I can't seem to find any tutorials outlining the basic process of making a map, what apps I need, etc. I opened up the unreal editor but it does not seem like what I'd expect to make a map, can't even add shapes like prisms and such. Do I need the UDK to make maps? Or is that for making Unreal based games?
Idealy, I'd like to be able to make the bulk of the map in a program like AutoCAD then import it and add the textures, spawns etc, is there a way to do this?
You can map using the UT3 editor(pre UDK) or UDK itself.
If you're just starting to learn how to map then I'd personally recommend starting with the UT3 editor.
The UT3 editor has all the UT3 assets at hand so you can use them in your map. You can start with this which can then lead into using UDK once your knowledge is up!
UDK is much more advanced but it's ment to allow modders/studios to make games from scratch. Therefore you'll have to create pretty much all content yourself.(like props, materials, characters etc..) There is very limited content in UDK Demo files but it's about 1/20th of the content available via UT3.
Regarding tutorials...if ya happy to start on UT3 I highly recommend starting with these vids: 3DBuzz (these taught me how to use the editor)
That link has all the vids in one link or below it are the seperate links! You don't need to watch them all but atleast go through the intro and kismet vids!
Other than that it's a case of googling tutorials. Hourenses has some excellent tutorials(especially terrain) and there's a few other good sites as well!
Our mapping site also has some Tutorials available for certain functions. See here.
As for creating content in a 3d modeller, the main problem is output formats. UT3 editor accepts .ase format so you will probably need a plugin to export to that format (UDK will accepts .ase & .fbx). For 3dsmax, Maya & XSI use ActorX for Blender there is one by MCampagnini / Richisbored
Focus on learning BSP first if your main goal is to create a level. Once you understand BSP the rest is basically just decoration. With BSP brushes alone, you can create floors, walls, ceilings, placeholder props etc. It'll also take care of collision for you automatically. Pick up one of those Learning Unreal books at a bookstore. I love mine!