Lots of Alpha with Rapid Change or Fewer More Thought Out?

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Lord Ned, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Lord Ned

    Lord Ned L7: Fancy Member

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    Lots of alphas would be something like just slapping something together (a1) as fast as you can and getting it tested, and then making changes, testing again, changes, again, changes, again and again.

    Fewer more thought out ones would be:
    Several tests on an alpha, then make your changes, and then test again.


    Alternatively:
    A decently thought out first one (You don't have to worry about the minute details of cover, but just a general "okay I want this main entrances into this area, this many exits this general amount of ammo in this general area", etc.), and then rapid changes after the first one.

    Which do you guys usually go with?
     
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  2. Radaka

    Radaka L7: Fancy Member

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    cp_dusk_a33
     
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  3. Bermuda Cake

    Bermuda Cake L9: Fashionable Member

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    For escalante (which isn't even OUT of alpha yet) I had lots of thought out alphas over the course of about 3 months, but mostly because I'm lazy. There's nothing to stop you blocking out a map if you have a good plan in about a day if you put your mind to it, so it's probably best to go with lots of alphas.

    Escalante is currently on it's fourth complete redo, it's gone through three intel zones and 2 themes, even 1 name... Hopefully the latest one will be a success.
     
  4. fubarFX

    aa fubarFX The "raw" in "nodraw"

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    fewer alphas and few tests for me :p
    It seems I'm good at getting things right.
    and tbh I hate testing the same version of a map over and over
     
  5. Acumen

    aa Acumen Annoyer

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    Normal and reasonable way is the second one. You don't need each and every pisslydissly prop placement change to be commented or confirmed by someone.
    Start big and then finetune.
    In the end the mapper has a function as well. He's not only making changes to a communities wishlist.
     
  6. Seba

    aa Seba DR. BIG FUCKER, PHD

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    I prefer the latter, with fewer larger changes (see Advection's four complete layout overhauls).

    I also like putting in dramatic music and sound to fit my temporary map name.
     
  7. EArkham

    aa EArkham Necromancer

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    I prefer the slower, more thought out approach.

    Perhaps overthinking is the right way to put it in my case. I spend a lot of time placing something, thinking about it, asking myself questions ("does this fit the map here?" "does it make sense here?" "how does this prop being here make me feel?" etc).

    Though if inspiration strikes me, I can churn out an area very, very fast since it's just a matter of making it match what's in my head. Usually my maps are a couple of inspired areas with few changes, linked together by areas that have been overthought and revised a dozen times.

    Kep
     
  8. Icarus

    aa Icarus

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    a256
    Should be clear enough which one I prefer :p

    You need to what you're doing though, you can't just move things around blindly. I think it's important not to overthink it, and to develop efficiently. Focus on what matters the most at the time, and don't get bogged down on details. I don't test any single version more than twice.
     
  9. Grim Tuesday

    aa Grim Tuesday

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    The issue with Icarus's system, is that people get tired of playing the same map over and over and over again. By the time you reach A50 noone wants to play.
     
  10. Mr. Happy

    Mr. Happy L6: Sharp Member

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    If your map isn't fun to play over and over again than it isn't a very good map.

    But I can see how that can happen specifically in playtests since people attend specifically to try new stuff not old. (which is why you should test your map in as many places as you can).

    I tend to make 1 huge well thought out effort and then tons of tiny changes but it varies really. For example, I've scrapped two full layouts that were both well thought out and drawn out and then also had major revisions for a payload map I'm working on. But you should know that when you are still building the initial layout, a "small" revision can be as big as deleting a building and replacing it with a cliff. You should never be afraid to throw things around in different places in Hammer while you are building, make tons of revisions to the layout before the first compile even. Soemtimes I'll make five versions of a hallway, compile them, throw em out, that doesn't even count as a revision.
     
  11. Godslayer57

    Godslayer57 L8: Fancy Shmancy Member

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    its been a month from Arakawa a3a to a4 ....i really took my sweet time
     
  12. Icarus

    aa Icarus

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    And that's when I realized I should go to other places to test (and TF2M is really bad for real testing) :p
     
  13. DaBeatzProject

    aa DaBeatzProject

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    LOL well thanks! :D
     
  14. Randdalf

    aa Randdalf

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    I spent almost a year on and off making the first alpha version of a map, and to me, it shows, even though I am incredibly slow. A lot, a considerably large amount, of layouts we test on gamedays are forgettable, square, uninventive, flat and just not interesting to play by any measure. I spend a lot more time than a lot of people on maps, because I spend a lot of that time not doing anything other than judging what I've done and worrying, perhaps too much, about whether a room is too small, or at the wrong angle, or looks like wrong, or the ceiling is too small, or it's not interesting enough. A lot of people seem able to pump out layouts like they're going out of fashion, and that's something I just can't do because I have to examine and re-examine what's there. I personally feel this leads to more interesting layouts than just putting a load of buildings in a box and tweaking it until it works, and it also leads to more optimisable layouts in your end product. The disadvantage to this, is that if you're a bit OCD like me, you tend to get stuck on minor details (I was fretting about the size and shape of a minor spawn tunnel earlier), which more often than not, is what I tend to be, but then when it actually comes to playing the map people don't really notice or even care and are more rampant on finding minor bugs and inadequacies that were just honest mistakes or rushed oversights.

    If you take your time, you'll get something more interesting, and more personally satisfying, but you'll also spend a lot of time, well... time wasting, instead of playtesting and getting feedback. I find that I really have to be in the right frame of mind to go "right, let's do this" and sections of the map seem to be completed in bursts of inspiration rather than in swift and steady progress.

    doop
     
  15. tovilovan

    tovilovan L6: Sharp Member

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    I usually spend a lot of time in prealpha, without even placing other entities in than lights, and mess around in private servers with a few friends to see what they think will work out and to get a feel of how the map will play later on (and if the project is even worth continuing on). At this stage I can create 20 or 30 versions which I test myself, and a few to give out to friends. Once I'm about settled on how I want the map to play I sit down and create a first alpha where I'm closed to settled on what I THINK will be a good layout, adding gameplay entities and some sort of idea of how the structures will look like. In the first few alphas you can usually work out the bigger changes you need to do, and sometimes around alpha 5 I usually reach a stage where I'm pretty much settled on the gameplay of the map. After this I start adding various detail to decide on how I want the finalized theme to look, and after a few of these versions (5-10) with only minimal gameplay changes the map should be ready for beta.
     
  16. Lancey

    aa Lancey Currently On: ?????

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    Effectively, more alphas is more efficient. Those bugs most prevalent in tests should be fixed quickly and a new version should be released soon so that they're not the focus of each test. If you keep producing, you also don't lose that sense of recent feedback, as not all ideas can be written down so easily.
     
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  17. Lord Ned

    Lord Ned L7: Fancy Member

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    And this is where you share where else you get testing.
     
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  18. Prestige

    aa Prestige im not gay anymore

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    whats wrong with people sitting in spawn and where have you typing annotations on how the lighting is bad, there needs more signs, and then leaving when done?
     
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  19. Untouch

    Untouch L4: Comfortable Member

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    More tests means people are going to get sick of it faster in my opinion.
     
  20. Icarus

    aa Icarus

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    I don't hate or dislike TF2M. I just don't believe it is best to depend entirely on it.