Post tutorial Report article RSS Feed Beginners Guide to Valve Hammer Editor

This tutorial will show you how to make a very basic map, you will learn how to create brushes (they are blocks that you use to make your level) apply textures & scale them and using various tools that the hammer editor has.

Posted by Sfisher7 on Aug 5th, 2005
Basic Mapping/Technical.

[page=Starting Hammer]
If you already know how to start hammer move on to the next section.

First you'll need Half-Life 2 and Steam installed to use Hammer. After you've done that you need the SDK. Start Steam then open the "Play Games" menu. Go to the bottom of the list. There should be a "Source SDK" on the list (it will not appear if HL2 is not installed). Right-click on it and click "Launch game" button on the drop-down menu. If this is the first time that you have started the SDK, you'll need to download it (it does this automatically. You won't need to download it off of a site). This will take awhile. Once it finshes, you will have the SDK. Now when you launch, it will open a window (after it finshes loading). Here you have a list of most of the tools. Right-click on Hammer (the one at the top) and click "Launch" on the drop-down menu. Now that you've started Hammer (it may take a second or two to finsh loading)you can start mapping! Please move on to the next section.

[page=Mapping with Hammer]
First things first, click on the "file" tab at the top bar, then click on new.

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Once you've done that you will have a grid, camera and tools to work with,
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Now you're probably wanting to know what those tools on the side do. Here's a description of each one (note: only the basics of mapping is covered in this tutorial, not all of the tools will be covered, but I hope to cover them in later tutorials). If you get confused later about tools, look back here.

The Selection Tool:
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This is your selection tool. It lets you select brushes and enitiys that are in the map. When something is selected it will have a red-ish tint to verify that you have selected it. You can select multiple things at once by holding Crtl and clicking on the brushes you want.

The Zoom Tool:
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A simple tool used to zoom in and out of the grid and view. If you have a mouse wheel you can zoom in and out with that as well.

Camera Tool:
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This is the tool for moving around the "camera" view.

Entity Tool:
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The Entity Tool is the one of most important tools in Hammer. It can make lights or even place starting points.

Brush Tool:
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The most important tool in Hammer. This will let you create floors, walls, ceilings , catwalks almost anything can be made by using simple brushes. But for the more compelx shapes, you'll need models (I won't cover placing them in this tutorial, but I hope to in the future).

Texture App:
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For applying and scaling textures. This is very useful when textures tile badly (see later in this tutorial how it's used).

Apply Texture:
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Not to be confused with the Texture App. This will apply the texture currently selected in the texture browser (later this will be covered).

Apply Decal:
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Some textures are "Decals". For example, if you want a bullet hole in a wall, you get the decal selected in the texture browser (using the texture browser will be covered later). Click on the "apply decal" button and click on the place you want it to be in the "camera view".

Apply Overlay:
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A lot like a Decal. But overlays can be morphed and sized. You can place it the same way as you would a decal.

Clipping Tool:
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A more complex tool, but it can make amazing results. I will go into this in a later tutorial.

Vertex Tool:
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This lets you "morph" brushes. I will go into this in a later tutorial.

That's it for the main tools. Now let's make something. First, click on the brush tool, drag a box & press enter(the size doesn't matter much. You can change it later if you need). Move the camera so you can see your new brush. It should look something like this:
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NOTE: To see textured brushes, go to the top bar. Then View>3D textured polygons.

That brick texture looks pretty ugly. Lets change it. Over on the right-side of the screen you should see this:
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Click on "browse". A new window has appeared, it's the Texture Browser. Since this is a floor, we're gonna add "floor" to the filter. You'll come up with a lot of textures. So instead of just floor we'll add "metal floor" to the filter. This will narrow your search.
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Double click on the texture to use it. Now to apply it. Click on the brush you want to have the texture, and press the Apply Texture button. Voila!
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Now we need a ceiling. Hold shift and drag your floor brush (in the "side" grid) higher, then let go of shift.
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You now have a ceiling! Now you just need some walls. Drag to make brushes like you did before, but in the "side" grid make them tall.
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Then press enter. Repeat this until your map is sealed. Now find a good wall texture (doesn't really matter what you're using). Most likely you'll run into this problem:
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It tiles horribly! Select the walls and press Shift+A. A new window has appeared! It's the Texture App:
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Just play around with the scale and shift settings. It might take a while to get it right, but there's no need to hurry so take your time. When you finsh it should look something like this:
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Doesn't that look a lot better? Your map is almost ready. Now you need to place a starting point so the game knows where you start. Click on the Entity Tool. You won't need to select which entity you want right now. It starts out with a info_player_start entity so all you'll need to do is place the entity. On the grid click on where you want it to be. Here's an example:
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Press enter and a little green man will appear. Make sure that he's not going through the ground. I recommend making him float a little to be sure. Note that other source games such as Counter-Stirke: Source or Day of Defeat: Source use custom spawn points. Like into_player_terrorist and info_player_counterterrorist.
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Now for the last thing, you'll want to add some lighting. Click on the entity tool. Over at the right you'll see this
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From the drop-down list choose light. Place a few like you did with starting point. When you've finshed adding the lights it should look like this:
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Notice that I'm not placing the light entitiy on the ground, but i'm making them float just a little bit. This makes it a litte less intensely bright making it look a bit better. Now you need to save and compile the map. Press "file" at the top bar. Then click save
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Don't put spaces in the file name use _ or just don't use spaces. Now you're to the last part. Click on the "file" menu again then "Run Map" a new window will appear:
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Set everything to "normal" and turn off "don't run the game after compiling" if it's on. Press ok. The compile window will appear:
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Once finshed it will automatically run the game. The final product will look something like this:
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Congrats! you've made your very first level! it's not that pretty, but this tutorial is not for making the coolest looking map in the world. It's for beginners that want to map but just don't know how.
Go to the next page for some handy keyboard tricks.

[page=Keyboard tricks & wrap up]
Here's a list of every keyboard trick out there:


Shift+S - Pointer Tool
Shift+G - Magnify Tool
Shift+C - Camera Tool
Shift+E - Entity Tool
Shift+B - Block Tool
Shift+A - Texture Application Tool
Shift+T - Apply Current Texture
Shift+D - Decal Tool
Shift+O - Overlay Tool
Shift+X - Clipping Tool
Shift+V - Vertex Edit Tool

File Operations:

Ctrl+N – Create a new file.
Ctrl+O – Open an existing file.
Ctrl+S – Save the current file.
Alt+B – Export again.
F9 – Run/Compile Map.
Ctrl+Shift+S – Open Sound Browser.


Ctrl+Z – Undo.
Ctrl+Y – Redo.


Ctrl+C – Copy objects to clipboard (also Ctrl+Insert).
Ctrl+V – Paste objects from clipboard (also Shift+Insert).
Ctrl+X – Cut objects to clipboard (also Shift+del).
Shift+Q or Esc – Clear current selections.
PgUp – Previous selection in "hit" list.
PgDn – Next selection in "hit" list .
Alt+Enter – Open up Object Properties for the currently selected objects.


[ – Decrease the size of the grid.
] – Increase the size of the grid.
Shift+R – Toggle grid on/off.
Shift+W – Toggle snap to grid.
P – Toggle 3D grid on and off (with mouse cursor in 3D view).


Ctrl+G – Group selected objects.
Ctrl+U – Ungroup selected groups.
Ctrl+R – Create prefab with selected objects.
Ctrl+T – Tie to entity. Creates an entity with selected objects, or adds objects to an existing entity if one is also selected.
Ctrl+W – Toggle Ignore Groups mode to bypass entity and group selection.
Ctrl+Shift+W – Move selected solid entities to world.


Ctrl+Shift+C - Carve selected objects.
Ctrl+H - Hollow selected objects.
Ctrl+A – Auto-size 4 views to center.
Shift+Z – Maximize/restore current viewport.
Arrow keys – Nudge the current selection in the current 2D or 3D viewport.
Shift+Arrow keys – Clone the current selection and nudge it the current 2D or 3D viewport.
F6 – Cycles to the next active viewport.
F6 – Cycles to the previous active viewport.

2D Views:

Ctrl+I – Flip selected objects vertically.
Ctrl+L – Flip selected objects horizontally.
Ctrl+B – Snap selected objects to grid (based on bounding box).
Ctrl+Shift+B – Snap selected objects to grid (individually).
Tab – Switch view types (top/side/front).
+/- – Zoom in/out (hold Ctrl to synchronize all 2D views).
Mouse Wheel – Zoom in/out (hold Ctrl to synchronize all 2D views).
1 to 9 – Preset zoom levels.
Space – Hold space and left mouse button to drag view position.
Alt – Disable snap to grid while dragging with the mouse.
Ctrl+E – Center 2D Views on currently selected objects.
Mouse Wheel – Zoom in/out (hold Ctrl to synchronize all 2D views).

3D View:

Space - While holding the spacebar:
Holding the left mouse button allows you to rotate your angle of view in any direction, while the viewing point remains stationary.
Holding the right mouse button will allow you to move left, right, up, and down while keeping the viewing angle constant.
Space+Shift - While holding the spacebar and Shift:
The left mouse button acts the same as above.
The right mouse button allows you to move forward and backward, as well as from side to side.
Mouse Wheel – Zoom in/out.
W – Move camera forward.
S – Move camera backward.
A – Move camera (strafe) left.
D – Move camera (strafe) right.
z – Toggles 3D view "noclip" navigation mode.
P – Toggle 3D grid on and off (with mouse cursor in 3D view).
O – Display frames per second and yaw/pitch of camera (with mouse cursor in 3D view).
1 – Decrease far clipping plane.
2 – Increase far clipping plane.
Ctrl+Shift+E – Center 3D View on selection.

Selection Tool:

Ctrl – Hold Ctrl and click to select multiple objects.
Shift – Hold Shift when rotating to constrain rotation to 15 degrees; hold Shift when moving an object to create a copy (clone) of that object.
Left mouse – Click and drag left mouse button to select with a box; press Enter to select objects hitting the box, or press Shift+Enter to select objects only entirely within the box.
Esc – Cancel current selection

Camera Tool:

Shift or Alt – Hold Shift or Alt and click and drag left mouse button to create a new camera.
PgUp – Cycle to the previous camera position.
PgDn – Cycle to the next camera position.
Delete – Delete the current camera position.
Ctrl – Hold Ctrl and drag a camera or its point of interest to move both together.

Block Tool:

Left Mouse – Click and drag left mouse to draw a new brush shape.
Enter – Create object drawn with block/entity tool.
Esc – Delete object drawn with block/entity tool without creating it.
Alt+Shift+C – Insert original prefab.

Texture Application Tool:

Ctrl – Hold Ctrl and click to select multiple faces.
Shift – Hold Shift and click a face to select all faces on the brush.
Shift+Ctrl – Hold Shift and Ctrl, click a face to add all faces on the brush to the current selection.
Right-click – Apply the current material settings to the face that is clicked.
Alt+Right-click – Apply the current material settings to the face that is clicked, with wrapping.
Displacement Editing Tool, Select Mode
Ctrl – Hold Ctrl and click to select multiple faces.
Shift – Hold Shift and click a face to select all faces on the brush.
Shift+Ctrl – Hold Shift and Ctrl, click a face to add all faces on the brush to the current selection.
Displacement Editing Tool, Paint Geometry Mode
Ctrl – Hold Ctrl and click to select multiple faces.
Alt – hold Alt and drag to alter the size of the spatial editing brush.
Shift – hold Shift and drag a vertex to nudge the vertex along the editing axis.
Alt+Right-click – Click any brush or displacement face to make that face’s normal the current painting axis.
Displacement Editing Tool, Paint Alpha mode
Ctrl – Hold Ctrl and click to select multiple faces.
Shift+Ctrl – Hold Shift and Ctrl, click a face to add all faces on the brush to the current selection.

Overlay Tool:

Shift – Hold Shift and drag a overlay vertex to snap it to another vertex.
Ctrl – hold Ctrl and click to select multiple overlays.
Clipper Tool
Left mouse– Click and drag left mouse to create a new clip plane.
Shift – Hold Shift and drag with the left mouse button to create a new clip plane without performing the previous clip.
Enter – Perform clip
Ctrl – hold Ctrl and drag with the left mouse button to move both handles of the clipping plane.
O – Toggle clip distance display on and off (with mouse cursor in 2D view).
Shift+X – Cycle through clip modes.
Vertex Edit Tool
Ctrl+F – Split faces (vertex manipulation) – must have two edges or vertices selected.
Alt+E – Open Vertex Scaling dialog.
Enter – Close Vertex Scaling dialog and perform scale.
Shift+V – Cycle vertex/edge display modes.


Shift+L – Toggle Texture lock.
Ctrl+M – Open Transform dialog.
Alt+P – Open Check for Problems dialog.
Esc – Abort current tool/mouse operation (drag/drop) or clear current selection.
Ctrl+Shift+G – Go to Brush Number dialog.
Ctrl+Shift+F – Open Find Entities dialog.
Ctrl+Shift+R – Open Replace Entities dialog.

Post comment Comments  (0 - 50 of 162)
sn1p3rs1x Nov 16 2005, 10:34pm says:

First, i tried to learn how to make a map using the HELP section. it took me a long time. ty for making a complicated proccess simple

+2 votes     reply to comment
ihardy Feb 18 2006, 11:06pm says:

i somehow got 3 camera boxs and the front box
any body know hot to correct this? plz reply

+1 vote     reply to comment
cehok Mar 11 2008, 1:52pm replied:

ihardy-if you got that proble just go to the left upper corner of the view box and select that and choose the view that you want to see ;)

+2 votes     reply to comment
KittyHawk Aug 14 2010, 8:31pm replied:

If you want to get your "grids" back I suggest you move your mouse over the box that has the word "camera" (for the one you want to remove) on your screen then right click and pick a 2d whatever to make it be grid in THAT box I had this problem and took me awhile to figure it out -Note- the word highlights and/or becomes bold when your mouse is over it and another tip if you want to use only one grid just press tab to switch between TOP, FRONT, and RIGHT - KittyHawk

-1 votes     reply to comment
KittyHawk Sep 30 2010, 7:28pm replied:

Copier :P you just read my reply and made it smaller yet mine explains how, I'm not mad just think it's funny ><

-1 votes     reply to comment
gate_guardian Jun 27 2011, 3:12am replied:

Douche, he posted that supposed coppy 2 years before you. So in essence you coppied him but made it longer..........

+3 votes     reply to comment
Sfisher7 Author
Sfisher7 Aug 23 2005, 12:18pm says:

Hope that this will help new comers to mapping :) , any comments?

+1 vote   reply to comment
ELUSiON Aug 28 2005, 10:52am says:

Thanks for this, I've seen other tutorials but the seemed to have skipped lots of things you covered, and the shortcut guide is amazing! :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
zanatos Sep 2 2005, 10:15am says:

lol i'm just starting hammer so bear with me! i can make only two walls how can i make the others its now working!!!!!!!!!

+1 vote     reply to comment
KittyHawk Sep 30 2010, 6:48pm replied:

Well first off I don't know if you mean now or not but 1 grid says "Front" one says "Side" the other says "Top" (Note: If you only have 1 grid you can either do my other reply or just press tab to switch between all 3) but Top is for Floors and ceilings, Side is for left and right walls and Front is for Front or Backward walls (Note:You may prefer top or bottom or North and South) You are welcome

+1 vote     reply to comment
zanatos Sep 2 2005, 1:07pm says:

nvm i figured it out!

+1 vote     reply to comment
`Eraser Sep 3 2005, 12:49pm buried:


Cool tutorial, I didn't need it however :)

-6 votes     reply to comment
Aquilia Jul 14 2009, 5:10pm replied:

good for you mr super-duper mapper man :P

+2 votes     reply to comment
azngangster2002 Sep 3 2005, 8:33pm says:

I'm having a problem with applying textures. I double-click on the metalfloor texture in the textures group and click the Apply Texture button on the toolbox but nothing happens! Please help me out, I want to learn to make maps.

If you can help me, you can email me at

+1 vote     reply to comment
azngangster2002 Sep 3 2005, 9:20pm says:

I found the magic button that shows up my textures. If anyone needs help on that, just go to View then click on 3D Textured Polygons (Magic Button). Happy modding

+1 vote     reply to comment
hip_hop_x Sep 10 2005, 8:39pm says:

Nice tutorial for thos who want to create maps

+1 vote     reply to comment
Grogdon Sep 19 2005, 1:35am says:

Thanks a lot. This tut helped me tons.

+1 vote     reply to comment
dani26tk Sep 20 2005, 3:04pm says:

so you want a comment...

+1 vote     reply to comment
ironmitch23 Oct 10 2005, 4:13pm says:

I understood everything, but i couldnt get the lights to work... any help/suggestions ??

+1 vote     reply to comment
ironmitch23 Oct 10 2005, 6:56pm says:

never mind i got it

+1 vote     reply to comment
ironmitch23 Oct 14 2005, 3:50pm says:

wen im finished, how i post it so everyone can download it?

+1 vote     reply to comment
m4x0r Oct 16 2005, 8:04pm says:

Thanks alot! I never understood the Hammer editor, and now it seems so easy!


+1 vote     reply to comment
headache Oct 20 2005, 8:07pm says:

The map worked fine but i couln't join as a player, it said all player spots were full. I added the player entiny but it still didnt work.

+1 vote     reply to comment
KittyHawk Sep 30 2010, 7:25pm replied:

I believe you need to add Info_Player_start, Info_Player_Terrorist, and Info_Player_Counterterrorist I do not know if it is necessary to add both teams because some maps use only 1 team and I think they only use that info_player_Terrorist or Counterterrorist

+1 vote     reply to comment
The_Warlord Oct 26 2005, 6:41am says:

Praise the lord someone who understands our n00b pain!

+1 vote     reply to comment
PixelhateD Nov 1 2005, 3:19pm says:

When I drag the side it just makes it into a tall block :/

Help me please?

PS. I am holding shift

+1 vote     reply to comment
KittyHawk Sep 30 2010, 7:20pm replied:

As I said in my reply awhile ago down below One grid says "Top" Another says "Side" Last one says "Front" Top is for Ceilings and Floors, Front is for the Front wall and Back wall, Side is for Left, Right, Front, or Back wall, When you're making Left and Right walls using grid Side or Front (Note:You only need 1 to do this) Click the top square middle square out of all nine and pull it down or up and it adjusts the Height of it(Note:You can right click to switch between 4 circles to rotate, 4 squares to do Left, Right, Height, (top) Width (Bottom)or Nine the corner ones move Top left, Bottom Left, Top right, and Bottom Right at the same time depending on which you clicked)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Isuress Nov 6 2005, 5:42pm says:

ty you have saved me :)


+1 vote     reply to comment
Metallica=-=1981 Nov 18 2005, 11:01pm says:

arg! my camera's being gay!! it only shows boxes and no texture
| | Thats pretty much what it looks like so i can't really see if i'm
| |doing it right. My camera's nothing like the one in the tutorial
| |
| |

Plz help

0 votes     reply to comment
silentsniper878 Nov 20 2005, 4:02pm says:

rawr....nice beginner tut, but i need intermediates :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
livewire117 Nov 28 2005, 4:18pm says:

i keep getting this error

The command failed. Windows reported the error:
"The system cannot find the path specified."

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sfisher7 Author
Sfisher7 Dec 4 2005, 11:41am says:

Trying going here: , it lists tons of erorrs and how to fix them.

+1 vote   reply to comment
General_Dragonblood Dec 20 2005, 8:28pm says:

I'm new to mapping so i'll give this a Try.

+1 vote     reply to comment
The_Modder Dec 21 2005, 3:51pm says:

Hey, thank you so much for this Tutorial. I'm going to keep working on your Tutorials *ahem* I mean look at them untill I'm a pro, and then I'll make my own Tutorial. :)

P.S Here's a good idea for the title of your next Tutorial:

Hammer: From Noob To Pro

lol :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sfisher7 Author
Sfisher7 Jan 2 2006, 1:26pm says:

Lol, i'm not sure if there's much time to, i'm trying to learn how to use unreal ed, and so far i'm stuck trying to figure out how to make a block... :eek:

+1 vote   reply to comment
Rocketronny Jan 20 2006, 8:15pm says:

i followed your guide to the letter, and now when i try to play my map it just takes me to a black screen... my lights aren't working!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sfisher7 Author
Sfisher7 Feb 14 2006, 1:53pm says:

Make sure your lights are inside your main box, when compiling make sure vrad is on.

+1 vote   reply to comment
RezoreX Feb 25 2006, 7:28am says:

can some1 tell me how i get light in my map? I have lights on my map but they dont work...

plz help me.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Superflydemon Mar 13 2006, 8:20pm says:

hey i have a question you know how when you first start and it says to drag a box in wich grid do i drag it?

+1 vote     reply to comment
EviL|Smiley Mar 19 2006, 1:58pm says:

umm i cant make the player entiny......... do you like have to download entinys cuz i have none!

0 votes     reply to comment
scopeR Apr 8 2006, 8:18pm says:

hey, this is really helpful but i dont understand like early in the tutorials when wev made our ceilings and walls you sahy 'Repeat this till it is sealed' dont get what you mean.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Darkhalo1326 Mar 27 2006, 5:08pm says:

Very nice job on this tutorial, should get plenty more people used to it, I really like the Keyboard shortcuts, insanely useful man. Keep coming with tutorials!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Cradle Mar 30 2006, 9:51am says:

every time i click on entiny key it send me a window that says object properties: Func_detail
im new at map building and i dont now what to do from there cant find the lighting ??
can anyone tell me what to do :) plzz

+1 vote     reply to comment
Cradle Mar 30 2006, 10:01am says:

o ya and my categories box on the right side will not light up :(
plzz help

+1 vote     reply to comment
Cradle Mar 30 2006, 10:55am says:

nvm i got it lol :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
sebban Mar 31 2006, 10:52am says:

Thanks for the Good and easy to understand tutorial :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
Cradle Mar 31 2006, 5:28pm says:

how do i get my maps to play on my server ??
can anyone help plzz :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
KittyHawk Sep 30 2010, 7:08pm replied:

In my mind it's simple but a little complicated Step one "Run map" to make it a Bmf file or something as the such, Then you save it in this folder C:\Program Files\Steam\Steamapps\XyzAccount\Source_Sdk Content\Cstrike\Mapsrc Then when you run you're "Lan" server it will show up in there as whatever you saved it as when you're picking what map. (Note:What I mean by Lan is you open up Css and you click the button "Create Server", it makes a server but a Lan server that only people that live around you can join or so I am told)

+1 vote     reply to comment
scopeR Apr 12 2006, 7:52am says:

dw, like alot of other people i figured it out ;P

+1 vote     reply to comment
Minoran May 31 2006, 1:21pm says:

Yeah, so when i make my box thing it has no texture, its just a few white lines making a box. I have tried to apply the metal texture to it and nothing happens. Also when i switch to camera mode or whatever i dont see my object. I have attempted to click on the 3D textured polygons button but to no avail not even a checkmark comes up on it. Please help someone.

+1 vote     reply to comment
zombie0360 Mar 3 2012, 1:59pm replied:

I'm getting the same problem, no matter what I do I can't get a texture whatsoever D:

+1 vote     reply to comment
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