Blade Symphony

Blade Symphony

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Basic Mapping for Blade Symphony
By Thor
This guide seeks to educate aspiring beginners in the basics of mapping for the Source engine, more specifically Blade Symphony and the unique challenges that come with it.
Getting Started

Basic Mapping in Hammer has been simplified since it’s original days when it was known as Worldcraft. This is good news for you as it requires less effort to set-up and get straight to crafting your map. Also important is the team behind Blade Symphony; Puny Human games, have their hammer set up already for you, no need to designate paths or locations.

You can use CTRL-F to open up a search window and search for keywords in this guide when needed.

Step One: Find your Hammer Editor
Your Hammer Editor that is specifically set for Blade Symphony is located in the game’s directory.
Example: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Blade Symphony\bin
In this folder you’ll find the .exe simply called “hammer”, open it and you’ll be greeted with the basic interface, you can go to "File" and click "New" to start a new map.

Step Two: Learn the Basics to Construction
For individuals who have never built a map in Hammer, there is a valuable guide hosted directly by Valve on their developer wiki: Click Here to Learn Basic Construction and the Hammer Interface This guide is non-specific to Blade Symphony and lacks some vital elements to make a map run properly, the information below describes these important objects:
  • Blade Symphony utilizes its own special entities for player spawns, cameras, and arena- information, these items are needed or else your character will spawn at map-center when opened up in Blade Symphony. These entities are already built into your point-entity list and are labeled as: Berimbau_Duel, Berimbau_Spawn, Berimbau_Spectator_Camera
  • You can find additional information on these entities at Puny Human’s B.S. website here.[]
  • Also offered on that page and linked here is a basic three-arena duel map provided by the developer team which can be downloaded here.[] You can copy the primary entities (2 spawn, 1 duel, 1 camera) and paste them into your own map so it will work properly when loaded in-game.

    Step Three: Compile and Test
  • If you haven't already compiled a map during the practice steps provided by Valve's Guide, you can simply go to "File" in hammer, and select "Run Map". This will pop-up a new menu with some options for compiling, as a beginner, you want your "Run BSP" to be on Normal, your "Run VIS" to be on normal, and your "Run Rad" to be on No. Click "OK" and a CMD window will pop up showing you the compile process.

  • Provided you have no glaring issues with your map, it will finish compiling and proceed to load into Blade Symphony with your map (If you kept "Don't run the game after compiling" unchecked.) If not, then you will have to figure out what is preventing your map from compiling, more information can be found in Step Four.

Step Four: Compiling Issues
A variety of complex problems can occur when compiling your map, the most common being that your map hasn't been fully sealed off from the "void". You'll know this because the game won't load after compile, and you will see red-text in the CMD window when compiling. In order to fix this, you need to go to "Map" in the menu and select "Load Pointfile" provided you do have a hole in your map, this will automatically find a file that you need to open. Once loaded, you will find a RED LINE in your map that has one end connected to an entity, and the other pointing off into space where the hole in your map is. In order to fix your map, you will need to cover this hole either by creating a world brush, or extending one to hide the hole.

In the example below, you can see the redline that has been loaded by the pointfile, the top brush covered in the skybox texture has been left open, exposing entities in the map to the "void". Extending this top skybox to cover the hole will allow the map to compile and load normally.
Major Construction Tips

Once you've finished learning the basics to mapping, this section will help guide you to proper mapping techniques that will ensure smooth gameplay and reduce the load on everyone's computers.

First Major Tip: Use the "nodraw" Texture on Brushes that Won't be Seen

When building the base structure of your world, its best to select the 'nodraw' texture to apply to all outside edges of your map. The player won't be seeing these edges, and the texture will tell the game not to render them. This prevents extra rendering from happening and improves the FPS of your map while reducing it's compile time. You can then use the steps you learned in the basic construction guide to apply textures in the inside of your map where players will see it.

Second Major Tip: Use the "Vertex Tool"

The Vertex Manipulation Tool can be used to seal two brushes together, this technique should be used on any edge that isn't going to be seen by the player. It can be used on basic level design, or in artistic work like creating a house/hollow box/doorways etc. As an additional benefit, the two faces that are touching will not be rendered as long as nodraw is on both of them.
The Steps below cover basic manipulation:
  • Select the brush you want to manipulate, then select the Vertex Tool circled in "One".
  • Click on a corner of the brush where the white box is, it will turn red. Then click and drag that corner to form a 45 degree angle.
  • Select the other brush, and repeat the process.

You now have two brushes that are equally dividied along that edge. It may not be apparent now, but it will serve you well in the future when it reduces compile times and makes your mapping look that much cleaner.

Note: Vertex Manipulation can be tricky business, if you pull a brush the wrong way (Such as through itself.) it will fail to compile and that brush will have to be deleted. If it's not an esential brush, then you can go to "Map" and select "Check For Problems", Hammer will automatically find the brush and give you the choice if you want Hammer to fix it. Hammer will then attempt to fix the brush, but it's more random than precise.

Third Major Tip: Detailing

Any brush that is not important to the shape of the room (Not walls, floor, or ceiling) should be converted into a func_detail or func_brush. To do this, simply select the brush you want to convert, and press "Ctrl-T". An "Object Properties" dialogie box will appear, you then then type in "detail" in the box under "Class:" and it will search for func_detail. Select it, then click apply. Doing this will cause the compiler to not compute any edge that has a nodraw texture on it, drastically reducing your compile time. If you use func_brush, that brush will be "invisible" when touching other brushes, reducing compile time and increasing FPS.

Fourth Major Tip: Player Clipping

There are two important textures when it comes to deterimining player movement, "playerclip" and "playerclipinteract" both can only be applied to brushes, and can not be turned into entities such as func_brush or func_detail.
These brushes serve as invisible walls for your arena,

"playerclip" prevents players from going through, or being able to wall-run up or off it. Use this for spots where players shouldn't be wall running off of, such as the skybox or above a fence.

"playerclipinteract" prevents players from going through, but allows players to wallrun off it. Use this along fence lines or around models so players can wall-run on it.

The reason for these is that Blade Symphony has issues when the player comes into contact with any non-flat surface that isn't a 90degree angle. It might look cool to fight on a slope, but in reality the game will act very wierd as it isn't designed for it. You should use this to outline for every arena you have.

Fifth Major Tip: Skybox Settings

For some reason, the skybox set for a new map in Blade Symphony will cause screen blurring and will generally be unplayable. You will need to go to "Map" then "Map Properties" and find the box named "Skybox Texture Name" then to it's right, put in one of these premade skyboxes:
  • ber_sky_overnight (Grey Clouds with some light coming through, great for darker maps)
  • templesky_hdr (Sunny, clear skys)
Do's and Don'ts

This is a list of general good and bad ideas to mapping. The advice is basic in nature, and will be superseded by any additional information you learn from advanced-technique guides.

  • Learn to use Hint Brushes to break your map into sections. This will help increase player FPS massively.
  • Water textures should only be on one face of a brush, the other faces should be "nodraw"
  • Use models and textures already in-game, there's a wealth of them that can make your map look good without increasing it's filesize.
  • Scale and Align your textures, this takes some guesswork on the face-edit sheet, but will really make your map "pop" if your sidewalks aren't chopped in half texture wise.
  • Decompile the official maps, you can see what techniques they use to buiild their maps.
  • Decompile and COPY entities/models from the official maps, B.S. has a lot of quirks that require entities to work in specific ways, its easier to grab one that's been made proper by the devs instead of trying to follow a guide online.
  • Make liberal use of light sources once you get to that stage of production, a map won't express itself until you get the perfect mood through lighting.
  • Do leave one info_player_start in your map, it wont disturb anything but it makes the compiler happy and prevents some odd issues from occuring.
  • Put "free_" or "ffa_" or "duel_" in front of your map. The developers coded it this way to enable the spawn systems. "duel_" will set up whatever arenas you have made based on the berimbau entities in your map.
  • Make sure there is enough height for at least triple-quadruple the height of a player, this is so they don't hit an invisible wall while being juggled or jumping.
  • Take the time to learn Displacements, it is an advanced technique, but can take your map from looking like Half-Life1 to a modern game like HL2/Crysis.

  • NEVER EVER use the Carve or Make Hollow tools, they might save you some time, for making doorways, but they drastically increase the amount of faces in the wall you make the cut to.
  • Never put entities in the void, they always have to be in the map or else you will always get compile errors.
  • Cyllinder/Sphere brushes should always be func_brush or func_detail, otherwise if they touch something, they will create hundreds of extra faces that increase compile time, and decrease in-game FPS.
  • Never have more than one of these: light_environment, water_lod_control, env_sun, sunlight_shadow_control. Or else you may encounter compiler issues or ingame issues.
  • Don't put models or objects directly in an arena, anything that can inhibit the player's movement (Like a Food Cart or a taxi-cab) can and will be abused.
  • Avoid putting lights in your map until you are COMPLETELY done with the brushwork. This way you can compile without RAD(Lights) up until its impossible to progress further. As soon as you start compiling with lights, your compile times will begin reaching 5-30 minutes.
  • Don't use trigger_hurts to kill players in arenas unless your making a fun-only map. Blade Symphony treats deaths by trigger_hurts as "Draws"
Wikis/Help and Tools


Valve Developer Community WIki

If you ever have a question about what an entity does, this is the place to go. Every feature Hammer has is explained in detail on this website, all you have to do is search for it by it's name. There are also some basics guides for certain entities and map building.

Game Banana

An older, slightly less functional database for tutorials, textures, and maps. It's important to note that most of these guides are made for other games, so textures/sounds/models/entities they use may not exist in the Hammer for Blade Symphony. Nonetheless, it is a great tool for basic guides and some advanced triggerwork.

Wikihow's Optimization Guide

This guide will show you the basic and slightly more advance techniques to optimizing your map. It should be read and it's methods practiced at all times during mapping.

Puny Human's 3rd Part Development Forum

Though not as active as most other forums, questions posted here about issues related to Hammer and Blade Symphony may be answered by one of the developers. Ask your question here if your at rope's end and something is causing a critical issue within your map.

Blade Symphony Workshop Forums

Not particularily for mapping, but developers do read these forums and can help you with your problem if you have an issue.


Valve Integrated Development Environment Tool (VIDE)
This is a multi-tool with a variety of options such as:
  • Being able to view .bsp files (Decompiling.)
  • Edit Valve Material Files for textures.
  • Package textures directly into a .bsp (Only way for players to download your custom textures in your map currently.)
It's a critical part to any mappers tool-box, drop a copy of it directly into your B.S. folder.

Twister Displacement Generator
This tool allows you to make displacements (One-sided brushes that can't be tied to entities.) in a variety of options such as curved walls, curved ramps, cones, domes, and spheres. This is useful if you plan to have complex geometery but don't want to have to manipulate vertexes or displacements by hand.

Audacity: Free Audio Editor
A great tool for making and editing sound files to be used in source. Its important to note that looped sounds require an additional program to work properly in source. (Goldwave)
Downloads - Starter Maps

Puny Humans Starter Map: duel_box[]- This map contains a basic three-arena setup will all the entities needed to compile and test. It is advisable to avoid using parts of it for future maps.

Guide_Map by Tetrabor - A map showcasing basic elements such as:
  • Basic Arena layout with clip/clipinteract walls.
  • Essential entities needed to spawn and duel (Two types.)
  • func_detail and func_brush non-essential brushes.
  • Grouped Lighting that can be copy-pasted into your map.
  • Map Essential Entities for Lighting control.
You can build off of this map or edit it however you want. Use it for experimentation or to test out new ideas.
This guide is not designed to be comprehensive, it was created to encourage newer players/mappers to give a shot at creating levels for Blade Symphony without having to blindly step into the process.

If you have issues, requests, or comments, please leave them below and I will do my best to answer them.

Best of luck,
< >
U W0T M8 Feb 21, 2016 @ 10:08am 
Thank you very much, sir.
Thor  [author] Feb 21, 2016 @ 9:40am 
@Dr. Goron
In order to make it ffa, you can only have one berimbau_duel entity, and one berimbau_spectator_camera in your map. You can have as many berimbau_spawn targeting the duel entity as you want.

When you name your map, it can be anything as long as you don't put "duel_" or "cp_" in front of it. That signals the game to convert it into a duel map or capture map.
U W0T M8 Feb 21, 2016 @ 6:40am 
Hello there,
I'm not sure if this guide is still beeing read, but I will post my question here anyway

How can I make a "free_whatever" map. So a map without a real place to duel.

Hope you can answer my question.

Dr. Goron Freetard
syNapthleteZ Jun 14, 2015 @ 2:46pm 
thanks alot
Yablan Nov 2, 2014 @ 6:17am 
(No Mouse) May 10, 2014 @ 5:42pm 
Nice guide, with useful links and other resources
fug4life  [developer] Apr 7, 2014 @ 12:09pm 
Well done guys!
Gadwin Apr 4, 2014 @ 9:50pm 
is good guide, writer has to eat so dont forget to donate
Sgt. Pepper Apr 4, 2014 @ 9:49pm 
much map
many brushes
such guide
Sader Apr 3, 2014 @ 12:13pm 
Well done, now baddies like me can make their own maps!