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Map Planning

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Map planning is sketching your ideas on to graph paper or writing a quick description about the map in a few paragraphs, showing the relation of the aspects of the map before opening UnrealEd.

It should create the DNA of the map, the basic structure. When this is done, you can add your organs, your skin and your face – the mis en scene of your map.


You are an architect-cum-builder in charge of planning and construction of a house. You've been keen on implementing a "concept" design you've seen at a trade show. What do you do: immediatly start construction, or create a Wikipedia logo plan? Here are the two scenarios:

Immediatly start building the house

  1. You forget to level the ground.
  2. When you build the framework, you notice some boards are crooked and have the wrong dimensions. You also forget to get enough nails, and are forced by your budget to use duct tape.
  3. Putting up the walls, you use too much plaster, and it looks like the ocean's surface during a rough storm.
  4. Placing the plumming, you decide to reuse a bunch of crumbly clog-prone pipes from your last job.
  5. As you spent too much money on last-minute construction whims, you don't have sufficent funds to put in furnishings, heating, lights, etc.

End result:

  • $50,000
  • 5 years

Drafting a blueprint

  1. You level the ground.
  2. When you build the framework, you ensure the boards are coplanar and have the correct dimensions. Also, you remembered to buy enough nails, and didn't end up having to use duct tape.
  3. Putting up the walls, you use just enough plaster, and it looks like the Oklahoma Salt Flats.
  4. Placing the plumming, you use PVC non-clog-prone pipes.
  5. You had very few last-minute construction decisions, and were within your budget, so you can now hire an interior designer to put in furnishings, heating, lights, etc.

End result:

  • $20,000
  • 2 years

Pros and Cons

Planning what you do is worthwhile in every aspect of modding: concept art is used to create detailed 3d models, some lines on graph paper can become an element of the next uber-map, and careful thought and planning of the organisation of the code benefits the speed of its execution and readabilty to others who may have to develop it further in future.

The flip side is to do it spontaneously - why stifle creativity with rules and regulations? Creativity is but an expression of self; the more you organise your thoughts before you unleash them upon the world, will only do it favours.


  • You can remove things from your design that you do not like before you waste time creating it.
  • It is seen as a recommended technique by some of the most skilled mappers in the mod community, especially for rookie-level mappers.


  • It is fun every once in a while to just "go for it", and see what happens - you might come up with an idea for an aspect of a map that you can then plan a new map around.

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