Gary L. Simmons  rev 03/16/06
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The Battle Cat's Litterbox

Making a good netmap is pretty much hit or miss. For every netmap that Hastur made, there were three that were absolutely no fun whatsoever. Because of this, don't let yourself get discouraged when making netmaps. This section is devoted to the netmap. We'll talk about a series of different things:

1. What is fun? (I tried writing this and it was so stupid, i deleted it.)

2. Dos and Don'ts of Making Netmaps.

3. How to set up Item parameters and item selection and placement.

Carnage Soccer courtesy of the Battle Cat's Litterbox

Do's and Don'ts of Making Netmaps.

This is a list of things that pain me when I see them on NetMaps, and a corresponding list of things that I like:


1. Don't ever have a slow platform that is used to move around a map. Slow would be less than 3 w.u. per second. 3 w.u. is the minimum. There are relatively few tolerable exceptions to this rule.

2. Don't have a slow door. (This is a corollary of #1, but should not be overlooked.) There is nothing more annoying than dying because the door didn't open quickly.

3. Don't ever allow the amount of ammo or guns to be such that someone couldn't find a gun if they wanted one or knew where to look.

4. Don't ever have lava that the player can't get out of. There is nothing more stupid that dying on a netmap because you accidentally fell off a ledge. Either put teleporters in the lava holes (making sure that the lava isn't so deep that the player dies before reaching the floor) or let the player swim out.

5. Avoid huge heights. Why have the floor be 10 W.U.s below the ledge over it. It's almost universally true that it's more interesting if you can see the guy below you. Perhaps a good exception is Thrud, where the change in elevations and the corresponding ways of traveling between the elevations is interesting enough to cancel out the fact that you can't always see the person so far underneath you.

6. Supply ammunition for the weapons. Some guns are pretty much useless without extra ammo: the SMG and Shotguns come to mind. Also, having no weapons for the ammo poses a problem too. How much I like throwing a Fusion Battery at someone and watching it bounce off their foreheads, it's not very safe for my well being.

7. Avoid putting too many objects in plain sight. The Marathon Engine can only draw 64 or 128(I can't remember the number offhand) sprites at a time. This limit include projectiles, dead bodies, players and scenery. A Rocket takes up around seven sprites, due to its contrail. Keep the ammo behind corners. If you go over the limit, Marathon will arbitrarily decide not to draw some of the extra sprites. When the limit is exceded, sprites will randomly disappear.

8. Don't make your map too slow. I have a UMAX S900, 200mhtz machine. I don't really care, but remember all those millions of slower powermacs. Be their friends as well as ours. Keep down the complexity. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the two versions of Route 66 in Marathon Infinity.

9. Don't just put all the weapons on a map. Select the weapons that make sense. If the map consists of narrow, curvy hallways, don't bother putting rocket launchers all over the place.

10. On hill games, make the hill sort of defendable. Don't put a X3 recharger and unlimited ammo supply on the hill.

11. Avoid frustrating people. Flow. Carnage. Flow. Flow. Flow. Think like a gentle stream. Enter the Zen-No-Mind. Be a mouse on a treadmill.


1. Read the Don'ts list.

2. If something about a map is annoying, fix it.

3. Make sure that the map "flows". This means that movement around the map is not troublesome or slow.

4. Whenever possible, use increments of seven.

5. Make the ceilings over stairs high enough that you don't bump your head when traveling down them. This is a corollary of #2.

6. Sacrifice to the polygon gods before beginning a map. This will increase your Karma and allow the best possible outcome. This sacrifice is simple, just say "I make a sacrifice to the polygon gods." If you have a glass of wine handy, pour it onto the floor. Likewise, if you have some fatty portions, burn them.

Setting up the Weapons and Ammo
When setting up the item parameters, be mindful of which weapons you want to have available. Also keep in mind that Marathon checks every fifteen seconds to see if it should put down another item. That is, it goes through all the item parameters every fifteen seconds and puts down items accordingly. Read below for explanations of what all the parameters do.

Initial count is simply the number of this item that start off on the level when the game begins. For solo levels, you can usually just use this parameter for items. The initial count overrides the maximum count.

Minimum count is the minimum number of this item on the map. The minimum count overrides the maximum count, if the maximum count is lower than the minimum. It also overrides the "total available". Keep in mind that the minimum and maximum counts include weapons that players are carrying. For example, if there is a minimum of 4 shotguns on a map, and all are being carried by players, Marathon won't put down another one until someone dies.

Maximum count is as it says. Use this parameter as an upper limit on the number of items. It's only really useful if you're using the %-chance regrow feature. (Read: you don't need to use this at all if you don't want to. You can do all the item parameters with the minimum count. Powerups are a good example of an item that minimum counts don't work well with. If a powerup has a minimum of 1, it will always appear. Powerups are destroyed when picked up.)

Total Available this refers to the maximum number of times that Marathon will drop this item. Remember that the minimum count ignores this. I use the "infinite available" for all my netmaps. The only time I use the Total Available is if I want to restrict the number of powerups that appear on a level. Then again, I can't remember ever wanting to do this. Rule of thumb: Always use the "infinite available" for any objects that regrow with the "Appearance(%)".

Appearance(%) this is a percent chance, checked every fifteen seconds to see whether an item should be placed. If the maximum count is already filled, no item will be dropped. This is useful for powerups. A 5% chance relates to the item appearing once or twice in a ten minute game. Anything over 35% means that the item will appear every minute or so.

Random Location, the item will not appear at placed starting locations, but instead will appear randomly in polygons. To keep items from appearing in certain places, you can set the polygons as "Item impassable" or "monster impassable".



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