Layout Help.

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by GPuzzle, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. GPuzzle

    GPuzzle L9: Fashionable Member

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    I've making maps for about an year now, and I still can't get any good layout.
    Puzzle? Sucked.
    Waterload? Clusterfuck.
    Ethanol? Demospam heaven.
    Any tips?
     
  2. Little Dude

    Little Dude L4: Comfortable Member

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    Been making maps for 4 years and I still can't get a grasp on a good layout. You could look at either official maps or non-official maps of your map's game type and see how they made the layout.
     
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  3. GPuzzle

    GPuzzle L9: Fashionable Member

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    Thanks, LittleDude, that gave me a lift.
     
  4. Idolon

    aa Idolon the worst admin

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    I don't think many people, if any, have a complete grasp on how gameplay in TF2 works. However, most successful map makers understand how to change a map to make it better.

    The key to making a good map is starting with something with some complexity, and molding the layout to make it more fun. Your issue is that your initial first sketches aren't very interesting; most are simply boxes with platforms in them. Consequently, going back for a new revision of the map doesn't leave you with a whole lot to change. Try making a layout that is more complex and interesting, allowing you more flexibility in changing the map for future versions. If you're unsure if a certain concept will work, try it! You can always remove it later if it doesn't work; better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.
     
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  5. xzzy

    aa xzzy

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    One option is to literally copy the layout of a Valve map. I'm not talking cutting and pasting brushes from their maps.. but look at the overhead of a map you like, and duplicate it. Then spend some time banging on it until it becomes your own creation. Change the lines of sight. Put in a new passage and take away an old one. Put more height variation into the map. Add a building, remove a building, or move its doors around.

    Treat it like brainstorming.. no idea is stupid, just implement it. If it's unbalanced you can fix it later.

    Next, spend two weeks on the layout, using dev textures, before you judge what you've done. Avoid showing it off to people and run bot matches and see if you're having fun playing your creation. Bots are idiots, so if you can't have fun shooting bots, you probably won't have fun shooting live players.

    If you're not having fun, figure out what is annoying you and change it.
     
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  6. Deodorant

    Deodorant L6: Sharp Member

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    I'm not good with layouts either and can therefore not give you any useful answer. However, I think this is a nice opportunity to say something I've thought about for a while:
    It's not often enough acknowledged that mapping is really fucking difficult.

    Just learning the basics of how Hammer mapping works requires one to figure out some pretty unintuitive things; If your water is invisible it has nothing to do with the water brush but rather the fact that some different brushes somewhere else don't properly connect. If you don't insert a specific type of entity and run a string of console commands after compiling, various semi-random objects will be covered with pink squares. If you don't split your map into certain types of shapes with the help of invisible textures named stuff like 'hint' and 'skip' and tie most of your geometry to some entity called 'func_detail', your map will run like shit. And so on.

    And that's just the stuff required to make your first three-square-rooms-and-a-bunch-of-HL2-props map. To create something even resembling a TF2 map you need to learn a whole bunch of design theory - how to properly work with things like sightlines, height advantages, sentry positions, flanking routes, water, etc. - and understanding all those things on paper and identifying how they're used in good maps does in of course no way guarantee that you manage to implement them properly in your own map. And the thing is, even if you get almost all of those things right, just failing at one or two of them will render your map fatally flawed and make casual players dismiss it as a piece of shit. Finally, there's the indefinable aspect of 'fun', the lack of which will make your map unpopular even if you do absolutely everything else right.

    What I'm trying to say is that even the most terrible and unenjoyable maps have a fuckbunch of work behind them. As we rarely get any credit from other people for this work, I think it's important to acknowledge it ourselves. Don't dismiss your own maps as 'Sucked', 'Clusterfuck' and 'Demospam heaven'. Look at them, identify the things you did right and the things you did wrong, then try to figure out how to keep doing the things you did right and avoid the things you did wrong.

    Sorry about the wall of text, hope I didn't go too far off-topic.


    (Disclaimer: This rant should not be interpreted as some kind of butthurt reaction against the negative feedback received by Crude after the recent tests. On the contrary, I don't think I've ever gotten as much constructive and useful criticism on my mapping before as I did this time, and I'm really grateful to all of you who left it!)
     
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  7. GPuzzle

    GPuzzle L9: Fashionable Member

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    Okay, what I learned with my maps:

    Puzzle - don't make your map a football field. Also use different height levels.

    Waterload - If you feel claustrofobic, then you have something really bad on your map. Claustrofobic example: Junction.

    Ethanol - Don't make "converge areas". The most famous example of "converge area" is 2fort's countryard. You HAVE to go through there, even if you don't want to. Give teams another options.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  8. xzzy

    aa xzzy

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    "Converge" areas (most of us call them chokepoints) are a crucial feature of a successful map. Control points in some ways are chokepoints because players are forced to fight over them until one side or the other captures it. When you get down to it, mapping for TF2 is nothing but making chokepoints fun.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that you need outlets to allow teams to break stalemates. A general goal is to prevent two evenly matched teams from fighting over an area for more than 4 minutes (less is usually better). In some cases you'll want as short as one minute (or, long enough for a medic to spawn, charge an uber, and deploy it).

    You have a huge number of tools available for managing how long players fight over chokepoints:

    a) Spawn times
    b) Capture times
    c) Spawn room distance
    d) Height advantage
    e) Blind corners
    f) Health and ammo kits
    g) Back routes
    h) Doors and cover props so players can avoid taking damage

    Assembling all these pieces in a unique and interesting setting is the challenge of mapping. My general opinion is that there's no such thing as a bad map, just bad implementation. This is where play testing becomes important because it will reveal the flaws you need to fix.

    It's also why dev textures are important because it's much easier to fix problems before you've started detailing.
     
  9. GPuzzle

    GPuzzle L9: Fashionable Member

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    xxzy, I know what chokes are, but they are slightly different from converge areas (C.A. for now).

    Choke example: Badlands lobby, 2nd, balcony.
    You can go by through the main building and it splits into two parts, going near the ammo pack or going near the dropdown. On the dropdown, you can go through it or near the building. There's a zone players are forced to go, but it features cover, height advantage, doors, different levels and even a CP with some health packs near it.

    C.A. example: on top of the platform ant 2nd, Gullywash.
    A single sentry can watch the whole area, sure, it does not have cover and it's quite exposed, but locking on area because of a engie building is basically annoying.

    In another words, chokes are C.A. with rotes that split, get the same part of the map from another angle, cover and cannot be locked by a single person that's skilled enough.
     
  10. xzzy

    aa xzzy

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    Okay, use whatever terms make you happy.

    It doesn't change that map design revolves around creating them intentionally and balancing the configuration to keep play from slowing down.
     
  11. Deodorant

    Deodorant L6: Sharp Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that 'chokepoint' refers to a bottleneck in the main route where the defending team can set up a defense and the attacking team must make a concentrated effort to push through and take control of the area, whereas the thing GPuzzle calls 'convergence area' refers to a passage that can't be bypassed in any way, forcing ambush classes to pass through the heat of battle and enabling one team to completely shut down the other. The concepts are similar and often overlap, but they're nevertheless discrete. The final corridor before Dustbowl 3B would be a chokepoint but not a CA, the whole central room in Turbine would be a CA but not a chokepoint, and the path leading to Dustbowl 3A would be both.
     
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  12. GPuzzle

    GPuzzle L9: Fashionable Member

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    Yes, that's right. Unless the Pyro, the Scout or the Spy is skilled enough to survive the fight and get some kills, CA make Heavies, Soldiers, Demomans and Engies one of the toughest classes in the battle. Snipers are dependent on the line of sight, however with cover and skill enough they can completely shut down the area or free it at all. Medics are just great in any situation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012