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Any beginner-level tutorial about San Andreas mapping?

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Hi everyone,

I'd like to start mapping for San Andreas, but I haven't found any tutorial so far about it.

It appears in this games there are two types of mapping, one is placing game objects around (like Multi Theft Auto) and the other type is modelling from scratch everything.


I'd like to do the latter, but as said already above, I could only find obsolete tutorials with images broken or complicated guides.

It's my first time ever trying to do this, so I need a beginner level tutorial, if it exist.



PS: It appears the main editor is called "ZModeler 2.2.6" so I have installed that.

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Startup with IPL modding

Your first edit should be to add an Item Placement to *.ipl file of map folder

The ipl and ide files (Lae.ide, Lae.ipl) are just plain text files and editable with notepad.exe
An advanced texteditor is better and more comfortable, for example sannybuilder or notepad++ can you get for free
A "must have tool" for mapmodding is the MapEditor
read Item_Definition and IPL Definitions

Open GTA SA\data\maps\LA\LAe2.IPL with texteditor
The ipl file beginns with "inst" and as follwing the normal item placements till the list ends with "end", to close the "inst" section

inst17582, stadtplaza_lae2, 0, 2739.21875, -1770.085938, 17.5546875, 0, 0, -0.999048233, 0.04361938313, -1end

The LAe2.IPL have a lot item placements in the "inst" section,so it's a long list
scroll down to the end of "inst" section
there should you find these lines:

710, vgs_palm01, 0, 2730.046875, -1191.328125, 83.5859375, 0, 0, -0.9762960076, -0.2164396197, -1end

add there a line for placement of the explosive Barrel4

710, vgs_palm01, 0, 2730.046875, -1191.328125, 83.5859375, 0, 0, -0.9762960076, -0.2164396197, -11225, barrel4, 0, 2486.3, -1678.5, 12.8, 0, 0, 0, 1, -1end

add placements always to the end of the "inst" section
the explosive barrel is placed in Grovestreet, beside of CJ's house
now test it ingame

Basic informations:
Every model (actor, car, weapons, object (Buildings, Landscapes, tuningparts are also objects) must be defined and have an ID number
actors in data\peds.ide
cars in data\vehicles.ide
weapons in data\default.ide
tuningparts in data\ maps\veh_mods\veh_mods.ide

Buildings, Landscapes and other objects in a lot of files separated in different folders of data\ maps folder

data\maps\generic contains ide and ipl files for small objects for the gameplay like doors, hydrant, shark ect...
data\maps\interior contains ide and ipl files for interior rooms and their accessory
data\maps\country contains ide and ipl files for Buildings and Landscapes of the country as well of area51
data\maps\LA contains ide and ipl files for Buildings and Landscapes of Los Santos
data\maps\SF contains ide and ipl files for Buildings and Landscapes of San fierro
data\maps\Vagas contains ide and ipl files for Buildings and Landscapes of Las Venturas
data\maps\leveldes contains ide and ipl files for the seabeds and for the Liberty City interior world

GTA San Andreas Root Directory
|__data |
. . |__Decision
. . |__Icons
. . |__maps
. . . |
. . . |_country (country ide and ipl)
. . . |_generic (dynamic and gameplay objects ide)
. . . |_interior (interior and interior properties ide and ipl)
. . . |_LA (Los Santos ide and ipl)
. . . |_leveldes (Seabed and LC world and special objects ide and ipl)
. . . |_SF (San Fierro ide and ipl)
. . . |_vegas (Las Venturas ide and ipl)
. . . |_veh_mods (vehicle Tuningparts ide)
. .
. . gta.dat ("Master file" in txt format: List to load IMG, IDE and IPL files)
. . default.ide (weapon ide)
. . peds.ide (pedestrians, charackter ide)
. . vehicles.ide (vehicles ide)
. . timecyc.dat (Weather, Game Colouring)
. . object.dat (dynamic, script and special object settings)
. . water.dat (water cube coordinates)
. . weapon.dat (weapon settings)
|__models |
. .  gta3.img
. .  gta_int.img
. .  cutscene.img
. .  player.img

The ide and ipl files need to be loaded and requires to insert their filepath (relativ to game root directory) into data\gta.dat
Same for img archivs
gta3.img, gta_int.img, player.img, peds.ide, vehicles.ide, default.ide are loaded automatcal and don't need to add the path in gta.dat

The most important content of ide lines are
Model ID number/Model name/Texture name
these 3 entries, separeted by comma define the model and allocates the dff file with txd file to an ID number

the ide line contains also more entries, which can be different, each if it is a ped, weapon, vehicle or map object

the meaning of the entries for map objects is:

ID number, modelname, Texturepack, viewdistance, flag

1211, fire_hydrant, dynhydrent, 40, 128

The models itself must be placed in an img archiv and each model must have a *.dff file(3d model), a *.txd file(textures) and a *.col file(collisions model)
A *.col file is an archiv which can contain one more collisions models
the name of the collisions model must be the same as the name of the *.dff file but the *.col file archiv can have any name

The ide files have sections
the normal object definitions are placed between
objs and end

objs1211, fire_hydrant, dynhydrent, 40, 128end


The ipl files have sections
the normal object placements are placed between
inst and end

inst17582, stadtplaza_lae2, 0, 2739.21875, -1770.085938, 17.5546875, 0, 0, -0.999048233, 0.04361938313, -1end

there're additional sections, mostly empty or the sections for garages or enex have entries
garage entry to define garage area in grovestreet:

grge2502.31, -1699.36, 12.4323, 2508.61, -1699.36, 2502.31, -1691.01, 16.5666, 1, 16, cjsafeend

enex entry to place enex (yellow triangle for teleport into interior)

enex2309.62, -1643.63, 13.8385, 0, 1.6, 1.6, 8, 2308.12, -1643.63, 13.8385, 93, 0, 260, "BAR2", 0, 2, 0, 24end


The most part of the item placements are inside of the "stream.ipl" files
These files are placed in gta3.img as well in gta_int.img
These files are assigned by the filename to the ipl files of maps folder
data\maps\LA\LAe2.IPL is the base ipl
and the assigned "stream.ipl" files are:

the "stream.ipl" files are in binary format, not plaintext
it needs first to extract these files from gta3.img with img tool
then use Binary IPL (De)Compiler to convert the "stream.ipl" into text format as well as back into binary format





About Collisions models:

The collisions files are archiv files with *.col extension that contain collisions models

You need CollEditor to open collisions files and import/export or edit collisions models

A collisions model must always have the same name as the *.dff model, but most collisions models are hidden in a col archiv that have another name.

The collmodel inside the coll file must have same name as the dff model

The coll file is an archiv and can have any name


Making coll model:

When your model is ready and size is ok, then make shure that only that model is available in 3dmax and nothing else

then use 3dmax-export function, export it as *.3ds

Then open CollEditor and open an existing coll file or create a new

then choose "Edit" > "ADD" and add the *.3ds



About LOD models:

LOD models can be installed by 2 methods: with collisions model or without collisions model

if the LOD have a coll model, then can you place it like any other objects..

..but it doesn't discharge such performance like intended, the most LOD's in the original game are without collisions model


in both ways can you link the stock building to the LOD building to let the LOD blink out if you come to the stock building

LOD's without collisions model must be done in this way and must be done in IPL files


Objects which should link to a corresponding LOD object must have the line number of the corresponding LOD object at line end


LOD objects must have -1 at the end

only objects which should link to a corresponding LOD object must not have -1 at the end

the others must have -1 at the end


example, 3 objects which links to their corresponding LOD object

Line number 0 = "5001, mynice_home,"

mynice_home links to LODice_home at line 3,

mynice_garage to LODice_garage at line 4

and so on



5001, mynice_home, 0, 190.6, -1425.8, 19.4, 0, 0, 0, 1, 3
5002, mynice_garage, 0, 190.6, -1425.8, 19.4, 0, 0, 0, 1, 4
5003, mynice_shop, 0, 190.6, -1425.8, 19.4, 0, 0, 0, 1, 5
5004, LODice_home, 0, 190.6, -1425.8, 19.4, 0, 0, 0, 1, -1
5005, LODice_garage, 0, 190.6, -1425.8, 19.4, 0, 0, 0, 1, -1
5006, LODice_shop, 0, 190.6, -1425.8, 19.4, 0, 0, 0, 1, -1

LOD placement can't be done in stream.ipl's but must be done in the ipl files of map folder

The stream.ipl files contain a lot of object placements with link numbers to corresponding LOD objects of ipl files of map folder

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I have large map, but only visible if im near some point. If i go a little away the map become invisible, why ? 

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show gta.dat and ide and ipl

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