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Mapping Tips

Discussion in 'Mapping' started by MrBond, Sep 15, 2005.

  1. MrBond

    MrBond ZHP Founder

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    Greetings, all!

    From my mapping days (and some more recent stuff), I come bearing tips to mappers of all levels. I am by no means perfect (as much as I tell myself, anyways :p), so if somebody has some new/better tips, by all means, post and share them

    Tip #1: SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE....ad nauseum
    That cannot be stressed enough. UnrealEd (or, more commonly, the UnrealEd goblin) will crash at least twice while you're working, often for no apparent reason. Save stable copies of your map at all times, and save it multiple times at once, just in case. Heck, save a copy on a separate hard drive, if possible.

    Tip #2: Use the MyLevel package
    ...and if you don't know how, FIND OUT NOW. This is especially important in a larger mod environment, or even just sharing maps among friends. All too often, we (by which I mean myself and other mappers) forget to include externally referenced music, textures, sounds, etc. in the ZIP archive. Do yourself (and the recipient) a favor, and embed content in the MyLevel package. Your Internet connection may not thank you, but believe me, it's worth the extra 30 seconds downlad time over more files to juggle around. Of course, there may be times when this simply is not feasible. Use your best judgment.

    Tip #3: Texture culling
    Ever wonder what that text input box on the bottom is for? Well, texture culling is the number one reason for its existence. Simply type, "TEXTURE CULL" in the box and hit enter. So, what'd it do? "TEXTURE CULL" removes any references to unused textures. Very useful for cases when it says you're using a texture package that you know isn't used.

    Tip #4: Know thy limits
    Take the time to look up the limitations of the editor, especially importing content. I've listed a few below that I know of.
    Textures: Max. Dimensions -- 1024x1024, 256 color pallete (8-bit texture)
    Sound: Max. Quality settings: 16-Bit Monaural, 22kHz sampling rate

    Tip #5: Cross-reference
    Have a list of standard UT content packages handy. There's a nice list by bb_drac, under the "Misc Information/Tutorials" section.

    Tip #6: Clean your paths
    Ever wonder why the "Adding Reachspecs" number always goes up? There's no definitive answer, but to keep it down, you have to undefine the paths and set all pathnodes to the last order. Type "PATHS UNDEFINE" in the command box at the bottom of the editor, then select all PathNodes, right-click, Order >> To Last, then rebuild, and BAM! the reachspec number is more managable.

    Tip #7: Scaling woes
    Scaled brushes can be a pain in the ass, especially when you want to rotate or vertex-edit them. To be safe, always Transform Permanently (right-click brush, Transform >> Transform Permanently) all scaled brushes. Also, scaled movers may not work as expected until Transformed Permanently. Be aware, though, that Transform Permanently will automatically reset all texture scaling and rotation on the brush.

    Tip #8: Avoid clutter across maps
    Always close and re-open the editor when switching from map to map. This prevents any extraneous content (textures, sounds, etc.) from being saved across maps, especially in the MyLevel package. This also keeps the content browsers clean of unneeded content.

    Tip #9: Collision hulls and how to use them
    Invisible collision hulls (ICH) are great for ultra-thin objects (panes of glass, for example), but don't forget to trim the ICH down as far as possible. 1 unit thick is generally the best to use, as it still collides everything without having a great effect on nearby geometry. Also, never allow an ICH to touch visible geometry (whether solid or nonsolid) -- a HOM effect will always be caused. Instead, put the ICH one unit from every side. This will create the greatest collision area, but still keep the surrounding area free from BSP errors.

    Tip #10: Solid and semi-solid: what's the diff?
    Solid and semi-solid are the two different types of additive brushes. They differ in how the engine occludes the geometry behind them. Solid additives will always occlude geometry behind them, while semi-solids do not. Because of the way the BSP engine works, solids will always cause more BSP cuts (and possibly more BSP erros) than semi-solids. The general rule is to use semi-solids whenever the view is not completely obscured, like in the case of pillars, outcroppings, and even some small decorative brushes. To view BSP complexity, set the viewport to Zone view mode. Each shaded area is a seperate BSP partition.

    Tip # 11: Zone portals: effective, but troublesome
    Zone portals are an effective way to reduce processing overhead, especially in large levels. But they can also cause some serioius problems if not used correctly. Because zone portals always cause BSP cuts (unless specified otherwise in the build options), they are prone to causing BSP holes if not placed correctly. Never place zone portals at the intersection of two subtractive brushes -- place it instead a few units aways from the edge. Not only do zone portals cause BSP cuts, but they can also cause bad lighting. To minimize lighting effects, place portals in the middle of the smallest corridors, whenever possible. Or, place them in the middle of doors.


    That ends the tip list for now. Keep mapping!
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2005
  2. livingtarget

    livingtarget BulletCatcher

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    Isn't the limit for textures 512x512 or am I wrong there?

    Didn't know about the Texture Culling thing :)
     
  3. MrBond

    MrBond ZHP Founder

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    I just tried importing 1024x1024, and it worked out okay. But it was an all-white graphic, so I don't know if it works 100%. ;)
     
  4. MrBond

    MrBond ZHP Founder

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    Added a few more tips I thought of while fixing up some of the Perfect Dark maps.
     

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