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What Makes A Good Map
- A Tutorial for Counter-Strike: Source.
What Makes A Good Map
By: Windows 98
It has come to my attention that a good majority of the map making community are n00bs. I'm not saying that is bad. But for us more advanced mappers, it is annoying to see maps that are submitted with minimal effort, poor lighting, no displacements, and so on and so forth. This tutorial will outline everything makes a good map, this is a good tutorial for any n00bs, or any advanced mappers that want to see if they missed anything in their maps.
Theme: First of all. Before you start anything, you are going to want to make sure your map has a theme. Don't be putting textures and models willy nilly. Make it all tie together and look proper. Try to stay away from the "dust theme". It is overplayed to much.
Size: Your map needs to be the right size. It can't be to big, or to small. Maps that are to big make it hard for the player to learn the level, and also makes a large BSP file that no one wants to download. Maps that are too big also end up with people awping constantly, instead of the gameplay you intended. Maps that are to small, like fy_iceworld, are a little to boring and repetitive. It is hard to move around in often. The combat is so close whats the point of trying to snipe. Also small maps tend to have a very poor layout.
Layout: Is the layout done properly? Is it made so that the CTs and the Ts meet at around the same distance from spawn? The place where CTs and Ts meet should be fairly wide open, like the market in cs_italy. You don't want CTs and Ts to be able to see eachother in the main converging point from too far away, like the long hall in cs_italy. Long awping hallways should be secondary converge points that campers can watch, for when the opposing force breaks through, or decides not to go the "main" way. Layout should not be to boxy. Never just make a box and fill it in with junk (make a killbox). Killboxes are old, not very fun after a lot of rounds, and usually are low detail. There should be about 2-3 option routes for each team to take. Don't let everything get to crowded, spread things out a bit, but not make it to large at the same time.
Appearance: No one wants a low detailed map. Put a lot of effort into your map. A good variety of textures is always nice. But remember to keep them in tune with the theme of the map. Effects such as rain, or snow always makes a map look better. Dust in old rickey places is a nice effect also. Decals should be used in the proper amount depending on the place you are using them. Don;t put to many decals in one place otherwise it will loko very unnatural. But don't not put to many, because then it will look repetitive.
Using models makes your map look much better then just brush based objects. Models should not be used as fillers for empty spaces. Try to tie in the models to the gameplay if possible, and make sure all the models look fluent and have a purpose. It also helps to use bumpmapping, and displacements to make everything look more real.
Displacements: Make sure thta your map has displacements. Displacements make the ground much more realistc, and can be also used for gameplay. Displacements can also be used to spice up your map, such as making caves. Using the Y axis with a displacement to make a cave is better then just a stupid hole in a wall.
Texturing: Aligning textures with the face edit tool (texture application tool it is called sometimes) is essential to a map. Make sure all your textures line up well with eachother. Try to keep the textures appropriate to the map theme. Don't put a brick wall in one room then in the other have wood, that just doesn't work. The textures should not be repetive, and should look natural to the player, decals help witht hat a bit, but texturing is still a very important part of a map.
Z-Axis: Make you map with a lot of Z-Axis. The Z-Axis is the verticalness of a brush or model. Make bridges over pathways. Make stairs that go up to towers. Make underground pathways. Whatever you need to do, try to have as much Z-Axis inccorperated to the layout as possible. No one likes a flat map where they know where all the enemies can be coming from, and don't have to keep looking up or down to make sure someone isn't sneeking up on them.
Sniper Spots: Yes, most maps have them. But don't over saturate your map with them. Make them in appropriate places, where the option of a sniper will effect gameplay. Such as the long hallway looking to the bathrooms in cs_office. If theres a sniper ther, you have to go around because it'd be hard to kill him and get by. Snipers might seem like a "pussy" gun, but snipers also add gameplay to a map, and a map should be made so that the snpers can change the whole round around, and make plans fall apart and so on. That's why the game is fun, you can't always plan for everything.
Lighting: Put some effort into your lighting. Try not to make completely black areas, and try not to make a map that's completely lit up. Lighting effects how well a player can see, therefore adding startegy. Players will group up in darker places for backup. So make sure you take into account for that when desgining the layout. Lighting can also make bland brushwork seem interesting, and textures seem more real. Spend a good deal of time lighting your map, it matters.
Optimization: Everyone loves a map with goof frames per second. Make sure you optimize with the nodraw texture on surfaces you won't see to improve framerate. Also use the func_detail entity to make your map compile faster.
Camping Spots: Yes we all get mad at campers sometimes. But that's one of the best ways to get kills. The players don't need to rush every round, and can stay back and wait for unsuspecting pray to walk in. Make sure you have plenty of camping spots in your map to make players stay on their feet, and make every round different.
Originality: Try to make your map as original as possible. There are plenty of fy_iceworld remakes already out there guys. If you are goign to do a remake of a map, make sure you ad a twist to it, or a great improvement. Because why should they play your map if they can play the same thing on a better server? Try to do something no one else has done before, it will pay off with more people playing your map.
Objectives: Your map should have a purpose. Make a bomb site, give the Ts a reason to be bombing this map. Make hostages, give Ts a reason to be kidnapping these poeple.
Cubemaps: Cubemaps are essential to making a map. It makes your lighting look much better. It makes your hands work well with the lighting. And can be used to make things more shiny (like walls).
NAV Files: Make a custom NAV file. A NAV file is what the bots can do on the map. Not everyone plays with a full server all the time. A generated generic NAV leaves bots being stupid and getting stuck on things and such.
TXT Files: Make a TXT file (text file) along with your map. All you have to do is name it the same as your map name and include it in the download. It will make the objectives for the Ts and CTs pop up on the side while your picking teams. It is also a great way to advertise a website or sign the map, rather then making a big ass brush based sign of your name.
Custom Conetent: Try to make custom textures or custom models. It makes your map differn't from others. Custom models can be used to make your map better looking, and custom textures can be used the same way, or to sign a map.
So all in all make your map so that people WANT to download your map.
I probably did leave something out, so if I did please let me know. And if you have any other ideas please let me know.
Awesome tutorial, and alot of good information, although i knew most of it already.
This tutorial made me want to spend a lot of time, on a detailed map, with many possibilities for different rounds, some custom textures, and maybe custom models.
Thanks for the tutorial!
Pros: It is very Detailed, and I can use this for my further mapping. It will help a lot of people if they read this
Improvements: Just fix spelling mistakes, and it's good to go!
Notes: I started not to long ago at mapping, and this will probably help me make my maps. I am very glad you made this
Pros: Overall very useful, for mappers of all levels (except for the Masters).
Cons: Lot's of spelling mistakes.
Improvements: Fix the spelling mistakes
Notes: All mappers that are begginers, or intermediate, and even some experienced ones should read this tutorial.
Pros: Its all true
Cons: you left out generic sounds, such as the motor of the truck in de_train, or the processors near Site B, and...interactive enviroment, such as the flowerpots on de_inferno, or the cabinents in cs_office that people seem to always like knocking over to block the door against ct's ...i mean having things in the map that can be blown around or shot at, even the bell's on inferno fit.
Improvements: add the sections i mentioned if youre up to it... (doh)
Notes: I apply all of these to my map making and i noticed the closer you are to finishing a themed map, the more restricted new props / rooms / etc are and i get bored with it only to start a whole new map and never finish the one i started =(
Pros: Very helpful, includes all that needs to be in a map
Cons: a few typing errors
Improvements: change the typing errors :)
Notes: very useful for everyone who still hasn't quite got the hang of making excellent maps, well done!!