View Full Version : Some Mapping Thoughts.

10-31-2002, 11:58 AM
As you are probably aware, quite a large number of maps have been released for JK2, yet there has yet to be a map which just "works". Now for JK1 a few come to mind: Drazen (for RPGers), Canyon Stream (Deathmatch), Higher Ground, etc.

Here are some things to consider when making maps for JK2:

Duel Maps:

Go all out for eyecandy, remember it can be a duel arean even if its not circular shape, and can have multiple levels. Coruscant Promenade is a great example of a good duel map.

FFA Maps:

FFA is about flow, now the thing most people forget when designing maps is that JK2 (and JK1) have fully three-dimensional gameplay, more so than any other FPS, this is because of Force Jump and various other abilities to achieve great heights. As a result in order for a FFA map to be truly great it has to take advantage of the use of speed and jump to get to places. Work out how many units a player can jump with each force level, and how far they can jump with and without speed. How far can people jump without force? What if they are strafe-jumping, circle-jumping etc. For a truly great map, every gameplay object has to be considered.

Now although this opinion is slightly biased I thought I should say it anyway. For JK1 I released numerous maps, exactly one of which was good, the map is "Can Yun-O Ace Is?" and its part of Massassi Level Pack 4. Whilst a simplistic map, I rebuilt it almost from scratch numerous times just to fix some flow issues.

In a FFA map you should be able to charge round the map at full speed without having to slow down significantly to avoid obstacles.

CTF Maps

Now this is the toughie, the majority of mappers will probably attempt a CTF map at some point in their editing career, most will fail, because quite frankly its incredibly hard to make a good CTF map. I've made some "okayish" CTF maps in my time, which means they get played a lot but still have major gameplay issues. So here are some things to think about.

- Symmetrical Bases: Lets face it Identical bases are boring, but its also incredibly difficulty to balance non-identical bases. If you feel you can pull it off, go for it. Otherwise take the safe route.

- Pull/Push: It should not be possible for one defender to hold off an entire team using just push or pull, if you plan to put pits in your level do it strategically, make it so that it takes some skill to knock someone into them. Quite a few CTF maps are heaven for pull-whores, mine (Bespin Towers) included.

- Three-Dimensions: Use all of them, also if you have your flag rooms on the top floor, don't make it possible to just travel through the top area to win. Provide incentive to use the lower areas, ie maybe a faster route. Or perhaps some kind of nasty obstacle on the shortest route so that its ALWAYS a risky choice. As much as I hate to say this, the WLS CTF pack and the CTF map in the CCCP pack suffered from this problem. This is also the reason I cancelled my remake of CTF Light & Dark from JK1.

- Novelty Value: Here's the true reason why people like my map (Bespin Towers), there are absolutely TONS of tricks you can do in it, most of which I wasn't even aware of when making it. No matter how good your map is gameplay wise, if it doesn't offer some opportunity for skillful tricks or fun bits, people just won't be interested.


Now at this point you may be saying LivingDeadJedi's maps are awesome, and in a way... yes they are, but the Theed map suffers from flow and framerate issues, it doesn't truly take advantage of all the dimensions etc. This will always be a problem when basing a map on an existing idea or location, your freedom to work with the gameplay element is somewhat limited.

Anyway that's all i've got to say for now on the subject. Feel free to comment or add your own thoughts.

10-31-2002, 12:34 PM
how about change this thread name to "Some Mulitplayer Mapping thoughts"

got some good points, though

10-31-2002, 01:42 PM
I was kind of hoping someone would add something for singleplayer maps since my experience with making them is somewhat limited ;)

But i'll give it a go

Singleplayer Maps

PLOT! Come up with your plot idea first and foremost, you don't need to have all the details for every level ready, but you need to know what you want the result of every level to be, and where you want it to lead, you need to plan plot twists and the like in advance otherwise you could get some problems with inconsistancies.

The Tricky Part: Architecture, with singleplayer maps you need to give the player the feeling of being in an expansive, integrated environment without actually forcing the engine to deal with all of it, its all about ILLUSION. It saddens me to say that Raven failed with this somewhat , the locations felts isolated and static. Singleplayer maps need to be dynamic and intelligent.

Cutscenes: Lets face it, everyone loves a good cutscene, if you're map is worth the download time, you should yourself spend a good deal of time making unique and well-scripted events that draw the player into the surroundings. Scripted events have the advantage over player controlled, because it makes it easier to make the environment immersive. Afterall, the player no longer has control over the camera, so you don't have to take into account all the possible camera angles ---> less brushes, faster compile and easier on the old framerate.

Force Users: Most of you will want some Jedi or Sith to fight at some time during a singleplayer map, as a map-designer its your job to make each encounter with one feel fresh and unique. With the JK2 missions, each one was pretty boring, it just felt eventually like waves of random-reborn. By all means have force-users to fight, but they should be rare encounters, not an enemy to fight round every corner.

Civilians: Something which JK2 sorely missed, to create a dynamic city or town you need Civilians, they need to move around with some sort of purpose. You could even have some little easter egg encounters with some of them to make the experience even more enjoyable.

Player Development: Make the main characters force ability level make sense to the story. With my intented story, the character has some enhanced abilities but isn't aware of their relationship to the force, as a result all he will have are jump and speed. If you choose to use a more developed Jedi, ie Mace Windu, then give him force powers that follow the characters personality.

Planning: It doesn't matter if you are a good artist or not, its almost essential to sketch out some of the more important areas in your levels, you need to work out connectivity, how the area fits with the environment etc. You will probably need an overall map of the area, it doesn't need to include everything, but it will need key locations, secrets, possible enemy hotspots.

10-31-2002, 07:18 PM
Although you modestly say you have limited experience in SP mapping that's a great summary of the goals of SP mapping, and what was missing from JKII.

In Raven's defence there are some graphically excellent levels: Bespin in particular comes to mind, and the more cinematic scenes like the Nar Shaddar bar or the carbon chamber. I think the static feel in JKII that you describe was as much to do with the lack of gameplay variety and character interaction as it was with physical limits of the levels.

So I would add gameplay as another major consideration for SP mapping. While combat is the core of any FPS game, some variety will greatly improve the experience. Your example of civilians is a case in point. In JKII it's hard to think of a NPC that isn't A) Trying to kill you or B) Trying to kill the people who are trying to kill you. Adding some civilians would have helped set scenes and made levels more immersive.

Raven did try some innovation like stealth play and prisoner protection, but these were limited in their development and have been done better in other FPS games.

I suppose I am thinking as much about the JKII expansion as I am about modding in these comments, but it would be interesting to see some more experimental maps out there.

10-31-2002, 08:15 PM
Great stuff, well reasoned and logical discussions on mapping are always good to hear! The lack of neutral NPCs was one of the big downers of the game for me, I think it was partly to do with the hightly combat orientated quake 3 engine (it aint no dark engine). This wasn't such a problem with a game that featured a lot of fairly linear levels, games like Deus Ex which basically stand out for the level of interaction had a lot of repeating the same areas, and so interaction was more important there than a game where you mostly fight your way across levels.

Personally I love character interaction in games that aren't out and out RPGs, like that you get in deus ex or say Ocarina of Time. I'm working on a level at the moment which is a town where you can interact with some peple, but the best I have got this so far is people who stand around and when you go near them a cutscene of you talking to them starts, or they just start talking at you. Having neutral NPCs wandering about is possible but really annoying to do :)

One problem I really have with doing SP levels is fore powers. The one's I've done so far feature Kyle and follow on from the end of jk2,so (logically I think) you should surely have at least as good force powers as you had at the end of that game? But some powers like force lightning level 3 make you way to powerful against all but the toughest gun-users, and force jump 3 lets you fly across any open levels. Saber throw rank 3 is also superpowerful and requires no skill to use. In the SP game Raven did they got the balance of the powers just right for me, as it never felt like you were too powerful for the enemies, in JK2 mod levels this seems to be a problem.

11-02-2002, 12:03 PM
Anymore good points anyone?

11-02-2002, 12:30 PM
There was a big SP editing tip thread I started a few months back. It got pretty big and covered a great deal of points. Without the forum search, it'll be quite hard to find though.

11-02-2002, 01:59 PM
yeah i dunno why that wasnt stickied

yeah pretty good SP tips, id like to add one about plot: the player doesnt need to save the galaxy (again!).... its been done trillions of times over - have the story be more localized and personal with the main character... that helps develop the character and brings more realistic environment and interactions

also, with enemies, the game kind of limits what you can do there; i mean, the guns suck pretty bad, and most players would want to be force-adepts, or jedi anyway, and with that, you need to have a force-adept enemy to be a challenge for you - which kinda goes back to my earlier point, sith and dark jedi have been used ad naseaum
i guess for this, an idea would be to have a strong enemy that you may fight on multiple occasions, like say fight them once, and if you beat the npc that time, a cutscene will show the enemy escaping or something - no endless waves of reborns, but a saber-wielding enemy to keep you on your toes

yeah, and i completely agree with the civilian NPC ideas... it is alot of work to make it look and work well, however. i was thinking of ideas to use hidden goal states, and since i wasnt planning on having the rocket launcher in my episode (rocket launchers should stay in DM games), using rocket ammo for counters in my civilian-interaction scripts

for one thing, i think the SW universe, would be better in a half-rpg type game, like dues ex, then with a reskinned quake, but thats what raven had to work with, and they did a good job considering that

11-02-2002, 02:01 PM
I'll be looking out for that thread Akpiggot. I've worked on some MP maps, but i'd still like to do a nice Sp map. I prefer the SP engine/gameplay over MP. But i'm still a relative beginner, so i could use all the tips i can get.

Leslie Judge
11-02-2002, 02:46 PM
Funny, as I see most people agree. Then why aren't most people doing their maps with these advices ("rules") in mind? :)

What to say after all? :) I think a good story is very important for an SP map. It helps to feel yourself inside the game. Of course all the other points you wrote above are important too.

11-02-2002, 02:52 PM
Funny, as I see most people agree. Then why aren't most people doing their maps with these advices ("rules") in mind?

Some of us are, it all just takes alot longer is all. And you're still not getting any force/sabering with my level... muah ha hah ah

11-02-2002, 04:04 PM
i'll also add that I really think all a level needs to be good is to make it all to scale, and through in some curves. the clip tool is easy for heavens' sake!

Why does a door need to be 300 units tall, and 64 wide?

Why do rooms need to be overly large and barren ?

Why is the archetecture in levels so bloody boxy?

These are some of the things that go through my mind while building my level. I jsut saw a new SP map called ATST hangar on jedioutcastmaps.com and 7 months after the game came out, the levels are still looking boxy.

I really think all a level needs to be really good is SCALE the darn thing. if a player is 64 units high, work with that!!

11-03-2002, 05:46 AM
Took me a while to find, but here's the big SP tips thread:


11-03-2002, 06:45 AM
Very interesting thread! I can't say that I've been impressed by many of the user made jk2 ffa maps that I've seen so far. Of the 20 or so ffa maps that i've seen, only dirge and Acid Storage Facility 2 stick out (and neither are perfect). I'm a veteram fps player and novice mapper (just finishing off my first map) and I've picked up a few tips along the way that I'd like to share.

FFA maps should :

(1) Flow. Give people a reason to go to all the areas. Make sure there are multiple ways to get to different areas. Place items wisely so that people don't just end up in a single area. Make sure that areas are not easily campable. If you make a large map, make sure you can from end to end in a reasonable amount of time. You don't have to make a huge map just because this is a Star Wars themed game. Keep in mind that large areas are gun friendly and smaller areas with nooks and crannies are more sabre friendly. The bottom line is that if a ffa map doesn't flow, it won't get played.

(2) Be at least moderately visually appealing.

(3) Be reasonably well lighted. Darkness can add atmosphere, but it's no fun if you can't see your target.

(4) Should be cpu friendly. I would aim for it playing well on a P1000. The actual weapons/items use a large number of triangles so placing too many in the same vis area can really slow things down. Design your map with area portals and hint bruhes in mind rather than them being an afterthough (doh!).

(5) Add bot support!!!

Maps such as ffa_deathstar and ffa_bespin are fantastic resources and examples for map making. ffa_deathstar is easy on system resources, visually appealing and flows like a sob. What it took me a while to realise is that what makes it so visually appealing with so few triangles is that it makes brilliant use of assymetry. It therefore often looks diverse, interesting and purty without a lot going on. It also makes great use of areaportals to block vis. Notice that while both maps are quite large, you can get from end to end in under 20 secs.

I'm sure that I've made a few errors and skipped over many issues but this would be my 2 cents nonetheless.

11-03-2002, 07:58 PM
Originally posted by AKPiggott
Took me a while to find, but here's the big SP tips thread:


I looked for that myself to no avail, is a great thread as is this one, a thread which is truely useful to everyone can be a rare thing :)