Dedicated Tutorials/Resources pages

Discussion in 'Site Discussion' started by Pocket, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    Mapping Questions & Discussion has six stickied threads.

    Tutorials has nine.

    Every year we lose more valuable tutorials to image hosting sites that decide to lock content behind a paywall or delete it outright for shits and giggles, or to private hosts that their owners thought were a safer bet before they forgot about them and didn't renew their domain. And the ones we don't lose get buried under all dozens of other threads.

    Today alone we had someone ask what Gameday is and another try to host their map on Mediafire.

    And don't even get me started on the Interlopers compile checker.

    Conclusion: We need a dedicated section on the site for official tutorials, guides, general mapping advice, and a rundown of How We Do Things 'Round Here. Something somewhere between the developer wiki and Nodraw.net — official, copy-edited pages with locally hosted images that can be modified by one of the editors if the information becomes out of date or somebody comes up with a better way to explain things. And an easy-to-follow table of contents. Maybe we could include a form for registered users to submit rough drafts for new pages or update proposals; a full-on wiki interface would probably clutter up the screen more than necessary.

    We also could stand to have a link on every page to the effect of "First time here?" that goes straight to an all-in-one guide of the most important things new users need to know: How we test maps, where to upload them, how to use the Feedback plugin, a link to the Interlopers compile checker, a link to Boojum's pack and all the theme packs... and whatever else people think is appropriate. Sort of an FAQ but without the Q's.

    I'd be glad to help out in any way I can.
     
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  2. Freyja

    aa Freyja ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    I would be up for putting something like this together, and even organizing and compiling and writing the page if necessary. I used the interloper's tutorial page a lot when I first started, I think this is a great idea.
     
  3. tyler

    aa tyler snail prince, master of a ruined tower

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    Me too. I've already wanted to write a simpler intro to optimization for people who are working on their first map so they aren't overwhelmed. I'm not sure if I'll do that (want to see Crash's optimization stuff for his series first) but I can also do other stuff.
     
  4. MaccyF

    aa MaccyF Notoriously Unreliable

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    Judging by your lighting tutorial/ discussion, I'd say you should go ahead with writing tutorials like that as general introduction to a topic to get people to a decent understanding of the fundamentals. If people want to learn more there's plenty of other resources to do so!
     
  5. KubeKing

    aa KubeKing Back home in Jupiter, things are getting harder

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    I used to be that person. This is pretty unrelated to the topic at-hand, but I think we should make more clear that posting to Downloads becomes accessible under any account status, because I used to think that the limits placed when not being a Donator would be significant enough to use a service like Mediafire for my map downloads.

    Back on topic, a specific upload section/image-viewing area for images would be awesome. That way, we could reassure that these images stay on-site. All stickied threads and thread specifically marked by a site admin could have their images kept on the site permanently in a 'safehouse' area, with author permission.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2015
  6. worMatty

    aa worMatty Repacking Evangelist

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    Hi, folks.

    I'm glad you brought this up, steve, because I have been concerned about the public face of TF2m and how easy it is for new people to get to grips with what we have, here. We are getting lots of new people, which is great, but I think we have a lot of content accrued over a few years that is hidden away in the forums in old threads, forgotten, including the content packs like Construction, Swamp and Japan.

    I think that the wealth of recorded knowledge and experience we have here is going to waste because it's not promoted on the front page. I think some thought should be put in to how things are presented on the web site because I do not think that these new people are welcomed appropriately.

    I think the best way to organise and display the accrued tutorials and articles is to have a kind of category tree page. All the tutorials and useful articles on the site could be listed under headings and sub headings, allowing people to easily find all the information we have on a subject.

    Fortunately, I can use bulleted lists to give you a demonstration of what I mean:


    • Beginners guides
      • How to make a map
        • Crash's video tutorials
          • Episode 1
          • Episode 2
          • Episode 3
        • Some guide on how to set up Hammer
        • Another startup guide
      • Introduction to optimisation
        • Design for best visibility
          • Best practices in world geometry
          • Conventions in Valve maps
        • Props
          • Prop fading
          • Triangles
    • Advanced optimisation
      • Materials
      • Area portals and occluders
      • Lightmaps
      • Texture memory
      • Showbudget and other in-game tools
    • TF2 game modes
      • Game mode types
      • Logic stuff
      • Game mode theory
    • TF2 layout design
      • Core principals
      • Class-specific stuff
      • Competetive
    • Detailing
      • Core principals
        • Readability
        • Canon
    • Technical
      • BSP
        • Pack lumps
        • Packing assets
        • Repacking
      • Compiling
        • VBSP
        • VVIS
        • VRAD
        • Compiling tools
      • Problems
        • Interlopers compile log checker
        • Common causes of crashes

    Under each heading would be a hyperlinked title of a thread or post somewhere on the forum. If we had more than one (bonus!), then we would link to them both. We could include the author's name and the date it was edited. The list could be displayed collapsed by default, so it doesn't look overwhelming, and each category would be expanded by clicking on a little + icon, just like the directory listing you see in the file explorers of computer operating systems.

    The goal would be to make one place where a TF2 mapper of any experience level could go, and find something to help them. In my own experience, searching a forum can be inconvenient because you aren't sure of the quality of the results until you click them. A list like the above would direct me to what I wanted, as if someone were doing the quality checking for me.

    Please keep in mind that the above is just an example. I expect that there will be a lot of ideas about what to do, so I would like to make it clear that I am providing my own as a suggestion and will not try to coerce anyone.

    I think what I have described can be easily expanded on, so I will leave it there and let other people come in with their thoughts.
     
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  7. Leaf_It

    aa Leaf_It

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    As a very new to Hammer person, I would love this. It took me 3 days to even figure out what a displacement was even called, let alone how to properly make them without have any issues. I've lost a good bit of my initial enthusiasm because I simply don't know how to do a lot, and I don't know the terminology to find out how, very quickly. Crash's videos helped, but they aren't very far along it seems, and so I'm left to my own devices, and limited knowledge. I'm honestly intimidated to say anything in the steam chat, so I usually just don't.
     
  8. tyler

    aa tyler snail prince, master of a ruined tower

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  9. worMatty

    aa worMatty Repacking Evangelist

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    Oh, leaf, you are more than welcome to pop in to the chat room any time. If you ask a question and everyone ignores you, then it's probably because they're distracted by something exciting. Just ask it again in five minutes or replace it when a very simple question that's easy to answer (like "How do I place a spawn point?") and I guarantee ten people will jump on you. Then you switch it out for the true question.
     
  10. UKCS-Alias

    aa UKCS-Alias Mann vs Machine... or... Mapper vs Meta?

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    1 thing though that is important is to where you would put it in the menu/forums. And besides mapping, modeling is still important aswel. Even without full guides there should be references to them.

    A tutorial section can become extremely large. Maybe it should be large enough to even exist in the top menu next to downloads, even if its just automaticly going to a resource group with a filter, or to a forum section with tutorials.
     
  11. worMatty

    aa worMatty Repacking Evangelist

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    If you know what you are looking for, you can use the forum search to find what you want. But if you are new to mapping, you need a guide. Searching the forum and browsing the tutorial forum index is not very good for those people. My idea is to organise all the guides we have (whether they be individual posts or whole threads), and external resources from other sites, in a kind of tree.

    The tree would be organised so that it guides new mappers along from being a complete beginner to being competent and then an expert. Each category and/or sub-category could be collapsible, just like the directory tree in Windows File Explorer. That would keep the amount of on-screen information compact and friendly. It would be a comprehensive index of everything a TF2 mapper needs to know to make a map, and it would be kept up to date. Obviously you wouldn't just make loads of links to the Source SDK wiki because that's a roller coaster of presentation when it comes to technical comprehension. No, you would link to those pages when it was necessary, or you would link to a guide here that touches upon any necessary wiki pages that help teach the reader.

    Crash's video tutorials have proven that there are people who need this kind of direction. They might be lucky and stumble on to TopHattWaffle or 3kliksphillip's stuff, or whatever, or they could just give up out of helplessness. This has the potential to be a defining feature of TF2maps.net at a time where it's important to get in quick with the way things are going, what with the Workshop, and YouTube and new blood, aspiring young level designers of the future.

    I expect that if we did have such an important directory then it would get its own tab on the big menu bar, yes. It would be sensible.