Level Design Introduction/Getting Started (Portal 2)

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The first step is to launch Hammer, the map editor for Portal 2 and other Source games.

Open the Steam window, pick the Tools tab and double-click Portal 2 Authoring Tools.

If this is your first time launching the Authoring Tools, it will take a little time to download and install.

P2 SDK00.jpg

Double-click Hammer World Editor to start the Hammer level editor.

Authoring Tools.jpg

Once Hammer is loaded, you can start a new level by going to the New from the File menu.

P2 hammer new.jpg

A new window with four editing areas should appear.

P2 hammer ui02.jpg
Note.png Note: If your viewports are not equally sized as in the image above, you can reset them by going to View and selecting Autosize 4 Views.

Selecting Autosize 4 Views from the View menu.

Hammer Editor interface layout

P2 hammer ui03.jpg

Here is a basic description of the Hammer interface. You will learn how to use these items throughout this tutorial, so don't worry about learning about how they all function quite yet.

Map Views and Operations bars

These bars across the top of the window contain a variety of buttons to control the viewing of objects in the map, as well as controls for the grid and snapping tools.

Tools bar

The Tools bar switches the editor to different modes that allow you to select, build, place, texture, and manipulate different objects in your level.

Selection Mode box

The Selection Mode box switches between modes of selecting objects in the map:

  • Groups — You will select the whole sets of objects that have been grouped together.
  • Objects — You will select an entire object even if it consists of more than 1 component.
  • Solids — You will select individual components even if it has been joined with others to make one object.

Texture box

The Texture box allows you to see the currently selected texture and to browse for other textures by going into the Browse... button.

Object box

Used to place objects in your level that are not simple geometry. While brushes are the basic building blocks of levels, entities placed with the Object box are pretty much everything else. You can place lights, props (models) and items using the Object box.

VisGroups box

VisGroups are a way to organize your level. You can place any type of object into VisGroups and label them so that you can hide them or reveal them as a group. This allows you to see what you're working on in a much cleaner way than leaving everything visible.

Status bar

The strip along on the bottom of the interface gives valuable information while you're editing, such as the size of the selected objects and the current grid settings.