View Full Version : Tutorials : Theory : Scales and measurements

23-07-2004, 07:42 PM
Scales and Measurements

When designing a map, the most important thing to consider is how big and how small things will be. Something that is the size of a house doesn’t fit in a corridor and something like a box of matches won’t be the size of a table, that is unless the designer has a different scaling method like in Darkstar.

This tutorial will help you to define the correct scales and also make sure things are well placed according to simple rules.

1. Unit measurement
2. Space measurement

Unit measurement

Now let’s understand how to scale, first the half-life engine is limited, to convey real size with real objects is almost impossible. The scale is by unit, each unit occupying 1 cubed unit=1, no objects can be less than 1 unit cubed. This limits us in various ways, i.e. room sizes cannot be accurate and player views can seem distorted by realistic wall/door sizes.

The player size covers 72 units by 32 unit’s width; all the units are mathematical scales by the power of 2, e.g.

1-2-4-8 this conforms to a grid etc...

First and most things you do when using the unit scaling is to choose the right scale for what object you’re making, my theory is:-

"Go higher not too high, then gradually come down, till almost right

To start in unit 1 is not sensible; a good start is to just start at 64. Here is a rough guide of what unit scaling to use for what:-

64 Very Large outdoor structures
32 Large outdoor structures
32 Outdoor Floors
16 Outdoor structural content
8 Outdoor objects
32 Indoor flooring
16 Indoor walls
8 Player size objects
4 Half size player objects
2 Small objects
objects /wires etc...

This is a general unit scaling method you can use or it is up to the mapper really, what is best for what is needed. But remember to start with higher units first then gradually move down to smaller objects. When mapping it is like a construction worker making a house:-

1. Design Structure
2. Make a draft measurement of area and scaling
3. Lay down markers
4. Create base foundations
5. Create primitive exterior walls
6. Create Windows/door framing
7. create internal walls
8. Add flooring and ceilings
9. Add Structural frame
10. Add roofing/tiling

This is a basic overview of how to plan your approach when making your maps in the editor. Also make sure snap to grid is on to assist you when making adjustments, something to consider is that the standard half-life textures are accurately defined and doors are usually the size of the actual textures (most not all).

Space measurement

To understand how to size things in the editor you have to understand how big it is in comparison to the player, when you design a room, make sure you have made it wide and high enough but not to go over/under the size that restricts the player/s in some way.

Make sure doors are adequately sized and corridors. Space measuring helps you to design proper room sizes and player spaces. Make sure also to add more space when a corridor is designed for 2 way pathing, nothing worst than players getting stuck because of a blocker. Also make sure the height of things don\'t restrict player/s, like in air vents make sure a person can duck and crawl through it.

Here are 3 types of space measuring methods:-


Movement is how a player/s can move in a space type or interact within that space, this means allowing restricted spaces or disallowing normal spaces which dont conform to them.

Flow is to convey proper paths which allows fluidity of objects/players/monsters i.e. Ladder placement, Step positions, Levitators, Lifts, Platforms etc... Making sure things are in the right place can ensure good flow in the map and help players move around.

Visual means the look of things, in context this is to the style used, but generally does it look right or is there enough decor or too much, sometimes doors can look too small in certain spaces even though the units are right.

This is all to do with the texturing scale and also how a player interacts with that space type.

Remember these are que's to help you to think about map design more closely rather than barge in and make a half decent map. Good maps are well thought out projects, take time to analyze what space needs to correcting, and go through the various concepts I've taught you here.

It helps to make a map flow from one area to another, make sure that corridors are correctly sized and doors. Thankfully the hammer editor allows you to see the size of a player in comparison to the structures your building. I simply add a few player starts near things and doors to measure what size things will be. Most of the wall textures are correctly sized for rooms, so use the different ceiling heights that valve use in there textures

23-07-2004, 07:48 PM
These tutorials are made available because my site is going down soon. So I thought instead of deleting them, I can make use of them here for begining mappers. I Hope you find these tutorials useful.