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[Alien Swarm Mapping] So you've always wanted to learn how to map

rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
edited July 2010 in Games and Technology
With minimal barrier to entry, a tile system that allows the connection of multiple bite-sized scenarios, all of which is built on one of the most popular engines ever, Alien Swarm is probably gonna have a few maps.
Maps are Awesome.

This thread is meant to be a good starting resource for individuals interested in map creation. It may also serve as a idea wall or a place to advertise. Mapping can be fun! or horribly frustrating.
Hopefully this thread will take (some of) the frustration out of mapping.

Consequently, any links to good tutorials or prop/texture collections would be appreciated.


4819031494_f646532dc5_b.jpg

Yes! let's get started:

how to play with tilegen:
download Alien Swarm SDK from Steam -> Library -> tools (Standard Development Kit)
Open Alien Swarm, go to options -> controls -> check enable console on the bottom
hit the tilde key -> type in sv_cheats 1, then type in asw_tilegen

Just select a room from the panel and plop them down on the grid. Make sure you have a start room. The blue lines indicate where they can connect, so any left hanging require a cap.
Now you can go to file -> export .vmf and play your new map.

I think missions can be defined in either the mission tiles, or in a mission file, which is generated by going to the missions tab, that also lets you generate a map based on rules and a theme.
(anyone know what all those mission variables mean?)

Right click on the rooms to edit doorway rules, or check flags. These flags are used in random map generating, so I don't think they have any effect on the tiles themselves.

My noobie tutorial on how to decorate your own tiles (hint copy stuff)
First open up tilegen and create a new theme, It helps to select windowless but not fullscreen in the options so you can easily alt tab. Then
go to steamapps/common/alien swarm/swarm/tilegen/roomtemplates,
copy the contents of the example folder and put them into your theme folder
Open these up in Hammer ,accessible via
4821131755_153f822fdf_b.jpg
and use the 3d camera to select stuff, press shift-a to apply textures (z toggles fps controls on camera) (use tools/nolight/ on the back of walls)
click the white bobblehead on the left to place objects/props/lights/spawners/mission objectives
use the top/front/side views to position stuff, click on its red frame to toggle rotate/skew/stretch mode, or press ctrl-m to give exact instructions
Click the brush tool to generate simple shapes, use the wireframe button to modify existing brushs.
use the '' keys to change grid size
hold shift and drag off an object to create a copy

You can copy lots of stuff from the example rooms such as doors, triggers, lights

Go to Map -> Entity Report, to go to specific entities

to make a room with custom tile size, go to alien swarm, use console for sv_cheats 1, asw_tilegen, use the dev theme to create a room
export to alien swarm/swarm/maps/output.vmf
then rename and move output.vmf to your theme folder
Once you are finished decorating your tile, go back to asw_tilegen. Hit new tile template on the bottom and open your finished *.vmf. Mark the appropriate doorways and flags. Right click the doorways to specify a name for which only doors with the same name can connect to. That way you don't end up with upstairs rooms connecting to downstairs rooms.
You may need to place them into the grid and hit create thumbnails, where it'll create a lit room to fill in the blank space it initially has on tilegen. You may need to restart the game to turn off the bright light mode

Also, after completing a tile, walls on the south side need to either be slanted for the camera, or some props need to be placed on the south side, so the camera always has a view of the character


3 of the Campaign .vmf files can be found in Alien Swarm/sdk_content/mapsrc

note: hammer isn't used to create textures (photoshop or paint.net) or models and animation (3DS Max or Blender)

Additional Links:
videos:
I set up a Google Docs file repository: with only 1 crappy map
and a airduct tileset
and 3 unfinished engineering tunnels tiles

https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0BzMAnBUBodvfODBlNDUzYTUtZTYxNS00N2Y5LTg2MDEtMDcyYjM2MjUxMDRl&hl=en&authkey=CMTGk60D

You need to add yourself to the list of people that can edit and have a gmail account before uploading.

!Alien Swarm does not have auto-download, all players must have the map first, either in thier alien swarm/swarm/maps folder or as a *.vpk in swarm/addons
Use 'map output' in the console to load map.


Right now I'm working on a base tile with automated turrets, infinite ammo, and a respawn beacon.
Then I can add like a desert area to the east, a snow level to the north, a infested settlement to the west, and a sealed off mine to the south. With the tile system, heaping smaller maps with its own objectives into a single one has never been easier!

If you've done something or found something cool, just upload to the google doc, and post a comment saying so.



Yes, this is the first OP I've done, so expect random changes.

rRootagea on
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Posts

  • Kris_xKKris_xK Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Yes, I have always wanted to learn to mod. I remember a lot of time spent making Doom/Duke3D levels but fell out of doing it, and I always wanted to pick it back up.

    Alien Swarm should be good a reentry point I think.

    Kris_xK on
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  • MolybdenumMolybdenum Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Interesting.

    If I may be so bold as to ask- what is the ultimate goal of this thread? Are you planning to assemble a full custom PA campaign, or is this just to educate and elucidate?

    Molybdenum on
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  • chiablochiablo Registered User
    edited July 2010
    I'd say that if you're going to learn how to mod source games, there's no better game than Alien Swarm to do it with.

    1. It's new and free, so your audience is large right now.
    2. Graphics don't matter as much since the game has a simplistic style.
    3. 2D overhead maps are easy to make compared to 3D ones.
    4. Difficulty is easy to balance since there is no competitive component.

    chiablo on
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  • GrundlterrorGrundlterror Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    This could be fun... and like Kris I've always wanted to and have just screwed around with some Duke3D map creation.

    I'm interested!

    Grundlterror on
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  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Well I guess going into steamapps/common/alien swarm/swarm/sound lets you replace weapon and alien sounds with your own mp3s

    rRootagea on
  • EndaroEndaro Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Wait is this thread about modding or mapping? You say modding but it looks like you're talking about mapping.

    Endaro on
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON IndiaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Endaro wrote: »
    Wait is this thread about modding or mapping? You say modding but it looks like you're talking about mapping.

    Yeah no matter how awesome you get at using the tilegen you're really not going to end up with a mod unless you learn some other *SKILLZ* like at the very least scripting.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Endaro wrote: »
    Wait is this thread about modding or mapping? You say modding but it looks like you're talking about mapping.

    Yeah no matter how awesome you get at using the tilegen you're really not going to end up with a mod unless you learn some other *SKILLZ* like at the very least scripting.

    Yeah, Mapping, lets stick with mapping! We're not trying to make any new games here. Thanks for the tip guys

    rRootagea on
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    And since Source Engine games don't use scripting, but compiled C++ DLL's (last time I checked anyway), you better learn you some C++. It's not like Unreal that has UnrealScript.

    GnomeTank on
    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
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  • korodullinkorodullin What. SCRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    You may want to specify in your [brackets] that this is a modding/mapping thread as opposed to the generalized Alien Swarm game on thread.

    korodullin on
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  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    korodullin wrote: »
    You may want to specify in your [brackets] that this is a modding/mapping thread as opposed to the generalized Alien Swarm game on thread.

    Yep, I just hit the notify button to get an Admin to change it right?

    rRootagea on
  • VicWhitenVicWhiten Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    mapping/modding is something I've always wanted to get into, but I just don't have the artistic creativity for it. I think I can design things fairly well, and I'm a software developer so I enjoy coding/scripting, but ask me to draw/model/texture? Buhhhhhhhhhh

    VicWhiten on
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  • korodullinkorodullin What. SCRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    No, you can edit it in the Edit Post area for the OP. Hit Go Advanced.

    korodullin on
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    - The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (2017, colorized)
  • RamiRami Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    How much time would it take to get competant at making AS maps for someone whose sum total mapping experience is WarCraft II (which is basically just picking a tile type and painting it down)?

    Rami on
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  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    VicWhiten wrote: »
    mapping/modding is something I've always wanted to get into, but I just don't have the artistic creativity for it. I think I can design things fairly well, and I'm a software developer so I enjoy coding/scripting, but ask me to draw/model/texture? Buhhhhhhhhhh

    Lucky for you, no drawing/modeling/texturing required! You may have to search around for a material or prop you want, but I'm sure you'll find plenty by cannibalizing the main campaign. Most of this seems to be creating easily connectable mini-maps, event triggering and objective polling. Really cuts down on the complexity.

    edit: Ok, it seems I only have access to missions 1,2 and 6, so bummer there.

    rRootagea on
  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Rami wrote: »
    How much time would it take to get competant at making AS maps for someone whose sum total mapping experience is WarCraft II (which is basically just picking a tile type and painting it down)?

    Maybe 20-60 minutes?

    rRootagea on
  • RamiRami Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Huh, I might have to get on that. I have no artisitic ability whatsoever and I don't know any coding, but designing map layouts and slotting tiles together is something I can enjoy doing.

    Rami on
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  • VicWhitenVicWhiten Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    rRootagea wrote: »
    VicWhiten wrote: »
    mapping/modding is something I've always wanted to get into, but I just don't have the artistic creativity for it. I think I can design things fairly well, and I'm a software developer so I enjoy coding/scripting, but ask me to draw/model/texture? Buhhhhhhhhhh

    Lucky for you, no drawing/modeling/texturing required! You may have to search around for a material or prop you want, but I'm sure you'll find plenty by cannibalizing the main campaign. Most of this seems to be creating easily connectable mini-maps, event triggering and objective polling. Really cuts down on the complexity.

    edit: Ok, it seems I only have access to missions 1,2 and 6, so bummer there.

    Cool, I'll have to give this a try then. Also, if anyone builds something really cool and awesome and wants some scripting done, I can see what I can do :-)

    VicWhiten on
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  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Ok, I made a bunch of 1x1 air vent tiles, which I put in the tiles folder

    rRootagea on
  • RamiRami Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    uh so this isn't going well. I tried making my own rooms but they're all black, so I guess I need to apply textures but I'm confused how and what order you would do this in. Do I make a bunch of rooms first and then export them and then texture them and then go back to the tilegen to place my now visible rooms?

    I also tried using the example tileset to make a short map. I placed a start and an escape but when I try to export and play map I just get an error in console saying output not found or something.

    Rami on
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  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Rami wrote: »
    uh so this isn't going well. I tried making my own rooms but they're all black, so I guess I need to apply textures but I'm confused how and what order you would do this in. Do I make a bunch of rooms first and then export them and then texture them and then go back to the tilegen to place my now visible rooms?

    I also tried using the example tileset to make a short map. I placed a start and an escape but when I try to export and play map I just get an error in console saying output not found or something.


    If the camera isn't showing anything, try going to map, on the toolbar, -> Entity report, click on any of those and the go to button to zoom right up to them.

    You shouldn't be starting with a black room, everything comes pre textured with something.
    Yes to creating a bunch of rooms first? Though you should probably start with the 1x1 rooms.

    I changed the tutorial a bit:
    Start wth tilegen, hit create theme, then go to alien swarm/swarm/tilegen/roomtemplates and copy the contents of example into your theme.

    Then open up a room from your theme in hammer and hit shift-a and apply a texture to the floor
    hit save and open up Alien swarm tile editor, hit new room template if you saved as a new map, and stick your new tile on the map, along with the start room. Hit save map layout possibly? hit create thumbnails and see if you get a really well lit room?

    Alien swarm can be run windowless but not full screen, which makes having alien swarm and hammer easy to switch between

    normally after hitting export in tilegen, you should get output.vmf in your alien swarm/swarm/maps/ folder, can you see if you can open this up in Hammer?

    rRootagea on
  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I would like to make a gametype called lockdown, where the objective is to reduce the amount of aliens on the map to below a certain number. The way the players will do this is to set up a sentry with infinite ammo over each of a number of spawning grounds.

    Could someone figure out how to set up infinite ammo sentry guns?

    rRootagea on
  • RamiRami Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    uh, where do I get Hammer from?

    Rami on
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  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Rami wrote: »
    uh, where do I get Hammer from?

    4821131755_153f822fdf_b.jpg

    oh snap, I should mention hammer in the tutorial somewhere

    rRootagea on
  • RamiRami Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Oh, I thought that just provided the tilegen thing. I wasn't kidding when I said I have no idea what I'm doing. Although I have already designed three missions for a campaign.

    Rami on
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  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    If you already have the layout you want, then simply open the exported .vmf into Hammer and start redecorating.

    Does anyone know how to disable those trigger blocks, right now I'm just moving those above the level.

    rRootagea on
  • KogareruKogareru Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Click here for a short little article discussing AI path finding in alien swarm. I think I'm going to try my hand at this as well hopefully with enough of us doing this we'll have some PA Wang shaped maps in no time :)

    Kogareru on
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  • LittleBootsLittleBoots Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    rRootagea wrote: »
    If you already have the layout you want, then simply open the exported .vmf into Hammer and start redecorating.

    Does anyone know how to disable those trigger blocks, right now I'm just moving those above the level.

    Vis Groups. There is a window on your right hand side. In there you'll see different groups you can check and uncheck to hide things. You can also create your own custom groups.

    edit: wrong link, one sec
    edit: Here we go: http://www.interlopers.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1835

    LittleBoots on

    Tofu wrote: Here be Littleboots, destroyer of threads and master of drunkposting.
  • LittleBootsLittleBoots Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Also, since we have a tile editor people should totally be drawing up campaign maps on graph paper and uploading them. One graph paper tile could equal 256 units or something like that, the people could pick rooms to make.

    Get a tile collection started.

    LittleBoots on

    Tofu wrote: Here be Littleboots, destroyer of threads and master of drunkposting.
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    If you're going to use a common tile set with several people then they should have a few rules in mind to keep from making patchwork maps


    Like one shared floor texture and wall texture at every entrance, regardless of whether it's interrupted by damage or objects like the metal bars in the example tiles. Also, labelling tiles with dynamic lights would be nice.


    By the way, if you've played with the tile editor, you'd notice how transitional objects - windows, doors - are used in tile transitions. The correct answer is, they aren't. the windows in the example tileset are actually end tiles attached to a regular corridor. If you replace a window with another end tile that provides a little room, the window is erased, because it was a part of the end tile that just incorporated it into a 1ft blind end. Therefore, windows and doors have to be on one side of a tile border or the other.

    So if you're not planning to develop tiles using hammer and just developing tileset maps, keep in mind the rule that all an exit is allowed to be is an opening of a constant width.

    Paladin on
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  • PikaPuffPikaPuff Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    so what's going on here?
    ] sv_cheats 1
    Can't use cheats now; please exit to main menu and start your own listen server with "map mapname" so that you could enable cheats.
    Server cvar 'sv_cheats' changed to 0
    ] map asi-jac1-landingbay_01

    [...]


    Player PikaPuff has joined the game
    ] sv_cheats 1
    Can't use cheats now; please exit to main menu and start your own listen server with "map mapname" so that you could enable cheats.
    Server cvar 'sv_cheats' changed to 0

    PikaPuff on
    jCyyTSo.png
  • LittleBootsLittleBoots Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    PikaPuff wrote: »
    so what's going on here?
    ] sv_cheats 1
    Can't use cheats now; please exit to main menu and start your own listen server with "map mapname" so that you could enable cheats.
    Server cvar 'sv_cheats' changed to 0
    ] map asi-jac1-landingbay_01

    [...]


    Player PikaPuff has joined the game
    ] sv_cheats 1
    Can't use cheats now; please exit to main menu and start your own listen server with "map mapname" so that you could enable cheats.
    Server cvar 'sv_cheats' changed to 0

    Looks like you need to start your own game by using "map mapname" in console in order to use sv_cheats.

    They're probably trying to keep the shenanigans that when on with people spawning hordes of tanks in L4D to a minimum. Something about ruining the experience for new players or something.

    NOTE: if that doesnt' work, try sv_lan 1 then map mapname.

    LittleBoots on

    Tofu wrote: Here be Littleboots, destroyer of threads and master of drunkposting.
  • PikaPuffPikaPuff Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    it's annoying because i see youtubes and doing exactly what i do and having no problem.

    sv_lan 1 didn't help, as far as I can tell. thank you for helping me out though.

    PikaPuff on
    jCyyTSo.png
  • LittleBootsLittleBoots Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Damn drones can't climb (at least I can't get them to, they seem to ignore climb nodes). You have to setup some scripted event to make it appear they are climbing. Kinda sucks as it limits a lot of cool options for holdout mode.

    LittleBoots on

    Tofu wrote: Here be Littleboots, destroyer of threads and master of drunkposting.
  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    If you go to Alien Swarm/sdk_content/mapsrc, there's 3 maps from the campaign in *.vmf format.
    Anyone want to try and split these up into more managable tiles?

    rRootagea on
  • VarelseVarelse Registered User
    edited July 2010
    For all you Hammer users, here's a tip. You can use a bunch of Valve prefabs in your maps if you set the prefab path to the proper location.

    $SteamUserDir\alien swarm\sdk_content\mapsrc\instances

    I don't know why it's not set right by default, but there ya go. Most important prefab: doors.

    Varelse on
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  • rRootagearRootagea MadisonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I guess only a few lights calculate shadows at a time?
    4825169838_b481e0d2a0_b.jpg

    rRootagea on
  • LittleBootsLittleBoots Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    rRootagea wrote: »
    I guess only a few lights calculate shadows at a time?
    4825169838_b481e0d2a0_b.jpg


    Depends on the lights and the props. But shadows and projected textures are very expensive. And projected textures only work (correctly) with one at a time.

    LittleBoots on

    Tofu wrote: Here be Littleboots, destroyer of threads and master of drunkposting.
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    rRootagea wrote: »
    If you go to Alien Swarm/sdk_content/mapsrc, there's 3 maps from the campaign in *.vmf format.
    Anyone want to try and split these up into more managable tiles?

    that would be harrd


    Also http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/VMEX


    get the rest of the maps


    cargo elevator is actually named landing_bay_02

    Paladin on
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    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • LittleBootsLittleBoots Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Paladin wrote: »
    rRootagea wrote: »
    If you go to Alien Swarm/sdk_content/mapsrc, there's 3 maps from the campaign in *.vmf format.
    Anyone want to try and split these up into more managable tiles?

    that would be harrd


    Also http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/VMEX


    get the rest of the maps


    cargo elevator is actually named landing_bay_02

    The actual cargo elevator is already in a vmf instance. It's <something something>_exit.vmf

    LittleBoots on

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