Mapping for Dummies/Preliminaries

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Mapping for Dummies

Author: Wanderer (talk, contrib)

The complete newbie's guide is actually working within UFORadiant, specifically in context with building maps for UFO: AI. It is intended to get you started building your first map, then modifying it. Like a 'Hello World' project, you won't necessarily do much else with it other then learn.

You want to get your hands on a copy of UFORadiant, available here.

Prepping the Software

When you load UFORadiant it will ask you for the engine path. This is the path to the Template:Path file which should be in the base folder where you installed the game. If you've bypassed this without setting the path, you can set it in the editor by going to Template:Path and selecting the Paths option under Settings.

Understanding the File Structure

It's good to know how the files in UFOAI are stored and how you will be working with them. Where you installed the game you will see a folder called Template:Path and inside that folder you will see a number of pk3 files. These are compressed files which contain most of the content of the game: maps, textures, artwork, script definitions, sounds, etc.

You should extract the Template:Path file to the same directory (you can use 7-Zip if your usual extracting program doesn't work). It should create Template:Path subfolder and in it you will find a number of Template:Path files as well as several Template:Path files.

For now, let's open Template:Path. In one of the four panels you should see a a 3D view. If you right-click in that window and move your mouse around, you can move your view. While moving your mouse around hold the CTRL key. This will allow you to fly around the map. Go ahead and give it a nice look. When you're done, right-click again to "release" the camera and return to using the program normally.

Close the map for now. Let's cover just a few more things you'll need to know about the file structure. There are also the following pk3 files in your Template:Path folder and extracting each one will give you more folders in your Template:Path folder. Here are a few of the more important ones for mapping:

This is where the textures are stored. In order to use existing textures in your maps, you don't need to unpack this. UFORadiant will read them in the pk3 files. But if you want to create your own textures, it can be useful to unpack this folder so that you can see the file structure of how they're stored. See Artwork to get more information about supported format, resolutions, normalmaps and so on.
This is where the material files will be stored for your map. The material files help you specify bumpmapping, specularity and more. But we can deal with all that later.
This is where you can add your own map definition in order to see your map in the Skirmish or Multiplayer menus. We'll deal with that later as well.
This is where the ambient sounds are stored. See misc_sound for more information on how to add ambient sounds to your map.