Tips on Making a Good Map

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These are some tips and tricks from some mappers on the forums, the original topic is here.


  • 1) read eihrul (lee salzman)'s inclusion standards, found here. These are the standards for a map's inclusion in Sauerbraten, the violent older brother of Sandbox. Most of the standards should apply well to Sandbox.
  • 2) use a lot of editing commands to your advantage. Lighting commands are especially nice to use.
  • 3) ALWAYS remip your map after once in a while. With 2.7 and up, remipping can dramatically increase fps.
  • 4) Follow Gridwork Rules
  • 5) Use copy and paste to your advantage, whether this means geometry or entities. Flip and rotate are also incredibly useful.
  • 6) Watch your proportions. I can't make that any simpler.
  • 7) Real-world textures (particularly earth and such) are more like a combination of textures, e.g. grass and dirt, or patches of snow mixed into grass. Use texture blending to achieve that realism.
  • 8) Always do your texturing before curving geometry, as texturing after curving geometry usually screws it up.
  • 9) Use trims on walls and other smart texturing ideas. You can find many examples at this article.


  • 1) Don't overuse materials such as lava or water. The animations cause the map to be slower. Only use them if you need to.
  • 2) Too many mapmodels slows down sandbox. I would use less then 100 per map.
  • 3) Make sure that your lightmap uses less than 100 textures. That is the recommended amount for lightmapping.


  • 1) When you make lava, make some respawn material above it, otherwise you can stand in the lava when it's not too deep.
  • 2) When using heightfield mode, always select the area you need to heightfield, NEVER MORE, as this can ruin your entire map.
  • 3) Make sure there's nothing under the area you want to heightfield, or this will get messed up.
  • 4) NEVER use different gridsizes for the same area of heightfield mode, because you can't fix (or it's really hard, and you might forget stuff by not seeing it) it afterwards, unless you don't save and reload the map (undo won't always work).
  • 5) After adding lights, remember to quick-light first, you can simply do this by pressing F3 and then selecting quick-light.


  • 1) Always texture before you use heightmap mode, unless you want it to be the default texture.
  • 2) Never EVER use hightmap within 3 size-2 cubes of a wall or anything you don't want it to touch.
  • 3) ALWAYS use clip around the borders of the map. In the words of Hirato - "Cons - No clip around the border, people won't like it when they fall off your map".
  • 4) USE DIFFERENT TEXTURES! The roof and wall textures should almost ALWAYS be different form each other. Foundations of buildings are usually different from the outer walls as well.

Kid Matthew

  • 1) Use these commands to help you:
    • /vscale .50 // Scales the textures in half, substitute .50 for another #.
    • /vrotate 1 // Allows u to rotate selected textures, substitute 1 for # of rotations of 90 degrees.
    • /vcolor .2 .3 .5 // Allows you to make textures different color. Red, Green, Blue.
  • 2) Spend a day on making assets for your map, such as Arches, Doors, Windows, Poles, columns ETC.
  • 3) That allows work flow to be much faster and productive because you can copy and paste Assets to your Map.
  • 4) Always try to keep making your assets better and better.
  • 5) Try to use the least amount of map models as possible.
  • 6) Don't Spam particles.
  • 7) Check Height Map Geometry. TIP: Go under the Map and look up to see any errors in Height Map.
  • 8) Sometimes adding water to Height Map and removing the water will mess up the Height Map, so add Water, Lava Last.
  • 9) Calculate the map before you Upload/Release.
  • 10) Make sure collision is on when u have Rain/Snow Particles or else you would have the particle coming through the buildings.
  • 11) Make sure your Map is Scaled. TIP: Go into to 3rd person to see how the player model represents to the size of things in your map.
  • 12) Try to remember how to make simple things like columns.
  • 13) Lights need some kind of Visual Representative/Source.
  • 14) SAVE OFTEN.
  • 15) Don't rush you maps.
  • 16) When taking a picture of you map Push Shift 4 to toggle HUD.
  • 17) Do not use Uppercase Letters in your map or your Textures, Picture Extensions.
  • 18) Give your map a Title.
  • 19) Type /maptitle "Map Name by Author of Map."
  • 20) If you want color u can type /maptitle "^f1Map Name by Author of Map." If you wanted more then one colors you could type /maptitle "^f1Map Name by ^f2Author of Map." You can substitute the # for any Number between 0-7. MAKE SURE YOU SAVE AFTER YOU TYPE THE MAP TITLE!


  • Uniform your mapping. Buildings always seem to light better if:
    • You plan them with a grid size of 4. Create a decent floorplan out of a decent texture.
    • Create doors at 3 in height and 2 in width using a grid size of 3.
    • Windows are 2x2 grid size of 3.
    • Stairs are 4x1 grid size 2.
    • Walls are 1x grid size 2 in thickness.


  • 1) Never copy and paste HUGE areas, Sandbox will most likely crash
  • 2) Try not to copy and paste fairly large areas. When I did this, the game crashed upon saving the map, and corrupt the save file.
  • 3) Following on from the above point, save to a different file each time (e.g. map1, then map2, then map3), you could just use the usual backup files, but they're not always created for me, for some reason.