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Old 17th Jun 2010, 06:30 AM   #1
Sythenz
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Methods of Level Design

Hey there guys,

I was wondering what ways people go around doing level design specifically for the newer engine Unreal Engine 3. I've been thinking about the fact that most levels on these engines require a heavy amount of modelling, so should I go about designing the entire level:

In 3Ds Max and then exporting individual models as static meshes for UDK?

Or do I draft out the entire level using BSP and then build on that using models I've made in 3ds Max?

It would be handy to see what tips people have for newcomers to the UDK such as myself,

Thanks in advance to anyone who choses to share their tips and tricks of the trade.

- Sythen.
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Old 17th Jun 2010, 02:00 PM   #2
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Depends how fussed you are about gameplay. Iterations can be tested faster if you stick to a bsp shell initially, then fill that shell with meshes once you're happy.
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Old 17th Jun 2010, 05:01 PM   #3
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That.
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Old 17th Jun 2010, 07:48 PM   #4
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Alright, second question: I'm currently laying out the BSP shell for my level design which is nearly entirely based indoor except there are windows the player can look out. The thing that annoys me about Additive mapping is that it's hard to look inside the room as opposed to subtractive mapping where you look out and the three faces in the view of the camera are hidden allowing a view inside.

Is there any way to achieve such effect using additive?
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Old 17th Jun 2010, 08:40 PM   #5
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You're right to use Additive, but that doesn't prevent you from building a level subtractively (more or less). If you have an additive world, add a large cube (I like starting with 10240 x 10240 x 10240 and then I adjust as I see necessary), then you can subtract from the larger cube. For a level that is nearly entirely based indoors, this is the method I would recommend.

In the scenario where, let us say, you are building a large outdoor level, with indoor sections, you can always group the bsp and hide it in editor to make things easier to work with.
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Old 17th Jun 2010, 08:48 PM   #6
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Well, depends on the background of level design you come from, too...for someone like me who's been doing a lot of WorldCraft/Hammer mapping, then I'd definitely go with the additive method of mapping. However, if you're a tried and true UT'er from the very beginning, then you definitely use the subtractive method in that regard. That's how I see it. Of course, there's almost no choice but to do additive if you're doing an outdoor map, or combo indoor/outdoor. For a completely indoor map, subtractive is okay, but additive can be more useful.
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 06:01 AM   #7
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Thank you guys very much for your comments and replies. I've only noticed now that the reason why the subtractive mode in UE3 has problems is simply because of the extremely large scaled brush that causes lighting build time to significantly increase. I'm definitely going to try that method you've shown me Mclogenog.

and it's funny, WedgeBob, Because I come from a Hammer background too, I've been mapping with Source since HL2 came out but I decided to try and give UE3 a go as Source is always having problems (specifically right now - SDK will NOT WORK) and decided to move to UDK.

Yet even though hammer works the same way - additive mapping. When I'm inside UDK it feels slightly awkward not being able to see inside your indoor map, which I know is the same in Hammer. But it just feels awkward for some reason in UDK.

EDIT: Also another quick question, I know in hammer there was a list of textures available to aid the development of the level design in terms of Measurements. As I'm new to UDK I was wondering what the standard measurements for a wall, window, door maybe (assuming that all of these measurements are based on say.. an actual house as opposed to a space station on mars o.o)

Last edited by Sythenz; 18th Jun 2010 at 06:12 AM. Reason: To ask a question
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 07:01 AM   #8
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a character is about 120ish unreal units high iirc.
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 07:05 AM   #9
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you sure? I thought it was 96.
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 09:21 AM   #10
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Actually the default player collision cylinder is just 88 units high and 42 units wide. The height hasn't changed since UT2003.
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 09:52 AM   #11
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Ah I see =] So what measurements would you guys use for a typical room height and door height? I'm thinking of creating some basic dev textures to help new level designers create realistic (realistic to the actual world) rooms. =]
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 11:43 AM   #12
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Even though the player is as short as it is, even 128 feels way too close. 192 is a comfortable height, as is 256. For rooms I like doors that are 192 and ceilings that are 256, though I don't design replica houses in unreal. Create something in the editor, then play it, then adjust it as you see fit; it's the best way to get a sense of scale.
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 03:04 PM   #13
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Yeah, probably the best way.. Then all I have to do is match up my 3Ds Max units with Unreal Units and model the doorway frames etc..

Okay. Well thank you guys for your help. I'll start working on this map now then! =]
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 03:17 PM   #14
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Well, not just Source, but I go back to the Quake 1 days in mapping, so I've been doing additive mapping for a while. I remember back when characters were only 64 units high (heck, I think that the Doom 3 and Quake 4 characters still are today). I do like Radiant, but...it just keeps getting plumb picky with me. I keep getting leak errors up the wazoo, even tho all my brushes are clearly airtight up close. Never could figure that out. At least UT3's engine is nowhere near THAT picky, thank goodness. WorldCraft was never that picky, either. Just in case, I just built a skybox, and built my whole level within that dimension.

However, in UT3, you can just have a sky dome static mesh, have a big BSP brush underneath it, and just mesh some terrain to block out the void from view. That's what I do.
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Old 19th Jun 2010, 07:41 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sythenz View Post
you sure? I thought it was 96.
My bad. 128 was the minimum hight one should use for a door.
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Old 19th Jun 2010, 07:55 AM   #16
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The conversion formula, I believe your looking for...128 units for UT3 / 72 units from Gordon Freeman's height = 1.78 the size of a comparable CS:Source or HL2 Deathmatch map.
Bah, what to you expect? I'm a technical mapper, going for precision over art usually.
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Old 21st Jun 2010, 04:42 PM   #17
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Just wanted to thank you guys for your help, I've actually managed to create the room I'm looking for. I've one question though, I don't want the player to have a weapon in my UDK game. How do I get rid of the weapon for good?
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Old 21st Jun 2010, 06:27 PM   #18
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There is an option in World Properties to give the player No Inventory by default. You could also do this through kismet. The problem is that you will see the character's arms attached still as there is no animation for being unarmed. The only real way of removing inventory along with the aforementioned arm problem would be through code, and for that I'm afraid somebody else will have to help you.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 02:05 AM   #19
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For what it's worth, here is a tut that deals with scale in UT 3, which should be the same default scaling in UDK. If you want to use Hammer style dev assets to build your map, check out this page.
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Old 24th Jul 2010, 07:36 PM   #20
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Wish this would've helped when I was mapping in Q3Radiant when I was attempting to bring UT maps to Q3A. However, vice versa, I believe that UT3 maps are twice the units of a comparable Q3A map, iirc.
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