Planning out a map?

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Portalboat, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Portalboat

    Portalboat L1: Registered

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    I've started numerous mapping projects, but all of them have failed, and I'm quite sure that it's because I didn't have a well drawn out plan for them.

    I just don't know where to start with making a plan. I guess I need some help with TF2 mapping theory in general.
     
  2. Sgt Frag

    Sgt Frag L14: Epic Member

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    There are loads of good articles in the Tuts section. A lot of them deal with theory, size, gameplay, whatnot.

    I usually draw quick little sketches but never get to involved. Drawing something on paper and getting it right is just as hard as blocking out with brushes imo. But sketches are good just to get an idea down, then have it there for later in case you forget, are think of something else.

    I think first you gotta think of what you want to do. Pick a setting. You don't really want to build your map around to strict of a setting, but if you have no idea it's harder to think of things that would fit and how to use them.

    exp: If you want to build a lumberyard, you gotta think of stuff like...
    Where are my saws going to go? Where will train tracks be?
    If you start building a sawmill then decide you want a brewery, might be hard to squeeze that into the same space/shape.

    But it's mostly about game play. So you also need to know what kind of map you want to make. PL has a moving dispenser which gives blu an advantage, so more choke points can work and you want to stick to one main path. If it's Gpit style you need 3 fighting areas with paths between.

    Keep it loose, work in Dev tex so you're not distracted by details.

    Place spawn points for character size reference, and door frames are good too.

    Study Valve maps of the type you want to make. They might not be perfect, but they are pretty darn good so using them as guidelines is a lot easier than guessing and crossing fingers. Use them for sizes, lengths, etc..
     
  3. Loc_n_lol

    Loc_n_lol L10: Glamorous Member

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    Start hammer. Throw a bunch of random brushes together. Take to gameday. Huge success. :D

    Personally I barely plan ahead on paper, for better or worse, it just doesn't work for me, there's no sense of scale, no z-axis on a sheet of paper, and if I'm going to take the time to make sure it is to scale and define precisely the height levels, I might as well start hammer and make up a very rough 1st draft, that's easier for me.

    What I do however, is draw general map ideas on paper : objective positions, pathes (simply arrows), fighting areas (large squares), while taking into account major visblocking requirements. Before I do that I generally have a vague idea of the theme of the map and a few specific ideas I'd like to put into the map. Then I build it as I go, loosely sticking to the plan I put on paper.

    You're never going to hit the spot with your first alpha anyway, there will be a lot of stuff that you didn't think of, or that didn't turn out like you expected, and you will need to make changes, sometimes large changes, so planning too far ahead isn't the best idea IMO.

    Now to give you any specific advice... We'd need to know what you tried, why you think it failed, and what you want to do now...
    There's also plenty of interesting reads in the tutorials section.

    And well... Frankly, if you think your map is not working and you want to give it up and start something new, that's not unreasonable. Sometimes, the only way to truly fix a map is to start over because there is a fundamental flaw in it. There's no receipe for a perfect map, and if there was they would all play the same. You need to experiment and learn for yourself what works and what doesn't. Different players also have different tastes, you're never going to please everyone, it's up to you to decide who you want your map to appeal to : as many players as possible ? competitive players ? terrible players ? yourself and your friends ?
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
  4. Dragonstorm24

    Dragonstorm24 L4: Comfortable Member

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    I usually think of various scenarios and scenes that would make good maps then choose one of them. Then I think about that idea for a while til I've formulated a good way to approach it in map form and what game mode it would be best suited for. Then I do some sort of crude sketch and start work in Hammer off of that. I then make it into a playable map with dev textures and test different elements of it and get it to an alpha format.
     
  5. Portalboat

    Portalboat L1: Registered

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    Well I was trying to base the map off of the Land of Heat and Clockwork from MSPA, and I think the reason it was failing was because it was 1. it's too open, and 2. we haven't seen a lot of it so far.
     
  6. REEJ

    REEJ L7: Fancy Member

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    make a few sketches on a piece of paper, think it through, draw next one until satisfied - that's pretty much planning

    and btw, making bad maps equals insufficient experience, every next one is going to be a step better, if you don't give up you're bond to get good at it
     
  7. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    For me, planning comes mostly in the form of looking at everything and anything until an idea arrives from somewhere.
     
  8. Mr. P. Kiwi

    Mr. P. Kiwi L5: Dapper Member

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    I recommened, as everyone else has, to first sketch it on paper. Once you have your alpha ready, there is no need to sketch anymore, only hammer it.
    A good sketch, I think, comes when I'm not thinking on what I should do for a map. I start drawing random boxes and rectangles that are connected in my math notebook, and voilla! It turns out to be a design for a map, then I just make it gameplay wise, and then I never finish it - but that's a different problem...
    Something like this:
    [​IMG]
    Now I only need to build it.
     
  9. Wilson

    aa Wilson Burial by Sleep

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    All i do is do rough planning in my head and then just map.
     
  10. ardysqrrl

    ardysqrrl L4: Comfortable Member

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    I can't draw in 3d so I just plan things in hammer :blushing:
     
  11. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    sketching it out on paper is one thing but what's just as important is understanding horizontal vs vertical scale, damage falloff, sentry aggro distance and spawn to objective distances/timing; and to a lesser degree, ammo and health drops.

    It's all fine drawing a layout, but if you cannot predict to at least a reasonable degree how the gameplay will play out it's pot luck on whether your layout will actually work.

    See my signature for some helpful tutorials, particularly, that of scale (first link in the list).
     
  12. RafaMann

    RafaMann L1: Registered

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    I´m new into maps myself, so this post helped me a lot.
    I´m an Architect and when I design a project it has some similarities with what the guys said.
    But, according to what I read, maybe you should have a couple of sketches of your idea, just let your mind lose for a while, and then modify that result according to the requirements for the proper gameplay that you want to accomplish.
     
  13. REEJ

    REEJ L7: Fancy Member

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    Whenever I read an article written by professionals in game design, they always mention drawing stuff (and really, they sketch just as badly as an ordinary person does :rolleyes: )

    So draw, write some numbers - how tall is what, mark the elevated parts with different color or shade. Planning does not have to look tidy nor impressive, it is for your own use.
     
  14. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    Never plan on paper, always but always get scale wrong and end up with unoptimisable messes (long tiny sightlines that run for ages only blocked by props) or over engineered navigation nightmares in attempts to optimize on paper.

    As a result I always work straight into hammer. Often times I copy/paste key bits (just 10 or so brushes that define the form of the area) from other maps (or even my own old abandoned maps) that I want it to be like then throw down some brushes of my own to quickly block out an area.

    The advantage of going straight to brushes is you know instantly if you can optimize an area and as long as you're paying attention, you never end up with those tiny cracks that let you see for miles and miles if you stand in just the right spot. It also enables me to gauge scale since I can throw down a billion heavy models and sentries with 1024 unit fade distances. Also I can never do multiple layers on paper, everything ends up ultra-flat.

    I do try to imagine what everything is when I block it out in dev textures and I store that in the back of my mind for later though I'll openly admit a lot of the times things are just 'Building' or 'obstacle of x,y,z dimensions' where I just think 'stuff it' and work out what it is later.



    Note: my approach isn't for everyone (as pointed out by the above posters)
     
  15. Psy

    aa Psy The Imp Queen

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    I always start with paper despite the fact that everytime my design will turn into something COMPLETELY different and unrecognisable from the original idea. It's always a case of building what I thought would work, realising that it's not going to work and that it is, in fact, terrible, then taking it in a different and much better direction.

    But despite that I believe a paper design is a good way to keep on track with what you're doing as it gives you a vision and a goal to work towards which always helps when doing anything creative.
     
  16. Godslayer57

    Godslayer57 L8: Fancy Shmancy Member

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    Two very Differnent approches from two people whom's maps have gone 'Offical'
     
  17. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    i like planning on paper just to not forget stuff. Mostly my ideas are mental only, due to my "Fever Dream" inspiration style.
     
  18. gamemaster1996

    gamemaster1996 L13: Stunning Member

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    Basically when im ment to be working at school i'll occasionally think, i might start a new mapping project (by the way none of them seem to have succeeded except my most recent one which isn't finished yet but to me it's looking good). When i think this i take out my doodle pad flick past the Anime Charachters and Draw an overhead view of it with some labels and Symbols that i understand.
    Then i go ahead and make it :D
     
  19. Jimmy Nicholls

    Jimmy Nicholls L2: Junior Member

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    There's a vast array of different ways to use planning here. It really is a case of what works for you. The map I'm currently worked out I drew a rough layout of what I wanted and went in and planned all the buildings (less effort then it sounds given its a symmetrical KOTH). Already I've deviated from my plan, but I'm glad I did it as I wouldn't have known where to start without it.