Adjusting the spawn room: How to use the Clipping tool
29 Nov 2004 @ 02:52PM

Updated: 9 Feb 2010 @ 02:56PM
This is part 3 of the WFA mapping tutorial. In this tutorial we're going to turn our room into something worthy of being called a spawn room. Most of the procedures we're going to use have already been covered in the previous tutorial. However, we are going to cover one very important tool: the clipper. The clipping tool is one of the most important tools you can use in building a map. The use of this tool will be covered in depth below.

Let's begin with a recap of important keys and keystrokes:

F1Brings up the help menu
Insert/DeleteZooms in/out of a window
EscapeDeselects any selected brushes/entities
Shift-leftclickThis selects or deselects the brush/entity you click on
Numpad keysChanges the grid size
ctrl-cCopy the selected entity/brush
ctrl-vPaste the previously copied entity/brush
tBrings up the texture-picker.
ctrl-shift-leftclickSelects just the face of a brush (one at a time)
ctrl-shift-alt-leftclickSelects/Deselects the faces of a brush (as many as you want)
d / cMove the camera vertically
backspaceDelete the selected brush/entity
sSurface Inspector

For a popup window with the commands listed, press the following button. If you are running a popup killer, be sure to disable it.
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With that out of the way, let's begin.

Having already compiled your map from the previous tutorial, you may have noticed it's a tad small, especially for a spawn room. After all, this is where as many as 8 people will be spending the first 30 seconds of a map, waiting for the countdown to conclude. Additionally, you really don't want people respawning and jumping into the action TOO soon after they get fragged. Doing that only invites turtling on your map.

In a later tutorial, I will go into great detail about the do's and don'ts of mapping, specific to gameplay. However, right now we're more interested in the basics of how to build a map, rather than dealing with the vagaries of tuning it for optimum gameplay.

Regardless, let's make our room bigger. First, let's highlight one of our walls (shift-click) and drag it out a fair distance. Allow me to demonstrate.

Moving a wall

In this case, I used the top view to drag our left-most wall so that it borders the -768 gridline. This expanded our room by 512 grid units, or basically doubled the size in that direction. Hit escape to deselect the wall. Next, I'm going to move the upper wall (in the top view) so that it borders the 512 grid line. As you can see, this room will be rectangular when we get done, rather than a perfect square.

Moving the second wall

At this point, I'm going to deselect the wall again (escape). Now we're going to size everything else so it fits properly. It doesn't matter what order you do this in, but I'm going to resize the floor and ceiling so that they match up against the newly-moved walls first. I do this by shift-clicking on both the floor and ceiling (using the viewport) so that they're both highlighted. Then I click to the top-left of the walls (using the top view) and drag it until it matches up with our walls. A demonstration, I believe, is in order.

Resizing the floor and ceiling.

In order to make sure you actually have the brushes lined up correctly, you will almost certainly need to zoom in and out using the "insert" and "delete" keys on the keyboard. They MUST be aligned perfectly...if there's even one grid unit between them, your map will leak and fail to compile. An alternative to this would be to resize the grid (using the number keys), which would minimize the possibility of inadvertantly leaving a hole somewhere.

Regardless, we're not done. You may have noticed the walls aren't lined up either. I'm going to select the "top" and "bottom" walls (as viewed from the overhead view) and then drag them out using the front view (bottom right window). Drag these out until they're even with our far wall.

Resizing the first set of walls

Finally, we're going to resize the remaining two walls. Hit escape again to deselect everything. Using the viewport, shift-click the remaining two walls. Using the bottom left view (the side view), drag them out until they're even with everything else. When we're done, we should have an enclosed space again. Of course, this time around it's rectangular rather than square.

Resizing the second set of walls

Of course, you don't have to resize these walls in pairs. You could easily have resized them one-by-one. However, we obviously saved some time and effort doing it this way. Regardless of how you do it, make sure that you're comfortable with it. I would say that about 25% of my time building a map is spent making new stuff, while the rest of the time is spent resizing, moving cutting brushes.

Now that our room is much more respectable in size, let's go ahead and make it taller as well. The first thing I'm going to do is highlight (shift-click) the ceiling, and then drag it up. In this case, I moved it so the bottom portion borders the 512 grid marker, thereby doubling the vertical size of my room. Why? Because I can.

Increasing the ceiling height

Next, we're going to select all the walls. Do this by first deselecting the ceiling (escape), then selecting (shift-clicking) all four walls. Now, using the front or side views, click above the walls and drag STRAIGHT up. It doesn't appear to be an issue now, but sometimes if you don't drag in a straight line you may inadvertantly resize some of your walls. If you should happen to do that, simply hit ctrl-z to undo the last move. This is a great feature, but it doesn't replace the "save" function by any means. ALWAYS SAVE. Anyway, once you've dragged the walls up, we should look like this.

Resizing the walls to match the ceiling

Excellent, good work. At this time I'm going to save this map as tutorial2. I suggest you save your maps any time you make a change to it. If that means saving it every 2 minutes, so be it. Trust me, it's better that than losing 30 minutes of work. Additionally, if you do some work you're not sure you want to keep, just save it as a different name. If you decide to scrap that idea, it's easier to load an earlier version of the map then to go through the headache of deleting a lot of brushes.

At any rate, let's move our viewport back inside our room. Right now we have a rather plain looking room: it's basically just walls and a floor. Let's go ahead and spice it up a bit.

We'll begin by moving our spawnpoint back a bit. Simply highlight it and drag it to the left, using the front view (bottom right). You could also use the top or side views, it doesn't really matter. Once we have it scooted out of the way, hit escape to deselect it.

Next, using the front view (bottom right), let's draw a new brush. We're going to have it extend from the floor and the rightmost wall (in that view) up to the 256 grid line vertically, and the -128 gridline horizontally. Please view the picture below for clarification.

Drawing our block

If you'll notice, it's not especially wide (check out the top view, which is the top-right pane). Let's resize it. In this case I'm pulling it down a grid square so that it's evenly sized, then changing the grid-size to 7 (num-key 7 on the right side of the keyboard). I'm then dragging it so that it encompasses a total of five gridsquares (from the top view), leaving roughly three above and three below. Is this thing entirely symmetrical? Nope, sure isn't. We could make it so, but that would take more scooting and resizing, and frankly it doesn't really matter all that much. Check out this picture if you're at all confused.

Resizing our block

So, you may be wondering what I'm doing with this big block in the middle of my spawn room. Well, I'm going to turn it into a ramp. How? Follow along to learn the wonders of the clipping tool.

The clipping tool is every mapper's most important tool. By using it, you can turn all these droll, everyday blocks into something a little more interesting. You can use it to chop off corners and make ramps and such, all the way to making complex shapes. It just takes a bit of patience and forethought.

First, with our block still selected, hit the 'x' key on the keyboard. This turns the clipper on. If you'll notice, in the gtkradiant toolbar up top, a button will have depressed itself. You COULD use that button instead of hitting 'x', but I suggest you get used to using the keyboard shortcuts. Everything goes much quicker that way.

With the clipper turned on, we'll be using the front view (bottom right) to do this next step. let's click our block at the 128 grid line, at the top of our block. You'll notice a number comes up (the number one). Next, click on the bottom left of our block (still using the front view). You'll notice that the top left section became yellow, and the viewfinder will remove the remaining portion of our block out of the view. Right now, we have an inverted ramp, not what we were looking for. Before I continue, a screenshot.

Using the cutting tool

As I was saying, what we want to keep is the inverse of what's currently being kept. IE, we want the yellow part to be on the bottom right, not the upper left. To make that happen, hold down control and hit enter. This reverses it, and now we have what we want. Go ahead and move around with the viewport to see what it is we have. Once we're sure this is what we want, hit enter on the keyboard. That makes the cut final.

What if you decide you don't want to cut at all? Hit x again...this turns the clipper off and you don't lose anything. Alternately, you can also hit escape. Alright, let's continue. You may have noticed my block has no textures defined...I'm not sure if yours does or not. Regardless, we'll want to change it. Let's begin by texturing the whole block with caulk. Go to textures, then common. This loads all the common textures into memory.

Hit 't', which brings up the texture menu, and select 'caulk'. Now our block is a beautiful pink. Hit escape to deselect the block. Select all the sides that will be visible to a player running around in this level. That would be the "front" (the ramp itself), the top, and the two sides. You'll need to select these using ctrl-shift-alt click.

Once we have them all selected, let's go to textures, then base, then base_floor. Hit 't' to bring up the textures menu, and let's select something to use. Let's go with concretefloor1.

Concrete ramp

We now have a concrete ramp. Just for the fun of it, let's compile the map and look around. Go to bsp, then select the top option (bsp -vis, -vlight). After a moment, the map should compile, and you should be inside looking around. Run up your ramp and take a look at your spawn room.
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