ET Mappers Bible
Version 1.20 (updated: 3rd February, 2004)
I thought I would start a thread on these. I believe there are some basic rules that are must-haves with every map ever made. We’re not talking about tips and tricks here, just things that everyone should follow no matter what. Feel free to add and/or correct things here but I think this might be a valuable resource for mappers (especially newbies).
Please reply to this thread with any essential points you want to see added to this list. I’ll keep it up to date as often as possible, bumping the version number and date up as needed. Please keep your posts to only essential things that all maps should have no matter what (okay, the Gameplay section could be left up to some interpretation). Please do not post HOWTOs or tutorials.
Thanks to sock for sticking this so everyone can see it and contribute to it. Keep the principals flowing!
1.1 Map specific textures should always be put into a directory of their own with the same name as your map.
1.2 In the case where you’ll be releasing mulitple maps using the same texture put these in a directory with a unique name like your ET nickname or something.
1.3 Do not put custom textures into directories that the game ships with or other map directories. Refer to 1.1 and create your own directory (either for that specific map or your own series of maps)
2. PK3 Naming
2.1 Always name PK3 files with a version number to avoid conflict with previous versions or derivations of the same map
2.2 Use something like MAPNAME_X_N where X is A=Alpha, B=Beta, V=Final and N is the number (e.g. mymap_a_1.pk3, mymap_v_3.pk3)
3.1 Always include a README_MAPNAME.TXT file with your map which includes how to contact you, a website to reach you and/or a place to get the latest version, a rough idea of how many players is ideal for the map, and any credits to others for prefabs, help, testing, etc.
3.2 Include the README_MAPNAME.TXT in both a ZIP release of your map and inside the PK3 file for completeness.
3.3 Never release a map prematurely. Posting about it on the forums here is great but if someone downloads it from rtcwfiles.com they should expect a pretty complete product - otherwise my players bitch up a storm, which is no fun, and unfairly lowers their perception of your map.
3.4 Always test your map. Test for playability (with others), test for bugs and problems (texture, size, flow, etc.) and test for technical design (r_speeds, z fighting, lighting, etc.). Use the addage, “Test twice, release once” and you’ll make everyone happier in the end.
3.5 Do not include a campaign file with the map. The server admin 9 times out of 10 will decide how the map is gonna be cycled. Having a campaign file with your map only adds confusion to the voting menu and makes it very cluttered. If you would like to add an example, tack it on to the readme file instead for those who don’t know how to do it.
3.6 Do not include anything in the PK3 that is already in the game. This bloats your PK3 file to large proportions and makes players (and admins) download unnecessary bits they shouldn’t have to.
4. Command Map
4.1 When releasing multiple maps, avoid creating maps “overlapping” other maps on the campaign overview. Also try to avoid overlapping the default map tag names if possible so players can see your map on the overview.
4.2 Use fullsized command maps. For some reason, there has been a bunch of maps released with postage stamp-sized command maps. This is because mappers are setting their min and max coordinates too large. Pick coordinates that are closer to the actual boundaries of your map to get rid of all the dead space in their tracemaps/command maps.
5.1 Whenever possible, take a look at existing maps like those released with the game (goldrush, battery, etc.) for scale. Make your maps similar in scale so doors are not too big and rooms are appropriately sized. Too big (or too small) make your map look odd and play strange.
5.2 Map Editor scale: 1 map unit = 1 inch ; 12 map units = 1 foot ; 36 map units = approx 1 meter
5.3 Use the existing ET textures as a guide to room heights. Check the example map Goldrush given away with the editor.
5.4 Always caulk your map where the players won’t see your work (like outside the sky, under buildings, etc.) as this will increase your fps and make the engine happier.
6.1 Do not use any prefabs, sounds, textures and other objects in the game without the express permission from the original author. Include that persons name in your README_MAPNAME.TXT file.
6.2 Do not use any copyright materials from other games. This includes models, sounds, etc. from other games like Quake III, RtCW, Unreal Tournament, etc. ET is free and thus does not allow copying materials from retail games.
7.1 Try to achieve a balanced gameplay with your map. Equal number of objectives and ideas, using the advantages and disadvantages of each class for either side. Use well thought out spawn points, good connectivity around the map and difficult but attainable objectives. This will create a more harmonized and challenging map that is enjoyable by all.
7.2 Be creative and original. Creating another clone of an RtCW map doesn’t help the ET community. Gamers need and want original maps that are fun by all so put some thought into your map.
7.3 Give players places to hide from air strikes and make it tought to place airstrikes. Air strikes are the #1 limiter of having a strong well designed and fun map.
7.4 Provide players with multiple paths to a target or objective. There should be a few places in the map where you can go down diverging paths to formulate more complex strats. Instead of the typical 2 path system, you could make as many as 3-4 paths with cov ops doors, and dynamitable objects to diversify gameplay.
7.5 Put some thought into counter-actions that the defense can make to slow down the offensive attack. Some things to consider may be constructibles, like a mg nest, building barriers (goldrush), or destroying constructions (fueldump).
7.6 Don’t overly complicate your layouts if you don’t have to. Adding corridors that go nowhere just to fill space doesn’t make for an interesting map. Relativly simple layouts work too. Like the layout of a high school. Confusing at first but functional and easy to pick up.
7.7 Consider scalable gameplay when designing your map. SD did a good job of making maps that play just as well 4 v 4 as they do 14 v 14. In many cases, the map is large, but the use of a vehicle (tank or railcar) really localizes the action.
7.8 Don’t crowd players. Cooridors that are tall enough for a strafe-jumping person to traverse without hitting their head and wide enough for 2 people abreast to navigate works great.
7.9 Consider thinking about items before placing them. Don’t place items (command posts, machineguns, team doors) just because (a. I haven’t put one in yet or b. One would look cool here) - every item should have a good reason why it’s there.
7.10 Stronger use of the vertical dimension. One of the reasons I liked Normandy Breakout by Menzel (esp by the cafe) was that you could use up to 4 levels of some buildings. It’s great when you have to play 3 dimensions instead of 2. Good maps, typically play very well horizontally as well as vertically.
7.11 If you make a building: think about it long and hard. Cause if you want to make a good looking level be sure to make all the buildings have a function other than to be a oddly shaped box where you have a fight in. So each door, each window, every stairwell and all the corridors and balcony’s actually serve a purpose in that building if it was used in ‘real life’.
8. Spawn Points
8.1 Place spawn points that are not directly on top of the objective nor directly astride the route to the objective.
8.2 Give attackers two spawns like in battery. This is the best anti-spawn camping measure you can provide to players.
8.3 Provide spawnpoints protected from direct fire and enemy campers (Axis spawn on Depot, spawns on Wizernes, Allied spawn on Base, etc) and try to give multiple, covered exits from spawn.