Gameplay Design

In times long forgotten, legendary mappers such as Spacew00t were creating ingenious, all hammer, dynamic map features. Not only thinking of them, but creating demonstration videos of their new ideas.
Sadly, they were never released (To my knowledge).

While maps can be very pretty and just the aesthetics alone can inspire you to create, a map at its core, is what the mapper intended it to be. A lot of mappers recently have intended for their maps to simply be a pretty face, and while there is nothing wrong with great eye candy maps, I find myself time and time again, going back to good old maps with, that while despite their rubbish textures, have awesome features like self destruct sequences and escape shuttles.

So the point of this thread is to bring up the issue that recent maps, no matter how infinitely pretty, get dull quickly due to lack of features, because the gamemode is expected to take care of dynamics. But no matter how many times you play, that same stone will always be there, that room will always be the same, and that enemy will always be around that corner waiting for you.

I want to ask mappers to get back into purpose of their maps.
What kind of things can you do that can make a map stand out?

A lot of people got psyched over the Portal 2 modular maps, even creating demonstrations of their own!

Maps like Planetfall are very fun, even without any gamemode. Just exploring all the features is very fun.
I would advice people to check out Spacew00ts awesome work. Especially his dynamic car destruction and repair videos.

I’m no major mapper and my hammer-fu is not great, however, I do know how to map, and when I plan my maps, I plan them around gameplay ideas. I’d like to discourage people from planning their maps around aesthetic ideas, like warehouses, cities, forest, etc. and focus more on creating original and dynamic features.

So, feel free to comment and criticize or discuss your own mapping ideas.

I believe in new and original ideas. So far i have the title for first underwater map (that i know about), and that little number up there. There is still a few people looking into new dynamic ways, but mostly that had been taken over by the use of lua, and the input of mappers who have watched 3kliks and released their crap over here.


Lamarr’s amazing train yard

How many times are you actually going to want to play though those maps? Sure, I can imagine Lamarr’s map perhaps being used for DM, but RP maps especially, how many of those do you see made, and disappear, while maps like csc_desert have withstood the test of time by still showing up today?

While Spacew00t does have some awesome ideas, I would also like to point out simplicity. Because imagine playing a map like spacew00t’s, except it’s more realistic, so resource zones are much further apart. All of those materials would be a pain in the butt in collect just to repair a vehicle. So when you think of a new, awesome feature, make sure it isn’t overly complicated.

fuck yeah this was the best part of gmod. me and my friends would download these huge maps and spend 2 hours exploring them. when we got to the fallout vault in csc_desert we were pretty amazed.

i’m doing this in my mod, making little interactive physics setups/machinery. i’ll post some videos soon

I feel like people don’t put enough effort into I/O sequences in their maps now days.

This is sadly true, a lot of people pay much attention to the looks but may not think about the player and functionality. This is why professional made maps go through several iterations;

  1. Planning. Don’t just jump right into making a map. It’s likely that maps like this end up being very cluttered and perhaps never finish at all. If you don’t have the patience to plan something through (even on high level) how can you then spend days or even months making the level?

2.The blocking in; this is where the level designer draws the big lines and important player paths and functionalities. Everything here is made with mock-ups and primitives, you shouldn’t care about the looks but the functionality at this stage.
This is the basic stuff, how to lead the player so he does’t get lost and how the player should progress through the level. If you don’t think this through the player might take a path that you never expected (but don’t worry, he’ll take it anyway) and all the effort would be wasted.

  1. Making it pretty; but maybe not for the last time. This is where the loop between 2. and 3. usually starts. The artists follow the level design made before them and iterate the graphics one stage higher. It then goes back to the designers (and perhaps playtesters), then back for some more polishing and so on until…

  2. It’s finished! Now all you can hope for is the choices to have been right and the player will enjoy it in all its aspects. Hope you remembered to playtest it with people who have never played it before and see what they do because there are always things you hadn’t predicted. And the player will break your level. It’s a fact. :stuck_out_tongue:

Don’t take that as some kind of bible or rules, it’s not. It’s just one workflow I know some studios use, there are many and they might or might not be better for you. Especially if you’re mapping alone you’re both the designer and artist so it doesn’t apply directly. Just keep in mind that they are separate hats you have to wear, it’s great if you can keep functionality in mind when making everything look nice but it’s always good to step back to the basics and do everything with boxes and see how it works. :slight_smile:

I think gmod maps peaked during gmod 9.

My take on it is that people don’t give a shit any more. And can you blame them? There’s no game to create gameplay for. Hammer’s entity systems are ultimately unreliable and not complex enough. HL2’s gameplay is basic at best with gmod’s build mode adding nothing to anything but itself. Nobody has any content to actually work with across all areas of gmod modding.


Also I don’t want to seem like I don’t realise there are some legitimately good things being made, but in general the mod community doesn’t do shit. It’s the same ratio of good/bad/nonexistant that any other modded game has.

I think you’re dead on there.

Well perhaps you should start pestering people about the actual features and replayability of the map rather than aesthetics.
That’s not to say maps should be blocky though. Although I have played some fun blocky maps.

I don’t think pestering mappers will get you anywhere. Certainly if you pester me about a map I’m making I’d go tell you where to shove it. Mainly because I make maps that I want, and I don’t give a toss what you want.

I do miss maps with fun little features. But that is kind of my forte in mapping, I am not a creative person, I am a logical person, so creating things with the I/O system is something I enjoy more.

Shame my ideas don’t work well :v:

I think it’s the attitude of the average player. It’s all about graphics, nobody pays any attention to gameplay. No wonder run-and-gun shooters are getting popular, all that’s added to them is new graphics every few years. It’s like the Madden-effect of the FPS’s.

I’m gonna predict that cleverly designed games are gonna get much more space in the magazines and journals in the next few years, look at all the indie games rising up already, some because of the recent depression even. So hopefully well designed levels will be seen more. Who knows, it’s as much on the shoulders of the players as the devs to shift the attitude that way.

Modern Warfare 2. Perfect example. The entire campaign was just running through streets and hallways shooting anything that moved.

I agree with you guys, people should try to make more gameplay to their maps. But still, a lot of people find themselves limited by the source engine. I do not really think that the engine is the main problem. Well yes, it could need some upgrades, but I think the main problem is in peoples minds. They do not want to/have the time to plan a map through using methods like Pling showed us. I find my self failing to plan a map, in sheer eager to start mapping, and i can imagine that this is the cause of many mappers.
But please do not get me wrong, a map with some good gameplay could be made without planning, but the really good ideas usually comes from planning and trying and failing.

You cant disagree, MWII’s singleplayer was one of the most action paked, cinematic like sp experiences of the year. Im glad infinity ward did not abandon the great sp to put effort into the mp.

It is up to third party and indie developers to provide new and innovative ways to play games.

However, that’s also the flaw of the new trend in motion controlled.

I think someone said that things that aren’t the norm, aren’t attempted because it isn’t the done thing.

Yes the problem is with peoples minds. They do not want to try something and have it fail, just in case it fails. The engine is very powerful, and the i/o system is so easy to use that it should outweigh lua in terms of necessity. Unfortunately, people would rather find a coder to do something than see if it can be done in i/o.

My events manager system can be found here:
It is installed into a map so you can see how the things work. The system is, as you can see, very easy. Yet there is a severe deficiency of maps with these sorts of systems. Gotta wonder why…

Zombie Escape maps: They might not have a goal but fuck me they can be fun.

puzzle maps are fun.

and maps with a fuckloads of traps, not instant death traps but traps.

zombie master for example.

A version of Cube with avoidable traps is cool too!