So you want to learn how to make a map for Unreal Tournament 2003 (or Unreal Tournament 2004)!?

About three months ago, I thought the same thing. I happen to be lucky enough to have a course at the University of Florida that allows me to pursue this as a semester long project. I had built some rudimentary maps for various Real Time Strategy (RTS) games in the past, but never a map for a First Person Shooter (FPS).

Throughout the course of the following three and a half months I learned the necessary tools and procedures to successfully design and construct a quality Unreal Tournament 2003 map using UnrealEd. I planned on writing a tutorial that would walk you through the making of my map (DM-The Mars Mine). However, as I began to think about making the tutorial, I realized that all of the online resources that I had used were, for the most part, adequate. Why redo something that is already done? What I did realize was that I spent a great deal of time searching for the best tutorials and resource sites, instead of working on the map.

This document is intended to provide a basic guide with links to the best online resources to aid in making a map in UnrealEd. I will also add tips/hints that I’ve learned myself or want to emphasize. Be aware that the order of these steps are by no means the best or only sequence to follow.

Step 1 Research & Design Step 11 Collision
Step 2 Learn UnrealEd Interface Step 12 Emitters
Step 3 Begin Mapping Step 13 Projectors
Step 4 BSP Brushes Step 14 Triggers
Step 5 Textures Step 15 Sound
Step 6 Terrain Step 16 Bot Pathing
Step 7 Lighting Step 17 Optimization (portals)
Step 8 Static Meshes Step 18 Volumes
Step 9 Actors (weapons, items, etc.) Step 19 Debugging
Step 10 Movers Step 20 Final Touches


Step 1: Research & Design top

Depending on your level of familiarity with the map choice you plan to make (DeathMatch, Capture the Flag, Domination, etc.) you will probably need to research what the mod community currently has in circulation. There are many sites that allow anyone to upload a map they have made. These sites frequently have reviews and user ratings that you can use to see what does and doesn’t make a fun, interesting, and attractive map. A beautiful map doesn’t automatically make it fun!


A great Unreal Tournament community site:

Another good UT community site:

In terms of design, unfortunately, there is no ideal method for designing a fun and interesting map. Everyone approaches map making differently. Some people get a basic concept like “on a space station” and then jump right into the editor. Others, like me, do a lot of concept/sketch work before going to the computer. However, I do think there are a few universal truths: your design will always change from your intended design, and there will be a lot of trial and error.

As you do research you can also see other people’s designs. Read over the reviews and comments to see what people look for and then try to incorporate it into your own design.

Step 2: Learn UnrealEd Interface top

I found the best site for basic understanding of the UnrealEd interface to be the UDN website (Unreal Developer Network). Not surprising really.


The main UDN website:

The UDN site has tons of content! It can kind of be overwhelming. If this is your first foray into map making and computer graphics in this form, you will want to read about modularity as well.

A guide to workflow and modularity:

Introduction to UnrealEd:

UnrealEd interface reference:

Yet another interface guide:

Step 3: Begin Mapping top

You should know that nearly every texture, sound, and object (static mesh) that you see in a map can be used in your own map design. I would suggest downloading the “Essential Unreal Tournament 2003” files to have a good amount of game resources at hand for mapping. These files include patches and map packs.

Essential Unreal Tournament 2003 files:

This also means that most community maps that you download will also provide resources for mapping. For instance, my map has about 10 rock formations, a ramp, platforms, light posts, a barrel, an elevator, and the textures that accompany them.

This is a link to a package of levels made by "some of the best" level designers in the community. A very good source of objects, textures, sounds, and designs.

In general, the topics that are covered in walkthoughs/tutorials are the following:
BSP Brushes
Static Meshes
Bot Pathing
Optimization (Portals)

For the most part, the following websites provide walkthroughs on the main topics listed above. Otherwise you can just use the links I provide for each step.


3DBUZZ UnrealEd VTMs (Video Training Modules):

You will need to register with 3DBUZZ before you can download the movies. It will take some time – there are about 800+ Megs of videos, and they use DivX 5.0.2 compression. These VTMs get my highest recommendation!!! If you don’t learn enough by watching the VTMs, then look online for further details. But be prepared to spend a good 10+ hrs watching them all.

Main Unreal Wiki site:

Unreal Wiki mapping lessons:

Very high quality tutorials (UT2003 filtered):

If they have a tutorial for your search topic, I’m sure it will be detailed:

If you can’t get enough training vids, then here are some more:

And finally Architectronic:

Step 4: BSP Brushes

These are the simplest and most basic tools to model a map.


Unreal Wiki:

Step 5: Textures top

UnrealEd only supports certain file formats, .BMP, .DDS, .PCX, .TGA, and .UPT. Notice .JPG is not supported. UnrealEd also requires the dimensions of the texture to be a power of 2 (16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, etc).


To save or open .DDS (Direct Draw Surface, a DirectX file format) files within Adobe Photoshop and 3DStudioMAX:

Using the texture browser in UnrealEd:

Aligning textures:

Step 6: Terrain top

I didn't use any terrain in my map, but you can make some amazing outdoor areas with it. The UDN site provides a lot of info about terrains, but their walkthrough is a bit confusing.


Unreal Wiki:

Terrain quickstart:

Huge and thurough walkthrough on terrains:

The official UDN terrain walkthrough:

Step 7: Lighting top

This can make or break a map. If the player can't see, or if the colors are so bright or unattractive that the player can't stomach a match, it will reflect in the number of downloads your map will recieve.


The VERY basics from Unreal Wiki:

UDN lighting walkthrough:

Step 8: Static Meshes top

This is what the majority of every object in the game is actually called. As the name implies, they are static (they do not move) and meshes (usually of fairly high detail).


Making static meshes in 3DStudioMAX 4.2:

Making static meshes in MayaPLE:

Step 9: Actors (weapons, items, etc.) top

Everything in game is actually an actor, but generaly it is used to refer to pickups, weapon bases, and other markers. The entire list an be viewed in the actor broweser.


A very thurough walkthrough:

Step 10: Movers top

This is what an elevator, or otherwise moving object needs to be made out of. They are a bit confusing, so the more you use them an experiment the better you'll be.


A very complete UDN movers walkthrough:

Setting up a mover and trigger:

Some more on lifts and movers:

Step 11: Collision top


UDN Collision walkthrough:

Step 12: Emitters top

These can be used for fire, rain, splashes, and various other special effects.


UDN emiitters reference:

UDN emitter examples:

Step 13: Projectors top

Projectors are one of the most glitchy aspects of the editor. Be careful when using them! An example of what projectors are good for is making the refracted light from water fill a room with a pool in it.


Projector basics:

Step 14: Triggers top

This is kind of introduced with movers, but you do a lot more complex things than you might think!


UDN triggers tutorial:

Step 15: Sound top

There honestly ins't much resources dealing with sound. You can assign a sound of your choice to any actor, but you may experience some problems. Look at my Tips/Hints to see what I experienced and how I got around it.

Step 16: Bot Pathing top

Bots are inheriently stupid so you need to tell them where to go and what to do. This isn't as hard as it sounds. You

Basic bot pathing:

Awesome tutorial on advanced bot pathing:

Step 17: Optimization (portals) top

I was amazed to see the effect of optimizing a map can have. My computer was actually overheating when I played my map unoptimized with no bots. Now I can play the map with full bot count and no overheating at all!


Very good walkthough on adding portals and general map optimization:

UDN optimization guide:

Step 18: Volumes top

These tools can be used to add a water volume to swim in, a falling volume to fall through or into, a blocking volume to keep palyers out of an area, and many more.


Adding blocking volumes:

The UDN volumes walkthrough:

Step 19: Debugging top

Using the Console in Unreal Tournament (accessed by pressing the ‘~’ (tilda, without shift) key, to the left of the 1 on the keyboard) properly will significantly help in seeing what the game is doing behind the scenes and thus determining trouble spots.


For a list of all console commands (including cheats):

Step 20: Final Touches top

This section has links on how to give your map a little extra pizzazz. These are optional, but can really set your map apart from the rest.


A very good tutorial on adding an Animated Level Preview to your map:

Adding a Skybox to your level:

Tips/Hints: top


BSP Brushes


Static Meshes



The End top

Well I know it was a lengthly file, but if you got this far you probably have a pretty good map. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at

This document is copyright 2003 to
Shaytu Schwandes