View Full Version : Virgin Mapper With a Few ?'s

03-21-2002, 01:52 PM
As a result of my own excitement about the release of JKII next week, I've developed a keen interest and strong desire to learn how to make my own maps. I spent most of yesterday scouring Q3A editing sites for info, bookmarking anything that looked helpful, and have printed out a copy of the Q3Radiant manuel, based on version 192. I'm reading it between calls today at work, and will be studying it tonight as well.

Suffice it to say, I have a very serious interest in becoming a level editor. That said, I have a few questions and would like some advice on how best to begin.

1) I have a 19" monitor capable of displaying 1600x1200x32 rez. What's a good rez to work in? I understand the workspace for Q3Radiant is divided into three sections, and I'd like to know how well the editor responds to high resolutions. For the record, I also play at 1600x1200x32.

2) I read that it's a good idea to have a 3-button mouse. I have a 2-button wheel mouse. Can the wheel serve as the third button?

3) I've only played Q3A a few dozen times myself (I'm a die-hard UT fan), and experimented with a handful of player-made maps. I have an obsession with the macabre, the strange and the unusual, and would like to create maps that artistically reflect, through architecture, my imagination. What do you typically look for in a good, well-designed map, as far as functionality and navigation are concerned?

4) I have zero programming knowledge, and I've never been good at math, whether it be complex equations or simple geometry. I'm a writer. I have a love affair with words. Give me an algebra equation to solve, and I'm as stunned as a deer caught in headlights. Give me a plot to write a short story around, and I'll have a first draft ready inside of a week. Does level editing require any experience with any programming languages? What I've studied of the tutorials of basic level design at Bubba's site doesn't look too difficult. I'm certainly confident that even I could learn.

Finally, any pointers you can offer would be greatly appreciated. As I said before, I'm serious about comitting the time and effort needed to learn how to create excellent, fun maps, and am expecially excited about creating maps for JKII.

I look forward to any input that can be offered.

Thank you.

03-21-2002, 03:14 PM
So, first thing: I know very much how you feel- began mapping again recently after seeing JK2 (Those ISD-Bridge-Screens convinced me ;) ).
To anwser your questions (as far as I know):
1. It really doesn't depend on the resolution- I'm mapping at 1024x768 and it works just fine.
The (actually four) windows can be adjusted in almost any way, so that everyone can find his fav. positions.
2. If you can press the mouse-wheel down you actually HAVE a three-button mouse, elsewise I would recommend getting one (not only for mapping but for gaming too). As far as I got you do not need the mouse3-button, but a wheel is quite handy for zooming in and out.
3. Well for me it's all about the 'feel'. If you play a map for say 3 hours with your friends and can't get enough of it then you made a good map. You cannot say: build three stairs, 4 powerups, 5 weapons- add water, mix it and taddaaa: you have a perfect map. I think you need a nice image of what your map should look like- or a theme that you'll use as basic (example: An Ewok-Village as deathmatch; everytime you slip you'll fall from the trees and crater). Only one thing I always try to remember: Every room needs two entrances- one from which your attacker is coming and one as your escaping route. Only on a few occasions (like being the respawn of a powerful- level dominating weapon [like the redeemer in UT]) can be a reason to only leave one entrance.
4. I don't think you must be programmer to build good levels. My best levels are from a time when I didn't know how to fix Windows, so I pretty much think it's more about the 'skill' of turning the images in your head into solid maps.

One link I really found quite useful at the beginning was:
http://planetquake.com/bubba/tutorial.html <- was mentioned in this forum already

Bubba really explains the basics of mapping at the right pace- I learned Radient in one afternoon, so I think he did a pretty good job ;)

So far for the advice I can offer.

Now I have a question: Perhaps we have some more experienced mappers here who can help me out:

I made a mirror mesh and want it to rotate. Now every time I assign the func_rotating to it the mirror goes nuts. Now I remember an early map of Q3 where they've done that (so it worked then...). Does anyone know how to get the mirror fixed? You can't assign the func to the misc_portal_face, so how do I do it?

03-21-2002, 04:04 PM
Yep, that's Bubba's site. I read through every basic tutorial there. Very helpful info. :)

Ok, question time:

I'm currently reading the section on Setting Grid Size, studying the Grid Size Key, and I'd like some clarification on something.

The Design Notes suggest to:

Try not to build architecture with a grid smaller than 8 units.
Use a smaller grid if you need to build small details.
Use a large grid (32 or 64) for roughing in a level.
Use a large grid for moving large chunks of architecture around.

Do I understand correctly that you can change the grid size on the fly to edit various details of your map without effecting the placement of objects? If so, do I also understand correctly that the Snap to Grid function allows you to then "snap" edges, vertices, and patches to their respective grid coordinates once you've finished the rough positioning everything?

03-21-2002, 05:20 PM
1) It depends on what layout you pick. I work with a single 2d window myself. I'd suggest you keep the 3d window relativly small.
2) I have a 2 button mouse. No biggie.
3) For functionaility and navigation - learn to use clip.
4) None needed.

Grid stuff - The grid can be changed any time. Snapping will snap an item to the nearest grid point, whatever the setting may be.
Changing the grid has absolutly no effect on the geometry already there... So, yes, you are correct in everything you assumed. By 'rough positioning', eh. Build at a high grid setting, it'll snap to the grid AS you build. I haven't found much use for snap to grid myself.

03-22-2002, 01:21 AM
1) As for the resolution, I suggest you use the highest possible at a decent refresh rate. I have my 19" at 1280*1024 @75Hz. If you test your map, I suggest you put your settings at 640x480 @ medium detail, since that is how most people will see your map. That way you'll notice quicker if something looks to plain or too boring.

2)The wheel serves as the third button. Just make sure your settings for your radiant editor are set to a 3button mouse

3)The best way to create a multiplayer map is to draw the floorplans of every part of the map. Then build the map using only the floorplan, without adding any detail. Play it with bots and see how it goes. Make changes to your floorplan if necessary. Once the flow is right, start working on the detail.

4)Programming experience does not help in multiplayer maps. However, to use the ICARUS scripting language to create events in single player it helps. But you can learn ICARUS without programming experience, it 'll just be a little bit harder.

For the grid, I always have snap to grid on, and I try to keep it at 8. Sometimes to get some curves right I need to put my grid to a lower value, but it is rarely the case.

03-22-2002, 03:13 AM
Can I get some ideas on how long it took any of you to get the hang of Q3Radiant and creating your first levels?

I just spent the last 6 hours working with 3 different tutorials:

The Dog's 10-step tutorial as written in the Q3Radiant manual, and the two links below:


And I've yet to successfully create my first basic room.

What I find myself struggling the most with right now are:

1) Constantly thinking in terms of 3D, and

2) Learning how to use the editor, including understanding how to differentiate views between the x, y, and z-axis grids, navigation, and adjusting to the user interface. It's not very intuitive at all.

Like I said, math and geometry have never been my forte. Am I making this whole process seem much harder than it really is, or should map-making really expected to be this difficult for someone of my limited knowledge?

Regardless, I'm quickly developing a new-found appreciation for the art of map-making and what it takes to make a good game. I absolutely cannot wait to see what Raven has done with JKII.

03-22-2002, 03:27 AM
It took me like 5-6 hours getting a hold of Radient and finding out how everything works, but then I used WC before to make HL-Maps and UnrealED, so you can't compare it with really learing to map. Mapping is a learning process for me, so I really can't tell how long it takes to 'learn' it.

03-22-2002, 04:25 AM
My first room took me about half an hour to create, you just got to think that you are creating a house of LEGO(tm). Now it takes me about 30 seconds to finish a square room. Once you get the hang of it you'll progress very quickly. Make sure that your first map isn't too large. When it is finished, make sure you read tutorials about detail/structural brushes, caulk, clip etcetera. Once you know that stuff, proceed into learning the vis process and hint brushes.

03-22-2002, 04:49 AM
Thanks for the reassurance. Much appreciated.

03-22-2002, 03:17 PM
Woohoo! I finally created my first room! I'm still trying to get used to orientating myself with how to interpret the x,y, and z axis windows in relation to the 3D view window, but I am learning.

Are there any resources avialable that might help someone like me, who learns best by visual examples, how to clearly understand the relationship between the 3D view window and the grid?

I have no trouble navigating the view window, but when I switch my attention to the grid, I have no idea where I am in the map I'm creating.

03-22-2002, 05:32 PM
Not that I know of.

I only got Radiant myself a few days ago. The best advice I can give is to read a set of tutorials you feel comfortable with. Works for me anyway.

03-22-2002, 07:06 PM
There are no 'x,y,z' windows. The 2d windows are actually planes. In the top, you'll see a little corner with something like 'x y' labeled on it. This it the plane that view is in. The axis (x y or z) not listed there is the one you 'can't see', it's the one that's sticking straight out of the screen. Radiant uses the calculus axis alignment, not the alignment that is standard in most 3d games (go fig). When you see 'y x' you are in the top view. x goes across horizontally, y goes across vertically, and z comes straight out of the screen. You can visualize this in a room as such:
facing zero degrees (exactly east) the x axis is your forward/back. The y axis is your left/right, and you z axis is your up/down. Of course, east is towards the right side of the window.

03-22-2002, 07:09 PM
To find yourself in the 2d view after you move around the 3d view - look for the little camera icon. It's a box with two lines coming out of it. The lines face the direction you're facing in the 3d window. Theres a hotkey to move the 2d views to this point, it's in the manual somewhere.

03-22-2002, 07:31 PM
That explains why I'm having so much difficulty trying to picture where I am in the map when I'm working with the grid. I've never taken calculus - hell, I failed Algebra 101 twice.

Thanks for the visual que on reading the grid. So, that's what the traingular shape with the two lines extending from it are? The camera? I had no idea. Is the letter 'Z' positioned next to it, then, telling me that the camera represents my current view of the map in relation to the Z-axis?

I think what I may want to do, before I work on anymore maps, is just create a box and work on navigation so I have a clear understanding of where I am on the grid when editing.

03-23-2002, 03:09 AM

I've finally figured it out! FINALLY! I re-created my first room, replaced my sky with a gothic ceiling texture, and added two sources of extremely bright light. Not only that, but I also put in a rocket launch, rockets, and quad damage! I had NO trouble switching and interpreting grid views, and was able to position items where I wanted with zero effort!

It's amazing how easy this is when you know how to do it!

Thanks again, everyone, for all the help and advice. I can now whip up a basic room in less than a minute. I've still got a ways to go before I'm ready for anything advanced, but it's a great feeling to finally have the basics figured out.

Incredible stuff!

03-29-2002, 01:27 PM
You may also wish to know that basically everything done in Radiant revloves around 'drwaing boxes'.

03-31-2002, 09:03 PM
Hehehe...this thread reminds me of when I was learning mapping...ah, the memories...:cool: