Finalizing Your Level Before Release

This is rather a hot topic, and not many people know what to do when they reach this point in the level design process. So let me enlighten those of you who do not know what should be done before a level release.

I’ll try to keep this in a check list form so you can follow for each release. I’ll also number them for what order you should do them in. Let’s get to it then, shall we?

  1. Add env_cubemaps to your level.
  2. Optimize your level. (If you don’t know how, watch THIS)
  3. Do a rough compile of the level. Compile with VRAD and VVIS set to normal.
    1. If compile takes long on VVIS, Go to your level and make sure you have func_detailed the correct things. (If you don’t know what “func_detail” is, watch THIS)
  4. Build cube maps, type: “Buildcubemaps” in console for this.
  5. Play through your level for about an hour or more. Look for game play and visual flaws, then correct them. If none Start back at #3.
  6. Get (a) friend(s) to play your level, have him/her look for game play and visual flaws, then correct them. If none Start back at #3.
  7. If your map has passed the testing phases you can move on to the Final Compile
    1. Settings up a final compile takes a few steps, first click “run map”
    2. Click “Expert”
    3. Click “Edit”
    4. Select Default, and Click “Copy”
    5. Name it: Final Compile (Slow)
    6. Select “Final Compile (Slow)” from the drop down.
    7. Under “$light_exe” add the following to the parameters, before “-game”: -final -textureshadows -hdr -StaticPropLighting -StaticPropPolys
    8. Add a new command, put: $light_exe in the command area.
    9. Add the following to the newly created commands parameters: -final -textureshadows -ldr -StaticPropLighting -StaticPropPolys -game $gamedir $path/$file
    10. Move the new command to be above the old $light_exe command.
  8. Compile the map under the new compile settings.
  9. Build cube maps again, type: “Buildcubemaps” in console for this.
  10. Toggle HDR modes. (If it’s on, turn it off. if It’s off turn it on)
  11. Build cube maps again under the new HDR settings, type: “Buildcubemaps” in console for this.
  12. Close the game.
  13. Pack all your custom content (if any) into your level using: PakRat, VIDE, MAN, or PackBSP. (PackBSP does the best job)
  14. Remove your: Materials, Models, and Sounds folder from your root directory of your game. (Rename them, move them to desktop. Just make the game create new ones)
  15. Load the packed level, make sure the map packer got all of the custom content into the level. If not, go to step 13 and try a different packer.
  16. If everything is good to go. Release the map. Some good sites to release a level are: Gamebanana, and

That’s just about it. If you think I missed something in this list let me know and I’ll be sure to add it. Enjoy!