[GUIDE] Flip's Tips for Designing a Map That Lasts

Discussion in 'Tutorials & Resources' started by FiLi, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. FiLi

    FiLi L4: Comfortable Member

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    You see a lot of tutorials on here about how to do certain things in hammer, but when it comes to really combining these elements, I feel we're a bit short on supply. Here are some opinions that I have on the subject that may help you, too.

    Too often, we'll test maps that, while "playable", suffer from initial mistakes that can hinder design later on. These are just a few things I identify as important to layout creation and originality in making a map.

    1. ALWAYS REMEMBER THE THEME!
    Generally speaking, your theme is where your map takes place, whether it's at a goldmine, a gravelpit, or a train station. You aren't designing a map to take place in cp_orangeland (hopefully). Think about what things would be like in your setting, and use that to guide the creation of your layout.

    2. GAMEPLAY > WHAT HAS WORKED BEFORE
    Let's say you wanted to make a gravelpit style cp map. You could just say "oh it has a tower so I'll use one too". No. Instead, examine why the tower works. Is it the height advantage? Is it harder to attack/defend? For your map to be memorable, you need to make something that plays different while fundamentally working the same. When you design any part of your map, remember how it's going to play.

    3. DON'T FORCE IT
    If any part of your map feels forced, out of place, or generally unpleasant to make, maybe you need to give it some more thought.

    4. TREAT EVERY MAP LIKE IT'S YOUR BEST
    Especially for first-time map makers: of course your first map isn't going to get worldwide acclaim on a1. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try your best to make it look professional. Get a good idea of what's worth getting tested, or prepare to be disheartened. We're all here to help each other, but feedback can seem pretty harsh sometimes.

    5. BE CONSIDERATE
    Listen to other people's feedback. Take everything with a grain of salt. If only one person has some opinion, don't take it to be the complete truth. Be confident in your decisions, but remember, you're not making the map just so you can play on it alone.

    6. NAMING
    This is just a personal opinion, but your map should be simple. A descriptive noun will always do it. "Exfoliation" may sound cool, but alongside maps such as "gravelpit", "well", or "coldfront", it could feel a bit out of place.

    I hope these musings may at least provoke some thought, and if they help you like they've helped me, I'll be glad.
     
  2. UKCS-Alias

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

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    Although your other parts are fine this one is the one that bothers me. When in the design phase its best to NEVER enforce the theme. At most just restrict in the possible themes.

    An indoor hallway could aswel be a cave. an outdoor area with a roof (2fort bridge). Maybe it doesnt realy need the roof and it can just be a thin fenced outside area.

    The style is something that comes after creating the gameplay. There are only a few things you can have set a theme for like for example having a nice large indoor area with a pit that could serve as a mineshaft. Or a huge dish. But even those arent set in stone. If for example the mineshaft instead could be a rocket exhaust or the dish becomes simply just a large pit from an earlier explosion than that still is fine.

    That why its best to avoid fancy brushwork as much as possible when creating a map. Each fancy brush is a brush youll get attached to and become less willing to change. Ofcourse, some key gameplay areas will be harder to change and might be a requirement for your map. But again, its just 1 place and you can still give it minor changes (that dish example could simply have a less smooth dish and be given a scorched ground texture to mimic the blast).

    Looks only will decide if a map lasts when the gameplay is good. Its exactly why cp_egypt isnt that popular. Its looks might be good, but its gameplay lacks too much.
     
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  3. Sergis

    aa Sergis L666: ])oo]v[

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    imo that depends

    on whether you're building an abstract layout or you already have a vision of the finished map
     
  4. xzzy

    aa xzzy

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    Might be a bit cynical, but in this stage of TF2's life making a "map that lasts" basically comes down to a comedy gimmick or catering to competitive play.

    The community isn't what it was in 2007.. even maps that Valve buy and put into the game have trouble developing mass appeal.
     
  5. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    You might say that Valve failed at designing...

    :cool1:

    ...a game that lasts.
     
  6. UKCS-Alias

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

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    If i kept to the vision of intercept i would have been forced to create a dull shaped map.
    And skullcove originaly would have become aztec style. It didnt even get close to that.
    Thats because there is alot of f2p these days. And they are normaly already kept to just valve maps by matchmaking. That was the main reason why maps simply didnt get a chance. When matchmaking didnt exist you had to find servers yourself and the chances on custom map servers was alot bigger (especialy since they can promote it in the server name).

    Custom maps are still popular but since players are knowing less new ones its harder to find popular ones of those new ones.
    I think you mean activi$ion and Electronic Art$.
    There are very few games that last longer than 3 years and still have a major playerbase.
     
  7. Sergis

    aa Sergis L666: ])oo]v[

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    get better visions then :p
     
  8. UKCS-Alias

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

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    I get visions of gameplay and shapes. However, if i just keep it to that i would end up with maps that wouldnt make any sense and have random things all over the place. So to orient that i try to keep to a style. This can be industrial, aztec, spytech or whatever. Using that style i can build a dev map and keep those shapes in mind.
    During the dev stage the map can change alot and i also will be less caring about the original idea. It simply might not work and i shouldnt block the map because of that. Eventualy you normaly should be able to get a solution for detailing anyway.

    In intercept that dish area originaly would have become a round area. but i did check a few things and noticed that A) it wouldnt be interesting to play B) bots dont like those shapes. So instead i wanted some round architecture and found the dish as a worthy chalenge. It did set the style of my map though in the process. And the only way to change that is to make the dish change to just being a grass hole thats uneven with a shack on top (or similar things).

    The building of a map for a part should go automatic. The style is one of those things since during the build phase some styles just wont fit. (with many low buildings - like harvest - dont try spytech/industrial for example).

    Where intercept is probably being forced to spytech for me, i still would be able to change it if the rest of the architecture would force me to (atm that doesnt seem to be the case).
    In skullcove i found aztec as a possible option, but i noticed that with halloween props i could just make a far more interesting map.
     
  9. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    And yet a server can be modded all to hell and still qualify for quickplay. Donator privileges, no respawn time, obnoxious MOTDs, it's all good. But maps that aren't on Valve's short approved list? God forbid!
     
  10. henke37

    aa henke37

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    Actually, disabling respawn waves makes a server ineligible for default quickplay searches. And Quickplay connections bypass motds.