Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Creating test maps

Test maps are so essential to the overall process of mapping its almost laughable to think that I used to just start building my full map from scratch and wondered why i never got anywhere.
These days, for every map I produce, I create around 20-30 test maps.

If youve ever seen the process that film CGI goes through, test mapping is a lot like the pre-vis process. Basic shapes, functioning ideas and entities but none of the gorious source engine visual flare.

Here how i tend to put my test maps together and I can normally get everything up and running in less than 10 mins...

So you've got an idea for a new map area or style of gameplay and want to try it out.

My method for this tends to run along the following steps.

1: add an info player start and turn the cordon tool on.

2: build basic blocks to represent the required surfaces (do not spend any time on detail at all, do not bother sealing your map)

3: add in entities and start playing with them.

4: If combat area, review NPC behavior, rebuild blockmap until the NPCs are alive as long as possible. Whilst in combat, Npc behavior is at its best when they have multiple routes to choose from so add in walls, columns to make NPCs think more.

5: Once combat is good and lasts a while and youre happy with layout think about how the NPCs are introduced to the area... where does the player first lay eyes on them? Can you make that more interesting?

6. Lastly, try adding some additional elements to your map and see how it effects play.

Explosive barrels or tripmines etc are always fun for adding some randomness to a firefight.

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