CSGO is unarguably one of the most popular FPS games worldwide. It has been around for quite some time and shows no signs of slowing down.
Valve, the publisher of the game, puts in a lot of resources to tweak the gameplay mechanics, the accuracy of the guns to near perfection — these updates are part of the reason for CSGO’s popularity.
However, one very essential factor that makes or breaks the gameplay in CSGO which is often looked over by players are the maps. Sure, we all know de_dust2 like the back of our hand, but do you ever wonder how was it built?
CSGO has a very active mod community. CS started out as a mod, to begin with. Most of these modders build community maps. These maps can range from 1v1 combat maps to crosshair generators maps and whatnot.
If you’re wondering how these modders make maps in CSGO, they use a tool called Valve Hammer Editor. The editor is a part of the CSGO SDK.
In this article, we’re going over the Valve Hammer Editor, and guide you on your first steps in the CSGO map-making journey.
Also read: How to bind keys in CSGO?
Getting the CSGO SDK
Before we jump into building maps, we first need to get our hands on the CSGO SDK.
The thing is, depending upon when you got CSGO, you may or may not have to pay for this. If you paid for the game, that is, if you got it before CSGO went free to play, you already have the CSGO SDK. You can safely skip this section.
However, if you got CSGO after it went free, you’re going to have to buy the CSGO SDK. It comes bundled along when you pay for your Prime privileges. Buy it If you already have a Prime account. It sucks, but it is what it is.
One of the good things about the whole thing is that you don’t really need to set anything up as compared to previous versions of CS. Making maps was quite a task back then.
Building a map on CSGO
So you’ve finally got the Hammer editor. It’s now time to start chipping away.
Step 1: Launch CSGO SDK
Go to your Steam library and launch the CSGO SDK
If you can’t see it in your library, make sure you check the Tools option in your library list.
Step 2: Start the Hammer World Editor
When the SDK opens, click on Hammer World Editor to start the Hammer editor.
This is how the editor looks when empty.
Step 3: Create a file
Go ahead and create a new map by going to File > New.
Your editor will look something like this now. Let’s get to know the tool.
- Top-Left: This is the 3D window. You’ll get a 3D preview of what’s going on here.
- Top-Right: This is the top 2D view
- Bottom-Left: This is the 2D front view
- Bottom-Right: This is the 2D right view
Now that we know our way around, let’s get going.
Step 4: Time to build our floor
How you want to approach this depends on your map’s design and requirements. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be building a very simple 1v1 map so a single floor block is good enough.
Select the Block Tool (Shift + B) and drag to draw a block in any of the 2D views. You’ll see a block come up with some numbers. Those numbers are the respective measurements of the block you just made.
Once you’re happy with the dimensions, press Enter on your keyboard to finalise the block. Your editor will look something like this.
Step 5: Scaling the map accurately
Just like the foundation of a house needs to be solid, you need to decide on your scale right from the first block as later on, making changes would be too cumbersome,
To help us with textures, we’re going to add a developer texture to our blocks. Just click on the Browse button on the right side of the screen under the Texture Group window and search for dev_measurewall01c and double click on it.
Once selected, click on the Apply Textures button to apply the texture to our block. As you can see, this texture is going to be really helpful in getting our dimensions right.
Step 6: Now time to build a room
Keep in mind that your CSGO map should be a closed box. If there are any holes, it would generate a compile error later on when we try to get our map running. It’s much easier to take care of such issues when you’re building versus finding holes later in the process cycle.
The player height in CSGO is 72 units. The standard wall height is 128 units. Keep these measurements in mind when making your walls. Wall thickness is recommended at 32 or 16.
To build our room, I’m just going to make some more blocks as we did in step 4 and align them with our floor. You can also duplicate the existing block by selecting it, pressing Shift and dragging away. To select a block, just click on it in the 3D view.
To look around in the 3D view, hold down the Space Bar and click in the 3D view window. You’ll get a crosshair and you can move around using W, A, S, D just like you would in the game,
For the 2D views, you can scroll in and out using the scroll wheel and drag around the views by holding the space bar and dragging your view.
You can rotate blocks by clicking on them. You’ll notice that the handles change and depending upon the view you’re rotating them in, you can get your desired alignment,
Here’s how our map looks at the moment. Note that I’ve got the dimensions just right.
Step 7: Creating spawn points
It’s time to take care of everything else. I’m talking about spawn points, props, lighting and anything else you want in your maps. So let’s go over them quickly.
You need at least one spawn point to be able to play your map. To add a spawn point, click on the Entity Tool and then click anywhere inside your map in the 3D view, to add a spawn point. You’ll notice a terrorist show up on your screen. This is a Terrorist spawn,
One important thing about spawn point, you’ll notice there in the right view that I have the T hanging in the air. That’s because if your spawn is overlapping with or is inside another object or wall, you won’t be able to move.
To at a CT spawn, first, add a T spawn just like we did. You can also duplicate the spawn we just made if you’d like and shift it to a suitable spot. Once there, double click on the T in the 3D view and a window will open.
Under the Class drop-down, it says info_player_terrorist if you scroll up the list, you’ll see info_player_counterterrorist. Click on it and hit Apply. Your T will change to a CT.
Step 8: Customising the map terrain
Now that we have our spawns ready, let’s make a sky and put in some lights. A dark map isn’t any fun, right?
To do so, select the block that makes up your roof. Now just like we searched for the dev texture in step 5, we’ll open the texture browser and search for sky. Use any texture you like. Then click the Replace Texture tool to replace textures.
Now let’s put in a light. Remember how we added spawn points? Just go ahead and add another one. However, instead of changing it to a CT, this time we’ll change it to a light.
Under the Class drop-down, search for light. There are a bunch of lights that you can use according to what you want them to do, but we’ll just go with a simple light. Click Apply and your T will change to a light.
You’ll notice a lot of settings here that will let you tone down the lighting to exactly how you want it to be. However, we’re just going to concern ourselves with the Brightness setting.
You’ll notice there are 4 numbers in the brightness setting. The first three are RGB values and the last one is the brightness. I want a bright white light so I’ll just increase the brightness. Click Apply when done and close the properties box.
Don’t forget to move the light to a suitable place. In this case, that’s going to be the top of the room near the roof
Step 9: It’s finally time to test out our map
Press F9 on your keyboard to compile the map. It’ll then ask you to save your map. Enter a map name and press Save.
A Run Map window will open. Just click on Go! Assuming you’ve done everything correctly, CSGO will launch (in debug mode) and your map will automatically load up.
And that’s it, that’s your first CSGO map. From here on, the sky is the limit as you’ll realise when you start digging deep into the Hammer Editor.