Overview of the Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop level editor (Hammer)

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I just opened Hammer World Editor and I'm scared

Don't worry. This is the correct reaction to have when seeing Hammer for the first time. Let's go over how to control this program.

Along the left side, you'll see some icons. These are the main way you'll be interacting with the program.

At the top, there are menus (File, Edit, Map, etc.) and some buttons. These buttons affect how things look. You can hover over them with your mouse to see a description of what they do at the bottom of the screen. If Hammer starts looking or acting weird after you press a key on your keyboard, check these buttons.

On the right, there are several groups of buttons.

Selection Mode
Select: Groups / Objects / Solids
In most cases, you'll want "Groups" to be enabled. If you need to work on something that's in a group without ungrouping it or work on a brush that is part of an entity without affecting other brushes in the same entity, pick Objects or Solids.

Current Texture / Browse / Replace
This shows you the material that is currently selected. This material is what gets used by most of the tools on the left. Click Browse to search through available materials. Click Replace if you have a material you want to completely replace with another.

Filter Control
VisGroups: User / Auto / Cordon
You can temporarily hide categories of objects from your map, which might be useful if they're getting in the way while you're working on something specific. You can either define your own categories and add objects to them or use the automatic categories that Hammer provides, like "Lights" and "Triggers".

New Objects
Move Selected to World / to Entity
This lets you fine-tune what the Entity and Block Creation Tools do. You can create shapes other than cubeoids, change what entity type gets created, and use the buttons as shortcuts for creating brush entities out of world brushes or vice versa.

Next page: Your First Map