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Building Left 4 Dead Maps With Google Sketchup 44

notthatwillsmith writes "If you're a fan of Left 4 Dead and you've ever wanted to build a zombie-filled map of your hometown, office or grocery store, Maximum PC just posted a how-to that shows you how to convert photos of real-world locations into ready-to-play L4D 1 or 2 maps. It's everything you need to know in order to kill zombies with your friends — in the comfort of your own backyard."
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Building Left 4 Dead Maps With Google Sketchup

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  • Las Vegas would be fun. Killing zombies in middle of slot machines, poker tables and all the lights and bling bling.

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Friday December 11, 2009 @06:09AM (#30399674) Journal

    I'm just waiting for the "school" maps to appear. This game has already had to be mutilated to make it onto the shelves in Australia. I think once the first screenshots of a zombie-killing spree in some kid's high-school appear, that should probably do for it in the rest of the world as well.

    I know when I was a teenager, I developed a Doom map based on my school. Didn't think much of it at the time (this was pre-Columbine) - it was just a fun setting while I taught myself level design - but I know that if I'd done that (and been found out) today, I'd at best have found myself in compulsory counselling and at worst in jail.

    • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) *

      I agree. I think it was for HL1 that I also tried making some maps and obvious first ideas were own home, school, friends places and other familiar stuff. It was fun seeing those familiar places in the games.

      And speaking of level editors, I think Max Payne's level editor [] has been one of the best ones. It was nice to use, you could do lots of things easily (like moving platforms activated by triggers) and still powerful. After I went from MaxED to Hammer (or whatever the usual Quake level editor is called),

    • Funnily enough, I did exactly the same thing with quake, and my geography teacher was kind enough to give me an A4 map of the school site. I couldn't have been more than 13 at the time, but all the same I'm fairly certain that would never happen today.

      There's also the issue of copyright on the interior of buildings; as the Manchester Cathedral controversy with resistance:tFoM shows [], just because you *can* set your levels anywhere doesn't mean you won't get sued out of existence for using it. Which is sad

    • Way back when, my highschool actively sponsored a Quake2 tournament in the computer lab during a competitive sports week, in which the maps were all based on the school and some models were based on teachers.

      It was fun.
    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

      Rest of the world - not exactly, I guess. You can certainly find off-limits places with similar outcome for most of the world though.

      WTC map reconstructed partly from archive photos. Mosque in Mecca (hm, though probably that applies to any mosque at all or any church in country which considers itself primarily "under one true faith"). Imperial palace in Japan. Birmingham palace (though the last two might end up really accurate in L4D). Mogadishu (imagine to turmoil after that...)

      Essentially, you need only o

      • >>Essentially, you need only one individual, whatever the motivation. It's easy to offense people.

        It's *too* easy to offense people. It's hard to get people to stay on defense with you.

    • Let's not go overboard here. It wouldn't land you in jail.

      It might get your house searched if some dipshit kid that found it said "OMG HE'S GONNA SHOOT UP THE SCHOOL".
      It would land you in mandatory counseling, but there's two solutions here:
      A) Fuck with the counselor. Waste their time. Now, if the counselor is a trained psychiatrist then it'll take them about 20 minutes to realize you aren't a mentally disturbed child. If it's a counselor then they won't know shit and it's better that you waste their ti
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A) Fuck with the counselor.

        Only if she's cute.

    • by Reapy ( 688651 )

      You didn't think much of it, because it is the most normal thing for a human to do when making a map. I think everyone's first map in any 3d engine was either their house, their school, or their workplace. I know my first map was my friend's house, followed later on by me doing a rainbow 6 map of my apartment. The first doom map my father did was of his workplace, he'd place certain demons in certain cubicles depending who sat there :) I had great fun play testing this map, and the first time I went to his

    • Kick it up a notch, make it the parlament.

      The scary part is that it would look maybe too real with all the zombies running rampart there...

  • Other applications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @06:11AM (#30399678) Homepage Journal

    My wife uses Sketchup and Revit for her architecture practice. I wonder if there is a business opportunity converting her normal models to Left 4 Dead maps. It reckon it could liven things up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Well sir, we could have just provided you with a run-of-the-mill architectural fly-though of your new 60 story office complex, but we thought - what better way to prove the robust structural integrity and ergonomic layout of our design to you than to have you attempt to survive the zombie apocalypse in the very building you seek to build."

      *Hands shotgun to client*

      "Good luck, sir. And try to avoid the elevator shafts."

    • Safety officials often use computer models to analyze fire exits and such in an emergency. I can see analyzing your office space for the survivability of a zombie holocaust as a viable safety measure.
    • I tried the free version of sketchup a couple years ago and the only thing I could do with my models was view them in sketchup. Is there any way to export to a standard format? Are there converters now? Or do you have to buy something in order to do useful things with the models?
      • Yeah the commercial version (600 AUD, still 10% the price of autocad) can use many useful external formats. My wife was trained to draw by hand. The autodesk products were too much of a step up for her to do in one go. Sketchup provided a way for her to transition into CAD without having to learn the full professional tool from scratch.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jackbird ( 721605 )
        within the bounds of the EULA, you can import the Sketchup models into Google Earth. Also, a number of 3D applications are adding .SKP read/write support. Outside the EULA, .SKP files are actually ZIP archives containing a Collada file of the 3D model, all the texture bitmaps, and some Sketchup-specific metadata files.
    • Actually, I supplying clients with a complimentary copy of the game with the new map would actually be rather well received as a bit of promotional fun. Especially those clients with teenage kids.

  • Great! Since the days of Quake, level editors have become quite a bit more complicated, and though SketchUp! seemed like a great way to quickly make some maps, things like concave/convex planes etc. quickly made me abandon my own attempts at making L4D levels. Now with this guide I might make a good start.
    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      Great! Since the days of Quake, level editors have become quite a bit more complicated, and though SketchUp! seemed like a great way to quickly make some maps, things like concave/convex planes etc. quickly made me abandon my own attempts at making L4D levels. Now with this guide I might make a good start.

      To be honest, I find this harder than building in Second life.

  • OK... So you can make a map out of something else.
    Doesn't mean you should.

    Not because of the "oh my god, they're shooting in a school/church/hospital/mall/brothel" (fuck people who go off like that),
    It's because there's too much out there that's just crap. Probably about 90% of it.

    If you're going to do it, go over it and make sure there aren't places where you can get stuck, be sure zombies don't spawn in the safe room, and at least make an effort with the textures.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 )
      Yeah, there will be a lot of shit but this is the case with ANY tool for making consumer-generated content. In fact, the harder tools lead to more crap because you have more people that can do something half right, so you end up with a lot of maps that are somewhat alright but generally suck. You end up with maps that have a good layout, but the doors don't work, the ladders don't work, and the stairs take a lot of jumping to climb because someone only made it 1/3 of the way through the manual.

      This will a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      Actually I'm convinced that easier to use tools will result in more useful maps, not more chaff.

      Let's be sensible here. People will only invest so much time into creating a map for a game. So depending on how this time is spent, quality will either be good or bad. If it's easy to get a basic layout done and get ladders, items, movables etc. in place, they will spend that time fleshing out details and testing. If you have to spend already a ton of time on basic layout, that's gonna be what you will get.


  • I know NWN 1 and 2 had very good company supplied map editors.
    • Neither had first-person view.

      NWN1 level editor is in fact tile-based, with fairly large square premade tiles (large enough to accomodate a single small room) used as a basic building blocks; then you just place light & sound sources, triggers, and objects around.

      NWN2 has heightmap for outdoors landscape instead of tiles, but otherwise the system is broadly the same.

      Neither one comes even close to complexity of creating maps for an FPS game like L4D.

  • When I first heard that you could use skethup with l4d sdk, i was ecstatic. Finally I could use a a very easy-to-use 3d modeler program with a great sdk. But no.

    After some pracise trying to import maps from sketchup to l4d, it became apparent that it wasn't as easy. I.e. You have to make sure that all meshes/models are grouped in a certain way. And if you're trying to export "odd" shapes (arches, 1/3 cylinder etc) the sdk would not display them properly.

    So I find that it's much easier to build maps in the l

  • I made a couple maps during the SDK beta but I don't fully understand the process of packaging the maps and I'm rather short on time, otherwise the rest of the process is real easy for me.
    Mapping for Left 4 Dead though is much more complicated then mapping for most other games though.
  • by TheHawke ( 237817 ) <rchapin.stx@rr@com> on Friday December 11, 2009 @10:19AM (#30401270)

    Let's make a map using the White House and fill it with zombies.

    No, wait, it's already been done in real life.


    • Actually, I thought the Zombies were all down the street in the Capitol? That would actually make for a pretty good L4D map -- 535 Zombie "specials", and all of them have about 10 or so "minions". It would certainly be a L4D massacre.
      • I'd like to see this map as well. That'd be a good survival map, or perhaps your trying to escape via the tunnels, or make it out to the helicopter pad where Marine One lands.

        Could even be a fun new playmode like the VIP mode like in Counter Strike. (Protect the president from Zombies! [Note: no particular president is mentioned. Don't turn it into a political rant]
    • better yet: you are White House Security and it's your job to distinguish between party guests and uninvited imposters.
  • Dismember the Alamo (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @12:48PM (#30403338) Homepage Journal

    This was how the creator of the map "dismember the alamo []" created his map of the alamo drafthouse (austin based movie theater chain) to scale. Hammer does a lot of things, but building real buildings to scale from photos is not one of them, which, presumably is why sketchup was supported as an importable filetype. If you can find the buildup thread on that site linked above, he does a pretty good tutorial (edit - you can find the sketchup/hammer buildup thread here []). I would imagine this is what the Maximum PC tutorial is based off of.
    Also there's nothing wrong with building a map of your school for quake/doom/halflife; I did it too back in the quake 1 days. Schools are the right size for deathmatch maps (I tried building mine and my friends' houses but they're waaay too small unless you scale the rooms waaay up, schools with their cafeterias and gyms are about the right size) and I never thought about rampaging through the actual school. So chill out everyone.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre