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TinSnail/Developer Journal

Hello there...

Welcome to my developer journal page. I'm pretty new to this map making and UnrealScript programming lark and I doubt you'll learn anything from this page except bad spelling. I had planned to write my self a journal any way but maybe my ramblings will be of use to someone, so here they are.

What I have done so far..

Well I have made a few simple maps, none of which I have released. Really I have just been learning to use the editor to make interesting architecture and to get a level working.

My pride and joy however is my very own mutator 'wot I rote myself' I'm sure it has been done before but I wanted to see how it was done. It is called Redeamer Arena. I'm sure you can guess what it does. I find it hilarious when a bot launches a missile at his foe just two feet away. Whenever the end of a match is reached and the camera focuses on the winner, they are never there except in pieces! Wonderful!

Current Project: The Eyrie



I wanted to create a level that I could release to the world at large but I was stuck for inspiration. I read fantasy novels a fair bit ... stop sniggering at the back there ... I mean swords, magic, men with big beards type of fantasy, so I thought I could base a level on something from one of those. I am currently reading: 'A game of thrones' by George R R Martin, which contains many swords, big beards etc ( bet you didn't think that the Beatles producer? would have time :) ).

Any way there is a castle in the book called 'The Eyrie'. It sits on top of a tall mountain and can only be reached by climbing stairs cut into a cliff face below its walls. It is described as having 5 towers (I think) around a courtyard and 'sky cells', dungeons that open directly over the abyss with sloping floors ( a good place for a redeamer me thinks). I thought it had promise so I started to map it out.

False Beginning

To begin with I had an image of how I wanted the castle to appear, its five towers would be arranged on the points of a rough pentagon and have a curtain wall with walk way on top surrounding a bailey. The towers would also have bridges between them across the bailey as well as some running parallel with the walls only at a higher level.

The first thing I did was to sketch this out on a scrap of paper. Then I got too impatient and went in to the editor and tried to throw it together in half an hour. Which I now realise is not a good move. My thrown together map did look like the sketch but it also looked totally wrong, everything was just too big. If you work at 16uu = 1foot ( which I have heard is a reasonable assumption - correct me if I'm wrong) the tower walls were 16 foot thick and the curtain wall was 64 feet high! The buildings were just far too massive.

Back to Basics

I realised the first thing I needed to do was get an idea of how big the castle should be. I went back to paper and pencil and worked out some crucial dimensions of elements such as walls, doors, towers etc. I wanted to avoid the castle looking like it had been built by giants. It was to be a big building but the elements needed to be of a human scale.

Finally I let my self use the editor again. I began by building a tower. I had settled on 16ft/256uu for the height of the curtain walls so there would have to be a floor at that height in the tower. I decided that 16ft, although twice as high as a modern day domestic ceiling, would be reasonable for the floor centres. The body of the tower was three double skinned cylinders. I used three stacked on top of each other so that I could narrow the walls of the higher floors. Of course will any one notice...

Imagine the scene: 'ColonDeath' has just vapourised four unexpecting oponents in the bailey, fireing his redeamer through a top floor window, he turns from the carnage, and thinks 'by jove these upstairs walls are thinner! top hole mapping sir!'

Any way thats what I did and I've gone to far to change it now.

Shut that door!

(For those of you unfamiliar with Larry Grayson, he was a camp 1970's 'personality' one of whose catch phrases I thought I' pinch for a heading.)

I mentioned above that the towers were cylindrical. Well I wanted to be able to put doors and windows in the tower on any face, even spanning faces, not just the four that are parrallel to the x and y axis. Also I wanted to have a main aperture and and a recessed frame for the door / window. 'So then clever cloggs' Ued mocked 'solve that one mr smarty pants' 'Aha' I said 'Forsooth I shall and verily smite thine digital grin from thine virtual face'. Here's how.

  1. Make an inverse of your main aperture eg as an addition to the world, essentially choose a shape for your door way and 'extrude' it some how so that it is thicker than your wall. I used a cubeoid with a half cylinder to give a rounded top.
  2. Use intersect to grab the brush and place it where you want your door so that its end faces extend beyond either side of the wall then intersect and subtract to get your main aperture.
  3. Make the door frame as an adder with the exact thickness you want but make its height and width larger than that of the main aperture.
  4. Place your door frame in the hole from step 2 so that the outer edges of the height and width components cross over into the wall from the main aperture. Then either just add the brush or de-intersect and add which is better but a pain in the rear as you have to then go and grab your brush again from the master!

Bye for now


Curtain walls

I planned to have five towers in the level, in a rough pentagonal arrangement which meant that the curtain walls would have to run at angles to the x and y axes. The walls would have battlements on the outer side, to prevent players from plumeting to their deaths on the mountain below, (may be I'll leave some gaps for a laugh!). The ends of the walls would embed in the sides of the towers and the towers them selves would have doors in the side to give access to the ramparts. So how to build the walls? First off I made a small section of wall to one side of the castle giving it the desired height and thickness, it had an arbitrary length of 128uu. Then I added the battlements to this section as in the view below which is facing the wall from the out side.

 |-|  |-|
 | |__| |
 |      |
 |      |

The gap is twice as wide as the 'sticky -up bits' so that when two or more are placed side by side the gap and non-gap sections are of equal length. Also the tops of the crenelations are beveled which improves their appearance no end.

Now I had my basic building block I could make the walls. It was then I realised that the towers, which I had placed earlier would not connect by straight walls without turning the rotation 'grid' off. I was dubious about doing this as it seems to go against the maxim of 'always snap to grid' so I moved the towers so that they were connectable by a line on the rotation 'grid'. I created a long thin ruler out of the active brush to help in this. (One thing lacking from Ued2, in my opinion, is planning aids such as rulers)

Placing the first section of wall was easy, just position it correctly against the wall of the tower and de-intersect followed by Add. However now I had a problem, how to join up sections of wall when they are not parallel to an axis, well actually its easy, turn grid snap off and vertex snap on and the sections line up perfectly!

Now with the walls and tower shells in place it feels as though I'm getting somewhere.

Staircases ====

Round towers call for spiral stair cases. Unfortunatly. The first sections I put in, from the ground to the first floor used the curved stair tool, which as I am sure you know creates solid triangular flights of stairs rather than just the steps. This isn't really a problem but I wanted to put each flight of stairs directly above the last. I tried to create similar stairs in the spiral builder but I couldn't work out how.( Lets face it I didn't try very hard :) ) Never mind I solved the problem by first adding a curved stair brush and then subtracting the same brush moved down slightly. (I know what your thinking 'this man is a genius I'd never have thought of that in a million years!' :) Well I was proud of it.) This gave the appearance of a flight built using the spiral stair builder.

The stairs didn't fit properly, the towers have sixteen sides, the stairs follow round 6 of them and have 16 steps so each step leaves a gap twixt it and the wall. This I solved by making the outer radius of the stairs greater than the inner radius of the tower, manouvering them into place and de-intersecting with the wall before adding them. Lovely.

17/2/03 Thoughts on Rebuilding

The problem with this map is that there are lots and lots of staircases, whats more they are curved so even the sides are made up of many polygons. This doesn't seem to be a problem when playing the map but doing a total rebuild takes forever. This has lead me to change the way I work quite alot. I suppose I've always been a bit too eager to rebuild my maps, which is fine when they are simple as the rebuild times are small. Now that my maps are more complex I try to eliminate the need to rebuild. Ofcourse I always rebuild a map before I test it but hardly ever during an editing session.

A rebuild, as far as I can tell, simply applies all your brushes to an empty world in the order they were placed in your map, assuming that you had not changed the order by sending a brush to first or last. So placing another brush in the world preserves the order of those already there and simply puts the new brush in the 'last' position abrogating the need for a rebuild.

This seems to work for solid, opaque brushes but strange things happen when you can see through your 'additions'.

I now work with more care, making sure that I get my brushes in exactly the right place the first time so I don't have to move or delete them. This has also highlighted an advantage of working out a maps layout on paper first, it helps me to visualise how I will construct my map rather than just what it will look like.

Going Underground and adding toys.

Playtesting 'The Eyrie' has shown me that it is all a bit repetetive. The map needed more variety of layout so I created some cellars. Lots of interconnected passages with a few store rooms and cells that open to the abyss. I used only two brushes repeatedly, a cuboid and a half cylinder to create barrel vaulting. Despite this the result is quite complex and ,although I say so my self, visually pleasing.

I placed a redeamer in one of the cells but it has proved to be too easy to get, although the cellar layout seems to suit the weapon. It is quite easy to let one off, so to speak, and duck round a corner to safety.

In another cellar room which has multiple entrances I put a flak cannon. This is balanced by a rocket launcher at the top of a tower which is pretty much at the other end of the map.

I have another redeamer placed in the bailey. The supports for the overhead walkways make the bailey less open and easier to get across but it is still definitely the main fighting area. The bots don't seem to clever with the redeamer, all to often they use it straight away, firing at point blank range, which is very funny though :)

I have added at least one of all the other weapons in the towers or on the walkways so the map is nearly finished as regards how it plays, all that remains is to tart it up a bit. However I have decided to wait until I get UT2K3 until I do, as I can replace all the stairs with static meshes which should make editing less of a trial.

Later! mapping type dudes ;)


Description coming soon.

ZxAnPhOrIaN: Don't worry about the first maps you make being bad :)! I ditched my first never released and publicised (until now! :D) map, CTF-Infiltration. It was a Face Copycat that used nothing but blocks and the 2D shape editor. Also, It had a poorly designed catwalk on the top which was invisible and cut into the buildings. Also it was really huge!!! Those were the days that i didn't know about the Intersect and the Disintersect functions!! Now i am working on CTF-Afterlife, an awesome Heaven/Earth/Hell (for those religious enthusiasts(spelling?) out there, it is MY depiction of Heaven and Hell!). See [Developer Journals/ZxAnPhOrIaN]? for details.

ZxAnPhOrIaN: Wow! What a complex map for a newbie mapper! I hope that the tin covering will help you get it done!

ZxAnPhOrIaN: Also, BAAAAAAAAD mistake for not 'PLANNING ahead for that map!! My brother didn't plan his crappy map and maps fail for not planning. You should plan to plan a plan, a drawing, BEFORE mapping!!! Lets say you were an archetect, and you just started building the building, you wouldn't suceed to create something more than a log cabin fire! That is why there are blueprints for buildings. When i thought up a map idea, and still with the mental picture in my mind or head, i scetch out the basic formation of the map, even if it looks like a bunch of lines and letters. Something is better than nothing! (sorry to go on a rampant rant :P)

Mychaeel: TinSnail: Please don't get into the habit of checking "This change is a minor edit" for anything you add. "Minor edits" are just small typo or layout fixes; adding multiple paragraphs of text definitely isn't a "minor edit." Thanks.

Legal: Maybe somebody should add a link to what defines a minor edit next to the square? Somebody...

Mychaeel: I think it should occur to people that not everything they add can be a "minor edit." But in case I don't forget about it, I'll add some short explanation along the lines of what I wrote above to that checkbox.

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