koth_desert_hole 1.0

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L3: Member
May 9, 2018
So your map isn't anything to really talk about, but it's ok. I'll help you get started on making "actual content" when mapping. I might seem harsh but it's really just so i can help you not make the same mistakes again.

So let's go from the start :​

You probably are doing mapping because you saw UEAKCrash's video tutorials. Perhaps you have an idea in mind already ?
Sketch it, make it on paper, draw a layout, draw what you want to do.
However when you sketch you might want to get a feeling of what the game feels like.

Let's dwell over the theorical side !

This map...is boring, there is no way to put it, but don't trust random steam workshop comment telling how great it is, because it is not.
no layout.png
Notice how square it is ? How boring it is ? How small it is ? 2 spawns that lead to a middle area that connects both spawn. This is the kind of stuff you make during tutorials, not what you post during a jam ! Let me show you viaduct to compare :has layout.png
Notic how different it is. Viaduct has great gameplay, and it's because it has a spawn, corridors, areas to fight in and to take control of before the point. Viaduct has gameplay that makes sense of it's gamemode, it isn't a "get out of spawn and shooty people on the point instantly" because that is not what the gamemode is. Perhaps it is trade maps but those usually have a twist for those who want to do things on the side.
UEAK Crash make a video during his tutorials, i'm shocked you probably didn't watch it, maybe you went straight on without binging all of it. He has an entire vidéo discussing gameplay theory, mainly on Koth too. Check it out !

You need a lot of hours and experience playing the game to understand what makes a gamemode work.

Now onto in-game stuff :​

The map is bright, HDR is too high. There is a prefab to prevent this.
The map is also not clipped properly. A lot of place that should be out of reach aren't. Players can litterally get on top of the big structure and shoot down into the enemy spawn.
Also the map seems to leak, probably not something important.

And now for some more technical stuff.​

First of all, your map need an iteration string. They are very simple : take your map name and add either _a for alpha (early making, boxy rooms), _b (finished layout, detailing) or _rc (can be added into the game with valve standarts). Now generally your maps will remains in the _a purgatory. If you have a third version or your map in alpha, it is _a3. Very simple. Again, UEAKCrash made a video about it.

Now let's say i take your map and decompile it to know how you made it.

Oh god what the actual frick.

"Did you ever watch a video about mapping ? Did you self learn everything ? Did you even try ?" are all valid questions that go into my head when i see this.
So... if you listened to any video about mapping, the first thing you'll learn is that you need to have the entire map sealed. You cannot have a single bit of the void seeing the interior of your map, and you are letting it see all of it. Other questions include but aren't limited to :
  • Why isn't the point in the 0 0 0 coordinates ?
  • Why are you using a single skybox block ontop of the map ?
  • Why are you using displacements ? The most thinicky thing to learn in hammer ?

I'm truly puzzled. How did you cobble this ? I'm lost, really.

I don't care if you don't want to, but watch and listen carefully every second of UEAKCrash's mapping guide series. REALLY. These are really silly mistakes that are beyond any skilled mapper's comprehension !

I won't teach you everything here. Watch all of his videos, really, please. This map isn't even technically functionnal. I have no idea how it even works, no idea how it even functions.

Now i won't let you out without some tips :​

  • Forget about round numbers like hundreds. The grid works with powers of 2 (2,4,8,16,32,64,128 etc) So make the most out of the big-ish t grid sizes (16 is what you should use, 32 and 64 should be used from time to time).
  • As a newbie mapper you'll be tempted to make what we call "diaper skyboxes", which are skybox textures walls floor and ceiling to seal the map. If you map more and more you will learn how to hide this and even stop using that technique. For now, use that technique if it allows you to make a map that is actually functionnal.
  • Forget about displacements for now. you have more worrying matters right now.
  • Go on the TF2Maps.net discord server and wait for "IMP testings". They are map testing for maps made by other people. Maps are added by sending commands to a discord bot and are queued to play. The server isn't always active so there are announcements when testing is live. The server also has a plugin where you can send feedback to the map maker in game directly. The feedback and be found here.
  • Take your time to make a first map. You will learn so much making it.
  • Your first map must be a map you really want to do.
The road to mapping isn't easy, it's a lot harder than your typical level editor, but it offers so much potential. The poinbt of this message isn't to be mean, but to point out mistakes. I only want to see good maps come out from people, and seeing everyon proudly posting their first shitty maps just make me very uncomfortable. At least i can guide you and many others.

As i've already said to others, the learning process is hard, but you'll get throught it eventually.

Pud of Mud

L1: Registered
Jul 3, 2022
Thanks for this in-depth reply! I posted this to the jam because I saw the jam as an opportunity to learn mapping. I am very new to map creation, as you can tell. I am self-taught, hence all of the weird mistakes. Also, the map that is shown in the post is not the current iteration, as I have fixed things such as the ability to shoot into the spawn from the top. The map was originally made as just a tiny map for facing of with my friends as just a constant combat map just to have fun with only 2-4 players total. I probably won't work on this map anymore and try doing a different map or just try and do something else, though it was a learning experience.
now onto the bugs you pointed out.
I don't use HDR so that is probably why the map is super bright for you because it's not like that for me and I wouldn't have noticed it. The skybox was like (and the map wasn't at 0 0 0) because of the entire map breaking on load whenever I tried to make a skybox and that was a suggested fix. There is no spawn doors because of weird bugs that it made and I was waiting to fix them until later.
again, thanks for the feedback! This map was just to start my adventure into mapping and I appreciate the feedback.


L3: Member
May 9, 2018
Then i strongly recommand you watch the entirety of UEAKCrash's video tutorials. He explains how hammer works, he gives assets to improve the vanilla hammer, he goes step by step on making basic map logic and is generally a good starting point. A lot of people on this site, even some of the current staff have learnt from him. It is the most reliable way to start off mapping for tf2.
I also recommand you to not post maps unless they have actual layouts and all. There already is thousands of people posting first maps that are just "SPAWN-BOX_WITH_POINT-SPAWN". We don't need more of them. Keep them to yourself and/or your friend groups.
Try to aim for a map with a layout, no matter the gamemode, and get started from there. Good luck on future mapping ventures.