Alpha Map Philosophy

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by ChuckSpurgeon, Aug 5, 2015.

  1. ChuckSpurgeon

    ChuckSpurgeon L2: Junior Member

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    What are your essential priorities in your A1 maps? What are the things you're only trying to get done, throwing everything else off to later versions? What things do try to not even touch with that first A1?

    I'm assuming the following(?):
    • Game logic
    • Spawnrooms (lockers, spawns, etc)
    • Necessary game mode props (capture points, bomb-carts)
    • Basic geometry
    • Very basic light (or, are you good with A1 being fullbright?)

    How do you know when you're putting in too much detail that should be saved for later?

    If possible...perhaps share your personal philosophy behind this stage of mapping. It'd be cool to learn the various mentalities of TF2 mappers regarding this early stage of their work.

    Thanks!
     
  2. sevin

    aa sevin

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    Never, ever ship a fullbright version of your map, even in a1. Light can often affect the pace and flow of gameplay and help to steer people around your map. If everything is fullbright, not only will that be ugly as shit but nobody will get any directional cues from light. At least throw a light_environment in your a1.
     
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  3. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

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    A fullbright map will also cause all the maps running after it to be fullbright as well, which is inconvenient.

    Honestly though, for an a1 all you need to make sure of is that your map is fully playable. Spawn rooms work properly, all gameplay areas are decently lit, the payload cart doesn't get stuck at any point, etc etc. If both teams can win, you're more or less ready.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  4. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    It's not about the lighting, it's about the fact it fucks up any map that follows yours. the player's will get stuck in fullbright regardless of if the next map has lighting or not.

    Pickups need overlay patches, the presence of patches helps SO MUCH with learning where pickups are. The people here claim that they ignore such things, but it's probably because it's a subconscious recognition of the patches rather than a conscious one.

    A lack of spectator cams can cause a problem, payloads have one built in so if it's payload: skip em, if not: add one.

    I like to make intuitive layouts, but even then a few arrow overlay or arrow billboard props are important in those early versions. The cart has an outline which helps a lot, but they're still good for a first alpha

    It's easy to know if you're adding too much detail, if you're adding _any_ it's too much.
     
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  5. ChuckSpurgeon

    ChuckSpurgeon L2: Junior Member

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    Is A1 generally used primarily for the developer's own testing, or is A1 also when the developer desires to start having the game-play tested by others? Or, are later Alphas (2? 3?) generally for player testing?
     
  6. ChuckSpurgeon

    ChuckSpurgeon L2: Junior Member

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    If there are props you believe you'll want in as majorly significant elements to the game...say, a shipping container or two you intend to use as height advantage or to steer player paths? Would you simply use world brushes to indicate that, or do you shrewdly include those entities in A1, but make sure they are absolutely necessary?

    Thanks for speaking up, YM!
     
  7. henke37

    aa henke37

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    Key props are fine.
     
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  8. tyler

    aa tyler snail prince, master of a ruined tower

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    How do you still not understand what our reasoning was? Or are you just misrepresenting it for effect? No one would say to not use overlays to mark pickups. I can't believe you're still upset about that.
     
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  9. ibex

    aa ibex

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    You should join some gamedays or imps, you'll see all variations of alphas and learn some more from just experiencing what other people are making, Alpha 1 should be the initial release to the public for testing, alphas beyond 1 are improvements and changes that people can test again.

    What you should be focusing on for alphas is gameplay and layouts. Which as Mudpie said means making sure your map is playable.
    Though I have to admit, maps with good lighting feel better imo. If you take the compile time (shouldn't be that much for a simple alpha) people will complain less about little bugs here and there, and with the extra light bounces you get less overly dark places.
     
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  10. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

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    A1 is when the developer starts having public tests. It helps to have private tests with friends beforehand though (or just ask people from the TF2Maps chat, there's always one or two people willing to help out).

    When I'm doing private tests, I version my maps p1, p2, p3 etc.
     
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  11. RaVaGe

    aa RaVaGe

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    Well it's also rather a question about how much experience you have, for my personal perspective, I always think about the result when I start a layout, I think about the theme, about the story behind the map etc, this way, you will not end up with a completly bland map wich has no story and that is just a succession of buildings.

    I also think about how I will optimize the map, it's really important, think about what you can func_detail or not, think about where you will place your skyboxes, think about everything or you will regret it during the final versions, or you might even have to abandon the project because there are too many issues related to the whole structure of the map.

    I always optimize my maps for the first alpha, even if you don't need it, it's always easier to know how the map will be optimized, and how you will have to detail the map.

    About the layout, you have to know how TF2 plays, that's it, you have to understand how chokes work, how sentries spots work, how the classes work, you have to understand the fundamentals of pacing, the more you know about TF2, the most likely you are to create a good map.

    About the lighting, I personally don't care too much, most of the time I just spam light entities when the layout is done, but I try to keep the path obvious.


    http://magnarj.net/article_funclight.html A good article about it from Magnar, who's working at Valve now.

    Oh and keep your map clean and shinny, you don't want to be under the 128 Units scale for your layout, except some basic things of course, such as stairs and level differences. But for your top down layout, keep it clean.

    Edit: I almost forget about props/textures/overlays, they have to come later, use dev textures, don't put any overlay or props that are meant for a detailing purpose.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  12. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    Let's see, in the last few maps I've done everything with brushes except for:

    In ym2k15:
    • Cart + track is placed super sporadically
    • A single prop arrow
    • Animated door props

    In Extractor:
    • Cap point base
    • Cap/intel arrow signs
    • 3 Dump truck models
    • 6 Barrel crates
    • Animated door props

    In Spacetrain:
    • Door frames (the space ones are a funny shape/size so I've used them as scale ref)
    • Cap point base
    • 2-3 rock models

    In Sabotage:
    • Rocket + launch tower
    • Payload track (fully since it was a 72hr one and doing it roughly was a waste of time)
    • Rocket/Australium arrow signs
    • Animated door props
    • One or two rock props

    Please avoid using the container model unless it's actually on a train, and then use the train model. It's a ridiculously overused prop and is almost cliché. I'd say maybe 4 times out of 5 in early alphas a shipping container has been used because of lack of imagination into the area in question and just slapped down because it's easy.

    EDIT:
    I am not talking about consistency, lots of people said they don't even notice them. I didn't say anyone would say not to use them, I said people say they don't notice them and I say that it's bullshit, that if the patch was there they'd subconsciously register that there's a pickup in that location and that'd help them learn the pickup locations quicker, which helps with testing the early alphas.

    Please stop trying to say I'm overreacting or getting emotional at everything I say. It's both rude and untrue.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  13. MegapiemanPHD

    aa MegapiemanPHD Doctorate in Deliciousness

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    My feeling for moving out of Alpha is when you are ready for a artpass and don't have immediate plans to for Drastic layout changes. My map, CTF_COFFEEVILLE, is still in alpha even though I could put it in beta at this point. The reason for this is that I haven't solidified a layout due to constantly conflicting feedback. Every time people liked it I moved forward but then they didn't and I would move backward.
     
  14. Suomimies55

    Suomimies55 there's a skeleton inside you right now.

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    Don't become slave to their feedback.
     
  15. MegapiemanPHD

    aa MegapiemanPHD Doctorate in Deliciousness

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    Maybe but if people don't like a map, then they aren't going to play it.
     
  16. Zed

    aa Zed Certified Most Crunk™

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    There will always be people who dislike your map. If you try too hard to make your map appeal to everyone giving feedback on it, it'll end up worse in the end.
     
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