Help:Mapping Crystal Lake
I'm going to show you the process to making a quick and easy map. Most of this will be brief and then you can follow links to appropriate pages on how to create those items/effects. This map was originally made just for this tutorial showing you how easy it is to start your own map but it looks like I've gotten carried away and now I'm finding this to be one of my favourite maps...ah well can't be a bad thing then.
Being a horror film fan I've decided to make a map based on the Friday the 13th movies which i'm calling KF-Crystal-Lake. The map is simply a lake, some forest and some cabins which should make it a quick and easy map since these things can all be found in the official maps.
 First Steps - Making Space
I've had a look at KF-Wyre and its perfect for what I want to make, so I load up KF-wyre with the editor and save the map as KF-Crystal-Lake this way whenever I press save i'm not saving over the original.
Wyre has the perfect skybox and the map size is about right so I'm going to delete everything else but those and the terrain.
This is before I mess with the map:
- Click on a static mesh and "select all static meshes".
- Deselect the ones in the Skybox and surrounding map since we want to keep these.
- Click on a PathNode and "select all PathNodes".
- Click on a Light and "select all Lights".
- Click on a Sound and "select all Sounds".
- Click on a Zoneinfo and "select all Zoneinfos".
- Deselect the ones in the Skybox if they are highlighted.
- Click on a Emitter and "select all Emitters".
- Deselect the ones in the Skybox if they are highlighted.
- Click on a Brush and "select all Brush".
- Deselect the ones in the Skybox and surrounding map since we want to keep these.
Do the same for the following:
Remove Weapons and items: Triggerlights
There is a quicker way of doing this which is "select all actors" however its likely that we'll delete something that we want to keep and the undo button will crash the SDK so I find it better to do it one stage at a time.
 Re-shaping The Terrain
Now that I have a nice plain map with a ready made up terrain i'm going to reshape it to how I want it to be.
- Using the Visibility tool I fill in all the holes used for the bunker entrances.
- Using the Flatten tool I make the entire terrain flat.
Now where do we start? the beginning is always the hardest point in a map however this has a nice big lake so i'm going to start with that and then map around it.
- I'm not going to waste too much time making the shape of the lake; just enough to get a general shape to the map and I can tweak it as much as I want to afterwards.
- Using the painting tool dig into the ground.
 Sketching the map layout
To help us make the map I'm going to add a few shapes around the map to signify objects. The biggest is the cabins so i'll want to add 3 or 4 big rectangular objects. Tried adding SM for the cabins but it didn't feel right so I copied and pasted a room from wyres underground labs and changed its csg type to ADD, this feels better.
Now I need to add some more placeholders in place before I start getting into details.
- Jasons den (possibly)
- trees filled with corpses
This is the best time to try out any radical ideas to see what you can create before you get too deep into making something you are not happy with.
 The final sketch
This now has everything I need to start getting stuck into my map.
- The buses represent the car park area which will be surrounded by forrest.
- The wooden pallets represent the road.
- The Grey rectangles represent cabins. The furthest one away will be on a slope and has stilts. This may just be for show.
- Scrap in the top left is Jason's den form the 2nd film.
- And of course a lake with some row boats.
- Just need to alter the terrain trail paths and everything is sorted.
 Next Step - Playtesting
I've decided to have some playtesting to see how what I've already made plays out and if I need to change my sketch at all.
- Added zombie volumes and a basic bot path since the slightest change in terrain can mess them up.
- Added 3 Shop volumes - Log cabin by car park, Jason's den & the cabin on stilts.
- Added 1 Random Item and 1 Random Ammo pickups - Maps tend to freak out if they haven't got at least 1 of each.
- Made the terrain a little bumpy since this is soft ground not concreate.
I've done up the car park a little more to the way I want it although I would like to change the London buses to tour buses or maybe even a caravan.
I played a full 10 waves and really enjoyed this map.
At the moment it's really plain and missing alot of content but it's important to stop and have a quick playtest once in a while to see if something needs changing.
I found that the cabins and car park are great to play around and it's great having zombies coming from out of the lake. Areas like the car park felt right and even if I was to put up an invisible wall around the back it wouldn't bother me so I can go and put in the forrest without feeling forced to play elsewhere.
- Whenever I had to go to another trader I instantly wanted to go back to the cabins. Need to add fun areas around those traders to spice it up a bit.
- The lake is off limits to players but I wanted to be able to walk the promanade without feeling forced that I couldn't go into the water.
- The sun is in a bad place which means that players might look at it too much when traveling to other traders.
- To make the traders more fun I've decided to add caves into the mountain with the cabin trader on top. This should be enough along with all the terrain re-shaping and forrest to make it look good and play good.
- I'll put up a zombiezone volume around the lake to stop players going into it except for around the promanade. I'll make the water shallow there and also let zombies climb up the back and sides of it.
- I can either move everything around so the sun faces the other way or I can add plenty of forrest to block it from your main field of view. I haven't worked with a forrest or this type of skybox before so I'll try using the forrest to block it first since I like the overall lighting of the map and if it doesn't work then I'll move everything around. I'll have to fix this one first because it'll just get harder and harder to move things around the further into development I go.
 Playtesting Again?
- Added 3 cave entrances which all link up under ground.
- Re-shaped terrain at the top of the lake to prevent players doing circles around the lake.
- Added an underground spawn point for crawlers below the traders cabin.
Changing the terrain to stop you going around the top of the lake makes the gameplay alot more interesting however its a nightmare if you have to go from one of the top traders to the other. To fix this i've got a cave entrance by Jason's den but this still isn't enough since the other entrance is miles away from the Trader. So to fix that I'll be completely changing the look of the Trader cabin on stills and adding an access point from the caves into the traders new house.
 The Real Beginning
Since this map is going to be very similar to KF-Wyre I'll have a 2nd copy of the SDK running with KF-Wyre loaded so I can look through the map for ideas and to easily view what available Static Meshes I could use for my map.
I've now implemented all the changes i felt needed to be made after the first 2 playtests. Do remember that i'm keeping everything basic like sketching a drawing before actually doing the drawing.
- Improved the Traders cabin.
- Added floors to the caves since you can only have 1 terrain level.
- Added a bridge for the road and a tree bridge for walkers.
- Added a water volume so now when you shoot the water you get splashes.
- Added some collision hulls (purple things) to see how the trees act.
- Added muddy trails around the more walked areas.
Here's the new Trader's House. Notice that its just the same boring blocks stacked on top of each other with a simple flat CSG for the boardwalk. This is starting to look like a rich man's house. An extra staircase was added to allow zombies to come from more directions, there are also crawler spawns on the roof just for the occasional surprise attack.
One room at the trader house has a staircase attached going down into the caves. This area is now more interesting and I find I no longer have the urge to keep running back to the cabins so it shows that the changes I've made are for the best.
Here you can see the new bridge which is mainly for decoration purposes but also gives me the excuse to put in the fallen over tree bridge a little further down stream. There's a few blockers set up to make sure that you don't fall into the river since i don't want players going down there. There is also a few of those collision hulls set in place.
You've probably noticed that i STILL haven't put in an actual road yet, this is because i haven't come across a texture that i'd like so i've put up a nice wooden fence along the road to outline it which allows me to remove the road place holders.
I was expecting the caves to be the most difficult part of this map since you can only have one level of terrain and I needed something to floor the cave with. Terrain is basically like a sheet of paper, you can move it into all kinds of shapes but you can't have another piece of paper to go under it which means if I have one sheet covering the land and covering the tops of the caves then what's going to floor my caves?
This is always a problem with natural looking surroundings. If it was just an underground base like in KF-Wyre I could just build some rooms and have an entrance cut through the terrain but that's not what I wanted to see in this map.
Luckily there's some good natural textures in KF-Wyre and some SM's that can make a plain flat floor look more realistic. So my caves have a flat CSG floor with these textures on it and every here and there I've made the CSG go up a level or down a level just so it's a little more interesting.
As you can see I haven't done anything with Jason's den yet since it's just a trader building and all it needs is detailing which I'll leave till much later on in the map making process. There's nothing wrong with doing it now it's just that after a few more playtest's I may decide that I don't want it there anymore or I want something completely different so I don't want to waste time detailing something that might not even make it into the final cut.
 The Caves
Now that I've got an actual floor down and I can traverse into my caves its time to add some walls and details. Caves themselves are pretty easy to make but when you make a long cave like this it's easy to kill the gameplay so I have to make sure that there's plenty of different ways zombies can get into the caves to fight you.
Most of the cave is 1 SM repeated over and over again which should look boring but when it overlaps itself it no longer looks like the same mesh especially when you add little bits of rock and stone every here and there.
- In one area of the caves (Above pic) the roof comes down quite low and I like having that crampped feeling there however players and zombies were catching their heads on the roof which was ruining the gameplay.
- Turned collision off on the area players got stuck and tried again. Found I was still getting stuck so I turned the collision back on but turned it off on the cave walls going in and out of the small area and found that we had no problems moving around. Now that we know exactly what was causing the problem we can fix it. So collision stayed off on those walls and I've added blocking volumes to prevent you just walking straight through the wall.
 The Cavern
Underneigh the Trader's House is a large Cavern which not only makes playing in the caves more interesting than just going down a corridor with funky walls but also adds more gameplay depth.
All the smaller sections of cave is built using SM's however I didn't want to use tons of SM's here since it'll cause lower end machines to struggle. So for the majority of the walls I've just used flat CSG based walls with a cave texture on them with the odd SM here and there to make it look more REAL.
- Unfortunately while using the CSG walls I found that to make it work inside the cave ment the walls had to stick out of the ground and it looked horrible from outside.
- To fix this I'll have to make a more difficult layout of walls to fit inside the cave. Sadly this will be time consuming but it should also add to the realism of it being a cave instead of just having flat walls with added bits it'll be more diverse walls like bits added.
 Where Do Zombies Come From?
This is always a tricky situation.., Just where DO the zombies come from?
It's fine having them spawn around the areas you walk on but there are times where there's not alot of space or you want zombies to spawn in an area without players stopping them from spawning. The way a zombieVolume works is that players must be a set distance away (changeable value) / Players must be out of view when activating the spawn and when players walk through a ZombieVolume the spawning is delayed for a set amount of time (changeable value).
Although we can change the value on spawn delay it's not recommended since it'll make the map either too difficult or zombies will literally spawn on top of you.
Creative Spawn: This is one I am very proud of, here we have zombies spawning in the outside lake and then walk into the caves through these under water outlets. This way zombies have a way in and players DO NOT have a way out forcing them to fight their way to another location.
Common Spawn: On the left is the entrance to the caves from where the Trader house is, zombies just come in and out as they please and if you're not looking down the tunnel then they will spawn there too. On the right is a tunnel that leads you to a dead end, nothing special but since it's a route you won't take zombies can spawn there. Some might think this is perfect since zombies only come from the one direction however you really are in a DEAD end.
Uncommon Spawn: Here is another type of spawn, one which isn't used a great deal since it has to fit the theme. Zombies spawn on top of the caves or traders house and then jump down through the hole in the ceiling. It's always a good idea to put some kind of decoration in place to show players that there is a hole there, in a building this would be a duct panel hanging or on the floor but here I've gone with the volumetic streams allowing the last of the sunlight through defore the darkness comes.
 Detailing The Caves
When I was playing around with the floor making it all different heights I noticed that the water from the lake was long enough to fit into my caves so instantly I made an area where I could get just enough water in without the player going into swim mode. Having water inside a cave gives you a ton of options when it comes to detailing. This area I had left dark but when I noticed the cool watery projector in Wyres I just had to put it in and add some lighting
 Laying Down an Uneven Floor?
Going with my decision to use terrain to map the top of the caves I now have to come up with some kind of way of using the Add tool to come up with a realistic looking floor. I could be really fancy and just make a completely SM floor but this cave has a ton of SM as it is so I'll try and get by with just adding the odd SM to fake the floor being all lumpy.
In the above pic you can see where the water meets the plain unaltered floor. Just doesn't look real does it? that precision line that the water makes.
The above pic is the other side where I've added some small SM's to the mix. Now the floor doesn't look so fake. Of course the low lighting also helps make the surroundings look more natural.