual stuff though. Tutorials that I find are either "how to start hammer by clicking the desktop icon" or "how to let marshmallows erupt from the cart triggered by 10 players aligning and doing the duckwalk at minute 7 of the match in 500 steps"
     
  3. GPuzzle

    GPuzzle L9: Fashionable Member

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    About your last questions:
    if I'm not mistaken, Cinema 4D renders (after compiling the model) just like 3DS Max.
    And this thread (http://forums.tf2maps.net/showthread.php?t=20866 ) shows what's the main difference between 3DS Max and Hammer.
    You have experience with modelling, so it's easier to learn how to map then how I did.

    And, about your first maps: they will suck. There are TONS of maps I never released due to entity problems, getting bored or just thinking it isn't good enough. Don't worry, thought, you will get better.

    About your NEW questions:

    The VALVe Dev Wiki has a tutorial on your first Source map. It will help you A LOT. And the Dev Wiki is edited by people like this forums users.

    The UMRP (Ultimate Mapping Resource Pack) is a handy-dandy addon. I honestly think I couldn't have released any of my
    maps without it. Mainly because I'm a wierdo. http://forums.tf2maps.net/showthread.php?t=4674 .

    The Mapper's Checklist. Now, I don't find this THAT useful, but it is handy for beginners. http://forums.tf2maps.net/showthread.php?t=18663
     
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    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  4. The301stSpartan

    The301stSpartan L1: Registered

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    Thanks for that link, I looked a bit at that earlier and if I got it corectly 3DSmax actually has a plugin that allows for hammer-compatible exports which C4D does not have. I think I'll have to use milkshape inbetween for that. As for
    I'd rather say that my first attempts at a map will suck because I don't plan on showing off stuff that sucks. Before I even start working on snail rail I want to be good enough with hammer to at least make the basic stuff half decent.

    My main problem is the lack of hammer tutorials right now, I don't really know what to do after opening the program.
     
  5. GPuzzle

    GPuzzle L9: Fashionable Member

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    More tutorials!

    The VALVe Dev Wiki and "Your First Map". https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Your_First_Map

    I think the handy thing about the Dev Wiki is that you have information to anything you want to know about Source Engine and Hammer.

    1st tip: Your early sketches aren't that useful, since a lot of design theory is missing. You will run into layout problems. A LOT.

    2nd tip: Use dev textures. http://www.youtube.com/user/kah4068/videos?view=0 See this channel?
    Melvin's channel feats records from gamedays.
    Look at how many dev textures there are. This is because those are mainly alphas. And alphas are the layout area of the map.
    Optimization is for beta, alongside detailing.
    And RC is being able to release that to VALVe.

    And, use Hammer. 3DS Max has some problems, if you read that thread.
     
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  6. The301stSpartan

    The301stSpartan L1: Registered

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    Thanks for those links.
    Elaborate please. What do you mean by "design theory" ? By layout problems do you mean hammer related technical problems or gameplay problems? These sketches are really just a rough idea on the shape of the map, no blueprints. If you spot something game-breaking in those already, I'd greatly appreciate to know it so I can change the plans before I start hammering it in. Aside from the possibly ridiculous sentry spot between the containers I didn't find anything like that yet.
     
  7. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    Ho boy. Buckle up; you're about to crash into a wall of text!

    First off, I don't know what other engines you're basing your ideas of level design on, but leave everything you know about them at the door, because it ain't gonna help you here.

    Maps in Source are built... I'd say 90% out of brushwork. Walls. Floors. Ceilings. Large cylindrical towers. Wooden railings. Even the uneven ground is a collection of brushes that have been broken up into flat triangles and warped. That's why you're not seeing any buildings in the prop collections; they're all built brush-by-brush in Hammer itself. Luckily, making a brush is usually as simple as drawing a rectangle in one viewport and then resizing it in another to get the third dimension correct, so it's hardly a complicated process.

    Models are used for detailing. Anything with a high polygon count or that gets reused a lot, because there's only so much Hammer is capable of, and also because they need to be lit in a different manner. In Source, 90% of the lighting you see is faked; a program called VRAD runs a ray-tracing simulation when you first build the map, and essentially paints the light levels and colors onto the brushes as low-resolution bitmaps, which are saved as part of the map file. For pre-built models, which are too complex to wrap a grid around, it assigns a light level and color to each vertex and then blends between them. This, too, is stored in the map file. Real-time lighting is only used for things that move, like player models and trains and stuff.

    If you're planning a theme for your map that requires a lot of custom models alongside the ones already built in to the game, and have the expertise to make them, by all means do so. Just be sure to read up on the TF2 art style and try to adhere to it as much as possible. And remember, any custom content you make has to be embedded into the map, increasing its size; stock props and textures do not.

    I suggest you open up one of the stock maps' source files that are provided in the SDK and fly around them clicking on stuff to get an idea of what's a model an what's brushwork. A fun thing to do is to go into the Auto tab in the VisGroups panel on the right and uncheck Props, and see how few things disappear.
     
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  8. The301stSpartan

    The301stSpartan L1: Registered

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    Thanks for the explanation, I figured about the same in the past 10 minutes when I looked at a decompiled version of upward.
    I did this, disabling tool brushes allowed me to see anything at all as opposed to the cloud of yellow and purple boxes all over the place. Then I realized for the first time in my life that both RED spawn rooms on upward are in the same building. Hilarious. And I saw that everything is pretty much made out of cubes. I'll probably have some problems creating entire big buildings such as that huge upward spawn building that way, I hope I'll have that figured out soon. I feel like you really need to have the entire thing planned exactly in your head before starting to construct it.
     
  9. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    Well, it's pretty easy to move and resize stuff. That's part of why it's a good idea to do everything with the placeholder textures in /dev/ and minimal use of props before actually committing to a finished version of the map, even for testing: it frees you from having to muck around with texture alignment, which is the biggest bugbear for large changes. (Such as the massive chunk of Turbine2's bases that need to be shifted 16 units away from the middle, which I still haven't gotten around to doing.)
     
  10. The301stSpartan

    The301stSpartan L1: Registered

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    Okay, so, say I knew how to do everything already, I would start by just making one huge brush for the ground about as bug as the map is gonna be and the just start creating all the buildings on top brush by brush? And just when I got all that basic stuff finished I go into detailing. Right so far?
     
  11. Fish 2.0

    Fish 2.0 L6: Sharp Member

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    I would rough the ground size of the whole map, then build parts onto it, slicing the ground as I go. It's better to scale the ground to the map, not the map to the ground.
     
  12. The301stSpartan

    The301stSpartan L1: Registered

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    That's what I'm gonna do. I will try and put together a first version of the BLU spawnroom for snail rail, if Í manage to do it I'll post results tomorrow, if not... I'll post questions instead. :)
     
  13. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    I would not recommend making the ground a single uniform brush, even just for a first draft. If you place any overlays on it at all, the compiler will choke on the number of other brushes that are touching it. I've had it happen to me. Build your ground around and between buildings, resizing as necessary, and making sure the pieces line up. And if any of the buildings' floors are on the same level, make them separate from the ground as well.
     
  14. henke37

    aa henke37

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    Also, you will get accused of having a box with stuff in it if you just pick one big floor brush. Not because of this specifically, but it encourages that kind of maps.
     
  15. The301stSpartan

    The301stSpartan L1: Registered

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    Ok, I made the BLU spawn room itself, hope it works like it is.
    [​IMG]

    Next I want to do the building it is in. I don't know how to make holes for doors yet but I think I'll figure that out. I also would like to somehow make all the nodraw stuff actually invisible to me. And func_ brushes should be transparent such as those in the cabinet prefabs so I can actually look at my room from above and not have it blocked by two brushes. How do I do that?
     
  16. Idolon

    aa Idolon the worst admin

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    You can click the :rendernodraw: button at the top to toggle whether or not nodraw is visible in Hammer.
     
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  17. The301stSpartan

    The301stSpartan L1: Registered

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    That helped. Doors added. Almost RC2 right here.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Micnax

    aa Micnax I maek map

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    Looking good so far! You learn pretty quickly ;)
     
  19. Wander

    Wander L3: Member

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    The lines in the top-view concern me, did you use carving, or are those the lines of some prop?
     
  20. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    Looks like he's just zoomed waaaaaaay in on the door props.