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Advanced Mapping by Wraithlike

The purpose of this thread is to collect as much mapping knowledge in one place as possible. Anyone willing to write a section/essay is welcome. No need to ask, just post.

Beginners would do best clicking this, and coming back here for more advanced technique

The Mapping community has been going through a glorious revival, and there has been a large amount of maps by high-profile mappers released lately. And though some are good, or great even, there are some flaws that prevent them from being truly incredible maps.

This guide is for the puropse of teaching those flaws, and how to prevent them. Now, I shall begin.

There are three important facets of layout: Gameflow and Playability, Balance, and Originality.

[color=Red]Gameflow and Playability:[/color]
Gameflow is a maps allowance for fast smooth gameplay, for this to happen, a map must be easy to move in, relatively fast, and lack severe polybugs. The bust structure for movement is a gentle curve. (See Below)


This allows for an experienced player to jump repeatedly and build up more speed than from simply running. Proper use of curves is essential to creating a fast moving map. The other benefit, is that they can help provide cover and prevent spray.

It's is also nescessary to provide easy routes, and the ability to transition routes smoothly. This is best done again with a curve which leads to another route and allows for either a jump and jet to go one route, or a jump and prone dive or just a jump to use another. (See Below)


[color=Blue]Jump+Prone Dive[/color]

It's also essential to gameflow that one team isn't able to completely spawncamp a team, preventing them from proceeding quickly. There are multiple ways to avoid this, such as designing safe versatile spawns and preventing barret camping. (See Below)


[color=Yellow]Range without Colliders[/color]
[color=Red]Range With Colliders[/color]
Note the inability to properly barret camp with the colliders in place.

A safe spawn can also be made by providing a second viable route if the main one is being camped. (See Below)


[color=Pink]Main Route[/color]
[color=LimeGreen]Backup Route[/color]

Although not perfect, these two techniques can severely limit the ability of the enemy to spawncamp.

Another important factor in maintaining gameflow is to make sure you prevent polybugs. These are mose likely to occur on concave surfaces where vertices meet. This can be prevented by over lapping polygons instead of connecting them. (See Below)


It is also important to thoroughly think out where you'll put colliders and how they'll affect gameplay. They can be very effective for stopping spray and camping, and preventing nadespam if placed correctly, but can also be useless, or even hinder the player if they aren't used correctly. Although the placement varies from map to map, remember that in addition to stopping bullets, colliders also cause grenades to explode on contact, which can dramatically change gameplay.


Balance is the state when both teams have an even chance of winning. If a map is unbalanced, then is is essentially unplayable because when both teams are of equal ability, generally the team with the advantage of level design will always win. This should be avoided to the best of the mappers ability. The simplest way is to mirror the polygons, but even this isn't a perfect solution, nor is it the only solution.

Although not usually the case asymmetrical maps can be just as balanced as symmetrical ones. Two prime examples are Laos and Kampf.


(From Alpha's perspective.)

Notice how each side has equal nubers of advantages and disadvantages. These vary from tight or wide spaces to steep or vertical slopes which are hard to traverse.

Another important but often overlooked aspect of balance is scenery. If one side has no scenere thats large and easy to camp behind, then the other shouldn't. The image below demonstrates how scenery can unbalance a map. In the image, Alpha has one cactus thats not even the width of a soldat to hide behind, while Bravo has dense foliage.


Maps can't get away with just being balanced across the y-axis, balance of routes acrosse the x-axis is just as important. A route is useless to a map if it offers no advantage. The general formula on a three route map is top for height, middle for speed, and bottom for saftey. The pro's and cons of each are generally:




This of course will vary from map to map, but when making routes, you should consider the above factors. In the below figure, the bottom route is not balanced. this is because the opening under the bridge and large obstacle reduce the saftey and speed respectively.


Thats an example of bad route balance. The below is an example of very good route balance. Note how the tightness of the bottom route makes it much safer and protects Soldaten from spray and fire over a long range, and the middle does this to a much lesser extent, but the top route throws this away for teh advantage of being able to attack the enemy base from above.


Also note how the Middle route is much faster and more direct, while you have to take slight detours to traverse the bottom and top routes.

Nades and Medkits, from Eagles Arrow:
Nades and medis are no doubt one of the most important part of the gameplay, so placing them is no simple task.

Nades are usually located near player spawns, which is convenient and acceptable. Some maps include nades in the middle of the map, which is fine if it benefits the gameplay, but one must consider that if they take nades from their side, there's a chance that the nade will respawn in the middle of the map. In ctf_Maya, nades would accumulate in the middle of the low route most of the time, which may not hurt gameplay very much, but will leave players thinking, ����¯�¿�½������¢������¯������¿������½������¯������¿������½Damn, I need nades, and I gotta go low to get them, urrggh!����¯�¿�½������¢������¯������¿������½������¯������¿������½ So if needed, you could decrease the probability of nades spawning at the middle by placing more nade spawns near the player spawns.


Both sides have one nade spawn, so nades have an equal chance at spawning at either side.

[i]Now that there are more nadespawns in the right side, there's a greater chance that nades will spawn there.


Aaaand I was right.

The same thing goes for medikits.

Medikit placement varies depending on the map's layout. Should they be near the player spawns? How about near the flag? Usually, that's where they are placed, but sometimes it's more convenient at other locations. Take ctf_Steel, for example.


We have one medi spawn at the bottom route. Does that hurt the gameplay? Not at all! Having a medikit in the low route is a clever idea because it entices the flagger if he's wounded. Also, the low route is a dangerous one to take because it slows you down and pursuers can easily trap you. So escaping flaggers have two choices: go mid, outrun chasing enemies, and hope to god you won't die of spray or anything of the like; or go low, get a medikit, and face the enemy with a full bar of health.

The bottom line of medikit placement is that you must consider the scenarios that will most likely occur when playing the map. DO NOT place medikit spawns everywhere because that'll just make everything more disorganized, especially when you have a high medikit count. Choose a few locations that's convenient but not detrimental to gameplay and get it over with.
[/Eagles Arrow's Segment]

Suowarrior\'s Info About Medkit Errors.


The final facet of a map is originality. Just because you've covered all the bases mentioned above doesn't mean you've made a great map. You may have made a playable map, but it can still be completely dull. Lots of layouts have already been created, and a good deal of them are in the default line-up, so if you want to make a map that matches up, you have to give it your own touch, and do something special. For example, I tend to make layouts based on fast exciting gamyplay with the focus on quick manic games. To do this, I integrate the player spawns into the main routes and the flag spawns, so that a player will be thrust right into the game. (See Image Below)


[color=LimeGreen]Upper Route[/color]
[color=Yellow]Middle Route[/color]
[color=Red]Lower Route[/color]

In other cases, I make the spawns right next to the flag, but make escape easy with proper teamwork, in the case below It's by making a flag throw through the Only Players Collide Polys at teh back of the base.


[color=Red]Attack Routes[/color]
[color=Yellow]Escape Route[/color]
[color=LimeGreen]Flag Throw[/color]

In a third example; the map is made so you can quickly change routes, and have a large amount of mobility. I do this by adding a large number of places where you can choose from 2 different directions when jumping.


[color=LimeGreen]Upper Route[/color]
[color=Pink]Middle Route[/color]
[color=Blue]Lower Route[/color]

These are only a few different examples. Other maps that use pioneering new techniques are:
My ctf_Raspberry
My ctf_Babel
Demonic's ctf_Golem
Suowarrior's ctf_Guardian
Suowarrior's ctf_X
Suowarrior's ctf_Silence
Eagles Arrow and Wraithlike's ctf_Strawberry
Eagles Arrow's ctf_Tension
Eagles Arrow's ctf_Artep
MisterCharles' ctf_Csokol
Rambo_6 + Cookie's ctf_Mao
Mar77a's ctf_Roundabout

Thats it for the section on layout, for now. I might make changes and add as need, and as I become a better mapper, and gain more experience to pass on. I'll be adding more sections in the future regarding Scenery and Poly Placement as well as shading, texture stretching, waypointing, more advice regarding gametypes other than ctf, and whatever else I can think of. I hope you've enjoyed it this far.

Subject 2: Scenery

Scenery is like the seasoning on a map. Even if you create a really wondreful layout, and even shade it well, bad scenery can ruin it completely, but good scenery can compliment a good map perfectly. There are three points to remember when scenerizing a map:

Gameplay Effect.

[color=Red]Gameplay Effect:[/color]
Although most don't realize it, scenery can be very influential on gameplay and on the balance of a map. The main effect it has is on camping and visibility, and if done inproperly, it can make a map nigh unplayable. The easiest way to look at scenery is by the degree of it's effect on gameplay. Here's an example of all three types.


[color=Red]High - Large effect on gameplay.[/color]
[color=Yellow]Mid - Medium effect on gameplay.[/color]
[color=LimeGreen]Low or None - Little or no effect on gameplay.[/color]

The Bunker has a large effect on gameplay, because it is midlevel, so the player can hide behind it, and is completely opaque. Thus a player crouching or proning behind it has the ability to completely hide and camp from there. Scenery like this should be avoided, and should be incredibly sparse if they even are in the map.

The two bushes on the right have a moderate effect on gameplay, because although you can hide behind them, they have gaps that partially expose the player at all times. Additionally, the bush on the far right is set to 90% opacity, so a moving or even neutral player should be at least somewhat noticeable behing it.

The remaining two, the bushes on the left and the Tree in the middle barely affect gameplay. The ones on the left are set to back, so their presense is merely asthetic. The tree in the center is a different case, because although it is set to middle, and is fully opaque, there is no way to completely hide one's soldat, and thus it's effect on gameplay is minimal.

Although back scenery are usually safe from effecting gameplay, this is not always the case. If misused, background sceneries can have the severe negative effect of making it difficult to see bullets due to lack of contrast. This makes one vulnerable to snipers and attacks from behind, and couses general confusion. Below is an example of what should generally be avoided.


Visuals like this should be generally avoided, because they make gameplay quite unpleasant. The same concept applies for background colors, which can be just as bad as scenery for causing this.

Look forward to part 2 coming soon...

Why Open-ness Does Not Equal Spray, a mini-tutorial by Wraithlike:


[color=Red]Alpha Player[/color]
[color=Blue]Bravo Player[/color]
[color=Yellow]Auto Fire[/color]

In the upper pic, Alpha is firing in a tight enclosed area, he can keep firing until he runs out of ammo, because the small area provides the bravo players no place for cover, and little oppertunity of escape, and with ricochets, they're in ever more danger. As demonstrated in the picture, The Alpha can hit a player anywhere without accounting for range or having to aim more than a few degrees.

In the lower pic, on the other hand, the open area gives Bravo a huge area to dodge, and forces Alpha to have to aim, and limit their fire to account for bink. Thus the situation is not sprayable.

A good map balances these both.


More to come...


Written by jrgp on November 09, 2008 @ 12:32 AM




It's 2018. Looking forward to Steam release?

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Last: 01/02/2021 @ 05:37 AM

jrgp says: Whoa it's Doc776! Good to see you!

Doc says: *from the grave* /poke

NamelessWolf says: In perspective the map wasn't good at all, but I made something. Haha :)

jrgp says: Nice to see you Ivel :) I'm committed to keeping this site up forever. Also really cool map Wolf ;D

NamelessWolf says: Check out the map I just uploaded! https://tms.jrgp.org/2010/?map=1884

NamelessWolf says: lvel said it right. I also love that this site is up and running.

Ivel says: i love that this still exists.

Ivel says: yoooo

The_Ghost says: 2020 :P

darDar says: TMS > Steam Workshop :P


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