FAQ

If your question is not answered here, then just ask! Use the Ask a Question to send me a message about your question. I typically will respond in about 24 hours.

What is a leak, and how do I fix it?


A leak is part of your level being able to reach the “void” or outside the level. Leaks can have are typically caused because there is just a hole in your level, although they can occur if you have use an Func_Areaportal improperly. If you are experiencing random issues in your level, make sure that you do not have a leak. This should always be the first step in the trouble shooting process.

You know if you have a leak if you see:

0...1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10
**** leaked **** Entity entity_type (X Y Z) leaked

or

FindPortalSide: Couldn't find a good match for which brush to assign to a portal near (X Y Z)
Leaf 0 contents: CONTENTS_SOLID
Leaf 1 contents:
viscontents (node 0 contents ^ node 1 contents): CONTENTS_SOLID
This means that none of the brushes in leaf 0 or 1 that touches the portal has CONTENTS_SOLID
Check for a huge brush enclosing the coordinates above that has contents CONTENTS_SOLID
Candidate brush IDs:

in your compile log. You’ll also have a mapname.lin file in the same location as your VMF.

To fix a leak, you first need to find the little guy. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. In hammer, go to Map -> Then Load Point File
  2. You will be asked: “Load default Pointfile?
    (C:\Fakepath\maps\mapname.lin) Yes / No
  3. Click, yes.
  4. A red line has not been placed in your level. You have to try and find it. Think of it as hide and seek.
  5. Use world brushes to block the red line from leaving your level.
  6. Compile the level again to see if you still have any leaks.
  7.  OPTIONAL: You can verify that you don’t have a leak by attempting to load the point file. If you’re asked to browse for a file, you have no leaks.

What is a cordon fix?


The cordon fix… This is a last resort. It’s a method of trouble shooting that is preformed with the Cordon Tool. You eliminate half of your level at a time, until you find the cause of your sorrows. Lets begin on how to cordon fix.

  1. Know the cordon toolsCordon1
    1. This tool enables the Cordon bounds that you have set.
    2. This tool lets you create/edit existing Cordon bounds.
  2. Click the Edit Cordon Bounds tools (#2) and draw a box around half of your level. Note the red dotted line. It should look something like so: cordon2
  3. Then Enable the Cordon Bounds. (#1). It should then remove everything outside of your dotted line box. So it should look like this:cordon3
  4. Compile your level
  5. Test to see if the error is there. If the error is there follow the subsection.
    1. Resize your Cordon bounds to be half of the existing size.
    2. Compile again.
  6. If the error is not there, move the Cordon bounds to the other part of the level.
  7. Rinse and repeat.
  8. You should then have a small area where you can remove elements one by one until you find the cause of the issue.

This fix takes a lot of time, and is annoying. Use this only as a last resort. You might try Rubber Ducking before you do this…

During compile, it freezes and says “not responding”.


Just like your parents telling you that you can be anything you want, it’s fibbing to you. This happens when Windows cannot process anything else, so it thinks it’s crashed. Open Task Manager before a compile. Watch the processes VVIS.exe and VRAD.exe. They will be using 100% CPU during a compile.

You can force the compiles to use less resources by using the -threads # command on the VIS and RAD compile commands in the Expert Compile Mode.

threads

My level takes hours upon hours to compile?


This can be normal, this can not be normal. If a level takes a long time to compile, it is probably because of the VVIS step. This is the step where your level is optimized for play. I’m not going to teach you about there here, but you can find more information at the VDC’s entry on VVIS.

First thing is to find out what step is actually causing the problem. Run a compile with:

  • BSP: Normal
  • VIS: Normal
  • RAD Fast

If it takes no time at all, then it’s the RAD step. This is lighting. There is nothing you can do to make this go faster but to make your lighting simpler, or lower your light map settings. It’s best to just let this compile, it will finish in time.

If the compile still takes a while, then try these settings:

  • BSP: Normal
  • VIS: Fast
  • RAD Normal

The level should fly with this. As I said, it’s typically this step that causes the problems. First look at your compile. You’re looking for numportals, it will be in the VIS part of the log. It will look something like this:

4 threads
reading c:\users\tophattwaffle\desktop\cssmaps\maps\inwork\ba_jail_sylvan\ba_jail_sylvan.bsp
reading c:\users\tophattwaffle\desktop\cssmaps\maps\inwork\ba_jail_sylvan\ba_jail_sylvan.prt
1655 portalclusters
4810 numportals //This guy right here!!!
0...1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10
0...1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10
Optimized: 2380 visible clusters (0.00%)
Total clusters visible: 738474

In this example, the level took 21 minutes to compile, not bad. I’ve seen levels take up to 30 hours. Basically you want this number to be lower. The lower the number, the faster this step will typically take. If you want to learn how to lower this number, check out Hammer Tutorial #21 Optimization.

Water in my level is invisible, but still there.


You have a leak. Learn how to fix a leak here.

My level is really dark.


Odds are, you don’t have enough lights, or lights that are bright enough. You can learn about lighting in 2 places from me.

Or, you may have a leak. If you have a leak radiosity will not compile correctly, resulting in no light bounces, thus darkness. Learn how to fix a leak here.

My level is all bright, how do I fix this.


This is probably due to you have no lights. When a level has no lights it defaults to what is called “Fullbright” mode. Add some lights, and compile with RAD to get lighting. You can learn about lighting in 2 places from me.

After the compile, you may need to force Fullbright off by using “Mat_fullbright 0” in your console.

My level runs very slow, and laggy.


This is probably due to the map not being optimized. Your best bet is to follow an optimization guide/tutorial. Here are some that work very well.

How can I contact you?


There are many ways to contact me. I will list all of my contact methods below.

  1. Email (Preferred): http://www.tophattwaffle.com/contact/
  2. Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/id/TopHATTwaffle
  3. YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/rocketrascal34
  4. Skype: Call TopHATTwaffle on Skype

If I have an idea for a level/mod and want to ask for your help, how should I proceed?


A lot of people ask me to make levels for them, or join their mod teams. I, Sadly, have to decline most of the time. But please don’t let the discourage you from asking. I always love to hear what you guys have rolling around in your noggins!

So, the best way to contact me with this information is the normal ways.

  1. Email (Preferred): http://www.tophattwaffle.com/contact/
  2. Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/id/TopHATTwaffle
  3. YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/rocketrascal34
  4. Skype: Call TopHATTwaffle on Skype

When is the next tutorial coming out?


This is the age old question for me… There is really no set time that they come out. I tried to get on a schedule for releasing tutorials, but life got in the way. So to answer this, I don’t know. I can’t know either… I will try to release them as often as I get time for them.

When I compile, none of my changes show in game.


This happens then VBSP.exe is not able to finish compiling. You have a few options when it comes to trouble shooting this issue. Here are some of the best ways to try and fix this.

  1. Look over your compile log, see if you can find errors. You should ALWAYS find an error in the compile log. If errors are found, correct them. If not, move to #2
  2. Run your log through the Error checker. Compile Log Error Checker on Interlopers. If errors are found, correct them. If not, move onto #3
  3. If you’re at this step, I’m so sorry… You, for a lack of better words, messed up. Undo some of the last steps that you’ve done. Doing this, you may find the cause of your issue. If the problem goes away, analyze what is changing and try to find the cause. If this resolves the problem, get back to mapping! If not, move onto #4
  4. Cordon fix. This is one of the most annoying, and tedious trouble shooting methods that exists. Now that you’re doing this, I hope you learn something from this experience so you never have to be put into this position again… Click here to learn how to preform a cordon fix.

My level crashes when I load my map.


This can be a number of things. Some of the most common issues that cause this are:

  • Over a limit
    • Brush limit
    • Entity limit
    • Size limit
  • Invalid brush that made it past VBSP
  • A render overflow (This needs a citation! If you get this error, please let me know so I can make the site better! Reference FAQ)

Here is a good process for trouble shooting these issues.

  1. Look over your compile log, see if you can find errors. If errors are found, correct them. If not, move to #2
  2. Run your log through the Error checker. Compile Log Error Checker on Interlopers. If errors are found, correct them. If not, move onto #3
  3. Undo some of the last steps that you’ve done. Doing this, you may find the cause of your issue. If the problem goes away, analyze what is changing and try to find the cause. If this resolves the problem, get back to mapping! If not, move onto #4
  4. Cordon fix. This is one of the most annoying, and tedious trouble shooting methods that exists. Now that you’re doing this, I hope you learn something from this experience so you never have to be put into this position again… Click here to learn how to preform a cordon fix.

What are some tips and tricks to make mapping easier and faster?


Now this is a good one. There are many things that I do to make mapping easier and faster. I’ll make a bullet list so it’s easiest on you!

  • Save early, save often… Beat CTRL+S like the red-headed step child you never loved…
  • https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Main_Page
  • Setting these options will make your life much much easier…2dOptions
  • Listen to music/watch TV whilst you map. I do it, and it makes time fly.
  • There is no shame in reusing something you’ve already made. Work smarter, not harder.
  • Learn Hammer’s hot keys. They will save you loads of time. Here is a list of hotkeys!
  • Map with a goal.

Can I pay you to fix my level?


No, N O, no. N to the O. I would rather see you struggle though a problem, and learn from it than have me fix it. I’ll be there to help you as much as I can. But face it, you came here to learn, and learn you shall. I’ve scrapped many maps in the name of learning, and I think it’s gotten me pretty far. So once again, no.

why does my entire map repeat in my 3D skybox?


This could be caused because of a leak, or because of a improperly built 3D skybox. Follow this tutorial to learn how to create a proper 3d skybox.

http://www.tophattwaffle.com/hammer-tutorial-50-d-perfectly-lining-up-3d-skyboxes/

How do I launch a game in tools mode?


Launching a game in tools mode is really simple, but VALVe has changed how it used to work. But let’s take a look, shall we?

For older Source games (Anything that uses Source SDK), you have to launch using the launch options. The option is “-Tools“. To apply this launch option, do the following:

  1. Right click on the game that you want to launch in tools mode, then go to properties.
  2. Then under the “General” tab, click “Set Launch Options”
  3. Type -Tools and click okay.
  4. Click close.
  5. Launch your game in tools mode. To get the game back to normal, just remove the launch option. tools

Now how about newer game? That is really simple… Load the Authoring tools for that game, and there will be an option to launch that game in tools mode! :D

How do I install custom textures?


Installing custom textures seems to be a hot topic for people. It is easily done wrong, and very annoying. So let me hold your hand on install some custom textures.

  1. Start by downloading some textures, I’m going to use RealWorldTextures2.
  2. Once you have them, extract them.
  3. Browse to a area with a VMT, open it with a text editor.
  4. Look at the VMT, it should look like this:
    1. "LightmappedGeneric"
      {
      	"$basetexture" "RealWorldTextures2\Concrete\concrete_19"
      	"$bumpmap" "RealWorldTextures2\Concrete\concrete_19_nrm"
      	"$surfaceprop" "concrete"
      }
  5. Look at “$Basetexture”
  6. Notice how the path here, relates to the folder structure of the textures
    1. Your goal is to make your explorer be: “Materials\RealWorldTextures2\Concrete\”
  7. Check and make sure it looks like this: 
  8. Enjoy your installed, and working textures.

Certain props and textures in my map are super shiny.


By default Source Engine always uses the Skybox as a cubemap if none are placed. To fix this you need to place cubemaps into your level. They are really easy to place, and I have a tutorial on them.

http://www.tophattwaffle.com/hammer-tutorial-53-cubemaps/