Mapping Tutorials

Generally, mapping tutorials are found in the Tutorials Forum. On this page, a structured overview is given. Before we start, a word of caution: If you consider creating a map, make sure you have the time and motivation. Mapping takes a heavy toll on both!

Here's a list of steps and corresponding tutorials that you need in order to get started.

  1. Map editing
    First, you need to install the necessary tools to get started. Install and setup a map editor. Map editors are 3d-based editors for .map files. You have the following choices
  2. The Radiant family of editors are obviously quite similar, however they differ in terms of stability and how far Smokin' Guns is supported out of the box. You should also download and use the SG mapping tools, which consist of an exemplary Radiant configuration file, the Q3Map2 compiler for Windows and many .ase models, which are used in various Smokin'Guns maps.

  3. Map compiling
    With an editor, there usually come the Q3Map2-Tools, i.e.
    • q3map2.exe (or q3map2.x86), and possibly
    • bspc.exe

    Q3map2 is required to compile a given .map into a .bsp file, which is the binary format used by the game engine, while bspc.exe is used to create a .aas file for bot navigation from a given .bsp file. To understand how to compile a .map into a .bsp file, read these technical notes.

    Please note, there might be minor differences regarding the Q3Map2-Tools among different editors. For example, if you have problems with non-climbable ladders, an incompatible Q3Map2 compiler could be the cause. In such a case, you could use the official Q3Map2 bundle.

  4. Map packaging

    Resources such as textures are bundled together with .bsp files to .pk3 files. Essentially, .pk3 files are just .zip files whose suffix has been renamed. You need to figure out how to use your favorite .zip program to create .pk3 files out of .bsp files and other resources. Try to reverse-engineer exiting .pk3 files by looking into them. For instance, try to extract the files of dm_villa.pk3.

  5. Testing your setup

    Download an existing .map file and load it in your editor. Are the textures shown? If not, have you specified the correct paths? Try to compile your test map. If you have no other .map file, use the one included in dm_villa.pk3.

  6. Understand some more of the technical backgrounds
    There comes a time where you need to understand some of the technical backgrounds regarding map compiling and packaging. This time will arrive rather sooner than you think. Read tutorials about the map design, the compile process as well as packaging.

  7. Design your map - from coarse to fine

    If you're starting without a plan what your map looks like, if you're building your map at full detail one part at a time, if you're not play-testing your layout before spending lots of time texturizing everything, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG! As mentioned above, mapping does take a lot of time, so make a plan and test it as early as possible. Only in early design stages, design faults can be corrected without wasting several days of work. Creating a map is a difficult technical process which ideally should in no way treated differently than any other engineering task. Have you ever heard of a company that builds houses or bridges without plans? Make sure (the layout of) your map is fun to play before you go into detail. Always place function over form. Would rather play a slightly less-good-looking but interesting and versatile map or a map which looks nice, but which is fundamentally flawed?

  8. Solve problems, Optimize, Finish your map

    This is probably the hardest part. You'll encounter many difficulties you didn't anticipate such as mindless bots getting stuck everywhere or not moving at all. Progress is slow and you run out of time and motivation. Don't resign - you can always ask for help. There are encouraging examples of mappers helping each other out, so don't be afraid to ask for help.

As a mapper, you need feedback, usually as early as possible. If you have a working .pk3, even if your map is far from being finished, play-test it with your clan mates. You could also submit your map to Terra Nova to play-test it publicly. Consider also to include the source .map file into your .pk3. Publishing the source does not give your rights away. Your map is still yours, but an experienced mapper could take a look at it and give you hints. Please also think of licensing. You probably want your map to be played, so you'll have to allow distribution. As long as you're around, you surely do care for your map. However, please provide for the day you're no longer interested or no longer have the time. Consider to explicitly allow the community to use your work and to improve upon it, once you're no longer around.
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