I am an intermediate Source SDK user (Half-Life 2 content, etc). I am creating several mods of my own (99 Bolts, Assault on Overwatch, and other personal projects) and I am contributing to several other mods (Room Escape, etc). I have good ideas and the will to learn. I'm also a nice guy who is willing to help others learn about Source. - November 2011

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I wrote these two lists on Interlopers.net and I would like to share them with you all. The first one offers a broad understanding of a strong mapping philosophy. The second one is focused on improving the mapping of beginner Source mappers.

The 10 Commandments of Level Design (Philosophical)

1. You are the One True Master of your maps. No one else can build your maps for you.
2. Optimization is more important than aesthetics. Engine performance affects player immersion.
3. Even though your game-building programs may give you trouble, remain patient and vigilant.
4. Take strategic breaks to remain creative and avoid "mapper's block". Go outside sometimes.
5. Study the mapping of successful video games (Half-Life 2, Call of Duty, STALKER).
6. Lighting makes the level. Be bright, dramatic, and colorful. Use total darkness only if forced to.
7. Sound is the very best tool for player immersion and mood enhancement.
8. Never steal content from another mapper. Obtain permission before using the assets of others.
9. Seek out the opinions of fellow mappers and learn from constructive criticism.
10. Learn to create your own assets (textures (easy), models (intermediate), and entities (difficult)).

The 10 Commandments of Mapping for the Source Engine (Technical)

1. Valve is the creative force behind the Source engine. De-compile Valve's maps and utilize the VDC.
2. Optimization is more important than aesthetics. Engine performance affects player immersion.
3. Save your work often. Generate a spare copy of your work in case your map becomes corrupted.
4. Never use the "Carve" function for any reason. "Carve" will corrupt your maps and your computer.
5. Fix leaks as soon as you detect them. Leaks reduce map quality and ruin engine performance.
6. Playtest your level's gameplay as soon as possible. Add details only after the layout is finalized.
7. Learn about the tool textures and their effects on optimization, gameplay, and aesthetics.
8. Use two light entities per "light": a bright light_spot and a dim light of the same color.
9. Disable collisions and shadows on certain prop models to improve player movement and aesthetics.
10. Game environments need at least twice as many details in order to be considered "good" in mods.


More than anything else, a map should be FUN to play.

I am eager to hear of your suggestions and/or improvements. This is a work in progress and I plan to adjust and modify this list based on the suggestions I get. I'm hoping to post this in the VDC once we can all agree on it. :)

I am an intermediate Source SDK user (Half-Life 2 content, etc). I am creating several mods of my own (99 Bolts, Assault on Overwatch, and other personal projects) and I am contributing to several other mods (Room Escape, etc). I have good ideas and...
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Balto mod team

Balto mod team

4 members Developer & Publisher

Due to the growing size of the balto mod team, a group has been added for clarification and organization.

RE Team

RE Team

4 members Developer & Publisher

The Room Escape team is a small development team. explorer7, joe_rogers, and Master_of_Hiddenry are the mappers while Vugam is the modeler, and he does...

Source Developers

Source Developers

983 members Fans & Clans

For people and teams developing mods and games with Valve's Source engine.

The 99 Bolts Project

The 99 Bolts Project

3 members Developer & Publisher

The 99 Bolts Project will make several mods over time. These mods will work together to portray the rise and fall of Ava Winona, and will catalog her...

Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 32)
TheUnbeholden Dec 20 2014 says:

Whats going on with 99 Bolts?

+2 votes     reply to comment
zonbie Creator
zonbie Feb 3 2015 replied:

99 Bolts is currently being developed in radio silence; I am just not very comfortable with sharing lots of small updates like I used to...it got to be very distracting.

But since you asked: I have a custom code base (fixed projected textures, custom entities, and more to come I hope) thanks to Gary and ChromeAngel on Interlopers; I have been in the slow process of blocking out all of the levels in order to better define the size and scope of certain elements of gameplay and story; I have been identifying custom assets I might need from others, since I doubt I will have the time to learn modeling/texturing; I have been writing lots of the story, recording some dialog myself, and continuing to learn FacePoser so I can get some new scenes in-game finally.

+1 vote   reply to comment
DeathVice Jan 19 2012 says:

Zonbie I read you needed help with getting custom textures...
If you need help getting custom textures for your projects I can help you out and show you how to get them.

+2 votes     reply to comment
explorer7 May 12 2011 says:

I thought of a catchphrase "Escape or Die Trying" lol.

+2 votes     reply to comment
zonbie Creator
zonbie May 18 2011 replied:

i like it

+2 votes   reply to comment
aidas2 Dec 24 2010 says:

Merry Christmas!

+2 votes     reply to comment
zonbie Creator
zonbie Nov 14 2010 says:

Because thinking with portals is just so...intellectually challenging.

+2 votes   reply to comment
CauterizeandExpunge Sep 28 2010 says:

Are you Zonbie on facepunch?

+2 votes     reply to comment
zonbie Creator
zonbie Oct 8 2010 replied:


+2 votes   reply to comment
cW#Ravenblood Aug 17 2010 says:

Thanks for the add!

+2 votes     reply to comment
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