Legacy:Mapping For DM

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Mapping for DeathMatch couldn't be easier. They can be a lot of fun to make. They allow you a lot of freedom because essentially there are no "rules." There is really nothing special that has to be put in a DeathMatch map. Your first endeavor as a mapper is almost always a DM map, and when you make a new map in UnrealEd it defaults to being DM (when you click the joystick button to Playtest the map).

However, there are some ingredients that you need to have a succesful DM map.

Map Flow

Map Flow above all else. You have to be able to get from one place to another very easily. And what's more you've got to have several options. UnrealTournament's DM-Tempest has brilliant flow as does DM-Malevolence. They are almost open ended but not at all confusing to navigate. The reason is that no two places look the same so you can tell where you are. This is why a symmetrical map is bad in DM in my opinion. Another thing with flow you might want to consider is the fact that you might want doors and other movers in the way with switches to open them for all the nice detail but it really can ruin the flow if you want to get to the next room in a small amount of time and get fragged because you were finding the switch. But all the flow really depends on the type of deathmatch map you want to create; you can make the map that is more realistic and actually takes an environment and makes it a killing field, or you can make the arena style like DM-Fractal where you must focus your flow on keeping the possiblity of fragging from every angle all while maintaining a fast paced match.

Flow should dictate architecture. Build you details around the path you have created.

See also Map Flow.


This is the second element. The Z-axis is essentially part of your flow. You need to be able to go up/down easily, and hey, you can always make shortcuts the player can hammer jump (Rocket Jump in 2003/2004) to if they want. Also, aiming up and down to fire fight is always fun.

An example would be DM-Phobos. You can hammer jump to the armor from the hallway below, or you can also hammer jump up to the ledge from the area with pads/flak if the boots are gone. It's all part of flow and adds an element of surprise to the game. You just don't know where your opponent will pop up from. Also consider lift jumps.

DM-Deck16][ is a good example of a useful lift jump for catching a player off guard. Deck16][ is also a great example of z-axis use. The multiple levels can make a level feel very large and complex when they are fairly small and simple.

See also Z-Axis.

Player Starts

Every DM map should have at least as many PlayerStarts as the top of the recommended player load (and more is always good).

Generally, about 1.5x the amount of playerstarts should be present depending on the max players for the map. If you plan on allowing 5 max players, then place down at least 7-8 players start. It's good to follow these rules for two reasons:

  • When multiple players are fragged, it makes sure that there are enough playerstarts for the returning players. If there are not enough, it will result in frustrating telefragging in UT, or being temporarily unable to respawn in UT2004.
  • It allows some variety in spawning.

See also Placing PlayerStart.

Item Placement

Don't place too many desirable items or weapons next to each other. This will become a camper's haven. For example, the shock/belt room in DM-Peak. You can dominate the game by just standing in the corner and making combos. A good way to make a hot spot is to designate an area with useful items and weapons close to each other so that a player who wants to control that area still has to move around. A good idea is to make the respawn time for shieldbelts and armor about 50 seconds to a minute. Another use that items/weapons serve is sound cues to alert players of another's position. Example on DM-Turbine – the elevator that leads to the rocket launcher is preceded by several health vials. A good player would hear the sound of the vials being taken and an elevator being used thus predicting where his opponent might be.

See also Inventory Item Placement.

Architectural Details and Ambience

The Level Designer can think of the DeathMatch Map as a scene from a Hollywood Blockbuster. Numerous architectural design features can be added to the basic level geometry to enhance the visual impact of gameplay and make it more exciting. This can be a challenge for designers; to come up with inspirational themes and ambiance, while maintaining fast and furious flow dynamics, lethally insane fun, and ultra-realistic real-time 3D rendering. Architecture can be be used for eye candy, but it is best when used to create a more realistic-looking map. Paying attention to details such as load bearing supports (pillars), trims, windows, fog, climbing vines, etc can keep a deathmatcher more immersed in his environment. You may also want to create exploding glass and or walls to make some intresting secrets in your levels like a plain wall and a place where it can be blown up going to an area with the redemer in it. Or glass tiles in the floor that look into the floor below that can be shot out.

See also Map Design.

"Gifts and Gimmicks"

If you aren't a Boy Scout, you wouldn't get that reference. The magazine, Boys Life has a section's title called Gifts and Gimmicks.

These are always an element that can be thrown in to add to a DM map. Like traps for instance, they are fun to make and can provide some fun visuals to watch but dont go to overborn with it and create a map that depends on the player to get a score of 0 to win over the others with negatives. The trap in DM-Pressure is always fun. However a map should never be just about a gimmick. A gimmick should add to the map but not be the main part of it.

See also Gameplay.

Other Gametypes

There are several other Gametypes that use Deathmatch maps.

Standard Gametypes

Custom Gametypes


Related Topics


TechnoJF: I like the way that this article looks. However, I think that it could also use a few blurbs on how to make a map more condusive to gameplay for TeamDM and Last Man Standing. I'd write these details myself, but I'm not too knowledgable on this topic.

<MOZI>: Hey this is nice i can add stuff to a tutorial. Okay reason im adding this comment is to help n00bies ( if u dont speak that jargon i wrote newbies), becuase i was once a (hate to say it but..) BAD mapper, no talent what so ever. However i never gave up( everyone says that) But the key to my evergroing unreal skills was practice. Anywas about DM gameplay there are two ways to hit this one is just build rooms and hallways which is good place to start but dont stick with it. When u make ur room add two or three doors or cuts in the wall to access other places and take u different directions. Once u keep doing that and adding great theme and eyecandy and realism the map begins to create the flow on its own ull see waht i mean when it happenz. For even more flow and fast game play add curve hallways ( ZETO IS GREAT IN THIS ) the Z axis ( DECK, CODEX, TURBINE, PHOBOS, FLOATING PYRAMID) those are great maps to study with in the editor. Also im going to quote DavidM on this " DOnt be afraid to rip of style". In my own words means examine a style try to copy it ( NOT COPY PASTE !) to make ur own style and flow well ive rambled enough enjoy UNREAL !

Bean: Added some of my insight.

Luggage: I think "flow" should rather be replaced by "gameplay", and have flow as a sub-point... Gameplay isn't all about flow, you know... I learned that already, I think ;)

It's rather floorplan, scaling and items... flow is a result of those. Right, Mr. M.?

SuperApe: Map Flow handles flow, Gameplay talks about gameplay. As sub-topics to Map Flow, Placing PlayerStart and Inventory Item Placement are available. Map Design talks about general concepts and elements, serving as a sub-hub. This page obviously has been around a while, I just updated the current linkage and re-arranged the sections to match the current Topics On Mapping organization.