General Guidelines

The Basics

When constructing Deus Ex maps, there are a few guidelines that you may want to follow.  These are things that SEEM to make sense to me.

1. Study the maps from the real game, and steal from them

Though some of the Deus Ex maps from the game are pretty large and can be tricky to decode, examining what the pros did is really the best way to learn about making good maps. In case you didn't realize it, all of the maps from the game can be loaded into UnrealEd. When you are in the Load map dialog box, change the File Type to "All Files". All of the files that start with a number and end with ".dx" are the Deus Ex maps that you should be familiar with if you've played the game.

You can also copy brushes from existing maps and paste them into your own. It can be a little tricky - if you copy only a subtract brush from a map and paste it into open space in your map, that's not going to do any good. Just select the brushes you want to copy in the "from" map (to multiple select, hold down the CTRL key), and select Copy from the Edit menu. Then go to your "to" map and select Paste. You can even pull up two copies of UnrealEd at the same time to make this easier.

So if you want a pool table in your map, grab it from the NYC bar map. Need a 747? Grab it. It can also be handy to grab more mundane things like doors, if only to have textures already assigned.


2. Use the grid for placing brushes

If you follow #1 above, you'll notice that most of the brushes in the real maps are aligned with the 16 unit grid. You'll probably want to at least use the 1 unit grid when placing brushes. For non-brush items that you add, this isn't important; the grid isn't used when placing items like characters, decorations, and pickups. Smart use of the grid to align your brushes just seems to make everything go smoother. Lining up doors with doorways becomes a breeze, and creating hallways that perfectly line up with rooms becomes the rule instead of the exception.  The scaling and tiling of textures will be much easier too.


3. Make sure multiple solutions are available

The beauty of Deus Ex is the flexibility that the player has in completing mission goals. Don't try to force the player down a particular path or think too much in terms of "puzzles." Try to give the player as many options as you can. Remember to provide lots of ventilation shafts for sneaking around, provide areas accessible only by water, allow keypad codes and passwords to be discovered by talking to NPC's or finding DataCubes, make sure a reasonable number of multitools and lockpicks can be found, as well as weapons, ammo, and explosives, with a reasonable amount of effort.


4. Reward exploration

A good map done in the flavor of the game will have many hard to reach areas that contain goodies. Remember to award exploration bonuses, weapon upgrades, augmentation canisters, multitools, lockpicks, bioelectric cells, medkits, and crates filled with goodies to players that take the time to poke around the more out of the way places.


5. Always make goals clear and keep them coming

Another thing I appreciated about Deus Ex is the fact that the current goals were always clear. Also, it always seemed that another one was just around the corner. So try to make the goals that you give to the player as straightforward as you can. Go ahead and make a complex, convoluted plot, but give the player a direction for the next task at hand. Give the player a lot of small goals too. While there may be a larger, overall goal that isn't completed until the map or mission is done, smaller goals give the player a sense of progression. If the player is earning a small number of skill points for each completed goal, but there are a lot of them, it can help keep the interest level up. (or the addiction level up, if it's really a good map!)


6. Don't constrain the player to one physical path

Many typical 3D shooters force a player down a particular hallway or only allow for a few branches. But you aren't making a 3D shooter are you? Strive for more variety. Make a number of standalone buildings with multiple doorways or other access points. Think in terms of real buildings or locations. A real building might have roof access, basement access, elevator shafts, ventilation shafts, breakable walls, and multiple doorways.


7. Vary your textures, but be consistent

You will rarely want to use the same texture for a wall and a floor in the same room, but you may want to use a similar wall texture throughout a particular building. There are a LOT of existing textures to choose from, so try to break things up visually. But don't just go from a metal room to a stone walled room to tiles. Think in terms of what type of building or area you're in and try for a specific theme. Luckily, many of the existing textures are grouped by theme, so that helps.


8. Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD

Just because you figured out how to make the assault shotgun into a watermelon launcher, doesn't mean in belongs in your map. In my opinion, the mechanics of the game are fine as is and don't need a whole lot of tweaking. I'd rather play a map that concentrated on balanced gameplay and interesting characters and story than one that featured an exotic new weapon and little else. That said, if it's a good map AND it happens to have some interesting mods that add to the experience, nobody's going to complain!


9. Miscellaneous

Many of the doors in Deus Ex are either 144 units high and 72 units wide or 128 x 64 units and between 1 and 8 units thick.  It can be convenient to go with 128 x 64 doors, since most door textures are 256 x 128 - which means a scaling factor of 0.5 will give a perfect fit.  For doors of other sizes, you'll probably need a calculator to figure out the right scaling factor. :)  (for instance, a 256 x 128 texture on a 144 x 72 door would need a scaling factor of 0.5625 - that is, 144 / 256 for the height, and 72 / 128 for the width)

Stairs tend to be 16 units high and either 16, 24, or 32 units deep.

Generally, you'll want to put things like keypads, control panels, alarm panels, and light switches about 4 grid squares above the ground (for a grid set to 16 units).

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