Always snap to grid

Legacy:Welcome To UnrealEd

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This page is erm... a mess. Go to Mapping Lessons.

Stuff that this page needs to cover[edit]

I've read a few n00b posts on forums recently that have given me ideas on what to cover here.

  • The basics of how the world is put together: brush wireframes & actors. UEd creates the 3d world from the brushes.

the following list is for Unreal Geometry

  • ... and surfaces != brushes. Common n00b mistake to refer to surfaces as brushes, and thence the confusion of why moving a brush doesn't move a surface.
  • the 2nd layer: actors.
  • why each time you click on a primitive, you get a new shape replacing the old one
  • the fact that geomtery in the 3D view is not permanent – why it doesn't change when you move corresponding brushes (quake mappers particularly will be confused by this) and v. quick intro to rebuilding.

We’ll be perfectly honest: the learning curve is sharp. Even when you know all the functions of the editor, making maps that look good will still take a lot of practice.

You may want to see UnrealEd Interface to find out more about the various parts of the screen. The mouse has many different functions, so you may want to open the mouse control reference in another window.

Carving the World[edit]

When you start up UnrealEd, you should be presented with an empty map: the three orthogonal UnrealEd Viewports will show a grey grid, and the 3D viewport will show empty black space, with a grid of blue lines if your monitor brightness is turned up to "sunburn".

If this is not the case, select File > New from the menu;

If there are no viewports at all select View > Viewports > Configure... This will bring up a window with various viewport layouts. Just select one and click ok.

The world is one enormous cube. You can zoom out of an orthogonal view with the mouse to see the entire space. The dimensions are truly staggering, and very few maps make full use of the space (Sunspire from Unreal 1 and that ocean floor Assault map from UT are a couple of examples).

The Unreal engine considers the world to be solid even though in the 3D view it appears to be empty. This is a crucial difference from most other 3D game engines. A mapper creates a playing environment by carving solid shapes out of the world: imagine carving holes in dough with a cookie cutter. UnrealEd does the same thing, but in 3 dimensions. It may be helpful to think of the Unreal world as a huge cube of clay, waiting to have something carved within it.

The Technical name for carving is called "Boolean transformations"


A brush is a 3-dimensional shape. Most brushes in any given map will be simple box shapes. Too see what other basic shapes are possible, click on any of the brushbuilder buttons in the toolbox on the left-hand side of the screen – those that show green-ish 3D shapes.

Brushes describe the world. Unlike the hole in the cookie dough, a brush that carves a hole in the world can be moved, rotated, re-sized, or even have its shape altered.

Subtractive brushes make a hole in the world. Additive brushes add solid material back in – for example, a pillar or a walkway is usually an additive brush.

Starting with the empty (or rather entirely full) world, the first brush operation is by necessity a subtraction.

Important Level Designing Considerations[edit]

Aligning all geometry to the grid 
At the bottom right corner of the UnrealEd Interface is the Snap to Grid checkbox. (See discussion in BSP Holes.) It's recommended that you enable the Snap to Grid feature. It generally makes it much easier to align adjacent brushes accurately, without infinitesimal gaps; and, it helps eliminate the possibility of rampant BSP Holes. The pivot point of the brush is actually "snapped" to the grid when you do this. Usually the pivot point is located in the center of the brush, but it can be moved for a number of reasons.
Rebuild your level often 
UnrealEd can crash if too many actors are added in one rebuild; and, the editor log will give you information about potential problems (inventory placement, reachspecs, warnings, and alerts). Also, when you have a BSP hole in your level, it's easier to diagnose the cause if you have a smaller number of actors to search (no log warnings on BSP holes).
Vertex editing can be problematic for novices 
Most mappers tend to view their design process through just one window (typically, a 3D view), and it can be difficult to recognize when you are dragging a vertex into a geometrically impossible position, because the lines will just overlap, and you won't be able to distinguish what side of what you are on. If done wrong, the UnrealEd will crash spectacularly. To do this process correctly, you must view the selected vertex in each of the 2D views, and switch from top to side.



This is part 1 of an absolute beginner tute. It's work in progress. feel free to comment or add to it – tarquin (called away to lunch)

NFG's text which he's just cut from his page is restored here as it's just as good as what I wrote. I've been thinking that my approach on this page was wrong. The thing that puzzled me most when I first used UEd was the notion of everything being an 'actor'. When you get down to it, and Unreal level is made up of a BSP which shapes the world, and lots of actors. (some of which are brushes... just to confuse the novice.) Anyway, to be long-winded, my point is that IMO both myself and NFG fell into the trap of assuming the bovice knows too much. Oops, novice not bovice. Freudian slip maybe? ;-) – Tarquin (only if you like cows :eek: – EntropicLqd)

When familiarizing yourself with UnrealEd 2, typically, the novice mapper creates a simple Death Match map and play tests it. The essential element is the room, which is a subtractive operation. And, the simplest primitive shape, or Brush, for a room is the cube. All design dimensions are chosen with respect to the apparent size of TournamentPlayer, (see, General Scale and Dimensions); player height is approximately 80 world units high, and 35 world units wide. Room height must be considerably higher (to accomodate jumps and other features such as stairs and lifts), and even connective hallways should be at least twice the player width, and for pathnoding Bots, should be at least 100 world units (50 world units away from corners). Look to the left of the viewport, where the toolbox and brushbuilder?s are located. You can either left click or right click the button for the Cube Brushbuilder. A left click will create a cube brush with default dimensions (256 height, 256 width, 256 length) in the viewing area. A right click will produce a dialog box in which numerical entries can be made that will become the actual world unit dimensions of the cube. These dimensions can be changed at will at any time before the brush is actually added or subtracted, respectively, to or from the world. Try several combinations, and view the results in the various different viewports. As a suggestion: when making your first room, don't make it too humongeous (a common error), or your PlayerPawn will be dwarfed to insignificance. Also, enable the Snap to Grid feature (way at the bottom of the Viewport area); this makes designing easier for a number of reasons and generally eliminates BSP Holes from forming in your Level.

The thing that finally made the penny drop about the editor was when I realized I could add a shape to the world and then move it around and it's properties would be maintained. Before that I'd always delete the original brush and create a new one in the place I really wanted it (duh! but then I'd never read any tutorials either). That was the point I really appreciated the solid geometry aspects of level building. Might be worth adding a step to move the initial room subtract without moving the player start so their relative positions change – EntropicLqd.