Mapping Large, Open maps

Hello mappers,

So my current project would be a large, open RP-esque map set in a desert spanning several sections. Among other things, I’ve planned to have a city, a military base, an underground complex, and a series of underground mines. However, I’ve run into a few pot holes with Hammer that I hope can be addressed, and hopefully get some tips as well.

  1. Optimization and Performance.
    I’ve finished up the central town section, but now there’s a huge drop in performance whenever I look at the town itself. Not only that, but looking at the other sections causes some poor performance as well. Because it’s a desert, there’s not many good, believable ways to hide sections either. Any ideas?

  2. Entity Limits.
    While rendering, I noticed some warning regarding the amount of entities I have on the map (I’ll try and get screens later). I do have quite a few point-based and brush-based entities, but once upon trying to compile the map, Hammer refused to do so (again, I’ll try and get screens later), saying I was surpassing the entity limit. Is there any way around this without having to delete entities?

  3. Server hosting.
    I tried to upload the last, full version of the map onto a private server I’ve had around for a while, but it seemed to crash the server whenever I would change the map. I made a fix for it, and it only seemed to work after I deleted an underground complex I had (which was admittedly pretty large with quite a few entities in it). The map loads fine in singleplayer, but the server just can’t seem to take it.

Looking at some of the other maps out there (e.g. HGN’s STALKER RP maps and TnB’s maps), I know it can be done, but I don’t know how.
Any help is appreciated.

First off, looking at a town should not lag. Make sure you are optimizing your maps properly, with plenty of nodraw and no overlapping brushes.

Also the Source engine cannot handle large brush geometry, so if you’re not using displacements use them. Also displacements in general are cheaper than brushes.

Best of luck making this work for you.

An idea for the city would be doing what they did in New Vegas, by surrounding it in a wall. On the outside of the wall you would see a 3D skybox with simplified versions of the buildings and on the inside you would look out and see a simplified version of the desert.

What i did in one of my maps, convert some buildings for example into models using propper (http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Propper)

And then hide func_occulders around your map. In hills, large buildings, stuff like that.
(http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Occluder)

Don’t get too happy with the occluders though, too many of them will cause FPS drops again. Best is to use just a couple of large ones.

Post an overview or Hammer screenshot so we can see the layout of your map. That way, it’ll be easier for someone to give suggestions on improving the geometry for better performace. Also, making props fade helps a lot.

Also if it fits the map, use the fog entity to throw in some fog and lower the draw distance. Its the cheapest way to boost performance and nowhere near favorble for the looks though.

There is truth to this. The best way to do fog is to enable fog blend and make props fade at the same distance the fog covers them.

Starshootr, I am legit working on a desert map, so far, based off area 51, main gate with Cammo dudes after long road, air base, in a hangar in near office which blast doors, an angled / slant like elevator that goes down far, just started underground part, could use some help with the town part.