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Author Topic: A comprehensive guide for making and editing maps [All modes][Images]  (Read 28903 times)

Machidro

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Introduction


Welcome to Machidro’s guide to producing maps. While there are already several map guides available, there are two obvious problems with them. Namely, they haven’t been updated in ages, so they lack content explaining how to map for newer game modes, and that, to a new player, they introduce too much complexity too quickly, leading to many new players refusing to read them.

I want to fix this. I believe in introducing content in order of the size of concepts, starting with the most broad ideas I need to share, and working my way down to individual questions and problems that people often have. If you start at the top and work your way to the bottom of the guide, you will come out with a finished map.

To use this guide, follow the instructions under each major subheader. In each section, there is the basic guide, and tricks and tips for completing the subsection.

Knowing that, let’s begin.


Table of Contents


Prologue: Tools you’ll need

   A. Make a Wallmask
   B. Make a Background
   C. Place your Entities
   D. Embed your Map
   E. Loading and Sharing your Map in Gang Garrison 2


Prologue: The Tools you'll need


Before you begin, you're going to need three major tools. These things are:


1. Garrison Builder. This is the program you will produce all of your maps in. It can be found in the Garrison Builder forum subsection at the top of the page.



2. An Image Editor of your choice.
You will need something you can use to make pixel art. Microsoft's paint is more than sufficient, but other image editors will work just as well.


3. Gang Garrison 2. You need to have the game installed somewhere on your computer if you want to test your maps.

If you have all three of the above, congratulations, you have everything you'll need to make maps!

Help, Hints, Tricks and Tips


The Help, Hints, Tricks and Tips section, which is under each major category, has additional, in depth information on each major topic. If you feel confident that the summary was sufficient, move on to the next major section. If you want more information on a topic, read on.

First, use the main build of Garrison Builder. Though there are mods for Garrison Builder that will technically work, some features in them may be broken and the interface will be different, and this guide can't account for those types of problems.


Keeping your folders separated will keep map making more organized

Second, Keep Gang Garrison 2 Separate from Garrison Builder. Garrison builder generates a good deal of extra files and folders on creation. Some of these folders may have the exact same name as the ones in your Gang Garrison 2 folder, making organization of actual maps versus in progress images a headache. You don't need the folders together to test your maps, and you only make your own work more difficult. So, be smart, keep them separate.

Third, Set up Garrison Builder's settings now, before you go any further. Enter Garrison Builder, select a game mode, and press F3. A pop up menu will appear asking you to enter options. The menus are fairly self explanatory, but as a Windows 7 user on a reasonably modern computer, my answers to the questions preceding where GG2 is stored are: MSPaint, Yes for map refreshing, No for disable effects, Yes for 64-Bit Vista, and 5 for toolbar length. Be aware the correct answers for your machine may differ. You can exit Garrison Builder using the ESC key.

Fourth, For larger map projects, Microsoft Paint will not cut it. Microsoft Paint lacks support for a wide range of useful features, such as layers, gradients, keyboard shortcuts, and proper color sliders. Though it can be used for quick touch up and to produce a general concept of your map, drawing professional looking map art using it is extremely difficult and tedious. Consider downloading a more advanced graphics program like Paint.NET, Gimp, GraphicsGale, or photoshop, if you own it.

Now that you have your tools, it's time to:


Make a Wallmask


Making a wallmask is the first step of making a map. A wallmask is a black and white image dictating the parts of your map which the player can contact. Producing a wallmask is a simple process.

An example of a black and white wallmask

To produce a wallmask, using an image editor, draw all surfaces of the map you want to be contactable black, and all open space to be white. Once the wallmask is completed, this step is crucial, change the bottom left corner pixel white. Once you've created a wallmask, a second crucial step, save the image as a .PNG file, and give it a name specifically designating it as a wallmask. We will need this image for later, save it in the folder where you keep Garrison Builder.

Help, Hints, Tricks and Tips


First, build your wallmask from the ground up to be playable. By this, I mean that from the moment you start working on your map to the time you finish you should be making sure all jumps are possible, all hallways are passable, and that movement on your map is not a chore. As a set of hard and fast rules:

  • All classes can walk through a six pixel large space between the floor and ceiling, but should generally be given eight or more pixels in order to allow jumping and smooth movement. Only Pyros and Quotes can walk through five pixel spaces.
  • All players can jump nine pixels high vertically and can land on a 10th solid pixel, however, players shouldn't be forced to use their maximum jump height to land every jump. Scouts can double jump up 18 pixels.
  • For all classes, there must be at least an 11 pixel space between the floor and ceiling to walk down a staircase. Heavies can only smoothly descend an 11 pixel staircase, other classes can smoothly descend a 10 pixel staircase, and Pyros and Quotes can descend eight Pixel staircases smoothly.
  • A jump designed for all players should be no wider than 15 pixels. Soldiers and heavies can jump, at maximum, about 15 pixels, snipers can jump around 17 pixels, and all other classes can jump around 20 pixels. A scout's first jump travels 25 pixels, using a double jump to maximize distance allows 55 pixels.
  • For a player to smoothly ascend a staircase without jumping, each step can be no steeper than one pixel.

Second, balance your map before drawing art. Sufficiently advanced art can be extremely difficult to redo or redesign. If you are extremely serious about making a highly competitive or balanced map, take your wallmask image, create a duplicate of it to use as your background, and complete the rest of the guide using your black and white version. This will allow you to test your map on a server for balance and allows increased community feedback.

Finally, understand how a map is balanced and incorporate that knowledge into your design. A map when began is nothing but an empty expanse. The two factors which differentiate maps are routes and cover.

On a map, there is always at least one route to a team's goal, with offshooting paths of various lengths attached to a main route. Balance issues mainly come from design flaws in these routes, and come in three general forms: A critical area where a defense is undefeatable, a critical area where mounting a defense is impossible, and an area where no side can ever gain an upper hand, creating tedious stalemates. Optimally, in a confrontation, the better, more aggressive team will always win, and when two teams or pushes fight directly, they usually do.

A map like this without any alternative routes and cover will quickly descend into mindless spam.

The most common issue with a new mapper’s path balancing is not providing alternative routes to a point. The direct confrontation that providing only one route will inevitably create causes stalemates against fairly equal teams, and prevents classes which rely on flanking or intrigue, like the scout, spy, and sniper, from being able to truly participate. This is the first major concept of balancing a map: There needs to be more than one route on your map to important areas.

Don't consider this a mandate to make hundreds of offshoot paths, too many routes makes defense too difficult to maintain. Find a happy medium to balance your map, with enough choke points that the defense has a fair chance. Chokepoints are areas where players are forced to funnel through. The second major concept of map balancing: Both chokepoints and paths provided to evade them should be balanced for risk and reward. If a path is easier to traverse safely or allows a player to avoid direct conflict, the route should be correspondingly longer or more difficult to travel, and the inverse for a more dangerous route.

Adding alternative routes with different positives and negatives encourage choice and interesting play

The third and final major point of balancing map is that players need to be provided reasonable cover and adequate space to avoid attacks. Straight hallways where the player has an inability to jump are nightmares for an offensive team, allowing a single soldier, sniper, or engineer to completely lock down the area with spam. By providing jumping room and cover on paths, you prevent spam, provide a means of giving a team an advantage in an area, allow flanking for scouts and spys, and create a less claustrophobic map.

After adding cover and space for players to move around, we now have the start of what could become a fun map to play

Though this explanation and my example provides only a simplified view of balancing maps with several major shortcomings (such as not accounting for scout paths, map size, and zoning), these general principles are the inviolable points required to create a balanced map. I encourage you to experiment with paths, chokepoints, space, and cover in a way that is refreshing and new. Also consider studying the flow of other maps that people tend to find balanced and enjoyable, such as ctf_conflict, ctf_noir, and koth_contra, it can give you some ideas.

You’ve completed the most important step in creating a map, now it’s time to…


Make a Background


A background is the art a player will see when playing on your map.

An example of a background to go with our above wallmask

To make a background, open a copy of your wallmask image, and draw onto the image the art you want your map to have, continually making sure that your wallmask and background are matching up. Once you’ve created your background, save the image as a .PNG file, and give it the name you want your map to ultimately have. We will need this image for later, save it in the folder where you keep Garrison Builder.


Help, Hints, Tricks and Tips


First, be clear is designating areas which a player can and cannot walk on. This seems like a fairly obvious point, but forcing a player to internally debate whether they are able to actually make a jump or not is annoying. The most basic method of showing this information is making areas you cannot contact a lighter color than objects in the foreground, along with putting dark borders around solid objects. To quote Bludragon, “A map needs an obvious distinction between the foreground and background. A player that knows where they can and cannot go is a happier player.”

In this example, we see there is no difference in color between solid and nonsolid crates, which will confuse players. Don’t do this.

Second, utilize color theory to make a nice looking map. Your map is going to be constantly scrutinized when being played, you want to keep this scrutiny easy on the eyes, if nothing else. If nothing else, use nonsaturated colors. Overly bright maps are hard on the eyes and look bad. This means no pure reds, whites, yellows, or what have you. For a nicer looking map, use a palette of similar, complementing colors. Don’t use a large amount of subtle colors and attempt to mix them with a large amount of vibrant colors, the contrast will look bad.

This exaggerated example is to show why we use color theory. Don’t be a leftside map maker

Third, add details to your map to make it more interesting. People like a clean and well designed map, but people like to play maps which look nice as well. Add texture and little touches to your map. Some ideas include lighting, perspective, objects on the walls and in the background, and other scenic props. A little effort can go a long way towards making a nice map. However, take this with a grain of salt. Details should not overshadow playability of your map. To quote Chu, “Emphasize terrain readability over map details”.

Making nice art is in the end a matter of taste and practice. Do your best to produce a fun, balanced, and playable map before anything else, and produce nice art if you can after the fact.

Now that you’ve drawn your background and wallmask, it’s time to enter into Garrison Builder to…


Place your Entities


Entities are the parts of your map that your players can interact with. This includes the spawn points, objectives, medcabinets, and many other objects of interest.

To begin, we will have to load up our map so far. On the toolbar, find the button which says “Load Background”, and select your background. Repeat correspondingly for your wallmask. Now that you have done so, we’re ready to use the entity default set:

The entity default set all maps should have: Team spawn points, at least one med cabinet, three pixel thick team doors, and spawn boxes

Team spawns are the first entity to add, and are there for obvious reasons. Medcabinets are similarily self explanatory, full heal at spawn. Spawn boxes (the box enclosed scout with the arrow pointing right) allow players to change classes without suiciding, which prevents frustration, and three pixel thick spawn doors (the red and blue lines) means that no class can fire into the team's spawn spawn by camping the doorway. These entities should be present on every map, with one exceptions, which I will point out. However, there are individual modes you should be mapping for, so let's segue into...

How to map for each game mode


Symmetric Control Point:

Place down the first control point first, then surround it with capture zones. Repeat until you've reached your target point number

Placing the point first, followed by the capture zones for it, minimizes the chance of human error. Start with the first control point and go up from there, point by point. You don't have to worry about the color of your placed points. Do not skip points (i.e, three CP using points 1, 3, and 5 will not work).


Asymmetric Control Point:

Place down the first control point first, then surround it with capture zones. Repeat until you've reached your target point number. Add a setup gate on red's side to finish.

Placing the point first, followed by the capture zones for it, minimizes the chance of human error. Start with the first control point and go up from there, point by point. You don't have to worry about the color of your placed points. Do not skip points (i.e, three CP using points 1, 3, and 5 will not work). Once you are done, place setup gates to prevent red from attacking blue on startup. Setup gates are not the same as team gates, blue can pass through them as well, add red team gates accordingly.


Dkoth:

Place a team's point. Surround it with capture zones. Repeat for other team

Dkoth is easy to map for. Place the Dkoth control point on the team’s respective side, and then surround it with capture zones. Repeat for the other team. The symbols above the points are unimportant. Be sure that you are using the Dkoth points, or you will either be unable to compile or will be playing 2CP.


Generator:

Place each generator in the team's respective side.

Generator is easy to map for. Place the generator on the team's respective side. Leaving the generator on the ground or within normal jumping distance means spys can stab it for massive damage, it's best to prevent this if you can.


Koth:

Place the center point. Surround it with capture zones

Koth is easy to map for. Place the Koth capture point in the center of the map, and then surround it with capture zones. The symbol above the point is unimportant.


Capture the flag:

Place each intel in the team's respective side

Mapping for CTF is easy. Place the red and blu intel into the map on the corresponding team's side. Where you put the intel is where the team's intel will spawn.


Arena:

Place the center point. Surround it with capture zones. Remove all entities from the teams’ spawns except spawn points.

Arena is saved for last since it is the one exception to the standard entity model. You are not supposed to place team doors, medcabinets, or spawnroom boxes, remove any you may have placed and leave only spawnpoints. Now, place the arena CP in the center of the map, then surround it with capture zones.

Congratulations, you now have all the knowledge necessary to map for all game modes.


Help, Hints, Tricks and Tips


First, there are a good deal of other entities which you should be aware of. Reading through the image I have prepared here will help you learn what you should know.

Third, avoid overusing kill boxes, and don’t use frag boxes. Killboxes are fun to mess around with, and can add points of interests, such as bottomless pits. However, overuse is annoying and will frustrate players. Frag boxes kill players in the same manner as kill boxes, but cause the player to gib. Gibs cause a large amount of lag for players which leave them on, and having enough present can cause players to disconnect.

Forth, Do not use horizontal team doors, use only vertical. Horizontal team doors are awkward to walk on, are glitchy for players to walk through, create issues if players are ascending stairs to pass through them (which they almost always are), and are difficult for all involved.

Fifth, Save your entities and make them easily retrievable for later. This will allow you to make part of a map’s entities and continue at a later point, useful for rocket jumps or works in progress. It’ll also allow easy entity movement between version changes of your map. Click “Save Entities”, and go into the decompiled folder GB created. Go into the entities section, name the entities, and save. Now, outside of GB, navigate to your entity file, open it using a notepad program. Change the file type from .txt to all files, and append “.ent” to your file name. Garrison builder can now reload the entities easily.

Now that you've backed up your entities, it's time to put all your work together to create a map by...


Embedding your map


Embedding your map is the final step in completing a map. It combines your wallmask, background, and entities together into your map's background, making the map playable in GG2. To complete your map, find the button that reads “Embed Entities in PNG” and click it. Once the loading bar disappears, you are done, and your map is complete!


Help, Hints, Tricks and Tips


This step, since it is the last step in the production of your map, is where you are able to fix any of your mistakes and check to see that your map is ready to launch. There are a few things you should check before declaring your map complete:
  • Did you remember to set up a complete spawn room using the default entity set, spawn points and all?
  • On your wall mask, did you leave the bottom left corner pixel white?
  • Does your wallmask and background match up? Check using the “Show Wallmask” button, all areas you want players to be able to walk should be colored black, the rest should be regular background.
  • Did you place your mode’s entities?

If everything above is true, good job, you’re ready to embed.

Once you have embedded your map, provided the map is still open in the builder, if you want to edit your wallmask, background, or entities, you can do so easily. Should you close the builder, to make the map editable again, simply reload the wallmask, background, and entities using the respective buttons. Just don't forget to re-embed when you are done.

The last bit of advice for your now embedded map map is to give it a test run, don't release an unfinished map. Using the heavy, ensure that the map's spawns and objectives all work, and ensure that all areas of your map are passable. Remember to also check if your map has ease of movement, just because you can make all jumps successfully doesn't mean it's comfortable to do so.

Congratulations, you've made a map! All that’s left is to...


Share your Map


Sharing your map allows other forumers to play it and use it for their servers. Take the background image that your map's embedded as. Change its name to whatever you wish to call it officially, no data is lost doing so. For personal use, copy the map into your GG2 maps folder, name the map in your map rotation (check the sample in your GG2 folder to see how to do so), and host your server. To share with other forumers, pick an image host, and upload your map to it. Post that map to the forums, and bask in your mapping glory!

YYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!


Help, Hints, Tricks, Tips, and Parting Words


First, pick an easy to use image host. I recommend Imageshack after making a free account, or Imgur, as both are fairly reliable and have minimal difficulty related.

Second, do some communal testing with your map. Start a server and play a few rounds on it with others. It's fun, it'll draw interest towards your map, and it'll help you find balancing issues which you can correct with a second version.

That completes my comprehensive mapping guide. I hope that this guide will spur mappers to action and bring newbies into the mapping fray with a fighting chance of making something unique. Special thanks to all people who provided quotes for the guide, drew maps which inspire and teach me, and to any reader who is able to use some of the knowledge they find here to improve or begin their own map making journey.

This was a long guide, and a good deal of material was covered. If you see any errors or have any suggestions of things to add to the guide, feel free to leave a message or send a PM.

Thanks for reading!
« Last Edit: June 01, 2013, 02:46:32 pm by Machidro »
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bullets (obviously)

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I thought all classes can pass through 6px tunnels and pyro/quote can pass through 5px? The windows in classicwell are 5px, I think.
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Machidro

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Nice catch, error fixed!
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Derpduck

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That's wrong.
Quote = 5
Scout = 7
Pyro = 6
Heavy = 7

Infact, everyone except the pyro and quote (should be) seven or six, you can check yourself.
You can check this using the characters' hitboxes in the source.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 07:40:45 am by Derp(duck) [LORD] »
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bullets (obviously)

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Quote can't go through 4px tunnels in game, both quote and pyro can fit through 5px though pyro seems to have difficulty getting in.
(click to show/hide)
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Derpduck

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Ok, let me edit my post; I just realised something.

bullets (obviously)

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But the bigger classes can still fit into 6px tunnels...
Try the map I posted earlier for each class: All classes except pyro and curly make it into the 6px tunnel, pyro and curly fit into the 5px one.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 07:54:57 am by bullets (obviously) »
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Derpduck

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Really, oh well. Nevermind then.

Haxton Sale

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  • HAXTON SAAAAAAAAAAALE!

Wait, is this an unusual kind of entry or should I move it to "Map Making"?
Or maybe sticky?
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 10:21:28 am by Haxton Sale »
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Chu

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can you move this to mapmaking
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Machidro

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I'd like if it stayed in the haxxies, at least until after the contest, please. The haxxies are what spurred me to finally finish writing the guide, and I decided to, instead of entering a map like I planned, to put all of my effort into the guide and submit it as a subcategory of maps. I have to admit it'd would feel pretty bad to lose my haxxy chance.
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Derpduck

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This can't really be compared with anything; it's going to be a no-contest if it is considered an entry.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 12:46:30 pm by Derp(duck) [LORD] »
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Catman

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Best non-categorized entry right here!
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...so I challenge you!

Machidro

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This can't really be compared with anything; it's going to be a no-contest if it is considered an entry.

I think it can, it's just where to put it and how to categorize it.

I honestly do think it mostly belongs in the map section under the sub category of map tutorial, since that's pretty much what it's about and what it is; it's not competing with the other maps because it isn't one. The issue that it would be a no contest in maps isn't exactly something I could have prevented, no one else decided to make a guide.

If it's current position in maps makes it inconsiderable for an entry, it could always be transferred into the other category for "Other cool Gang Garrison Related Stuff", in which case it would be competing with "baketball.", but I think it's currently probably better suited where it is.

Best non-categorized entry right here!

Thanks!
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 03:48:47 pm by Gardicolo »
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bullets (obviously)

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Best guide/best written submission?
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