Map Design Best Practices

An overview of best practices for creating and customizing your Space and its Maps

General Design Principles

To create the best experience in Gather, we have a few high level considerations and recommendations:

  • Overemphasize the obvious—Not everyone is tech-savvy or a mind reader.
    • Make it obvious where you can and cannot walk (using visual indicators like doors, walls, and floors).
    • Make it obvious when you can and cannot interact with an object (e.g., customize prompt text for interactive objects).
    • Make private areas obvious by using rugs, tables, or other visual indicators.
  • Create a sense of agency—Allow people to choose how they engage with the Space.
    • Provide enough information so that your guests know where to go and how to navigate the Space, but allow them to explore.
    • Opt-in and active participation creates a better experience than passive, required interactions.
    • When guiding certain interactions it is:
      • Best to lead with interest - create visual interest to naturally pull people from one screen to the next.
      • OK to rely on signage to tell people which direction to go.
      • Less ideal to make an obvious, single path to take with no other options.
  • Plan for fluid interactions.
    • A/V begins to connect within 5 tiles of another person, with the exception of private areas, where everyone connects to each other.
    • Audio and video is most clear when 2 or less tiles away from another person.
    • Being connected to 25 or more people's a/v at the same time will put a good deal of strain on your computer.
    • Group discussions in real life are typically best with 4 or 5 participants, so visually and spatially encourage smaller group gatherings using tables, chairs, walls, and carpets.


  • A Gather Space is designed on a grid made up of 32 x 32 pixel tiles.
  • The max size of a Map is 3200 x 3200 px (100 x 100 tiles). A Space can contain multiple Maps.
  • If you upload a background, the file should be less than 3 MB.
  • Plan for about 20–40 tiles per expected guest (roughly 5 x 5 tiles for a 25-tile-square per person)
    • Example: For a 200 person event, you would want a total area of 4000 to 8000 tiles (200 people with 20 to 40 tiles per person). This would require multiple Maps. 
  • Estimate how many people you might expect to enter the Space at the same time. Provide enough room at your default spawn location to make sure people don't spawn next to or on top of each other. 
    • Don't place Spawn tiles directly next to each other. See our article on Spawn tiles.
  • Gather characters are 30-36 px tall and overlap with the tile above them.

Note: We sometimes refer to Maps as "Rooms." A Room is an individual Map within a Space. Each Room/Map belongs to a Space, though some Spaces have only have one Room. Some Spaces are designed as an individual Map with multiple "rooms" as indicated by walls and doors. When we refer to a Room, we are referring to a separate Map that has been connected to a Space.


Want to view or download all Gather objects, walls, floors, etc? Our in-house tileset is publicly available on Github. Anyone can download these tilesheets and anyone can submit their own custom tilesheets to be included on our repository by submitting pull requests. These tilesheets are designed to import straight into and be used with a third-party map creation application called Tiled, but you can still use them if you are using any other photo editor. 

To access the files:

  1. Go to
  2. Click the green [Code] button
  3. Select Download Zip to get the zip file

Tip: For those of you who are already Git-savvy, you'll find that you're allowed to clone/fork/contribute, etc.

Connecting Multiple Spaces for a 500+ Event

The first question that needs to be answered when considering a large event with more than 500 people on Gather is: 

What do I want my participants to get out of this experience?

If the answer is to watch something (like a presentation or a graduation ceremony),  you need to be aware that, though possible on Gather, you will still need to incorporate multiple technologies to make this successful. Gather simulates real-life interactions. One of those interactions, unfortunately, includes how chaotic and stressful having 500 people squeezed into the same room can be. 

If the answer is to be connected to other people and spark conversation, then the focus should be on how to encourage smaller group conversations. One way to achieve this is by intentionally creating a space with small break out rooms and conversation areas. Another way to do this for larger events is to pre-emptively split up attendance into  difference spaces.

The Design Aspect

Right now, your Gather Space is limited to a maximum peak capacity of 500 people. If you plan to have more than 500 simultaneous participants, you can design and connect multiple spaces together to accommodate a larger event. When doing so, we recommend the following tips:

  • Making each Space structurally a duplicate of the others
    • Reduce the need or desire for everyone to pile into the same space
      • Provide as many of the same amenities and tools in all of the individual Spaces as possible
      • Use the same video object to embed live streams of keynote speakers (or use synchronized tvs for pre-recorded presentations) Same object across all halls so it does not matter which space you're in - you can see the same program in all spaces
    • Have multiple break out rooms and small conversation areas to encourage smaller group interactions.

An example of a conference space with many divided rooms and tables to encourage small group conversations. 

  • Make each Space stylistically distinct such that there is no doubt which Space you are standing in
    • Using a repeated image or insignia in addition different flooring and walls 

Examples of Repeated Imagery in entry way to help Participants orient themselves
Examples of Repeated Imagery near breakout rooms to help Participants orient themselves
Examples of Repeated Imagery in the social areas to help Participants orient themselves

  • Connect the Spaces using a Hub and Spokes model
    • Use one portal from each space to a Central Hub Space located in the same location on all maps. 
    • Make the Hub an interesting social space, but not essential to your event 
    • Portal to Central Hub ideally placed in location where participants are least likely to go first
      • In below example, participants initially appear at the bottom center of the map. There are visually interesting areas to explore going up and to either side. Entrance to Central "Hub" is immediately south of where participants appear and intentionally visually convey an "exit" or departure from the space

Tip: For more info on connecting Spaces together using portals, see our article on Portal Tiles.

A diagram showing how each distinct Space is connected to the Central Hub area and allows people to move between spaces as needed. 

For reference, the above examples were created from a modified version of our Deluxe Conference Map which can comfortably host 100-500 participants on its own . Thus the above example is for an event with roughly 1,500 participants.

Image of the Deluxe Conference Map template space option that can be found when creating a new space.