RvS Mapping Tutorials
Odds & Ends
Tips & Tricks
for RvS mappers
#1 - Reinstall the game to c:\RavenShield\
As we've all discovered, the editor doesn't like file paths with spaces in them. When I'm building a map, I like to test it constantly in-game. So rather than go through the hassle of copying my .rsm file everytime I want to preview the map, I reinstalled the game to c:\RavenShield\. Now I can edit the maps directly and preview them immediately.

One added benefit of this approach is that it provides a good test environment for your mod installer. Not every player has the game installed at c:\program files\developer name\game\ and you need to make sure your mod will work no matter where the game is installed.
#2 - Disable the intro videos
If you test your custom maps as often as I do, you're sick and tired of hearing that "the year is 1945". And as many of you have discovered, if you delete the .BIK files, the game will simply load the movies off of the CD. To outsmart it, follow these steps:

Open the "\RavenShield\Videos\" directory an create a folder named "Backup". Move the file Logos.bik into the Backup folder. Open Notepad, create a new empty file, and 'Save As' Logos.bik (make sure you set Save as type to "All Files", not "Text Documents [*.txt]"). Open the "\RavenShield\Videos\Int\" folder. Move the file RS_Intro.bik into the Backup folder. Open notepad, create a new empty file & 'Save As' RS_Intro.bik.
#3 - Backup your map daily
If you're working on a large project, be prepared for disaster. UnrealED is more stable than it ever has been, but maps do get corrupted sometimes and then your hard work is lost. Don't trust the editor to protect you with autosaves. Once a day, copy your .RSM file to a backup folder and rename it to the current date.
#4 - Use unique, consistent package names
The Unreal editor gets confused if two entities are named the same. For example, naming your map "mymap.rsm" and your texture package "mymap.utx" could cause problems. A good standard to follow is to name all standard texture packages as "mymap_T.utx", textures for static meshes as "mymap_TSM.utx", and static mesh packages as "mymap_SM.usx". The developers of the official RvS campaigns followed this rule pretty closely. Also, it is highly recommended that you always save textures and static meshes in external per-map packages (as described above) rather than packing everything into the built-in "MyLevel" package.
#5 - Build geometry in dimensions of base 8
Whenever possible, build your rooms, walls, and foundational geometry in dimensions of 8, 16, 32, 128, 256, etc. This rule is not written in stone, and there are times when it will make sense to break it. But the majority of the time you will save significant frustration by following simple standards like making your walls 320 units high and 16 units deep. (For more examples like this see my geometry dimensions page.)

There are three major advantages to this approach. First, you will maximize the value of grid alignment (and you SHOULD utlize grid snapping whenever possible to avoid BSP gaps or overlaps). If you follow this guideline, you should be able to keep your grid set to 8, 16, or 32 most of the time. Second, you will make it easier to reuse existing textures and static meshes. For example, many wall textures that shipped with the game were designed for a wall 320 units high, and most window and door frames were designed for a wall 16 units deep. Third, you'll make it easier to create custom textures and static meshes yourself, by following the same dimension guidelines in Photoshop and 3ds max.
#6 - Minimize additive brushes to avoid light bleeding
Dynamic light often bleeds through additive brushes. So if you have the choice of carving out a two room area and then adding a wall between the rooms or carving out each room separately, choose to carve out each room separately so that the remaining wall between them will block light correctly. Note that this is difficult to pull off in a large outdoor map with multiple buildings without a lot of pre-planning.
#7 - Assign all actors to groups
Each time you add a new actor to your map, assign it to appropriate groups. I recommend creating groups based on object type, room name, floor number, and game type. This may seem unnecessary at first, but it will be a lifesaver when your map grows to 40 rooms across 3 floors and you're trying to locate a particular window pane.

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