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Free themes! And my failed graybox stories.

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I have come a long way in about a year of videogame mapping. I have an extreme passion for level design and I want to turn it into my career. I don't think I would still be here if I didn't love doing it, because damn I failed a lot and learned a lot. Even though it has only been a year, believe me,  if you don't persevere, mapmaking will turn you off fast. Here are a few themes that I have messed up in my mapping noobishness that you might actually want to use if you are stuck. For some I have screenshots, most others are lost. Also, many of you may know me for my rant based, unstructured writing, so bear with me. One day I will plan a post.


The OG. The first ever map idea I had. It was this space station where the terrorists had docked with a ship. There was this whole lookout tower extension that was gonna have a glass bubble over it. There was a one way drop to B. Very cheeky design choices.

As my first project I have decided to make a defusal map based in space. The terrorists are attempting to detonate explosives in the two bio centers on space station Olympus. Look how much I planned this: 



Grill Fight

On Olympus, winning the fight for Grill is going to be critical for taking B site (T) or preventing it from being taken (CT). I predict that the fight for grill will have 2 T's and 1 CTas the T side can afford more players since CT players will probably have 2 players per site leaving one to go plat. Even with this lost player, the engagement on B would have 4 T's and 2 CT's. Winning grill quickly means killing the planter on CT or killing the defuser on T. To stop either of these scenarios the player(s) would need to smoke site (although the player grill will probably know where the defuser is in the smoke). Alternatively, players can counter by engaging the player in vents in an unfavorable battle or rotating all the way to long to kill them.

B Site

B is intentionally easy to take as it is difficult to hold. T's dropping duct cannot get back up unless they do a 4 man boost making it possible to put a max of 1 player duct. If a CT player wins the grill fight and fails to kill the planter (smoke on site) they can rotate duct along with CT's on A. In duct they have a vantage over site due to its height and can attempt a retake that is much easier than the defense. Before rotating the grill fight winner (CT only) can go plat to get a vantage of B! That's right, B sites right wall will be glass, a key feature on Olympus. Due to the high angle, picks on players behind t box will be the easiest, while T players pressed against the glass would be the only other vulnerable players on site. This makes plat balanced later in the round. Also note that plat is elevated and the stairs go up but because I am an idiot kid I neglected to put stair direction in.

A Site

A is intentionally hard to take as it is easy to hold (notice a theme?). Ct and T players enter the site at around the same time. If CT players hug the left side of A long (which I also neglected to label. Idiot!) they will be out of T's sight and hearing. They can proceed to walk (to trick T's into thinking they stacked B), or run behind grass to boost. Grass has two steps: a low one on the side facing the wall, and a high one on the T side preventing them from performing a similar boost. Once boosted you can either headglitch with your teammate under you, or jump on grass as your buddy flanks all the T's focused on you. The real power of grass is that you can boost on it at any point making you position unpredictable and less susceptible to T's pre-aiming where your head will be. If there is a 1v1 scenario CT's can easily smoke ct box if bomb is planted there and defuse relatively safely. Ct box is good cover for sneaky CT's to kill the unsuspecting planter and buy time for rotating CT's


More balanced than you think. T's who opt to leave the rush to go tower leaving their team a little weaker will benefit them greatly seconds later. They have a view of all the glass covered areas on this map. This includes the roof of a long, a section of glass roof on the CT side of B, the left wall of long ( excluding certain parts where rotating CT's can hide to avoid being spotted), and A's glass roof. This will make the CT's feel like they are playing metal gear solid and wonder why they are still here. The catch is that the dome on nest is not penetrable (dang!). Its space guys what did you expect? I predict that good T's will either stay in tower for the duration of the match to watch for rotations, or rotate back to it quickly after a successful rush to find CT rotators.

CT/T Spawn

As a way to spice up the map, T spawn will be inside of a space pirate ship and CT spawn will be in a ship for space police featuring coffee cups, doughnuts, and a lot of monitors.

"Cool" Detail ideas

The whole map will have a clean aesthetic with no pointless background noise except for (possibly) in the spawn to aid players who are saving and mistakenly switch weapons. The glass will have steel strips to support it except for the wall of glass on the right of B. I might add more glass than was mentioned in the Nest section to remind players that they are in space! I want to incorporate nylon into the walls and ceiling in some tight corridors to replicate the feeling of the ISS (international space station). There will be a few blocked passages to give this otherwise tiny map some volume. One of the blocked passages will have an airlock with a window where a torn of section of the station will be visible.Also the spawn ships will have little portholes in them. Is this idea cool or stupid? I am most eager to hear your thought on the map design rather than the planned aesthetics.



I didn't know much about level design and my ideas were very idealistic and badly implemented. I am thoroughly surprised that I planned my first map rather than jumping into it

Even from the get go I was tired of centrally placed mids, and how safe and generic they were in maps. 

I didn't allow T's enough room to setup and navigate. THERE WAS LITERALLY NO WAY TO GET OFF B ONCE YOU COMMITTED. 


A completely underground historic subway system. Nade implementation has to be creative.

This was my third blockout (?)




A san Francisco bay area mansion with a variety of indoor and outdoor engagements with a 2 level exotic car garage and a wine cellar. One of the sites was a golden bughatti on a pedestal. Some very pretentious mapping ideas I had.


Behind CT spawn was a massive hydroelectric dam. Middle was a stepped water path, but most parts were drained. A was this power generation plant with turbines. One of them was removed and you could drop down into a pipe (formally known as a penstock), and then exit in a spot where it was burst. I got super obsessed about dams when I made this one because they are frigging awesome.


A big Nordic castle with tons of snow, a Rapunzel tower. Situated on a mountain with one side of the map facing a sheer cliff. T spawn was half of a crumbled bridge. I think my brushwork was improving, but I feel I actually got more ignorant in terms of pathing.



A collab map I was going to do with another mapper. It was set to be in an abandoned overgrown petrol refinery, but it was like my second map so it flopped horribly. He wasn't really a layout "expert", and it is hard to give feedback about a layout that seems like it could never be good so I don't blame them.


Kinda like subzero except with the theme of an Antarctic research base and not nero. One site is a geodesic dome and the other is a habitat on stilts. Middle was this underground experiment area akin to nuke underground in hallway scale.


A city in dubai covered in sand dunes that create interesting elevations and allow you into second floor buildings and the such. My skill in hammer was not really there, I didn't get far.


An area of sidewalk near a middle eastern palace caves in, exposing a sewer system for gameplay. I imitated other maps too strongly and ended up with an ugly child of 5 maps. Don't do this beginners.


A missle silo on a military base that serves as one of the sites. The other is explosives storage. Middle is a service route through the base.


A map that taught me a lot through failure. I didn't have a strong enough grasp of what everything was going to be and the whole map ended up suffering thematically and gameplay wise. There was a train that would block you for 3 seconds to fix timings before rolling away. very cool stuff, bad planning and execution.

You can only start reliably freestyling your maps when you have a good idea of what makes maps tick and have experience with the editor. Do not be ashamed to extensively plan early on. You need to be very lucky to create something fun and competitive with a solid them the first time around.


The predecessor to databunker, based around artillery emplacements in the rockaways. There was not a very large variety of areas and I was not too happy with the scale of the end result considering that it could not be changed due to the real life size of certain objects that the layout rested upon.


Kind of a "we don't talk about that" map. The theme was Old Town Bucharest. One site was a palace and the other was a castle museum. There were a host of inherent gameplay issues because I was too devoted to ideas that would not work. Sometimes you have to throw away ideas that are not competitive but are very cool. This is the point where I started to learn about func detail. Before, I pretty much looked up how to put in spawns, a light_env, and brushes, and I went ham making maps. A little cringe, but at least I wasn't distracted by things I didn't really need yet. There is a mapcore post if you really care about seeing it, The visuals in graybox were o.k.


My first map that I am proud of but also a little disappointed with. While it does have a 4 square design like every map today, it includes verticality in every section, but not in an awkward way. Also the whole map is on rooftops so I was inspired by the heights to make it like this. Maybe don't take this one until its truly dead in my hands like all my other projects.


If you need want to use any of these themes I can give you specific ideas that I used within the map that might help or inspire you.

I have been trying to help a bunch of people through exhaustive feedback and teaching lately. I even got a rando in mm interested in mapmaking and start his own map. I might make a basic beginners series that takes into account the things I didn't like about the existing tuts and fixing them. There will be planning and structure, and I love teaching so it will be great. I think giving a taste of the tools first and then introducing planning maps would keep people interested.

I will eventually release the first video format and see what you guys think. Also I will not say things like:Making of de_sparity - Part 1_ Planning.mp3






Edited by Interfearance

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