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3d levels/maps how do you make them

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just curious on how others make there 3d levels/maps for there game like the ones your get out of first person shooters, do you modeling programs like 3d studio max? maya? gamespace?, or do you use other purpose built programs like getic? qoole? quark? qradient? or have you built your own editor? thanks

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You are correct on all of them (although I don't think many people use Maya for maps).
Those are useful for the geometry of the map/level. For adding items like guns and power-ups, you can either do it programmatically or in a homegrown level editor.

(Hmm all this talk about tool development excites me!)
EDIT: Sorry, espresso made me say it.

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If you want to make ".map" style maps (typically compiled with a BSP compiler), you typically use something like Radiant that knows the specific requirements of that type of map. You may also use the specific editor targeted to the engine you're using (i e Unreal -> UnreaEd; Source -> Hammer; etc)

If you want to make non-BSP maps, you typically use something like 3dsmax, although there are some simpler engines out there that just use heightmap + decoration objects; you'll make the decorations in 3dsmax and the heightmap + texture in something like TerraGen; then you'll lay out the objects in some game-specific level layout tool.

So, it all depends on what it is you are targeting.

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I have an in-engine editor (which I will probably move out into a separate application one day).

Since I just have a terrain engine, it messes with the vertices and has basically a pinch/pull tool (I keep meaning to work on a smoothing tool, but my terrain engine hasn't been under active development with all my 2D projects on the go).

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Of course you can use Maya to make maps. You can use any 3D modeling programs to make them.

If I recall correctly, that Ratchet and Clank game used Maya as their level editor.

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