Order of Operation

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Tryhard Trevor, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. Tryhard Trevor

    Tryhard Trevor L1: Registered

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    This isn't really a question about an issue I'm having, so sorry if it's in the wrong place. My question is, what order do you normally complete tasks in the map design process? Do you normally design a map on paper, and then create it in hammer, or do just start mapping and see what comes out? Do you typically create the map with dev textures first, or do you just get straight to design? Most important to me: When is a good time to optimize your map? Should I optimize it before or after I start working on the visual aspect of the map?
     
  2. Luigi1000

    Luigi1000 L2: Junior Member

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    I guess that honestly depends on the person and how much experience they have. More experienced people could just jump in after thinking of an idea and a bit of a layout and design around it, where as a less experienced person may take some time and plan things out (However most of them just jump in and do what they like which by all means isn't a bad thing for getting them use to the environment and tools they have to work with).

    I personally do a kind of hybrid where I have a general rough idea on some paper and some key notes which I use to make/modify parts of the map I'm making, regarding textures it depends on the area, if I know something which will look good or match the theme I will use it but if I don't ill place some dev until I have an idea of what I can possibly use. Optimization honestly I believe should be a recursive thing, during every major change to your map I would look around and see if there is some kind of change or optimization I could make to make both play and compile time go down just a bit. With regards to if you should optimize or work on visual aspects I would do a mix where you may do some visuals, then some optimization and then some more visuals.

    However this is presuming that you have the general layout and structure for your map down. Sure things can and do indeed change, but its important to keep your layout as the main thing to do before you work on art aspects, or optimization.
     
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  3. killohurtz

    aa killohurtz Distinction in Applied Carving

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    How you plan a map is really up to personal preference. Some people like to draw, others make rough block-outs in Hammer, and some people just make it up as they go. Find out what works best for you and go with it.

    When you get to the actual map creation part, there are some unspoken guidelines. Most people will recommend starting out with dev textures and working on a larger grid size - this helps keep your layout simple and easy to adjust, and saves you the trouble of possibly deleting or moving detail work you've already done. Once you've refined the layout to your satisfaction, then you can focus on making it look good.

    "When to optimize" sort of goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Try to design your layout from the ground up so that optimization will be easier down the road. For an alpha, the easiest things to keep in mind are 1) minimizing long lines of sight across the map, 2) dividing it up into smaller sections, and 3) sticking to a 64u grid for the basic shapes. Starting with optimization in mind will save you time and headaches when you get to more advanced techniques like hinting and areaportals.
     
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  4. MrHatlf

    MrHatlf engineer main, majoring in exploiting

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    The only answer of when to optimize is when players been to complain about FPS drops.
     
  5. Xi.Cynx

    aa Xi.Cynx Former Alias: †Blade†

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  6. Oatmeal

    Oatmeal L2: Junior Member

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    Make rough dev texture blocks to represent the buildings and such without caring much about clipping, so you can run through the map and get a feeling for the later gameplay, sightline issues and travel times (like from spawn to mid). Move the blocks around until everything feels right. Use the cordon tool to seal the map. Ignore detailing and textures at this stage. Place prop_statics with character models (like models/player/heavy.mdl ) everywhere to get the scale of everything right, this is important because it's hard to fix scaling issues after you've started detailing (Something I have learned the hard way).

    You want player feedback as early as possible. Once you have the layout, do some basic detailing like displacement floors, pick a nice skybox and light_environment so you can get the map tested on a gameday or IMP. Place spawn doors and the mechanics that are necessary to actually play the map. Add some ghost lights in dark rooms. Test the game mechanics yourself before publishing the test version so you don't waste everyones time. Fix the issues that are brought up in the play tests and repeat that a few times until people stop complaining or get horribly annoyed by having to play your map again and again. Then you can start making things pretty.
     
  7. MegapiemanPHD

    aa MegapiemanPHD Doctorate in Deliciousness

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    The best thing to keep in mind is to hold off detailing for last. It sucks to delete an area you put a bunch of time into detailing cause it dosn't work out gameplay wise. Mostly focus on gameplay before anything else.
     
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  8. Lain

    aa Lain Resident wrong opinion holder

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    Optimisation isn't something you just 'apply' to a map, Optimization is a thing you have to keep in mind throught the whole mapping experience. If you don't you'll end up in a situation like Suijin or Mountainside, having to force extreme Optimization on a map that wasn't made for it to get a stable fps on most systems.
     
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