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Mapping manual/Weapon and item placement

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In this section we're going to deal with the weapons and items of the game, and where to better place them. Key objectives are mentioned in the gametype support page.

More infos about how each item works in-game can be found in Manual/Items and Manual/Weapons pages.

Entities Edit

weapon_* Edit

Every one of them gives a specific weapon to the players.[1] The entities are weapon_bfg (BFG), weapon_chaingun (Chaingun), weapon_gauntlet (Gauntlet), weapon_grapplinghook (Grappling Hook), weapon_grenadelauncher (Grenade Launcher), weapon_lightning (Lightning Gun), weapon_machinegun (Machinegun), weapon_nailgun (Nailgun), weapon_plasmagun (Plasma Gun), weapon_prox_launcher (Prox Launcher/Mine Layer), weapon_railgun (Railgun), weapon_rocketlauncher (Rocket Launcher), and weapon_shotgun (Shotgun).

Keys Edit

  • count: Modifies the amount of ammo given to the player. Each ammo box has a default amount.
  • wait: time in seconds before the item respawns after being picked up (default 5, -1 = never respawn).
  • random: random time variance in seconds added or subtracted from "wait" delay (default 0).
  • team: set this to team items. Teamed items will respawn randomly after team master is picked up.
  • target: picking up the item will trigger the entity this points to.
  • targetname: a target_give entity can point to this for respawn freebies.
  • notbot: when set to 1, a bot will never seek out this item.
  • notfree: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in "Free for all" and "Tournament" modes.
  • notteam: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in "Teamplay" and "CTF" modes.
  • notsingle: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in Single Player mode (bot play mode).

Spawnflags Edit

  • SUSPENDED: item will spawn where it was placed in map and won't drop to the floor. Bots will only be attracted to suspended entities if they are reachable by way of a jump pad or launch pad (trigger_push), or are in water.

ammo_* Edit

Every one of them gives ammo to a specific weapon.[2] The entities are ammo_belt (Chaingun), ammo_bfg (BFG), ammo_cells (Plasma Gun), ammo_grenades (Grenade Launcher), ammo_lightning (Lightning Gun), ammo_mines (Prox Launcher), ammo_nails (Nailgun), ammo_rockets (Rocket Launcher), ammo_shells (Shotgun) and ammo_slugs (Railgun).

Keys Edit

  • count: Modifies the amount of ammo given to the player. Each ammo box has a default amount.
  • wait: time in seconds before the item respawns after being picked up (default 40, -1 = never respawn).
  • random: random time variance in seconds added or subtracted from "wait" delay (default 0).
  • team: set this to team items. Teamed items will respawn randomly after team master is picked up.
  • target: picking up the item will trigger the entity this points to.
  • targetname: a target_give entity can point to this for respawn freebies.
  • notbot: when set to 1, a bot will never seek out this item.
  • notfree: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in "Free for all" and "Tournament" modes.
  • notteam: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in "Teamplay" and "CTF" modes.
  • notsingle: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in Single Player mode (bot play mode).

Spawnflags Edit

  • SUSPENDED: item will spawn where it was placed in map and won't drop to the floor. Bots will only be attracted to suspended entities if they are reachable by way of a jump pad or launch pad (trigger_push), or are in water.

item_* (General) Edit

The entities in this category have different functions. They range from giving health, armor and temporal abilities to players to more advanced functions.[3] In this section and the next ones, we're only going to see items which give players something in-game. This section will mention the shared keys and spawnflags across all these items. item_botroam is explained in the bot play page.

Keys Edit

  • team: set this to team items. Teamed items will respawn randomly after team master is picked up.
  • target: picking up the item will trigger the entity this points to.
  • targetname: a target_give entity can point to this for respawn freebies.
  • notbot: when set to 1, a bot will never seek out this item.
  • notfree: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in "Free for all" and "Tournament" modes.
  • notteam: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in "Teamplay" and "CTF" modes.
  • notsingle: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in Single Player mode (bot play mode).

Spawnflags Edit

  • SUSPENDED: item will spawn where it was placed in map and won't drop to the floor. Bots will only be attracted to suspended entities if they are reachable by way of a jump pad or launch pad (trigger_push), or are in water.

item_* (Armor) Edit

Gives armor to the player.[3] The entities are item_armor_shard (Armor Shard, +5), item_armor_combat (Combat Armor, +50) and item_armor_body (Body Armor, +100).

Keys Edit

  • wait: time in seconds before item respawns after being picked up (default 25, -1 = never respawn).

item_* (Health) Edit

Gives health to the player.[3] The entities are item_health_small (Small Health, +5), item_health (Medium Health, +25), item_health_large (Large Health, +50) and item_health_mega (Megahealth, +100).

Keys Edit

  • wait: time in seconds before item respawns after being picked up (default 35, -1 = never respawn).
  • count: sets the amount of health points given to the player when item is picked up.

item_* (Powerups) Edit

Gives temporary advantages/abilities to the player.[3] The entities are item_enviro (Battle Suit), item_flight (Flight), item_haste (Haste/Speed), item_invis (Invisibility), item_quad (Quad Damage) and item_regen (Regeneration).

Keys Edit

  • wait: time in seconds before item respawns after being picked up (default 120, -1 = never respawn).
  • count: time in seconds that power-up will last when picked up (default 30; "Flight" lasts 60 seconds by default).

item_* (Runes) Edit

Give persistant advantages/abilities to the player until he's fragged or suicides. They do not respawn before their old bearer is dead. The entities are item_ammoregen (Ammo Regen), item_doubler (Doubler), item_guard (Guard) and item_scout (Scout).

Keys Edit

holdable_* Edit

These items can be hold until a key is pressed, which activates them.[4] They can be used at any time, hence the name. There are four entities: holdable_invulnerability (Invulnerability), holdable_kamikaze (Kamikaze), holdable_medkit (Medkit) and holdable_teleporter (Personal Teleporter).

Keys Edit

  • count: Modifies the amount of ammo given to the player. Each ammo box has a default amount.
  • wait: time in seconds before the item respawns after being picked up (default 40, -1 = never respawn).
  • random: random time variance in seconds added or subtracted from "wait" delay (default 0).
  • team: set this to team items. Teamed items will respawn randomly after team master is picked up.
  • target: picking up the item will trigger the entity this points to.
  • targetname: a target_give entity can point to this for respawn freebies.
  • notbot: when set to 1, a bot will never seek out this item.
  • notfree: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in "Free for all" and "Tournament" modes.
  • notteam: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in "Teamplay" and "CTF" modes.
  • notsingle: when set to 1, entity will not spawn in Single Player mode (bot play mode).

Spawnflags Edit

  • SUSPENDED: item will spawn where it was placed in map and won't drop to the floor. Bots will only be attracted to suspended entities if they are reachable by way of a jump pad or launch pad (trigger_push), or are in water.

Design tips Edit

  • The use of the "wait" and "count" keys is unadvisable in non-experimental maps, as they do change the respawn time and amount these items can give, indeed changing the gameplay.
  • The amount of time it takes for an item in the team to respawn is determined by the "wait" value of the item that was picked up previously. So if one of the items in the team has it's "wait" key set to -1 (never respawn), the random respawning cycle of the teamed items will stop after that item is picked up.
  • When the random key is set, its value is used to calculate a minimum and a maximum delay. The final time delay will be a random value anywhere between the minimum and maximum values: (min delay = wait - random) (max delay = wait + random).
  • An ammo item can be given a negative "count" value. In combination with a target_give entity, it can be used to set up games mods like Rocket Arena by removing the machinegun ammunition from a player when he spawns into the map.

Placement tips Edit

Placing items is something of an art.[5] This said, there are many things to bear in mind regarding placement in any map:

  • There's no real need to include all the weapons and powerups, only use those that seem appropriate to the level.
  • Risk vs. Reward: Due to the fact that placement affects balance[6], powerful items (Holdables, Powerups, BFG) should be placed in such a way that their collection is difficult or dangerous. Weaker items (Shotgun, Grenade Launcher, Armor Shard, Small Health) can be placed near player spawnpoints so they don't have to move much to get armed and survive until they find something better.
  • Flow: Avoid placing ammo too close to its weapon, especially when it comes to powerful weapons. Likewise, avoid placing powerful weapons, armor and health in a cluster. Players should move around and be given little opportunity to camp; encouraging good circulation in a map assists with good bot play too.
  • More powerful weapons should have limited ammo box count to ensure better balance. Three ammo packs per weapon in non-symmetrical levels oriented to FFA, TDM or 1on1 should be enough.[7] For symmetrical levels oriented to CTF games, two ammo packs per base should be the limit.
    The rule is that the stronger the weapon, the less ammo packs for that weapon are needed (Lightning Gun and Railgun only need a pack, for example; Nailgun, Prox Launcher and Chaingun without the Runes also need one pack as much). Otherwise, they would dominate a map.
  • Health must be sufficient but not overdone, the same applies to ammo and armor. Also, the amount greatly depends on whether you want players to have access to more health and less armor, or vice versa.[7]
    • For Health, the acceptable limits are between 150-250, not counting Small Health packs. With a Megahealth in the map, less health is needed. Place the larger groups of health in more dangerous and exposed areas, and place smaller amounts of health in "down" areas. Just don't make it a kamikaze run for the down player to heal up.[7]
    • For Armor, spread it out as much as possible. The danger in grabbing an armor should match its respective armor, so the Body Armor should be more dangerous to get than the Combat Armor. For balance reasons, the Megahealth should be treated as a kind of armor.
    • For CTF-based levels, defenders should be able to defend the bases, but shouldn't get too much power.
  • Balance: try to balance areas/routes around the level to ensure that equal advantage and disadvantage can be found in any direction.
  • Don’t include the kamikaze in a map where players are unlikely to ever see the full effect of the explosion.[8]
  • The personal teleporter entity takes the player to a deathmatch spawn.[8] Use the "gametype" and "!gametype" key to specify where the player should spawn in CTF-based modes and both Domination modes. More on these keys and gametypes in the gametype support page.
  • The standard use of the Runes is to place them in the two bases, and use the "spawnflags" to allow the players of a team to get only those in their base.[9] But it's also possible to place them in the middle of the map, without team limits: this would make the two teams battle to get them.
    • The Runes are also used to counteract the effect of overpowered weapons, as without them one has to consider the Nailgun, the Chaingun and the Prox Launcher as superweapons on par with the BFG.
  • The Prox Launcher is used to counteract the Invulnerability sphere, as only mines can trespass the Invul shield. Mines can be triggered with any other weapon which produces splash damage. You might want to bear this in mind when including either the PL or the Invul on your maps.
  • When playing a map with most old mods designed for Quake 3, nothing will spawn in the place of the Missionpack items[10]. For this reason, be sure your map has enough "standard" weapons to be playable also in mods which do not support the three TA weapons.
    • A possible trick is to use the "team" key to make a Team Arena item (usually a weapon) to spawn alternately with a standard item. This way, in old mods, the standard item will spawn each time.
  • Unless the "suspended" flag is set, these items will spawn on the ground even if you placed them mid-air: you do not need to align them perfectly with the ground, you can just place them far enough from ground and walls to prevent the model from being shown partially in solid while in game.
    • Items crossing a solid brush won't be able to spawn at all. When you load your map in the game, take a look to the command console output, under "---- Map Loading ----" section and below "AAS initialized" line: it may report something like "item_health in solid/startsolid at (x y z)"... in that case, you should go to those coordinates in the editor, and move the items which "start solid" enough to solve the problem. This test can be performed even more easily by using dedicated server executables (oa_ded), because of much less stuff shown in console at map load.
      • If the map has got its .aas file, under "map loading" section of the console you may also find notes about items which are "not reachable for bots" (e.g. due to appearing inside a "botclip" area).

Notes Edit

  1. weapon_* entities
  2. ammo_* entities
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 item_* entities
  4. holdable_* entities
  5. LevelDK 3: placing items
  6. Item placement by Matthew "Lunaran" Breit
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 CPMA Competitive game guide
  8. 8.0 8.1 Design tips for MP/TA game entities
  9. This is intended for balance: each team will have its own "scout" player, its own "guard" player, etc. If you wish, it is even possible to place more spawn points for the same kind of permanent power-up, e.g. to allow two "scouts" per team.
  10. Prox Launcher, Nailgun, Chaingun; their respective ammo boxes; the four "Runes"; Invulnerabilty and Kamikaze.
<< Previous (Advanced lighting) Mapping manual (Triggers and movers) Next >>


OpenArena's Mapping manual
Prologue /// Pre-mapping stage - Map gameplay /// Choosing an editor /// Your first map
Brush manipulation - 2D/3D clipping /// Curve manipulation /// Textures /// Introduction to Entities
Lighting - Advanced lighting /// Weapon/Item placement /// Triggers and movers - Dynamic features
Shaders /// Terrains and liquids /// Mapmodels /// Sounds /// Gametype support
Optimization and Troubleshooting - Hint brushes - Bot play - Troubleshooting
Final touches /// Compilation & packaging
Glossary of terms - Advanced features - Modelling a map - Editor differences - Default assets (Textures/Models/Sounds) - GPL

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