1. On August 16th at 9pm CST, the site will be put in to read only mode for maintenance. Maintenance should not take longer than an hour.

Map Planning Techniques

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Scruffy., Jul 10, 2008.

  1. Scruffy.

    Scruffy. L1: Registered

    Messages:
    4
    Positive Ratings:
    0
    Hello, TF2Maps.net Community.

    I’m really lost when it comes to this planning malarkey. Currently all I’ve mapped was nature maps with no kind of point, they just looked pretty (to me anyway). My approach to them was I’d have a flash of inspiration for a small piece of it, make that and detail it then weeks later I’d repeat the process and find a way to combine them together.

    TF2 brings along the problem of the map must be planned or will ultimately fail as a playable map. I don’t know the places for inspiration. I don’t have a good imagination for it nor know/understand any techniques. I want to be able to have a project planned out before even touching hammer if possible. Can any of you please shine some light on this subject for me?

    tl;dr
    I can’t plan maps for c**p. Can anyone help me, give any tips on planning?

    This is my first real post on here. I am sorry if it's in the wrong location.
     
  2. Laz

    Laz L7: Fancy Member

    Messages:
    461
    Positive Ratings:
    34
    get a big pile of paper, a magic marker or a pensil, or your own blood, and start drawing layouts ...

    think up intresting gameplay elements, what could be fun in a map? then try and link these together, without thinking how it will look, or how you will style it. "a cp on a tower", "payload moving through bottom of narrow canyon" "Intel on an island" just crap ideas

    draw lots and lots and lots, doesnt have to be arty, basic diagrams, alot of them will be crap, dont feel bad about this, its perfectly normal. as sooner as you have all the crap out of your system the sooner you'll have a good one every now and them.

    And rule n1 about creativity, do NOT be afraid of failing. it WILL happen, more then you will succeed. just part of the process.

    some basic rules on multiplayer maps though:
    every room must have at least 2 exits/entries. avoid dead ends. Avoid total chokepoints, make sure there is always at least 1 alternative route, and perhaps 1 way to switch routes halfway.

    Phil co. has written a book about level design, ( he now works for valve ) it not technical at all, and deals with all the basics for how to develop a map project, how to start one, and how to make sure you can manage and finish it. Written for the UT level editor, but also applicable to hammer. It is on my bookshelf, and I can highly recommend it to annyone who is intrested in leveldesign.

    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Level-Design-Games-Compelling-Experiences/dp/0321375971"]Amazon.com: Level Design for Games: Creating Compelling Game Experiences (New Riders Games): Phil Co: Books[/ame]
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 3
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2008
  3. Snipergen

    Snipergen L13: Stunning Member

    Messages:
    1,053
    Positive Ratings:
    150
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  4. luxatile

    aa luxatile deer

    Messages:
    2,289
    Positive Ratings:
    1,348
    Yeah, I do like Laz suggested: I draw tons of ideas (usually full overhead views...) on paper. Most of them are bad, but if I throw in a bunch of ideas that sound fun to me, I just...end up with something. I just let my thoughts flow out and eventually something good appears. I really can't explain it better than that. >.>
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  5. Hawk

    Hawk L7: Fancy Member

    Messages:
    419
    Positive Ratings:
    212
    Pretty good ideas so far. I've had my best luck deciding on a theme as mentioned before. Then that theme begins to dictate the design of the level. Sometimes that can raise challenges, like getting a good playable layout to work inside a pie factory, but that's kind of the fun part.

    The more I've designed for Team Fortress 2, the more I realize that a lot of the map design is governed by sentry guns. I've found that whether or not there are good sentry positions dictates how easy it is to capture a point. If the positions are too good, then it's too hard to capture the point. And the layout of the point and corridors leading to it will be affected by the range a sentry can reach, because a sentry that can be picked off from a distance is useless. All this because Engineers usually become the backbone of a team's defensive line.

    I've found myself planning control points in this order:

    - Distance from previous point and spawn points
    - Possible sentry locations
    - Corridors leading to point, and how they affect the sentry guns
    - Choke points and alternate paths
    - Ammo and Health pickups
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  6. Vander

    Vander L8: Fancy Shmancy Member

    Messages:
    507
    Positive Ratings:
    110
    I just bought that book from Amazon, thanks Laz!
     
  7. MrAlBobo

    MrAlBobo L13: Stunning Member

    Messages:
    1,059
    Positive Ratings:
    219
    Heh, ive recently started to design like this, though I look at it as uber vs sentry gun, as its never fun to have one uber destroy 3 sentries.

    Also...the steamforums thing is partially wrong about the theme...
    taken from the NPAR07_IllustrativeRenderingInTeamFortress2 pdf
    so...not all textures were handmade in photoshop...
     
  8. Scruffy.

    Scruffy. L1: Registered

    Messages:
    4
    Positive Ratings:
    0
    Thank you all for your help!

    I searched and found a box of wax crayons so I've spent most this evening doodling (I feel like I’m 5 but this is so much fun!) on paper different designs and I think I've actually come up with a couple of nice ones (and yes the fair whack of naff ones).

    I believe I will be purchasing a copy of the book you mentioned, it’ll give me something to read over the summer days.

    That planning tutorial you wrote was really useful, Snipergen. Thanks! I’ve bookmarked that thread and will be referring back to it often I believe.

    I’ve decided upon a CTF map (as this is my favourite game style) with a mine theme. From the doodles I’ve managed to make sense on I’ve got a nice “face” to the two connecting sides and think it will do good for collisions with 3 points of entry and shortcuts for scouts, sniper spots which are vulnerable to demo men and soldiers (looking into spies). I have a bad feeling that within the map, it will not be very good for Pyro’s and Spies as I do not often use these classes so do not understand what they require for play. Is it just hidey-holes and corners they use?

    Lots more doodling to do. It feels weird though - with some of the ideas I’ve drawn I want to go and play in hammer now now now.
     
  9. oxy

    oxy L5: Dapper Member

    Messages:
    208
    Positive Ratings:
    29
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  10. Arhurt

    Arhurt L6: Sharp Member

    Messages:
    316
    Positive Ratings:
    140
  11. luxatile

    aa luxatile deer

    Messages:
    2,289
    Positive Ratings:
    1,348
    Unexposed, low-traffic areas with lots of cover is good for both of those classes as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2008
  12. Laz

    Laz L7: Fancy Member

    Messages:
    461
    Positive Ratings:
    34
    Phil co recommend it to me personally when I emailed him some design questions :p

    that sounds to posh though, really he just told me: I explain it all much better in my book then I could in a mail. was a nice addition to my bookcase :)
     
  13. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

    Messages:
    5,436
    Positive Ratings:
    3,568
    Some things a lot of new mappers miss out.

    Vertical play. being able to jump down or even up to the enemy (with a rocket/double/pipe jump) adds a whole new element to the game play, a 3 dimensional quality that practically multiplies a maps replayablity 10 fold.

    boxes and barrels are a must for cover and eye candy.

    Zig zag your maps. This optimises your map very well and means snipers don't exploit your map. It gives ambush oppotunities for demo's and pyro's and allows the spy to tactically choose when and where to apply his cloak effectively.

    Doorways are good choke points, putting a building to break line of site adds a whole new aspect to a map, it can be defended and used as a forward positions for teleporters.

    Personally I don't add items untill after i've created a section of my map and thought "where will people run out of ammo?", "where will engineers need metal?". "Where will health be appreciated but not abused?". My maps rarely follow my sketched design anymore than 40% resemblance. You'll inevitably get scale issues and the like. Just roll with it and make sure to have high and low ground to fully immerse a player.
     
  14. Laz

    Laz L7: Fancy Member

    Messages:
    461
    Positive Ratings:
    34
    actually my concept sketches and finished work end up resembling alot :S
    Ill scan and take compare screenshots for you.

    about placing items, I just put em in where my guts tell, playtesting often tells me where better locations are
     
  15. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

    Messages:
    5,436
    Positive Ratings:
    3,568
    Mapping for HLDM my maps resembled my sketches a lot, maybe 70-80%, I usually get idea's and modify area's if i think it looks/plays better. I get idea's and work with the textures, i don't always get what i want and rework it.

    Mapping for DoD my maps ended up around 90% resemblance to my sketches, the play style of DoD is easy to map for and replicate. Atleast the simple 5 flag capture system is. Vertical play isn't much of an issue to cater for either.

    TF2.. tf2 is different. But i havn't much experience mapping for it. Most of my stuff starts off looking DoD style untill i modify it further. Atleast the second part of my current map looks more tf2 style but parts i wanted as cliffs have ended up buildings etc. Plus the game play i'm building my map to isn't a standard tf2 gameplay style. So i'm in unknown territory. The general layout remains about 90% but building placement and cliffs etc etc are barely what i had intended. They end up taller or with alleys etc etc.

    I'm having to change 8 years worth of mapping experience to cater for a new play style and theme. It would probably be different if all i knew was the gameplay and style of TF2, not having to adapt 8 years worth of mapping for other mods.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2008