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Map Design

This area is under construction. Feel free to add pages or ideas for pages. So far, there's:

Item placement

Item placement is one of the key things to get right in your map. Too much health and armour and combat will become protracted. Too little and a victor in a fight will never be able to recover enough for the next shoot out. Filling a map with vast amounts of ammunition will encourage "wasteful tactics" (also called spam). Too little and your players will be running around with their impact hammers out.

There are some things about item placement that hold true for both items and weapons. These are described below.

Counter Desirability with Risk
As famously expounded by CliffyB, "Put desirable things in a dangerous or exposed spot.". The Keg of Health you want to place on your map should be in the most open, visible, and exposed spot you can find. It should be a risk to get there, and double the risk to get back. A fine example of this is the shield-belt and damage-amp chamber in DM-Pressure.
Create sound cues
Use sounds to give away player locations. Make each lift on the map sound slightly different. That way a player will know when he uses a lift his opponent will know exactly where he is. Health vials, jump boots, and other objects that make a distinctive sound can be used to place players at certain points on the map. Shallow pools of water are also good for this. Effective use of sound cues can make a 1v1 battle turn into an intense tactical battle as each player tries to outmaneuver the other based upon where they hear they opponent is rather than where they see their opponent is.

Mapper Master Classes

Tarquin: SnowDog? helped me out with some design ideas the other day on IRC. I can't remember if I said he should write tutes, but I certainly thought it. The problem is, it's very hard to create generalities on design, and specific examples can often merely lead others to clone rather than take extract principles.

Anyway, musing on this has given me an idea: we could invite experienced mappers to comment on and explain features in their existing maps. For example, SnowDog could explain some of the neat features in JB-Rune: how they were built, how they evolved from the basic shapes, the design decisions he took and why.

Thoughts, anyone?

Bean: good idea. the author could, for example, post the name of map , his name, and what unique design ideas that he will tackle in the article. Then, he writes an article on his map, how he does thing with pics. Then, we could see how multiple mappers do things such as trim, deco, skyboxes, lighting, etc...


That's Leetification, for you leet illiterates. In more reasonable terms it's making your maps one of the chosen.

Public Colaborative Compilations

This is another idea for learning from the advanced mappers

  1. Create a really simple feature, like a doorway, a junction, a ramp or something.
  2. Give that simple map to a number of mappers, and have them make it more interesting – keep the base geometry but add whatever brushes, deco and lighting.
  3. Compile the results together into one map
  4. Create a page here showing screenies & layout plans of the original map, with a subpage for each mapper's version, with screenies & diagrams explaining how their design works.

Public Colaborative Response

  1. Write up a list of ideas, at least twenty-five, that you think would be cool to put into your map.
  2. Go to any forums.
  3. Create a new thread and write down the list of ideas and ask for them to tell you if they like or dislike any one of those ideas.
  4. Gather the responses, preferably waiting a week and a half, and then chart the ones praised and not praised
  5. Compile the praised and neutral ideas and then repeat the process. Get rid of the neutral and bad ideas on the second round, but keep the good ones.
  6. Now you should have around five ideas, and put them to use.


Tarquin: I've been pondering if we can identify patterns in map design, somehow analogous to the programming patterns on the PPR, which themselves are inspired by patterns in building architecture. Neat loop, huh?


Some of these ideas below are covered in Making Architecture

Break the Hierarchy

Trim Edges

his has a nice effect leading to an overall graphically pleasing map. Trimming edges is where you put a different texture (preferably a different colour and a plain one) on the edge of the original textures, i.e. at the floor-wall corners, at the edge of ramps and walkways and ALWAYS on staircases. Trim can now come in mesh format as well, for example DM-Plunge, every surface has that weir light holder has trim, and it looks so much better.

Break Up Surfaces

Try not to let any surface be plain, add some indents, some meshes, maybe a few walking gorillas if you have to, but a plain map is a failure, even if it has good flow not many will play it.

Keep Things Proportional

Connect Features


I bet there are some common approaches here even though it's hard to do

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS put lights on light sources (i.e. a lightbulb or a neon light, et.) the only light that should not have a light source is ambient light.

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