PL Clifftop b3

Made by Boylee

  1. Boylee

    aa Boylee pew pew pew

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    OK so after reading Fr0z3n's blog and, more importantly, after drinking a not entirely insubstantial amount of alcohol I feel it's time to take a cathartic 15 minutes to write about the development of pl_clifftop up to this point. Since this thread has been very light on wordage thus far I this may seem a bit verbose, but hopefully it will illuminate the otherwise fairly closed thought processes that led to this map's creation. Also as I've been drinking I may well cuss. So if you're easily offended, easily bored or you're twelve years old then you may want to give it a miss. No? OK let's go.

    When I first started working on clifftop the map had an entirely different initial concept. It was to be set by the sea for starters and the idea was that blue were attacking a coastal base. The buildings along the top of the cliff were to be like bunkers and the blue spawn was to be a beach head below the cliff. Early versions of the map even had crappy brushwork landing craft parked behind blue spawn and an equally crappy brushwork naval gun emplacement.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Initial reference images show that the intended direction was pretty different from the map's current incarnation.

    Aesthetics and themes aside though the map was originally devised to have much more pertinent dynamic features. At first I toyed around with the idea of making see-saw type lifts. The idea was that when the blue team rolled the cart onto the lift it would slowly descend (when pushed) and act as a counterweight for bulkheads or bridges being raised to allow blue to egress. This initial concept was ruled out in early pre-alpha stages when I realised that I had no fucking clue how to do it. I Still think it could of been cool but I was already biting off a big chunk of work and I didn't want to choke and have to bail on the competition (*cough* *chicane* *cough*). So instead I figured I'd go with some "simple" payload elevators. Blue rolls the cart onto the lift, stands on it, it goes up, the point caps at the top. Simple right? Wrong. I soon learned that in Source there is no such thing as a "simple" payload elevator. Nonetheless I had a good idea of how I wanted the first stage to play out and so I set about building it. Once I had the track set up all the way to the elevator I bugged my good friend leminnes for his payload elevator entity setup from corrode (which was originally build by the almighty Booj) and set to work. More on those elevators later.

    I'm always at my best with teh first area I design of any map. I'm not sure why, it was the same with chicane, where the only surviving feature of the initial build is the centre of the map which I built first. The same is true with clifftop, the only part of the map that is near identical in layout to the initial build is the first stage and I still think it's the best bit of the map. I've joked with my friends more than once that if I were to start three maps and then scrap everything but the first bit of each and fuse the remaining elements, I'd probably have a great map straight off the bat. I wish I knew why this was but that's another discussion.

    [​IMG]
    pl_clifftop_a1, stage one, the same as it ever was (only more YELLOW).

    Anyway, once I had blocked out the first stage and got a somewhat functional lift in I started jamming on second. It's pretty clear in retrospect that I only had a vague idea of how the middle section of the map should play out. Looking back at the first release I realise that I didn't even have a second point in there. This was fairly punitive for Blue, even though they had a nice short route from 1st point to what is now 3rd point it was all uphill and it was just as short for red. It became pretty clear straight away that this needed breaking up, to stop red simply dicking all over blue after cp1. This lead to me breaking up the space by putting another point in, erecting a building between the 1st and 3rd and running the track up the right side of this area instead of heading left.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The same spot in a1 and a2.

    The third (initially second) point was another case of having a vague idea but not having actually hammered it out until testing. This point hasn't changed too much either bar the addition of a high flank for blue and an expanded courtyard that both appeared in a5 (I think) interestingly I notice now that I had a flank at cp3 (then cp2) in a1 which I must have culled and rehashed at some point along the way.

    The final stage was probably the most painful bit of clifftop to build. By this stage my ideas were starting to run a bit thin and I think I was basically making it up as I went along. I had the cart working it's way far to the right, which was supported by a covered building that Blue could hold and attack from. On top of this Blue could also storm up the hill to the final point once the cart was past the rollback zone(s?). This let to an inevitable steamroll almost every time that blue got past the second elevator, as Red were being harried from all angles with no way of getting easily entrenched. I tried to avert this in a3 by erecting a defensive line at the top of the hill. However since I wanted blue to still have a route to flank through I allowed some cramped routes in on that line at the top of the hill. In the end it simply wasn't enough to make it defensible and red suffered heavily from having that flank exposed perpendicular to where the cart was arriving from. In retrospect the reason for this is obvious, the cart track was occupying the logical flanking route and without actually thinking consciously about why I did it I adjusted the layout in a5 to switch the two routes. Seems obvious after the fact but at the time I was just trying stuff to make the stage work. I think it turned out alright in the end but if I had the chance to start over I might well have planned that entire stage out differently

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The final stage in a1, a3, gutted after a4 and compeltely rebuilt in a5.

    Looking back it was also around a4 / a5 that I started to think about scrapping the idea of a coastline setting. The buildings at the top of the cliff became much taller with angled roofs (less like bunkers) and by a7 the boats out of the back of blue spawn were gone. At one point I toyed with the idea of it being set on the side of a near sheer cliff but that went out the window too. It wasn't until I found this image that I started thinking about something completely different:

    [​IMG]

    I'll leave this for now and come back to it later as I've already waffled on more than I intended to about the course of the development. Next time I'll try and talk a bit more about why I did stuff and not just what happened. Also elevators, (those were such a ballache) I'll explain why the elevators came out the way they did. Either way if you made it this far then I commend you for your patience.

    EDIT: I didn't swear nearly as much as I expected to so I guess that the warning was unnecessary.
     
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    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  2. Tekku

    aa Tekku

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    pl_clifftop_b1​


    Gameplay

    Not the worst, but neither the best gameplay experience you could have on a map. First of all, and most importantly, clip everything, beams, stairs. Getting stuck even for a second can lead to negative experience especially for support classes. Currently almost everything that is sticking outside gets you stuck.

    Otherwise the gameplay was decent, with some interesting choke points to fight. However, some of those chokes were quite hard to push through for blue team, mainly indoor areas, also elevators, leading to either red teams victory or last second push win, which also isn't bad.

    Although, there is a lack of height advantage for high attitude classes, which should be utilized better considering the map background.

    To conclude, the gameplay isn't neither good, nor bad, i could say it is decent, however it could be improved by first of all clipping, and then introducing some extra height.

    Balance

    With 50%/50% win ratio map is pretty balanced for both teams, although some exceptions can occur depending on team strength. In that case it is either a roll for blue team, or red team defending the map on Cap 1/2.

    Class wise the map lacks height advantage, therefore soldiers, demos, scouts can have some disadvantages. Whereas pyros, heavies and spies have advantage due to some choke points and cramped halls.

    Dynamic element

    A rather weak dynamic element, which in the same time is boring and don't really add anything to the gameplay. Ramps could be used a substitute for both of those elevators, while still providing small time advantage for red team.

    Even though they add a small touch to the map, they are rather simple and in my opinion don't really fulfill the main idea of Dynamic element.

    Aesthetics

    Aesthetics wise the map is quite pleasant, although being quite under detailed with some unnecessary prop spam and strong fog settings.

    Outside area of blue spawn is a nice touch for the map, having some similarities with national parks or quite distant forests. Although then, it feels like more time was spent of out of bonds detailing rather than on the main space. Quite bland detailing for a map in beta stage, i would expect more from a map that has a unique theme.

    Also, fog settings are quite strong for a forest area, especially noticeable in blue spawn, strong greenish fog settings really taking away some points. Near final cap point fog is barely seen, leading to a quick change of gameplay environment.

    Another thing that you notice straight away is the prop spam in some areas where it wasn't needed. Even thought it adds some details, but in this case it's better less than more.

    Some things, that i have noticed:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10001.jpg
    Really pleasant area, giving a nice warm feel.

    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10007.jpg
    Another detailed out of bonds area (Note: Something is making the players get stuck in this spot)

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10002.jpg
    Strong fog settings in blue spawn.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_cliffop_b10004.jpg
    Z clipping in blue spawn.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10008.jpg
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10013.jpg
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10020.jpg
    Bland areas, with noclip textures on some buildings.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10011.jpg
    Really overused ceiling texture, seen in most indoor areas.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10012.jpg
    I feel that this platform isn't adding much to the gameplay, just an extra detail.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10014.jpg
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10019.jpg
    Not needed prop spam.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10017.jpg
    Metal ibeam texture doesn't really blend up that well with concrete.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10016.jpg
    Quite steep stairs.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10015.jpg
    Floating beams.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10006.jpg
    When riding the cart, you get stuck under this platform.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10018.jpg
    Another nice touch to the out of bonds area.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10005.jpg
    You can see the last cap from blue spawn area, quite nice, although could have some effect of performance.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1607727/Contest/clifftop/pl_clifftop_b10021.jpg
    I shouldn't be able to jump to out of bonds area.

    Performance

    FPS wise I didn't experience any issues, however there could be some issues latter on, especially in the blue spawn area where you can see the final cap point.
     
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  3. Boylee

    aa Boylee pew pew pew

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    well shit, I'm certainly not typing that second big old post up again. :/

    EDIT: hooray, Harribo saved my todo list. :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  4. Boylee

    aa Boylee pew pew pew

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    B2 is almost ready for release, as soon as I can work out what's causing the cart blocking issues I'll get it out the door.

    Current to do list:

    BUGS (must fix):
    + fix the issue with the cart speed reducing at specific points in the track. FIXED
    + optimise performance in the first and last areas FIXED
    + fix portions of the big landmark tower being culled FIXED
    + retexture visible nodraw faces FIXED
    + clipped area above cp2 and ledge at cp2 FIXED
    + floating props and beams FIXED
    - fix players being able to jump out of the map at last FIXED
    - clip prop rampsFIXED
    - debug and improve red forward spawn closing procedure NEEDS TESTING
    - fix the issue with cart blocking - still need to diagnose this problem NEEDS TESTING

    IMPROVEMENTS (should fix):
    + switch out 1:1 stairs for 2:3 where possible DONE
    + moved supply cabinet in red forward spawn DONE
    + changed skybox texture to Void's forest DONE
    + change the crate farm at second DONE
    ~ do another detail pass PARTIALLY DONE
    ~ revise fog settings DONE..for now
    ~ CLIP ALL THE THINGS PARTIALLY DONE (there will be stuff I've missed)
    ~ props not culling from one are to the next, add prop fade or make them cull PARTIALLY DONE
    - make the cliff out back of blu spawn more naturalDONE...for now
    - do a better lighting passPARTIALLY DONE
    - add fog_triggers (may not be needed with tweaked fog settings)
    - add soundscape
    - revise detail props on displacements later
    - shwubbery
    - add spectator cameras
     
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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  5. Boylee

    aa Boylee pew pew pew

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    OK so the only thing that's stopping me from releasing b2 is the problem with red being unable to block the cart. I've worked out that it has nothing to do with classes, red are actually completely unable to stop the cart anywhere apart from the track between cp one and cp two.

    I have literally no clue why this isn't working. The only thing I can think of is that somewhere along the line when I added another control point that I broke something crucial. Has anyone come across this before or have any idea as to how to fix it?
     
  6. Boylee

    aa Boylee pew pew pew

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    So after nearly 5 years since starting it, I'm releasing b3 of Clifftop.

    This is a fairly significant detailing upgrade, with lots of bugs and non solid props being fixed, and also plenty of clipping issues being addressed. It appears that at some point over the last couple of years I had a crack at doing some visleaf optimisation as well. Not sure if that was in B2 or not, but it's in this one.

    Anyway, Leminnes and I have also been working on a custom skybox texture, so hopefully that will be in the next version.

    Read the rest of this update entry...
     
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  7. Boylee

    aa Boylee pew pew pew

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    CLIFFTOP LIVES!

    [​IMG]

    OK, so at some point in the last 3 years I fixed all the major bugs in clifftop. Carts block normally, they don't reverse direction, lifts all work, all that good stuff.

    I've also done a good amount of detailing on the map, an optimisation pass, added some forward spawns and adjusted the lift speeds and spawn timers accordingly.

    Now I have just one problem.
    I cannot upload to the workshop. Every time I try, I get this error:

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Zed

    aa Zed Certified Most Crunk™

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    Are you attempting to upload a bsp?
     
  9. Zed

    aa Zed Certified Most Crunk™

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    A lot of your stairs are missing clipping.
     
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  10. Leminnes

    aa Leminnes

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    I can't get over how nice your detailing is. Looks seriously Valve quality. :D Hope the workshop thing gets fixed. I could totally see this getting super high up.
     
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  11. Boylee

    aa Boylee pew pew pew

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    First fix for next version then. :)
    Honestly, I've had so many ghastly bugs and oversights that that sort of minor stuff may have slipped through the gaps in many areas. Thanks for highlighting it.

    In other news: Clifftop is on the workshop!
    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=565392839
     
  12. JudgeJamesC

    JudgeJamesC The Man of Many Updates

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    I'd suggest clipping this fence so people can't stand on it. [​IMG]