Stormy's mapping notes

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Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Black_Stormy » Sat May 18, 2013 6:02 am

I'm going to start this thread so I have one spot I can place all my mapping related notes for myself and posterity. I know I'm fresh on the scene but I think there's a few things that will help people that haven't been clarified yet.

DAB specific dimensions
vaulting over stuff
The vault is a good gameplay tool that can allow you to limit interruptions to player movement. The maximum size brush you can vault over is 44 units (maybe 45 but let's stick to twos). The smallest size brush that will initiate a vault is 20 units. It's important to remember the minimum since you might be initiating vaults where you don't mean to and since there is a small movement punishment for the vault you may want to steer clear of it. To help with this I made a dev texture:

Image
I know I wrote 'slide' instead of vault. I can change it if you reeealllly want me to.

It's in the dropbox under materisl>stormy>dev>dev_measureslide or you can download it here. Extract to your mod directory or place the vmt and vtf files in [modfolder]/materials/stormy/dev. To use in hammer, simply filter for dev in the texture screen and it will show up alongside the stock dev textures

Sliding under stuff
Sliding under stuff is fun and can add to the flow of a level by providing paths and dynamics unexpected by the player. The minimum clearance a player needs to be able to slide under something is 26 units (maybe 25 but I like to keep things in twos). I didn't make a dev texture for this since it would be kinda unwieldy to use but if someone really wants one I can do one up.

General mapping dimensions
The dev textures already define some things like crates, doors, hallways etc, but there are some other general dimensions you should adhere to in order to make your maps conform to normal human dimensions in game and to make them intrinsically more believable. Judging by the maps already in the game, some of you haven't read these links. Read them, bookmark them, keep them safe.

The VDC - The basics, definitely necessary reading
Link 1 - The first version, bretty good
Link 3 - More recent, pretty pictures. Some of the dimensions differ a tad but they're still pretty close and a good guide. I generally use this one.

I'll add to this later maybe. Feel free to add any info you have come across.
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Dementei » Sat May 18, 2013 7:32 pm

The vaulting is pretty recent so none of the maps have been made for proper vaultage, also 44 units seems pretty high, that's more than half of the player at 36. Also most of the maps besides rooftops, jahhu streets, druglab, and sacred were made in quite the rush from a couple years ago just so we had maps to play on. I don't think any of them are made with perfect scale. Don't forget about clipping stairs either. Thanks for the effort btw.
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Black_Stormy » Sat May 18, 2013 8:13 pm

Yeah this is more for myself or people who want to make new maps/edit the existing ones. If the vault gets changed during testing I'll update the texture easy peasy. I agree it is pretty high. Also thanks for reminding me - clipping stairs is a personal gripe of mine. Here's a quick rundown of it for those who want:
Make your stairs first, 8 units high by 16 units deep for each step.
Once the flight is finished, I'll usually copy the bottom step and hit the texture tool to apply the 'clip' material (not player clip, not nodraw) to the entire brush. It's important that all faces of this brush have the one clip texture applied.
Then I usually scale it up to the same height as the staircase (by looking at the flight from the front it is easy to line up). Once it is level I go to side view and shear the clip brush across so the top face lines up with the top face of the top step of the staircase. Then I'll usually go into vert mode (shift+v) and line the verts up so that the diagonal face of the clip brush runs perfectly down the top of the stairs.

I'd like to point out right now that my experience with hammer is extremely low. It's bang in the 'early beginner' stages, there's just certain things I have picked up about design and optimization from working with mod teams and lurking the hell out of interlopers. I MAEK A MODUL??

Another thing I would like to add is for those who would like to make textures for use in hammer. Hammer aligns its textures to the world space so if you make a 256x256 texture image, 2 pixels is 1 unit in game at default texture scale.
I'm not sure if a 512 image therefore means that 1 pixel is one unit or if it is still 2 pixels, I'm not sure if hammer scales its textures down to a uniform size or anything.
This is mostly important for dev textures which I think you can usually get away with being 256 anyway so 2 pixels at 256x256 resolution is 1 unit in hammer.

Lastly, it seems that the ep2 models are not available in DAB. I'm not sure if there are plans to port them across or make them available - it may bloat the download of DAB unnecessarily. Just to be safe, stick to HL2 stock models when mapping, at least until you do your proper detail passes and can pack your map. Can anyone clarify this?
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Dementei » Sun May 19, 2013 7:32 pm

Yea whenever I used EP2 models and materials, I would just pick them out of the gcf and put in the bsp, after I was done with the map I would extract the bsp into the dab dropbox folder so no need to pack the bsp and everyone could use that content. Actually I am going to start using CSS content and possibly CSGO by extracting their gcfs into my HL2 folder then it will be very easy to just pack them up to test map.
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Black_Stormy » Sun May 19, 2013 8:11 pm

That makes sense. Means you don't have a bunch of superfluous models, just the stuff you have actually used. I'll have to learn about packing and unpacking bsp now.
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Dementei » Sun May 19, 2013 9:31 pm

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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby shmopaloppa » Mon May 20, 2013 1:53 am

why don't you call the other stormy 'white stormy'
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Black_Stormy » Mon May 20, 2013 2:21 am

^ This guy knows what's up.
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Black_Stormy » Mon May 20, 2013 7:13 am

Ok so maybe don't do this yet, I am getting errors that I can't fix. Will do some further testing.

ProTip: show
AND YOU WILL LOOK ON ME AS I WERE A GOD!

Found out how to integrate hammer with Double Action. This means you select DAB as your game in SDK, and the materials and models are loaded from the folders in your DAB directory. You will also compile to your DAB directory when you run your map. Here's how to do it (I'm really going to break it down in case of ultra noobs, you experienced guys will have no problems).

Add DAB to SDK
1. Open SDK and change the engine to "Source Engine MP"
2. Click on "Edit Game Configurations"
3. Click on "Add"
4. Type in "Double Action: Boogaloo" to the Name box (because the abbreviated DAB looks stupid as fuck in the SDK sreen)
5. Click "Browse"
6. Browse to your dab folder (steam/steamapps/sourcemods/dab) and hit "Select" (sometimes this button has messed up text, it's the one second from the right, or the middle one, since there is only three buttons).
7. Hit "OK"
8. Hit "OK"
9. Restart SourceSDK
You should now be able to select "Source Engine MP" in the engine version box and "Double Action: Boogaloo" in the current game box. If not, do the whole process again. I had to try it with two other engine branches before I settled on Source Engine MP but I assume it should work for everyone.

Make Hammer play nice
1. Go into your gameinfo.txt (located in you dab folder - steam/steamapps/sourcemods/dab) and open it in notepad
2. Under "File System" change the SteamAppId from whatever it is (218 I think mine was) to 320. ToolsAppId should already be 211, if not then change it.
3. Save and start hammer.
You can now map using all the materials and models in your dab directory. One issue I have is running the game on compile, I don't have HL2DM installed so steam attempted to install it. I assume it will run this after compile so just hit "don't run game after compile" and run it manually from the taskbar. Load your map by typing in the console "map <yourmapname>"

Don't mention it ;)
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Black_Stormy » Thu May 30, 2013 11:14 pm

Playing around on a few of the maps and I think it's pretty clear that wide open areas are more fun to play on. Unfortunately source doesn't like wide open areas, so I'm trying to think of a few ways to mitigate the lag. But first, more stuff to avoid in dab maps.

Physics props
It might just be the fact that I have a 300ms ping but physics props are a pain in the ass for me. The vault attempts to roll over them while vphysics attempts to have the player kick them out of the way. They also lag when diving or sliding into them, causing choppy unwanted behavior. A very prominent part of the gameplay in dab is smooth movement. I get a little rage every time I go for a dive and am stopped by a well placed barrel/crate.
Fix?
Instead of using physics props, change them to static props (duh). But if you do want some physics props in order to emulate carnage, make them small debris type props that don't collide with the player, or that don't alter the players movement when they do collide. Try to avoid using the default barrels and crates, since these are recognised by the player as physics props, and could cause some confusion when they don't move.

Falling down holes
I played on da_city for a little while and it feel like it has the potential to be really fun, but I kept sliding off the edge. I think it's fair that a player should dive off the edge, but an unfortunate slide seems like a bad reason to punish them.
Fix?
Unless that is what you want in your map, remember to put stoppers along your cliff edges. Same goes for connecting walkways, I hardly ever manage to slide along a walkway perfectly down the middle, and since you can't change the direction of your slide, it's probably going to be better to have something to stop you sliding off the edge of most walkways.

Dead ends
Dead ends and pointless rooms are no fun and waste resources. Dab is more about constantly moving through the environment, not so much about rewarding exploration. Empty rooms and dead ends break the game flow too much.
Fix?
Avoid dead ends in your maps.

Now, about that lag. Optimization is a big part of source mapping, so it's important to have an understanding of how it works and how to do it. Open areas like da_rooftoops are going to be essentially impossible to truly optimize, but there's a lot of small things you can do that will add up, and might squeeze an extra frame here or there. For starters, you can use the buildings to generate visleafs. If I am on one side of a building, I only need to see everything on my side. Using hint brushes, there is a few ways you can ensure that the player doesn't render behind buildings.

You can hint off a visleaf that travels along with the walls of the building, ensuring that the player won't see the other side, like this (red is the building, purple are hints):
Image
The problem with this approach is that there is only one visleaf that the engine won't render, that is the one exactly opposite the player. If you are on a diagonal to the building, you're going to be rendering a bunch of stuff you can't possibly see, because the visleafs are squares. So you can put 4 more hint faces in like this:
Image
Now you have more visleafs, which means more ways to block vision from the player. Of course, this also means that you have a lot more visleafs, so there is going to be a bit more of a compile time and, if you go overboard, it will most likely lower the fps as the engine has to spend more and more on visleaf tracking. You'll want to weight up how much this is going to block off from the player and decide for yourself if it is worth it in each case.

I'm still new to optimization so take this with a grain of salt. there's probably better ways to do this, or good reasons not to do it this way at all.
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby shmopaloppa » Fri May 31, 2013 4:17 am

re: physics props
I totally agree with this.. There are probably some steps that could be taken codewise to make these work a little better but it would be a huge pain in the ass. Also you'll notice that TF2 maps never have dynamic phys props.. I suspect there's a reason for this! Perhaps in official maps we simply shouldn't use them.
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Vino » Fri May 31, 2013 12:01 pm

We should be okay pingwise if we stick to prop_phys_multiplayer, but I don't want to get rid of them completely, for the aesthetic value. They weren't so bad before vaulting, although they were still a pain. Maybe we can make some clever solution to get them back in our graces? I would be sad to see them go.
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby shmopaloppa » Fri May 31, 2013 10:04 pm

they're really buggy and even without the vaulting they break up the movement if you try to actually interact with them and will send you flying half the time (before vaulting), they are kind of cool when things explode though!
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Black_Stormy » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:00 am

I got a bit carried away detailing da_doubletrouble. It's a really fun map and I wanted to make it look pretty. I had to move some parts around in order to change the stairs to the right dimensions but I think it should largely play the same. It's a log way off finished but I figure I'll let everyone know I'm doing it at least. I have uploaded the map (da_doubletrouble_st) to the dropbox, you'll need to copy my models and materials folders across to your install directory if you want to have a look, materials/stormy, materials/models/stormy and models/stormy.

Image

Image

I plan on putting a shitload of decals and details in, so I am also optimizing this as I go. I might have to change a few walls around to get the most out of the hint brushes but for the most part the map should be largely unchanged. Feel free to use any of the models/materials I upload to the dropbox, I make them as I need them. Feel free to modify/reskin them as well, on the proviso you don't modify the originals, since that might fuck up the maps I am working on ;)

I can't seem to make working decals, so if anyone knows how to do that, let me know. Mine always flicker. I'm cheating with all the decals in that level now.
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Re: Stormy's mapping notes

Postby Dementei » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:27 pm

Hey cool, looks better, the addition of props and white lighting compliments the yellow orange lighting. You took out my crates on ropes being pushed though, maybe you can make limbs and stuff fall from the big fan instead and rocks from the other hole. But I suppose this map could be worth playing on if it was fully detailed with more pipes and valves and whatever. As for the decals, I'm not sure if you are trying to use infodecal, but if you simply select your material and hit the overlay tool, just click inside the 3D camera on a wall and there it is. If you need: https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Hammer_Overlay_Tool (They always flicker in hammer but don't in-game)

Some things to not forget would be lowering lightmaps and clipping the railings. Lastly if you really want to I was planning on making an outside before I lost interest, so if you want to, you could make a parking lot and some hilly 3D desert skybox.
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