Basic Map Making Guide
By =SeALZ=Papa6
Published : December 2002
Feedback : Here


Special thanks to Javaman who made my map making skill possible up to this point. Also to Mike Schell for his tools he made available! Experience level: BASIC or beginner.   

Tools needed

  • 3D Studio max 4,4.2 or 5 (and an understanding of the user interface)
  • Photoshop 5 or higher
  • Mike Schell's example map because we can simply "merge" his scenecenter into our need to re-invent the wheel right?
  • Red Storm Entertainment's pdf it before you continue!

Some resources for help and teaching;

You must be willing to research and learn to make maps for Ghost Recon, if not why bother? there's alot more to know than what I'm going to show you, but this tutorial is meant to get your feet off the ground. A place to start.

You may email me at or contact me at  map making forum with questions or help. My knowledge isn't wholly complete, but I'm getting there. I want to share with the GR community what I can, and help others who, like me have been looking for help on making maps. Good luck and hope to play on YOUR maps soon!

After a time I've realized that the stock GR maps have become mundane and we need new maps for new missions. So, I managed to get in contact with Javaman of theplatoon and he was very kind and helpful in teaching me the basic map making skills that I have. This map is simple, don't expect too much all at once, time and persistence will give you rewards in the future. Keep up your work and don't be discouraged!

Getting Started

I'm assuming that you have put your plugins into their correct folders accordingly! 3D Studio max has a STEEP learning curve so I won't get into specifics but will show you what tools you use to make a simple basic map - one that can be exported and played in GR.

So with 3DS Max open, go to this tool bar and notice the six tabs total. And you'll see here that we are at the "CREATE" tab where we need to be or should be. Now you see here that it is set for "Standard Primitives", and the little down arrow to the right of the standard primitives text is a drop down it and select "PATCH GRIDS"

So that when you're done selecting the patch grids choice, you'll see this.

You need to click the "Quad Patch" button and then you should see what is shown here above. The Keyboard Entry may be closed with a "+" on it's left, click it to open the properties like I have here. Notice I haven't filled in the X,Y&Z, we are ONLY worried about the Length and Width here. Do the same below for the Parameters and fill in the Length Segs and Width Segs to 10 and click the "Generate Mapping Coords" and click on the "create button that will create a quad patch 400meters by 400 meters. when you have done this correctly, You should see your quad patch in your "perspective" window like below.

The patch grid here will be our map for the game. This is what the players will walk on when playing your map, the "terrain" to be more simple.


Next, let's put a ground texture on our map okay? Go to your Render menu at the top and select the feature "Material editor" , which brings up this box ...

Select one of the balls at the top, click the square button to the right of "Diffuse" and you should see a texture select dialog box like you see when opening a file and select your texture. We want to select a texture that has very little or no pattern to prevent a funny look on our map. So let's use the texture on the Desert Siege map map 08 called SP08_Ground_Detail.rsb. Since in order to export properly, our textures MUST be in .RSB format. So we want to paint the texture on to our map. To do so, under the balls, is a set of buttons. To put the texture on the map click the button that looks like a checkered box and then the button like this below "Assign Material to Selection";

The output in your perspective window then should include the texture. Now your map is getting some look to it. But the map doesn't look right still but that's the next thing we'll do. We'll arrange the texture to look better on our map.

The texture looks terrible on the map but we're going to fix that now. Go back to the "Modifier" tab on our tool bar on the right, it looks like the bent rainbow(second on the left) and click it and click the down arrow again and go to UV Coordinate modifier and select "UVW Map" This tool will tighten your texture to your map and generally overall give it a better appearance. Generally setting your UV settings from 20 to 100 will yield the best results. NOTE: ONLY use the UV...Not the W setting.

Now you'll have a textured map. For this map set the mapping to "planar" I'll set the U tile and the V tile to 100. You can use what you want. NOTE: leave the W tile do not need it for this tutorial or at all. When you are done your map should now look like this.

You should notice the texture has been tightened up. The texture will look more real now within GR. I've noticed alot of mappers who don't use the UVW map feature to improve the look of the map. Your map will show the time you put into it... so do it right the first time!


Now that we have basically made the map, and I've covered what I planned to in this segment of map making, We need to finish up by adding a "scenecenter" to the map for IGOR and the Game engine. Without your scenecenter, You will do nothing but crash IGOR and have nothing working for GR. Download Mike Schells example map and get ready to merge the scenecenter to our map.

Merging a SCENECENTER into our map is quite easy. You just have to look through a menu of objects in the example maps list of objects and select it then it will be placed in our map and out of our way. NOTE: You won't see the scenecenter on your map because as all good map makers know, you should hide it so you don't move it. Mike put the scenecenter in the right place don't worry. All we have left to do is group our map together and export it. To merge the scenecenter from Mikes Tutorial, click merge under the file menu like this.

You should then see a Dialog box like this at which time we see scenecenter contained in Mike's example map. Select it and click OK. Now the needed scenecenter is in our map for use. We are almost ready for exporting our map, but still not yet.

Tagging our floor polygon

Tagging our floor polygon is most important as it tells GR what the players will be walking on in the map. To tag our map, you should be sure that the map is selected in the perspective window and then go to the tab to the right of modifiers with the picture of the hammer "utilities" on it like below

And when you select the Utilties tab you'll see your map editor in the list of buttons like here below; (if you setup your plugins according to Mike Schell's tutorial on map making.)

Select your map and be sure it is selected by seeing if your map is outlined with white lines. Press the map editor button and you'll see a dialog box open to the tab polygons like this.

Set your surface property to Baked Clay since the texture is really baked clay and put a check in the "floor polygon" box and hit OK. There! You've tagged your map floor for play in GR and we can now group our map for export.

Grouping our map

Grouping our map is important, in grouping things on the map to their respective rooms. To group this simple map, just select your map like you did for the map editor and then go to the group menu and select "group" which should be the only available option here. Another dialog box will open that looks like this.

Once you select "Group" from the menu, you'll see the below dialog box open and put "_1" (without the quotes) into the dialog box like this.

What we have just done is grouped our new map and designated it at an outside room with the _1. All rooms with 1 as the first digit such as _1, _10 _ 101 will be known as outside rooms in GR.NOTE: due to a game coding problem, DO NOT name any room group as _100 as it will cause a problem in your game. Click OK. Now we can export our map to play it in Ghost Recon!

Exporting the Map

To export our map, go to the file menu and select the "export" option.

And you will then be presented with this dialog box. Again if you've placed all of the plugins into the 3ds max folders properly, you should see an export file option that has ".MAP" for an option. this is the file export option you will need to export future maps. So once you've selected export you'll see this dialog box.

Give your map a name. NOTE: save this map for the next tutorial where I'll show you how to give your map hills and valleys in a .MAX file format!

Once you've given your map a name and clicked Save, you should see the final dialog box like this.

Check and make sure everything in your export options is set according to what see you here in the above picture. Export units should be set to "meters", check weld vertices and clean vertices attributes. the export coordinate system should be 3D Studio max and so ok, you've done it!

You've made your first Ghost Recon map...Congratulations!

Before you export your map, be sure you have a roomlist.txt file in your folder where you export your map into. Since this map is one room and no shermanlevelheights are necessary as IGOR will work fine without it. Make sure your maps texture is in .rsb format and also in your mods map folder with your map. Setup an environment in your IGOR and have fun!



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