Feedback and You: Giving and Receiving Map Feedback


Not the correct way to make lasagna
Aug 31, 2014
I wrote this a while ago, and yet I haven't finished it. Enjoy what's here so far; I should hopefully be completing sections 2 and 3 soon enough. This is an uncompleted work that needs a ton of polish.


In the TF2Maps community (and in mapping communities in general), the feedback process is an integral step that certainly shouldn’t be overlooked or underappreciated. As such, members of the TF2Maps community as well as those on the TF2Maps servers play a very important role in how a map is changed from version to version.

This guide is divided into three parts:

1. Giving Feedback
2. Receiving and Interpreting Feedback
3. Miscellaneous Tips

1. Giving Feedback

There are two common ways to give feedback, both of which will be discussed here- during a playtest of the map (through the feedback plugin and through voice chat), and on the map’s thread itself through a post. Both are similar enough that one can normally substitute for another, but they have some vital differences that are important to distinguish.

a. Giving feedback during a playtest

The two servers (both US and EU) are equipped with a dedicated plugin specifically for providing feedback for the map being playtested. I won’t go into the specifics of using the plugin (as this thread discusses the formalities of map testing and the feedback system better than I could), but here are the two commands from the plugin that can be typed into chat to provide feedback-

!gf - which denotes general feedback about the map

!fb - which denotes feedback about a specific area of the map, and includes your coordinates as well as the coordinates of the area you are pointing at along with the feedback

Type these commands into chat directly followed by your feedback (in one chat post, not two separate ones) to use the feedback plugin. All feedback given in this way will be listed in the respective map’s section in the Feedback area of One note: There is a character limit for each post in chat, so keep in mind that long pieces of feedback may have to be split across multiple chat posts.

The feedback plugin also records a demo of the playtest, which is essentially a fly-through video of the gameplay on the map. I’ll give more information about accessing the demo of a map when I talk about interpreting its feedback in Section 2, but on the playtester’s side, the demo means that feedback can be given orally through voice chat, even if the creator of the map is not on the server at the time. If you have a piece of feedback that you feel would be unruly to express in chat, feel free to say it in voice chat. Just be descript, be helpful, and don’t abuse the system and make all of your feedback oral. One note: Keep in mind that the servers have alltalk enabled, so both teams (including the enemy team) will be able to hear you in voice chat.

A related tip: If you want to know the map’s name while playing it, press TAB (by default) to open up the scoreboard. On the default HUD, the name is in large text on the bottom-right corner.

b. Giving feedback in a map thread

An alternative to providing feedback during a playtest is to post the feedback on the map’s thread itself. Doing so shows particular interest in the map’s development/fixing a particular issue or set of issues. The person giving feedback often goes above and beyond to do so, and as such, creators are often very grateful for this form of advice. Historically, many maps in the Map Showcase have received this type of feedback.

Many of the most helpful feedback posts include screenshots of the map or diagrams to describe the issues or perks within a map. These images often help to deal with issues such as (but not limited to) clipping bugs, detailing quirks, and skybox issues. One note: You can use tools such as MS Paint to draw on images, for added effect or emphasis.

c. Miscellaneous tips about giving feedback

Don’t feel as if you are constricted to negative feedback- positive remarks about a map let a mapper know what works alongside what doesn’t.

During a playtest, you can join team Spectator to fly around the map and leave feedback without having to worry about an enemy team. The “!gf” and “!fb” functions work as expected.

No (playable) map is too bad to receive feedback. Imagine working for hours to bring a map to release, only for the only feedback to be something like “TOO DARK” or “I can’t stand this map”. One unanimous piece of feedback provides just as much as one comment about the issue. Be descript about the issues you face, and treat the map with respect- just about every overtly successful map started out as a ‘fixer-upper’!

For more information about the feedback plugin from its creator, Rory King (@Geit), see here.

For more information about voice chat, see here.

2. Receiving and Interpreting Feedback

This section is geared towards letting mappers better understand the feedback system from their end and react upon the feedback given towards their maps. As a mapper, understand that playtester feedback is the main vehicle of change for your map, and without it, you may not be able to recognize many of the issues with your map due to what’s ultimately personal bias. Playtesters are, by definition, in a position to criticize and even ridicule your map. However, by definition, mappers are set upon solving design problems, and each piece of feedback can be treated as a design problem. When you look at the feedback system in this sense, iteration becomes a call and response- playtesters point out things about a map, and each new map version is a response to a feedback set.

a. Receiving feedback from a playtest

As a mapper, playtests will most likely be the main source of feedback for your map. For the servers, there are two types of playtesting sessions:

Gamedays - which are scheduled playtesting sessions

Impromptus (or Imps)
- which are unscheduled playtests that pop up by demand

When a Gameday or Imp has begun, an announcement is usually made on the Steam Group. For information about submitting your map to either type of playtest, as well as Gamedays and Imps in general and the general feedback plugin commands, please read this article about the subject. One note- keep in mind that Gamedays and Imps rotate between the US and EU servers.
If you know that your map is going to be playtested, it can be very helpful to play during the playtest, as you can get an honest feel for gameplay flow that feedback from others may not be able to provide. Another perk to being part of a playtest of your map is that you can communicate to others directly and promptly about issues in your map using the chat systems. If you need further explanation about particular issues, you can ask! Finally, as someone with greater knowledge about your map than anyone on the server, if you feel that a gameplay space is being underused that would be helpful to be used at a particular moment, you can direct players towards that area. If this happens, just remember to leave visual cues such as arrows or lighting to increase the use of this area in a following version. One note- you may feel as if joining team Spectator would be the best bet during a playtest; however, each map playtest on a server records a demo, which is essentially a fly-through video of the gameplay on the map which can be viewed similarly to how a spectator views a match. As such, use the time to play your map when you can, only switching to Spectator to mark feedback for yourself or to survey a particular situation that needs immediate addressing.

[Add extra feedback commands here]

When a playtest of a map happens, a dedicated area is formed in the Feedback area of To gain feedback from the playtest, locate your map name, click on it, and a description of the playtest and a list of the text feedback given will appear. To claim this map as your own, sign in through Steam using the button on the top-right corner of the page, and then once you come back to the map page, click the “CLAIM THIS MAP” button. One note- create a group using the “ADD GROUP” button on this page to be able to auto-claim your map once it is playtested. Follow the instructions that pop up, then click the checkbox next to “Auto-claim new maps:”, then click “UPDATE GROUP”.
On the map’s Feedback page, to view the demo from the playtest, first click the “View Demos” button on the page. Then, see the instructions here, placing the downloaded demo file in the directory shown under “Locating the demo:”, then following the instructions under “Playback demo:” and “Playback Control:”.

More to follow...

Note to self:

Yrrzy: kube i just skimmed but does that cover "feedback and criticism are not insults"

Thank you for the wonderful point, Yrr, I'll make sure to include that in the next update.
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