Right, so you’ve got your map. It looks amazing. It feels alive. People are salivating at screenshots, and you even know the precise number of brushes. The problem is… it’s really, really boring. It feels like corridors and doorways separated only by a few themed rooms. How do you resuscitate it?

The first thing to do is take a step back. Look at the map. I mean look at it - don’t just recall it from memory. Fly around it. Sometimes it even helps to flip the whole map in your editor so it looks different when you load it up. The key is to see it with fresh eyes, eyes that will be willing to spot problems and see solutions. Be prepared to accept that you may need to make a very large change (perhaps removing a ‘large’ portion of the map) but only knowing that it will result in something better.

Things to look out for: repetitiveness, distinct patterns, indistinct areas, and lack of visual flow. Just looking at the overview/topdown will be enough to spot these. If you look at the Terrorist spawn area, your eye should naturally be able to trace a clear path to the CT spawn area without getting confused or lost along the way. Or if it’s not a CS map, make sure paths between the primary areas of the map (the places where players will want to get to/get away from) are obvious in just a single glance. Remember that this will be the last chance for you to spot these potential problems, so it’s very important to fix them.

Another thing to try is copying your map to a new filename, and removing absolutely all the textures, or replacing them all with the same, dull grey texture. Remove all the lights too. Then compile and run around it. Imagine how, if you didn’t know where the main areas were (spawn points, bomb points etc.), where you would place them, and see if that matches with where they actually are. This process always gives me a lot to think about with my maps, but is really worth going through. You may find that moving just one bomb spot to a different area may give the map the big boost it needs.

Finally, you can resort to the age old classic of adding a ‘gimmick’ or unique feature to the map, just something to separate it from everything else. With a game like CS this is a bit tricky, but can be done. Dust has its little underpass, Cobble has its sniper tower and ridiculous scale, Office has it’s very open but close-quarters battle, Aztec has it’s wide, open areas and the river. You want to be able to describe your map as “the one that has the [blank]“, where [blank] is some gameplay element that sets it apart from other maps.

Some of the advice above may help your map. Some may not. None of it might help at all. In the end, it all lies in your ability to analyse your own map, no holds barred, and accept that if there is a problem, you need to fix it now.

Or if that all sounds a little too difficult, just go and release the map as the heap of rubbish it is or might be. If you feel a little more creative than that, remember the secret is simply to be your own best critic.