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Unreal Tutorials WANTED

For questions and discussion about UnrealEd, UnrealScript, and other aspects of Unreal Engine design.

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User avatar Mister_Prophet
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Post Posted: 22 Aug 2008, 19:22

Okay all I have left to type is the actual walkthrough part. Then pix.
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User avatar Darkon
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Post Posted: 22 Aug 2008, 21:26

XYZ8000 wrote:Oh well, I'll link one of my tutorials here too :P
Some time ago I wrote some tutorials to help absolute beginners to learn to map. They were originally written in Italian but when I uploaded my website I decided to translate them in English (Italian version is still available).
http://xyz8000.altervista.org/Ued2MappingBasics.html

They're pretty old, but they could be pretty useful for someone who wants to start mapping. Page 17 (Triggers) is missing, that'll be fixed soon.


Would it be possible, XYZ8000, to have that ehm.. all on 1 html file.. so that I can print it to a pdf file? (or have it as pdf already..) :tup:
Would be neat to download it and use it that way instead of having to have a internet connection to go to the next page...
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XYZ8000
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Post Posted: 24 Aug 2008, 19:07

Darkon wrote:Would it be possible, XYZ8000, to have that ehm.. all on 1 html file.. so that I can print it to a pdf file? (or have it as pdf already..) :tup:
Would be neat to download it and use it that way instead of having to have a internet connection to go to the next page...


Good idea, I never thought of that :) (maybe that's because I prefer to read and write on the PC rather than on printed paper).
Right now the tutorial is unfinished (missing page 17) so for now I won't do a PDF, but when I will have my new website design uploaded (it will take max one week) I will create a page with all the Mapping Basics pages melted.

User avatar Darkon
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Post Posted: 25 Aug 2008, 15:08

XYZ8000 wrote:
Darkon wrote:Would it be possible, XYZ8000, to have that ehm.. all on 1 html file.. so that I can print it to a pdf file? (or have it as pdf already..) :tup:
Would be neat to download it and use it that way instead of having to have a internet connection to go to the next page...


Good idea, I never thought of that :) (maybe that's because I prefer to read and write on the PC rather than on printed paper).
Right now the tutorial is unfinished (missing page 17) so for now I won't do a PDF, but when I will have my new website design uploaded (it will take max one week) I will create a page with all the Mapping Basics pages melted.


awesome! Keep us updated! :tup:
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User avatar Mister_Prophet
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Post Posted: 29 Aug 2008, 03:14

Just an Update

I finished the first phase of the walkthrough segment, detailing how to create your first series of playable rooms, going from basic room subtraction to a lighted, playable version with properly used textures.

The next phase will detail adding sound, water, simple BSP decorations, and some stuff from the actor tree. Then on to more complicated stuff.
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User avatar TheIronKnuckle
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Post Posted: 29 Aug 2008, 09:21

sounding very nice

XYZ8000
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Post Posted: 07 Sep 2008, 21:52

Darkon wrote:
XYZ8000 wrote:
Darkon wrote:Would it be possible, XYZ8000, to have that ehm.. all on 1 html file.. so that I can print it to a pdf file? (or have it as pdf already..) :tup:
Would be neat to download it and use it that way instead of having to have a internet connection to go to the next page...


Good idea, I never thought of that :) (maybe that's because I prefer to read and write on the PC rather than on printed paper).
Right now the tutorial is unfinished (missing page 17) so for now I won't do a PDF, but when I will have my new website design uploaded (it will take max one week) I will create a page with all the Mapping Basics pages melted.


awesome! Keep us updated! :tup:


Well, I've updated the tutorial. The new website is taking longer than expected to create, so I decided to just finish up the tutorial in the mean time.
Now I added page 17 (as well as adding some stuff to pages 16 and 18 ) and as asked I merged all the pages into one big fat html which can be found here:
http://xyz8000.altervista.org/Ued2MappingBasicsP.html

It's still provisional though. When I will have the new website completely finished (which will take a while...) I plan on fixing up a bit the tutorial (adding more images and using a better English) and expanding it with new pages. That won't happen very soon though (I aim to finishing at least one of the other tutorials that I have sitting on my HD unfinished before reworking the Ued2 MB).

Hope it's useful ;)

User avatar Mister_Prophet
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Post Posted: 13 Nov 2008, 20:44

Part 1 of Level Design submitted. It includes the full Theory section and the first part of the Walkthrough for newbies. All subsequent Parts will focus primarily on the Walkthrough.
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User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Post Posted: 22 Nov 2008, 17:29

Is anyone interested in a relatively short tutorial about Difficulty Filtering? All sorts of stuff you can do with it, the best ways to filter ammo/items/health, how you can apply it to filter whole parts of a map, etc?

User avatar Rarsonic
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Post Posted: 22 Nov 2008, 18:19

Waffnuffly wrote:Is anyone interested in a relatively short tutorial about Difficulty Filtering? All sorts of stuff you can do with it, the best ways to filter ammo/items/health, how you can apply it to filter whole parts of a map, etc?


That would be pretty good. Any (well-written) tutorial on any subject of mapping/moding is welcomed, after all. :wink:
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User avatar Mister_Prophet
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Post Posted: 22 Nov 2008, 20:43

Waffnuffly wrote:Is anyone interested in a relatively short tutorial about Difficulty Filtering? All sorts of stuff you can do with it, the best ways to filter ammo/items/health, how you can apply it to filter whole parts of a map, etc?


I could churn one up pretty easily, unless you wanted to do it?
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User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Post Posted: 22 Nov 2008, 21:06

Mister_Prophet wrote:I could churn one up pretty easily, unless you wanted to do it?

I could do it. I have a ton of examples of ways you can apply the filtering options that most people don't even consider.

User avatar Hellscrag
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Post Posted: 22 Nov 2008, 21:12

I'd be interested in having a tute like that on the site, if Proph doesn't mind sharing the turf.
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User avatar Mister_Prophet
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Post Posted: 22 Nov 2008, 21:13

okay
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User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Post Posted: 23 Nov 2008, 02:14

Here's a rough draft of the difficulty filtering tutorial:


Difficulty Filtering - Why You Should Always Use It and What It Can Accomplish

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Difficulty Filtering is a very, very simple, yet incredibly useful and criminally underused part of the editor. There’s no good reason NOT to play with filters. They allow you to add tons of gameplay depth and complexity to any map without investing much extra time or effort. Most people know you can use them to filter in and out health/items and monsters based on the difficulty level, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of thought should go into it, and four times as much testing as thought, for starters.

Firstly, the most important (and obvious) use of Filtering is to provide gameplay balancing for all four difficulty levels. Difficulty0 is Easy, 1 is Normal, 2 Hard, 3 Unreal. Simple, right? Yes. But what’s not as simple is knowing what to filter, when you should, and why it matters.

Most of this knowledge comes from experience and practice, and the only way to get either of these is to just mess around in the editor, and then playtest, playtest, playtest. Playtest the hell out of your map. Don’t be satisfied until it is fun every single time you play it. If you do this, the standard of quality in your maps will be above and beyond what most people have turned out over the years, and your maps will have something a lot of others unfortunately lack: REPLAY VALUE!


All right, enough with the words. Let’s look at some examples.

Oh, and just a note: I’m going to be using some EXU2 stuff for demonstrating, but that doesn’t mean Difficulty Filtering is only worthwhile if you make a heavily action-oriented map, nor is its application limited to incredibly stupid things (like EXU).

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Here you can see a bunch of gasbags surrounding the bridge. There are 20 in total, 10 on each side. They are all in fixed positions. Now, if I were to just leave it at that, you would always run into 20--no more, no less--and, for the most part, always at the same time. It gets predictable. PREDICTABLE = BORING.

But when I do THIS for all 20:

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Suddenly, there is a good bit of randomness thrown in to mix things up. Now, there’s no guarantee you will face 20 of them. It’s more likely you will face between 8-12, and sometimes there will be one or two more on one side than another. Also, it is possible (albeit EXTREMELY unlikely) that all 20 will appear or none will appear. It’s simply a probability variable, ranging from 0 to 100%.

OddsOfAppearing is one of my favorite things to use. When you apply it really heavily in your maps, you just never know what the hell kind of screwed up combination of horror you’ll face. Every time you load the level, there will be a different blend of things appearing on the map. This makes gameplay more interesting, keeping it fresh even after several playthroughs.

Now, in the gasbags’ case, 20 monsters set to 50% each isn’t very dramatic. You’ll never have more than 20, and in EXU, 20 is a pretty small number to deal with, especially Turbo Gasbags. But this is just one isolated example; if you have several hundred gasbags at 50% each, then there’s a much wider range of what you will see and what you won’t, especially if these are all spread well throughout the map. But even 20 gasbags at 50% each is enough to offer some subtle variance in the gameplay right there on the bridge; it’s still far more unpredictable than 10 at 100%. Sometimes you will use more ammo to get through them, and sometimes less. And now, speaking of ammo, I’ll make a very important note.

*** ALWAYS ensure the player can handle extra monsters! ***

If you are going to mix things up and make it possible for a player to encounter multiple enemies when they would normally only expect to deal with one, you need to have extra inventory prepared. However, you typically should NOT apply OddsOfAppearing to inventory, since this makes it possible that you will wind up with MORE monsters and LESS health/ammo at the same time, which can really screw over a player who may have already had a lot of bad luck. How do you get around this?

Easy! Have some of your extra monsters set to drop items when they die. That way, if a player only expects to deal with one Skaarj Lord but finds a Skaarj Lord, a Skaarj Scout, and a Skaarj Warrior, he’ll at least get some extra ammo and a health pack for his troubles once the battle is over. And, if he fought well, he’ll be better off than he would have been if only the Lord attacked despite the tougher combat. The extra enemies posed a greater challenge, but since each one dropped something, there was a net gain for the player at the end.

Furthermore, when the player goes through your map once and fights only a Lord but plays again and has a Scout and Warrior, too, he’ll shit his pants and scramble to work harder to not take damage and to deal it out more efficiently. Congratulations: you have put your player on his toes, and once he’s done with that fight, he’ll be a lot more cautious and engaged in the game. As long as you don’t go overboard and make these kinds of scenarios frustrating, varying the odds can go a really long way to making maps more interesting. Plus, there will be times when some fights end up easier, which can be a relief in and of itself.

One really important thing you should always remember about OddsOfAppearing, though, is that it is calculated on a PER-ACTOR BASIS. That is, every time you start the map, EACH ACTOR is assessed by the game. So if you have two Skaarj with slightly different stats and you set both of them to 50%, it won’t always choose one or the other. Sometimes it will choose both, and sometimes neither. If you do this, be sure you don’t place them exactly on top of each other, since this can cause problems if the game spawns both of them.

Don't do this:

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Do this:

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If the geometry is too limited for them to fit side by side, then filter them by difficulty level instead of probability. Make one Skaarj have more health than the other. Filter the weaker Skaarj to appear on Easy and Medium and not on Hard and Unreal, and let that one drop a health item when killed so weaker players have extra help.

One guy:

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And the other, tougher version:

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Or, if you want to be REALLY smooth, have four different Skaarj: one for Easy which drops an item and has less health, one for Medium which drops an item but has more health, one for Hard which has more health and doesn’t drop an item, and one for Unreal which has a lot more health than normal but drops ammo to compensate for the extra input required to kill it.

You could also give it backup only on certain difficulties by using OddsOfAppearing and difficulty filtering in tandem. On Hard, you fight a Skaarj Lord. On Unreal, you fight a Skaarj Lord and have a 50% chance of a Skaarj Trooper being nearby AND a 25% chance of a SECOND Trooper being around the corner, patrolling a hallway. Your imagination is all that’s limiting your gameplay complexity at this point. Try out a variety of combinations and TEST TEST TEST! And when testing, if you want to see how it plays when all 3 appear, set them all to 100% just so you don’t have to load the map over and over until that combination happens. If you like what you’ve done, set the odds back to what they should be. Saves a lot of time and headache.

Also, if you find that having an extra monster can make one fight a real pain, lower its OddsOfAppearing before deleting it outright. You won’t always enter a fight with the exact same inventory and health situation, so keep that in mind when testing. See how things play in a variety of circumstances.

Another thing you should do is be sure to have lots of dynamism with your monster placement. This is less of a filtering issue and more of an overarching gameplay design issue, however, so I won’t say too much about it. But keep in mind that you can apply filters and OddsOfAppearing to just about anything, including creatures on patrol paths. Don’t just leave these filters for guys that sit and wait for you somewhere. Have extra monsters actively wandering around! And throw in extra 30%-chance-of-appearing thing factories for monster spawns as an added bonus so the player might have to fight a third or fourth creature attacking from a vent instead of the expected number. Always try to mix things up!


OK, we’ve talked a good bit about monsters. Now let’s talk about items.

Health and ammo, as I said, should NEVER have less than a 100% chance of showing up. You don’t want to risk having a case where a player gets stuck dealing with extra monsters and less health or ammo. Instead, give items to the extra monsters that aren’t set to spawn 100% of the time. I’m repeating this because it seriously is important. Items are not dynamic; they sit there until you pick them up. Monsters ARE dynamic; they move, react to stimuli, and have the potential to kill you. For this reason alone, you should always be able to count on inventory when playing on the same difficulty level, since you WON’T be able to count on what the enemies are doing (and this is a good thing).

Fixed health and ammo should decrease in availability as you increase difficulty levels. Fixed monsters should also be increasing if you followed my earlier advice, but since variable monsters will be more plentiful at higher difficulty levels, too, their dropped items will make up for the increased enemy load, while still not giving the player enough stuff to make higher difficulty levels as easy as the lower ones. The difference now is that instead of giving players stuff outright, you make them work for it by killing extra monsters that may or may not even be there every time. And if you play your cards right, you can even inspire a ferocious, survivalist bloodlust in your players, sending them into a killing frenzy every time they see a monster, since they think they might get precious resources out of it. You want to make your player go completely insane, basically, but in a good way. Get them really into the gameplay.


Health and Ammo Placement

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A general guideline I go by when placing health and ammo is that you usually make caches of threes or fours in really-easily-accessible, obvious locations. By doing this, you can make all four items available on Easy, three on Medium, 2 on Hard, and 1 on Unreal. Or, with three, all of them on Easy, 2 on Medium, 1 on Hard, and none on Unreal. But don’t always go by this formula since, again, it all depends on what you’ve got going on. Playtesting is the only surefire way to know you have enough or too much inventory in any given area (or map overall). But it never hurts to throw too much ammo and health into the mix on Easy, since Easy is SUPPOSED to be simple enough for someone with no FPS experience to beat.

Another thing you should do--which, admittedly, has little to do with filtering but is still very important--is throw in extra inventory off the beaten path. Reward exploration! Unreal has always been about exploration, and if you look through each level carefully, you may find clips or health packs or bandages in places you had never seen them before. Always design your levels with lots of little nooks to hide things. You could also have triggers (activated by picking up the inventory) set to spawn a Skaarj on the way out of a nook, giving the attentive player an extra heart attack as a reward. And you can always put an OddsOfAppearing value on the trigger itself, so it may not always happen.


Special Items

Avoid giving special things like flares, invisibility pickups, armors, etc. an OddsOfAppearing less than 100%. The reason for this is that these items tend to be functional for gameplay purposes, and depriving a player with bad luck from using them can really suck. Unless these items are in well-hidden places that make them difficult to find in the first place (and, thus, make them unnecessary for smooth gameplay progression), don’t add variance to them. Filter by difficulty instead (when appropriate). PLAYTEST!


Going Beyond Gameplay

You remember how I said several times you can do a lot more than just filter items and monsters, right? Well, this is where that logic comes in. Pretty much anything that doesn’t have to be rebuilt in UED (geometry and lighting) can be filtered. Decorations, keypoints, special events, triggers, etc. However, you should NOT filter NavigationPoints like Teleporters; this can cause saves to not work.

You can spice up the replay value in lots of little ways by moving things around on different difficulty levels. For example, if you have a corpse with a log nearby meant to inform the player of something, you could set it up in one position for Easy, another for Medium, another for Hard, and another for Unreal. Just slight variations like these can make your map feel a lot more like a real, dynamic world, and less like a map full of pre-placed objects. However, avoid using OddsOfAppearing for this sort of thing, since if you have two corpses and logs in different places but they are the same guy, that would really obviously break the fourth wall. Filter by difficulty instead.

To expand on this idea, say you have a dead guy with information in a log. On Easy, he may say just enough for the player to figure out how to open a door. On Medium he may say something else and foreshadow something later (which doesn’t appear on Easy). On Hard, same deal. On Unreal, he might reference leaving an item in a special place that you have to find, and this item only appears on Unreal difficulty.

Do you see how easy this stuff is to set up? It adds a layer of replayability and greatly rewards second- or third-time players by giving them more stuff to do and experience instead of just making the same monsters a little tougher to beat. Difficulty-level-wide changes to monsters done by the game itself aren’t dynamic enough to make the four difficulty levels significant. YOU need to do this; you need to add the special touches that will make your project stand apart from all the other bland ones that are only good for one run. Make something different happen every time. Make things varied enough that you even surprise yourself now and then.

The very fact that you have read all this shows you are at least interested in making it happen for your project. You can do it; the ability is already there in the engine. You just needed someone make suggestions to warm up your imagination, and that’s what this tutorial is here for. Now that you’re thinking about how to add dynamism and replay value to your project, start applying these concepts regularly. Don’t just do it all at the end; do it as you build, and always playtest things during the building process. You’ll amaze yourself at the level of gameplay complexity you’re capable of, and then you’ll notice how many professionally-designed games LACK this level of gameplay detail, and you’ll be proud of yourself for including it.

Now, go forth, and set to making your maps scare the shit out of everyone who plays them with their superior gameplay dynamics.


More Miscellaneous Examples of Applied Filtering

  • Have decorative candles upright on Easy and Medium, knocked over on Hard, and scattered about on Unreal to foreshadow the difficulty of an impending ambush and weird out the player
  • Have a Skaarj busy at a console on Easy and Medium (bButtonPusher), patrolling on Hard, and hidden away in ambush on Unreal
  • Have a Scout on Easy, a Warrior on Medium, an Assassin on Hard, and a Lord on Unreal; do similar things with Brutes and Krall / Krall Elite
  • Have a boss-like monster in a wide open area (such as a Giant Gasbag, Warlord, or Titan) with a low OddsOfAppearing, and have it drop a special weapon or item depending on difficulty level
  • [Edit] DO NOT FILTER NAVIGATION POINTS! THIS BREAKS SAVES! INSTEAD, ADD MORE THINGFACTORIES WITH INDEPENDENT SPAWNPOINTS. [/edit] In a room where enemies spawn in a CreatureFactory and attack from ceiling vents, limit spawnpoint locations by difficulty. Have Easy spawnpoints all come from one side of the area, Medium from half the room, Hard from all over, and add an extra CreatureFactory on Unreal linked by an auxiliary Dispatcher (also set to only appear on Unreal) for extra monsters. This allows Easy players to focus their fire in one area, and it forces Hard and Unreal players to maneuver and cover all angles of attack
  • In areas where you have to backtrack, have Triggers with OddsOfAppearing at about 50% set to spawn in extra enemies or to open up rooms with enemies that drop items when killed
  • Add additional translator messages for Easy players to help them along
  • Add glowing objects such as a lit flashlight near hidden nooks on Easy so players can better find hidden items, and filter out such things on Hard and Unreal so people have to search on their own
  • In a very large, open area, place 100 gasbags scattered about, and set all of their OddsOfAppearing to 0.1. This effectively gives you an average of 10 gasbags in 100 possible places. Much more unpredictable than 10 gasbags always in the same place
  • Go nuts and place 100 Skaarj in one building, give them all a 2% chance of appearing, and put lots of them on different patrol paths (and some on the same patrol path, but at different starting points)

The possibilies of good applications are only limited by what you can think of. Good luck.
Last edited by Buff Skeleton on 06 Jul 2010, 20:46, edited 4 times in total.

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