Legacy:Mapping Checklist

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This is a list of things to check before releasing a map.

Within The Editor

Check For The Dreaded HOM

Always look around your level checking for the dreaded Hall of Mirrors effect (HOM), or any invisible collision hulls that are not meant to be there.

Check the Map Flow

Map Flow is the quality of the map that keeps the player interested, engaged and "on their toes". It can also describe the smoothness of gameplay a map delivers. Many players leave a map that feels choppy; review the page link to find out how to make it move like a river.

Cull Textures

In the log (UnrealEd Main Menu -> View -> Log), type "texture cull" and hit enter; this will get rid of textures that are present within the map file, but that are not actually used in your level.

  • Do not cull a partially built level; any textures which are only used on brushes currently hidden will be wiped. This will result in the next Full Rebuild having lots of blobby green textures. See Texture Cull for more information on culling textures.

Add Bot Support

Ensure people can play your level offline as you intended for it to be played. 99% of the time a reviewer's initial reaction to your level will be determined by playing it with bots and if they stand around doing nothing it makes a bad first impression. Check Bot Support, Bot Pathing and Testing Botplay for more information.

Include A Skybox

Adding a SkyBox to map is highly recommended, even if there is no way to see the "outside" of your level.

  • This is because the lack of a skybox has been known to cause problems with the bot AI, and other parts of the code.
  • Really? I've never heard of this. Why would it cause problems? – Tarquin
  • I believe that is a myth. I have not seen a difference in any code. – SuperApe

Check For Bleaching

Check your lighting to make sure the lights are not "bleached". This happens when lights of too higher a brightness are put near each other. It will look like your coloured lights have gone white in the centre, whilst the outline looks normal.

  • To fix, lower the relevant lights' brightnesses or saturation values.
  • Check the lighting pages for more information.

Include Music

Most maps have music in them, if only as an ambient sound. If you do choose to add music to your map, ensure it is not too loud or unsuitable for your level.

Environmental Sound

Make sure all your relevant zones have a ZoneSound property enabled in your ZoneInfo. This one small task only takes an extra 5 seconds, but can potentially add a lot to the audio ambience of a level with no real impact on in-game performance.

Include A Level Screenshot

Add a Level Screenshot to your map. This just makes it look more professional to the end-users.

Set A Default Gametype

Some players will start maps by double-clicking the file directly, and unless you correctly set a DefaultGameType in the Level Properties, your map will start running under a DeathMatch game. This spoils the first impression, and could lead to a bad review.

A default gametype is also required for certain gametypes to run correctly when played from the editor. Double Domination for example will have no DOM points if the default gametype hasn't been set correctly. In UT2004 it is essential to set the default gametype for Onslaught, as the power core and nodes will not appear otherwise. – Radiosity

Include A Readme File

Write a "ReadMe" file and bundle it along with your map in a .zip compressed file.

  • As a minimum requirement, include your name, (or nickname) and email address.
  • If your map requires additional files that aren't bundled, specify which (and where to get them).
  • If your map comes with bundled files (e.g., texture packages), list them. This will help users keep their installation clean should they wish to remove your map.
  • Specify the following:
    • whether or not you want to allow other people to use your map as a base for derivative works (like conversions to other game types)
    • whether or not (and how) your map may be distributed by other people (like other websites, or magazine coverdiscs)
    • whether or not your map may be commercially exploited (i.e. distributed in a way that requires payment to the distributor).
  • Do not name the file ReadMe.txt. It is customary to give a readme file your map's base name, like DM-MyMap.txt or DM-MyMap_ReadMe.txt. That way users can safely keep your readme file in their Help directory and will be able to see at a glance which map it belongs to.
  • NaliCity provides an automated readme generator for UT, not UT2003. It should also be mentioned that this is an online, not offline, tool.

Pack It Up

Clean Up Stray Files

The map file (.UNR, .UT2, etc) can contain most Unreal resources you used in your map: textures, sounds, code, static meshes and so on. The only exception is music, which in UT2003 and later games is in the OGG format. OGG files must be included in your zip as a seperate file.

Putting resources in extra packages only makes sense if you plan to reuse them in another map (and you are sure the user will have both maps). Otherwise they just clutter your map distribution, and increase the complexity of installation.

See Embedding Code and MyLevel for instructions on how to embed code and other media packages in your level.

Check Cohesiveness

Make sure every non-standard file needed to play your map is bundled in your map distribution file (i.e. .zip file). Don't take the presence of a given mod for granted (unless your map is being distributed with or as part of that mod). If in doubt, get your game CD and browse it to find out whether a particular package is part of the standard installation or not.

  • If your map requires files that you cannot or do not want to bundle, make note of that in the readme file (see above), providing links to download locations.
  • You can find a list of all standard texture packs here: Texture Package.

Embed folders

If you're distributing your map as a zip file, store the files within their respective folders. This will allow the user to simply extract the zip file to their game directory, and WinZip (or another archiving app) will take of putting the map file and the packages in their correct place.

Ask for Feedback

Get ready for response. The worst thing that could happen to you is getting a really bad review on your map. Even really experienced mappers get bad reviews on some of his or her maps. You have to understand why you got that score, and learn from that. Contrary, you shouldn't lash out and say "You better give a good review or I will report you for not reviewing truthfully!", or someting lamer than that. Or, the best thing that could happen to you is getting a really good review on your map. You may even think that the map you created will be a really bad n00bish map, but in reality, it might be a hosted map of the week. You never know until you release the map. You can reduce the incidence of negative feedback through beta testing, however.

Related Topics


SuperApe: Working in with Topics on Mapping family of pages.

Tarquin: Good idea. Not all of the things on this page are useful. Eg 'Check the flow'. That's starting to sound like saying 'Build the map' is a checklist item...

SuperApe: Agreed. That's really a design issue that should've been taken care of before construction.

Doogle: Just put the nalicity links to working ones :)