Major Contest #3 Judges Reviews

Discussion in 'Contests' started by A Boojum Snark, Nov 14, 2009.

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  1. A Boojum Snark

    aa A Boojum Snark Toraipoddodezain Mazahabado

    Messages:
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    Positive Ratings:
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    Here are all the judges reviews. In this post you will find those of Dario Casali and captainAngry.

    Unfortunately this was all we received from Dario, so we weren't able to factor it into the scoring.



     
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    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
  2. Nineaxis

    aa Nineaxis Quack Doctor

    Messages:
    1,767
    Positive Ratings:
    1,404
    CTF Vector
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 4

    Gameflow: Vector is the map that defined the game mode. It plays out well, it's fun, and overall a very enjoyable map. The stages are scaled appropriately, everything seems in place at first glance. However, there are some problems which break the flow. Some spaces are cramped and there are quite a few tight corridors and a lack of alternate paths, namely 1-1 and 2-2. The third stage is another weak point, though it has been drastically improved from earlier versions. 3-2 still seems like more of a bid at visuals than at game play, and grinding away at the last point isn't fun, although it does make for some epic wins and losses at the last moment. It seems like the first stage starts out great, but it slowly erodes into the third stage. 2-2 is a capture point that really is brutal on the attackers, it's hard to directly assault and easily camped.

    Balance: Again, Vector is a well made map with extensive testing (six hundred some-odd alphas, right?). All classes can fit in somewhere, though sometimes it might be difficult (spy on 2-2). Most sentry spots have a reasonable counter, and there is generally an alternate path if one is camped. Sniper sight lines are well curbed, explosive classes can't spam to victory, and pyros can't W+M1 to spawn.

    Detailing: Vector is superbly detailed, well done there. The desert theme is well implemented, as is the Hydro style. However, Vector does fall victim to overdetailing, some areas just have too much visual clutter, which is where that final point was lost. Everything looks good on its own, but in the midst of battle, that visual noise is sometimes just unnecessary.

    Optimization: I get a good framerate and that makes me happy. However, using 30 light_spots instead of a texlight kind of loses some credit for proper entity use.

    Style: It looks like a TF2 map, it feels like a TF2 map, therefore, I deduce it is a TF2 map.



    CTF Snowdrift
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Snowdrift just moves too quickly or doesn't move at all, there is no middle ground. It's a funnel of death or a funnel of destruction, and without the ability to effectively block captures, it feels like a steamroll constantly. That isn't to say point blocking is necessary, but the design of the capture areas are too susceptible to random scout caps. The map can be fun, but generally it just feels like there is something missing to truly make it a good map. Also, pathing is awkward: there's a lot of one way dropdowns in side hallways that give no actual benefit for using, but rather are longer and don't exit out in any advantageous way. There's a big, wide, open main path everyone uses, and the paths that aren't isolated and go nowhere just follow the main path, with a small height advantage that does relatively nothing. The side paths are just alternate ways between points, but don't actually provide alternate paths onto the points, which is what alternate paths are supposed to do.

    Balance: Again, something's missing. It plays well, feels okay, but then you get a spam or camping class and stuff starts to feel like it is falling apart. It also feels easy to attack and hard to defend, but not in a good, beneficial, or intended way, but rather like it is imbalanced in favor of BLU.

    Detailing: Overall nice, but it seems bare. The effort was put into it and the visuals are intact, but sometimes it just seems underdetailed or just not as well detailed as it could be. Also, the whole map is just a path surrounded by blue metal buildings. A vista, some cliffs, anything natural inside the gameplay area would have gone a long way to breaking up the dullness of the detailing. Metal, metal, and more metal gets old quickly, especially when the ground offers little variety (snow, snow, and more snow). Is there any foliage in Snowdrift? Small ground shrubs again would help break up the bare dullness of things. Finally, the sky. If the map wasn't purple-blue enough with all the purple-blue metal buildings, it definitely is now with the purple-blue sky which tints ground purple-blue. The sky just seemed like it was thrown in there to be there rather than thought out to provide something interesting to the map. The sky, like the ground and the buildings, has no variety to it- it's just a near solid sheet of color. There's nothing interesting about Snowdrift.

    Optimization: No problems here.

    Style: As I said in the detailing section, the map is just too plain. The geometry is good, the layout works, but the map has no flair to it. Yeah, it was unique to choose to do a single-stage A/D CTF map, but it could have been done better.



    CTF Slate
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 4

    Gameflow: Plays out nicely. It all feels right, layout works well, I'm never lost or confused as to where to go. Simple, but good.

    Balance: Class balance is good, but team balance seems a bit off. It's a bit easy for BLU to cap, though it may just be team inexperience.

    Detailing: The map looks great, the rainy alpine theme turned out well, and there's some very well made vistas. Only problem I have with the detailing is that the third stage feels underdetailed in some places. But overall, good job.

    Optimization: I get a good framerate and it's consistently good, so optimization is good.

    Style: It looks and feels like TF2, but there's just nothing that sets Slate apart from other maps. It's a pretty generic, albeit very well made, attack/defend map.



    CTF Panamint
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 3
    Style 2

    Gameflow: Panamint is another map with potential that just hasn't been worked out yet. The layout is unique, it's going a good direction, but it's missing that little extra to push it over the edge into a truly good map. The first stage is good, but with some awkwardness to it, the second stage is good, but still needs some testing. The final stage is also good, but feels more like the second stage of a map than a third- the spire really seems closer to a final capture.

    Balance: Overall, the map is decent in terms of balance. Again, just working with the layout some more would probably go a long way at making the map much more fun.

    Detailing: Needs to be detailed. What tiny bit is detailed looks good though!

    Optimization: Good, but it isn't detailed yet, so...

    Style: Again, the layout is good, but it is undetailed, so the potential is there, but the map needs to be finished.



    CTF Premuda
    This map crashes my client on load.



    CTF HAARP
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 5
    Optimization 3
    Style 5

    Gameflow: HAARP is probably the best A/D CTF map in terms of gameflow, great job. Everything seems right about it. The scaling, pathing, all of the layout works out nicely... up until the final capture point. It just doesn't feel right. If anything could be defined as a spam corridor, it is that long, straight hallway with plenty of sentry nooks. The map just feels good until you hit that wall and spend the last part of the map grinding at the defense.

    Balance: Balance is good, all classes have roles and it plays out well. Sentries can generally be countered, everything seems to add up well. The one thing that worries me about balance is cap 2-2. It seems a bit easy to sentry camp, and with full teams, it gets a tough for BLU.

    Detailing: Absolutely great. HAARP nails the snow theme and does a great job with spytech as well, while introducing its own take on things. It's executed extremely well, and it's hard to find some part of the map that just doesn't look good.

    Optimization: This is where the map hurts. My framerate is lower on HAARP than most maps, and point 2-1 is where it is the worst. Improvements have been good, but it just isn't quite there yet.

    Style: HAARP is a beautiful map, and it fits right into TF2. The snow theme is great, the Hydro style is great, it all feels complete and well styled. The layout is abstract outside BLU's spawn of stage 1, but it works. It all fits together nicely as a complete map.



    CTF Bayou
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 3
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 2
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Bayou is a weird map. The layout is very, very awkward and really lacks any kind of flow to it at all. However, it isn't necessarily bad, it is actually a fun map to play on. However, it does not play well, which is the bigger issue. The map requires a huge amount of signs just to point people in the right direction, but there are so many signs the map quickly becomes unreadable and people end up lost and confused, disoriented, and teams are usually spread out and disorganized. Bayou really would use some massive simplification and new clarity. Right now it is just a mess.

    Balance: As I said, despite how bad the layout might be, it is still a fun map. There's really no major balance issues that stick out in my mind, but the layout is still problematic.

    Detailing: The detailing of Bayou is generally okay, not amazing or top quality, but it is there and the effort to make a good swamp map is evident.

    Optimization: I'm not sure if you even tried, but it isn't working.

    Style: Like the detailing, it's not exactly bad, but not exactly good either. This almost comes back to the layout being awkward. The style just isn't where it needs to be to fit into TF2.



    PLR Cornfield
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 3
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Cornflow's flow is okay. It's improved a lot from early versions, but still isn't great. There's a lot of really narrow spaces where the cart goes, opening to wide open spaces, and it doesn't feel like it is as well paced and as well designed as it should be. Try opening up some areas and keeping the space around the cart more consistent.

    Balance: Cornfield is okay for balance. Again, because of the odd sizing of spaces, the overall feeling while playing it is hurt. Also, there's some bad sentry spots that are hard to take out and kill the pace of the game. Finally, those tight spaces can make the map really spammy, and explosive classes, heavies, and pyros can get really annoying very quickly.

    Detailing: What little detail exists is very good, but most of the map is dev textures. If the rest of the map gets to be as well detailed as what is, it'll be good.

    Optimization: Good, but most of the map is undetailed, so time will tell.

    Style: Cornfield definitely feels like a TF2 map, and what detailing there is makes it look like a TF2 map. But it needs to be finished! Cornfield has potential, but it can't be rated higher because it is mostly incomplete.



    PLR Highwind
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 3
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 4

    Gameflow: Highwind is a really fun map. The layout is good and the twist on PLR is fun. However, it can get a bit spammy and I've seen it stalemate. And spawn doors would really help.

    Balance: Again, the map is fun, but it can be locked down pretty easily with sentries. The closed center house is a bit too beneficial to the team in control. And again, it has stalemated before, which isn't good.

    Detailing: Good layout, but the detailing is sub-par. The underground section is great, but above ground... it just gets a bit weird. The buildings are odd, the texture is odd, it seems like all the effort went into making the map fun and detailing was just a matter of quickly applying textures, not caring about how they repeat, and compiling. I'd recommend stepping back and doing a second art pass, thinking more deeply about what TF2 detailing is like, and choosing better textures and heightening team distinction. Also, a 3D skybox would help.

    Optimization: All good here.

    Style: The layout is good and it plays like a TF2 map. If only the detailing was within the realm of TF2. The theme is good, it just needs refinement. The grass, for example, is a tad too green and a tad too blue, and the map ends up looking like candy land in the end because of it.



    PLR Scoville
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 4
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 1
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Scoville is an interesting map. The first stage's layout is great, it works well, everything is good about it. The second stage goes downhill from that. It's long, open, there's a bunch of clutter thrown in to break up the horrible long sightlines (the middle section should have been reduced in length, cramming random stuff into it to break up sightlines is not the solution). The second stage feels very out of scale. The main path is the one that is tight, the side paths are huge and open, there's no way to stop a capture because you spawn on the opposite end of the map... and I've never seen anyone use the side parts of each base. This stage can seem fun, but it really isn't when you start to think about it. And then there is the final stage. I absolutely do not like it. In a TF2 map, it's common to have the main path be the low point, and have the side paths be higher than it. Scoville's first two stages follow this format, but the third stage inverts it and it doesn't work. Spam classes dominate the tracks, there's very little room to navigate... it just isn't fun. There's no arena feel to it. You're stuck on a narrow strip and either you have lots of health and a powerful weapon or you are dead. Worse yet, this stage gets drawn out into infinity because the carts are slow, and the more you push, the slower they get! Innovation is good, but this "innovation" hurts the map more than it helps it.

    Balance: Despite the issues I have with the layout, it is hard to say Scoville is not balanced. It's balanced very well, it's fun, all classes are useful, sentries do not ruin the map... good job here.

    Detailing: Scoville is mostly undetailed, but what detail is there is good. But since the majority of the map is undetailed, loss of points there.

    Optimization: A big box around the map is not optimization by any stretch.

    Style: Scoville is definitely a good map with potential. Just finish it! The style is good, unique, everything that could lead to it being a good map is there, it just needed to be finished.



    PLR Animus
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 2

    Gameflow: There's a few things that make a PLR map good. One is short stages, another is even access to all parts of the map. Animus has neither. You have long, drawn out stages with only one path to get to the cart, so pushing it means the longer you have to run to get to it, until you start counting time from spawn to action in minutes. It's just not good. There's no quick, easy way to get from spawn to action, there's no way to flank, it just isn't fun.

    Balance: Some balance snuck into Animus somewhere, but again, it's not fun. Running the length of Gold Rush as a heavy to just get to your cart isn't fun. Nor is running out of cloak, or getting killed and having to walk for three minutes again. Winning requires two medics and two heavies camping a cart and pushing it straight to the end, else it stalemates.

    Detailing: It's ugly. The colors, the props, the lighting all just make for a map that doesn't look good. I could almost get over the ridiculousness of it if it looked good, but it doesn't. It seems thrown together, not constructed, trying to be unique and failing miserably at it. Well, it does succeed at being unique, but not for the reasons you want it to be.

    Optimization: Poor. It's playable, but not good.

    Style: This isn't TF2. TF2 is a game set in 1968 American West and Midwest, not a voodoo mining waterfall rocky fairyland. Animus is trying to hard to be unique through visuals and not hard enough to be unique by being fun. The lighting is horrible, the skybox is horrible, the colors are horrible, it all gets washed out orange. It lacks contrast and is just ugly. There's truly not another word I can think of for it, because nothing as clearly states it as ugly does.



    PLR Solitude
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 3
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 3

    Gameflow: The layout is a bit odd, it isn't a map I'd look at and say "this looks fun", but Solitude surprised me by actually being an enjoyable map to play. Any layout issues are pretty small.

    Balance: Solitude's layout works well, but there are a few issues with balance. There's a few sentry spots that can quickly halt progress, and sometimes the map just feels too spammy. There are plenty of alternate paths, but they always seem out of the way and not obvious. This leads to a big funnel of players in a small area, and it really isn't good.

    Detailing: Solitude is well detailed, but it doesn't stand out to me. It just feels at par, a map of average quality. There's really something missing to make me say "this looks really good". Everything seems a bit too generic. It might just be the colors of the map, everything kind of blends together and nothing really stands out. Again, the detailing is good, but it just doesn't feel like there's anything special about it.

    Optimization: Good, I have no problems with the map.

    Style: It's interesting, it looks nice, but it isn't a fluent as it should be. It's also very brown. Brown ground, brown cliffs, brown sky, the map feels very monotonous in that regard. In the later stages, there are white walls that take the yellow tint of the sky, so even then, it seems a bit monotonous. However, the geometry is good, so it isn't a bad map for style, it could just use some more contrast.



    PLR Rollout
    Invalid entry


    PLR Nightfall
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 5

    Gameflow:Nightfall plays out well. Despite my initial qualms about PLR maps with neutral central areas, Nightfall ended up doing it well, and it makes for a fun map.

    Balance: I've had fun as any class, and that's what is important. I've yet to see an overpowered sentry spot or a spam dominated area. Well done.

    Detailing: Superb. Absolutely superb. Nightfall, visually, is probably the best map in this contest. The rainy alpine theme is executed flawless, it all feels right, it's just great. However, the map is not finished, and that's where the deduction comes in. I can't give higher than a 3 in detailing when a third of the map is undetailed, despite how brilliantly the first to stages are done.

    Optimization: I get a good framerate all around, everything seems to be in order.

    Style: Nightfall is the kind of quality I would expect from Valve (before they started giving us kind-of-finished maps that are underdetailed and have no playerclips). It truly embodies what a TF2 map should be. It's fun, balanced, is visually superb, it truly is an awesome map. Congratulations for impressing me in the way it does, it truly stands out to me from the other entries as an awesome map deserving of reward. If only that third stage was finished...



    PLR Panic
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Panic is definitely an interesting map. At first glance, I went "this is ridiculous", but as the map has developed, and now, it's really fun. It definitely surprised me, and kind of came up from behind in my mind. In both the first stages, the layout is pretty unconventional, but it definitely works, it really worked itself out into something good.

    Balance: Again, I was really surprised by how well Panic plays out considering the layout oddity. I've played it as quite a few classes and it is always fun. It rarely stalemates, which is important for PLR, and that's great.

    Detailing: Overall, well detailed. It's a unique map with strong visuals, and it works well.

    Optimization: I have no problems with framerate, even with the explosions and whatnot. Good job.

    Style: This is where the map gets to me. Style. The skybox annoys me the most. It's brown and dull, and really gives the map a kind of flatness to it. Yeah, it's unique, but like other maps in this contest, it seems like it was put there just for the sake of being unique. That isn't to say the lighting is bad or it truly effects the map negatively, but visually, it's just ugly to me. The second point comes off because the map's layout. It just doesn't feel like TF2. Yeah, the rollercoaster cart track is funny, but it feels like it lacks a certain degree of seriousness that is supposed to be there, despite TF2 being a comical game.



    PLR Arctic
    Invalid entry
     
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    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  3. drp

    aa drp

    Messages:
    2,254
    Positive Ratings:
    2,555
    Adding scores now to the maps I have played more than once. Will briefly extend on my ratings later.

    PLR Rollout
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 1
    Optimization 3
    Style 3
    I played rollout quite a few times, and every time i played it, it seemed what most players complained about was the detail. The map is too bare. Gameflow wise, it plays pretty decently. The layout is unique, and the points are something I have never sen before. My fps never dipped below my usual, but thats probably due to lack of detail. Balance wasnt perfect, but never an issue.


    CTF Vector

    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 3
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 4
    I've played vector a handful of times, but everytime i play i feel differently about it.Sometimes is perfectly balanced, others its just a steam roll or a brick wall. I think the balance needs to be adjusted and make the points a little more accesible. Detailing is great ofcourse. Nothing short of what i would expect from the mapper. Didnt get any fps issues. The style sticks to a hydroish tone, and I love that.

    CTF Slate

    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 3
    The gameflow suffers on slate. The connecting tunnels kind of hurts this map overall. Also due to this, the balance is a little off. Red has a huge advantage over blu as they can just demo/soldier spam tunnel exits. The detailing is nice, but seems a little bare at times. Did not get any optimization issues.

    CTF Premuda
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 5
    Optimization 4
    Style 5
    Premuda comes out as my next best favorite next to haarp. The style of the map seems totally different from the tf2 universe. Which isnt alweays a bad thing. The gameflow is smooth and the detail in the map is outstanding. I did not have any fps issues.

    CTF HAARP

    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 5
    Balance 5
    Detailing 5
    Optimization 4
    Style 5
    I'll say it right now. My favorite ctf map. I absolutely love haarp. It's exactly what I imagined the game mode would be. It does suffer from some balancing issues on the later points. Detailing is on par with an official map. Did not encounter any fps issues.

    CTF Bayou

    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 3
    Not one of my favorites either. Seems the map is a little too open. Too big for this game mode. It's also confusing to navigate. The game does flow due to some players being lost and not focusing on the objective. Did not notice optimization issues.

    PLR Scoville
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 1
    Style 3
    I actually like this map, but ive heard a few dont mainly due to bad stuttering issues. It was dubbed plr_lag by one player in the server. The game does flow great as good as any plr map. The map does not suffer from any balance issues either. The optimization is actually pretty bad.

    PLR Animus
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 1
    Not my favorite. Like most have said, this map suffers from its size. Some areas are extremely large, while others are too closed in. There is no flow here. Just seems like its a jigsaw puzzle. I personally did not encounter any fps issues. The map also suffers from from not being symmetrical (atleast it didnt seem symmetrical with me). The style of the entire map was also not my favorite of the entries. Seems like its all just a patch work.

    CTF Snowdrift

    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 4
    I absolutely love snowdrift. The game flow is great, the balance seems right and the layout is also conducive to the game mode. It seems every class has its use and the points are layed out in such a way that they can be sticky capped, which in my opinion is a plus. I did not encounter any fps issues. The detailing seems ok. Not over done and not underwhelming. Some areas could use some changes.


    CTF Panamint
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 4
    Detailing 1
    Optimization 2
    Style 2
    Panamint looks like it could be fun. If it were worked on a little more. Blocky brushwork coupled with lacking detail makes it less appealing to the eyes. Gameplay is fun. Balance is also good as many rounds went down to the wire with an even win/lose tally for both red and blue the times i played. I got a steady fps number and rarely dipped. I do have a beefy vid card tho and like I said, the map is not greatly detailed.

    PLR Arctic
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 3
    Style 1
    I found arctic to be a little bare and left me wanting something a little more at the end. There is no explosion, sequence, nothing. The visuals are also lacking. Balance wise, its as balanced as any plr spam fest could be. The rounds tend to run very long because the track itself is reaaaaaly long to the point. It takes ages to get the cart where its supposed to go.

    PLR Cornfield
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 3
    Style 3
    The times cornfield was not crashing my client, i seemed to enjoy it. The map does have a good flow and it seemed balanced. The detail was lacking some a lot areas just being dev textured. I did not notice any fps issues. The goofy presents in the skybox do detract from the map a little but the tone of the environment mimics furnace, which i do like a lot.

    PLR Highwind
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 3
    Style 5
    Also one of my favorites. Shame it only has one stage. The game flow here is great. I love that the carts dont have intersecting tracks and the middle area really makes this map. It's a great area for both teams to fight for progress. The team that holds the mid will move the cart forward. The balance here is not a problem. The detail here is amazing. The style really shy's away from a 'normal' tf2 map but for the better. One of the better looking maps to hit the contest.

    PLR Nightfall
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 5
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 5
    A very possible candidate for it to be made official. This map is just fun. Plain and simple. The map flows as best it can. The balance is superb. The spawns are a great distance away from the attacking team's point. The detail is also incredible. No fps issues here. Seriously, he needs to finish the final area asap.

    PLR Panic
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 3
    Style 4
    Panic is interesting because it has quite a few 'non-standard' mechanics in it. To begin with, the cart rolling down at startup i think is great. It gives a sense of 'cool' and attracts a players attention just like an exciting opening scene in a movie. Makes the map memorable. The gameflow is good. It isnt great because lack of lighting hurts the flow of the game. Pyros hiding in dark corners can get quite bothersome. The balance is good, no issues here. The detail here is also on par with a late beta map, although some areas could use some improvement. I did get a little fps drop but nothing game breaking.

    PLR Solitude
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 4
    Solitude is a solid map. It's fun to play, and the paths are clear. It does suffer from quite a few annoying bugs. The heights of entrances to buildings are not high enough. Players will get stuck if they are riding the cart. This happened on atleast 2 building entrances. The other bug that i encountered was the carts getting stuck on their crossing path ways. Gameflow is solid. When the carts arent stuck, its a great fight. The entire map is pretty balanced, no issues here. The detail seems lacking on some areas, and overdone in others. It also uses stuff from the swamp pack, so thats a plus IMO. I did not see any fps dip in most areas. The map seems to incorporate a bunch of different styles per area. Some areas are desert, others are industrial. Just another thumbs up for Solitude.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 1, 2009
  4. Shmitz

    aa Shmitz Old Hat

    Messages:
    1,129
    Positive Ratings:
    741
    Ugh, this is taking so long because I can't be content with first impression ratings and have to compare all my ratings against each other by resorting this excel spreadsheet over and over. I wish we had gone with 1-10 scale... would make this a lot less picky.

    Anyway, for now have some numbers. Writeup to follow.

    CTF Bayou
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 2
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 4

    Gameflow: It's fairly easy to figure out how to get to the current contested point. Things are clearly marked and main pathways are intuitive enough to follow. The problem comes with the side routes and alternate approaches, particularly in transitioning between them. Both B and C suffer from attackers not being able to easily switch to another entrance if they find one too well guarded.

    Balance: The map plays a bit too strongly in red's favor. I've seen impenetrable defenses at both B and C. They are perhaps a bit too easy for defenders to get to, which strengthens already strong sentry positions.

    Detailing: While it's clear that a lot of effort was put into the detailing, it's still unfortunately very novice-level work. The geometry is very blocky, reminiscent of something like Quake or Half-Life 1. Walls and other surfaces tend to be unnaturally thick. It's clear this map has been a learning process for the author, so I can't criticize it too harshly. On the other hand, I have to give it a fair score.

    Optimization: At first glance it seemed like the open nature of the map would cause ugly performance issues, but remarkably, things are nicely controlled through layout and areaportals. Unfortunately the precipitation and sky_camera problems still drive performance down considerably.

    Style: Despite the rudimentary detailing, it's obvious that a lot of thought went into the environment and theme. Other issues aside, blue's boat spawn and the crooked, sinking house did a lot to sell the swamp setting.


    CTF HAARP
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 2
    Detailing 5
    Optimization 4
    Style 4

    Gameflow: The area-to-area gameplay isn't bad, generally speaking. Paths generally take you where you want to go (though in some cases, like going from 1-1 to 1-2, it can be tricky to get the right approach). The big problem is in the multi-stage aspect of the map, which forcefully breaks everything up and I don't believe really works in favor of the A/D CTF gameplay.

    Balance: Despite being one of the more enjoyable A/D CTF maps, one factor really hurts the gameplay experience for blue, and that's the lack of overtime. I can recall specifically standing in the cap zone holding the flag on my back with a medic healing me and only a couple light weight classes blocking the point, and losing because the timer hit zero. Our team effectively had control of the area, but we lost in a very frustrating way.

    Detailing: I love the detailing. It impresses me at just about every point. It doesn't just look good, it's clever, and goes the extra mile for anyone who is actually paying attention. The "elevator" spawn room between stages 1 and 2 is one example which is brilliant in its simplicity. The thing that I love the most though is the skybox, and how well integrated it is from stage to stage.

    Optimization: I experienced no serious performance issues, despite the high level of detail in this map.

    Style: HAARP has a very strong, well-defined theme that really nails the TF2 look. I only wish it had slightly more variety, as there's very little theme evolution from the first stage to the last.


    CTF Panamint
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 2
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 4
    Style 3

    Gameflow: The first stage has some odd side-routes that are a bit confusing both for red (trying to get to point 1) and for blue (trying to get to point 2). Second stage is quite a bit better in terms of being able to get to where you want to go, but then the third stage just kind of gets all noodley. The map also suffers from being multi-stage.

    Balance: Panamint suffers from the complete opposite problem as HAARP. Red gets faced with an impossible task as blue can keep the game in overtime indefinitely. Any other balance issue gets totally eclipsed by this one, as either red inevitably loses, or the map just continues on in a perpetual stalemate.

    Detailing: The geometry is very blocky and most of the structures are either completely untextured or the texture is the only thing that has been done to detail it.

    Optimization: I get fairly good framerates throughout the map. I've experienced a few drops on stage 2.

    Style: Henrietta offers a nice centerpiece for the final point, but overall there's not enough detailing to provide any cohesive theme.


    CTF Premuda
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 2
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 3
    Style 2

    Gameflow: There are possibly too many routes from one area to another, and a lot of them have twists and turns that either disorient the player, or simple make them unintuitive as a means to get where you want to go. In places where the routes become simple and easy to follow, they also somehow end up being more chokey and difficult to get through.

    Balance: Pretty much every point in the first two stages are susceptible to surprise caps. Combine this with being multistage and defense is in for a frustrating experience... until the last stage where the final point is only approachable through a few long corridors ending in easily campable exits.

    Detailing: There are some great visuals on this map. The lighting contrasts can sometimes be a bit much, but otherwise it has a lot of interesting details.

    Optimization: Framerates generally hang around the low-but-still-quite-playable range for me, which may be too much for other computers. Additionally, I noticed a few odd places in the second stage where the two main areas were somehow seeing into each other.

    Style: While the details are well executed, they fail to convey any real meaning to the map. I cannot get any sense of what this map is trying to be. The buildings seem randomly placed with no discernable reason what function they serve. The natural formations remind me more of Xen than any TF2 setting.


    CTF Slate
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 2
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 4

    Gameflow: The pathing is fairly straightforward, and when it's not there are visualizers set up to make sure people don't take the intel down the wrong path. 2-2 tends to get bogged down considerbaly. The point is cramped, the area before the point is cramped, and the directions of approach are not terribly varied. The map has a nice spiral shape that would lend itself well to a single smooth continuous stage, so it's a shame things are broken up by making it mulitstage. The last stage having 3 points kind of aleviates this, but one has to suffer through the first two stages to get to it.

    Balance: Tiny block zones give attackers a huge advantage, as only one defender is capable of blocking the capture, and to do so he must be a sitting duck. The only time I've seen it successfully done on Slate is with two heavies taking turns with two medics healing them. It's particularly harsh on defense in the first stage, where they have to run so far just to get to 1-2.

    Detailing: Nice detailing all around. There isn't any single scene that really shouts out "great detailing!", but it's pretty strong overall in the general sense.

    Optimization: Great visibility control all through the map. It's just a shame the weather hurts performance so much.

    Style: Beautiful interpretation of the sawmill weathery theme. Unfortunately the map lacks anything particularly defining or memorable. Even dustbowl had a big rocket at the end.


    CTF Snowdrift
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 5
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Snowdrift is really straightforward and uses signs intelligently to direct players where they need to go. Side paths generally parallel the main path and never backtrack, twist around, or otherwise take a player in a direction counter to where they want to go. It's linearity and simplicity may seem a bit too basic, but I think they are exactly what the A/D CTF gametype needs to be fun.

    Balance: This map may have actually snagged a 5 for balance if it weren't for the "tiny block zone" problem. It has really good class dynamics and both sides really have to work to prevail in any given area. More importantly, the fact that it is a single-stage map greatly counteracts the gross advantage blue has in being able to instantly capture points. Red defenders in a given area are not immediately rendered impotent when blue scores a point. Defense can still fire, sentries still stand ready, and blue still has to find a way to break through the defense line to procede to the next point. This is further helped by the fact that the capture points are in the main travel area and not tucked away in a small cabin off to the side. Attackers can't just ignore and bypass any defenses that are still up and functional. Unfortunately, as I mentioned at the start, defense can't actually block captures well at all, so in some cases the fall of the defenses in an area are pretty inevitable as blue makes a sneak cap and sets red's spawn further back.

    Detailing: The detailing is certainly not bad, but it's also not particularly exceptional. Despite it being outside, the fact that nearly the entire course of the map is surrounded by buildings gives it a distinct corridor feel. I would like to see that there's more to this complex than just the one main playing area, even if I can't get there.

    Optimization: The map is well optimized. I've seen performance dips in only one or two places, and that may have been circumstantial. I think the overall simplicity of the layout helps here.

    Style: Unfortunately there's not a whole lot to distinguish this map's style other than being snowy. There's no real sense of why red and blue are fighting over this territory. The spytech is minimal, and the "cover" buildings rather generic.


    CTF Vector
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 4

    Gameflow: The paths are generally pretty simple, except possibly a few in the final stage. Chokepoints are generally held to a minimum, and when they exist items and spawntimes make it difficult to actually stalemate at them. It's still multistage though, which makes round ends jarring and unexpected and transitions completely removing everything that had been going on before.

    Balance: Vector has nice roomy block zones, and it's generally not easy to surprise-cap most points, so it generally features better balance than many of the other A/D CTF maps.

    Detailing: Wonderful detail work. There's a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of fantasic scenes throughout the map. Unfortunately there are still plenty of little flaws in the map, like the ceiling beams in stage three not actually touching the connecting crossbeam.

    Optimization: I'd give c3 a 5 if it were actually the one submitted when the deadline hit. Unfortunately I have to judge that one, which had certain problems with too many entities.

    Style: Fantastic use of the Hydro theme, and it has a very defined progression from "cover op" to "spytech doom base".


    PLR Animus
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 2

    Gameflow: Buggy carts make for a poor experience, since nobody really knows what to do after the carts get stuck. I kept getting knocked off while riding the cart. The first stage is way too long. It takes a while getting to any kind of action even sticky jumping twice to take the shortcuts. Side paths are excessive, long, and confusing.

    Balance: Class balance is wonky in several areas of the map. Snipers become too useful in stage 1. Engineers suffer from being useless in stage 2. Soldiers and demomen dominate the opening hall of stage 3.

    Detailing: The geometry is blocky, the textures are poorly used. Significant parts are still undetailed.

    Optimization: There is virtually no visibility control going on in the first stage, except for broken areaportals in red's spawn room. Second stage is somewhat controlled by layout, but then the third stage goes back to being able to see everywhere at once. Third stage is only saved by being small.

    Style: The skybox is ugly. The custom cart can hardly be seen due to poor lighting (and the candles only work on one cart). The map tries really hard to be unique, but the effort only separates it dramatically from the TF2 experience.


    PLR Arctic
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 1
    Optimization 3
    Style 2

    Gameflow: The first stage plays out alright. It's not large enough to really get lost in. The second stage though is a bit of a mess. It's hard to see where you need to go if the cart has gotten up and around the bend, and the side paths lead to unintuitive places. The final stage is a little better, if a bit overscaled. It's long, and the top path is far too removed from the bottom.

    Balance: Spawns should never be able to see into each other, as that just promotes overuse of snipers sitting there watching the other spawn door. Engineers are perhaps a bit overpowered on the third stage. While I loved the excess of ledges where I could set up advanced sentry positions, it really sucked for the other team once I had something built.

    Detailing: There is barely any detailing.

    Optimization: I experienced no glaring performance problems on the map, though that may be due to the low level of detail. Unfortunately, it also had a tendency to make my client crash.

    Style: Hard to determine with so little details, but what details and shapes exist imply a little bit of character is planned for the map.


    PLR Cornfield
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 3

    Gameflow: It's pretty hard to get lost on this map. Objectives are pretty clear and easy to get to. Side paths sometimes suffer from being circuitous, and I dislike the second stage gate that goes directly between bases, but overall those don't have much negative impact on the gameplay.

    Balance: The stages are symmetrical, and it seems all classes are pretty well balanced.

    Detailing: Most of the map is undetailed. The detailing in the third stage is well done, but overall the 3d skybox is not well integrated with the playing environment. It feels like the place was just kind of scooped up and dropped in the middle of a desert.

    Optimization: This map crashed my client about half the time I tried playing it.

    Style: The detailing in the third stage shows promise, but doesn't really explain what's going on in the map, and why the two teams are fighting to get their payloads pushed to the end.


    PLR Highwind
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 1
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 2

    Gameflow: Bugged scoring, extreme choke points, poor color/side indicators, walls that seem like they should be jumpable but aren't, and other factors really stymie the flow of this map and make it frustrating to play.

    Balance: It's symmetrical, but engineers make the middle area impossible, so there are some class balance issues.

    Detailing: The geometry is very blocky, and the texture use is basic and flat. Textures designed to show weathering on the bottom are tiled all the way up the structures.

    Optimization: The entire map is rendered most of the time.

    Style: It's unique, but the map is not really selling me on it fitting the TF2 art direction.


    PLR Nightfall
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 2
    Style 4

    Gameflow: The routes are pretty easy to understand. There is no excess of railway, so there's no confusion as to what you need to follow to find your cart. Side paths are straightforward and always lead you someplace useful.

    Balance: I like the innovative anti-stalemate mechanism where when the timer reaches zero, both carts start moving even if nobody is pushing them. I'm not sure if it would work for every PLR map, but it definitely keeps the action from getting bogged down if the teams try to go into turtle-mode. Whoever is behind definitely has a lot more incentive to make an offensive push when the timer gets low.

    Detailing: There is a lot of nice detailing on this map. I probably would have given it a 5 here if the final stage wasn't still undetailed.

    Optimization: The weather causes a pretty severe hit to performance here. Another problem is not controlling what's getting rendered. For example, on the first stage, each corner by the cart destinations has a slew of trees in the background. Even though these can only be seen while actually in the base area, they are rendered nearly everywhere in the stage. Skybox brushes across the top of the dividing buildings or even just setting fade distances on these props would probably help considerably.

    Style: The sawmill theme is really captured here. I just wish I understood why red and blue were fighting over this territory, or what they were trying to blow up. I suspect this is something that would be more understood if the final stage were detailed.


    PLR Panic
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 5
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 3
    Style 4

    Gameflow: I love the final stage of this map. So many people complain about pipeline's final stage. This seems like the ultimate method of enforcing a clear winner, and it's just a lot of fun when the people pushing your cart get knocked away and there's a mad dash to catch it before it's too late.

    Balance: Panic employs the same anti-stalemate feature as Nightfall, at least for the first two stages. I really like the way this map tackles the problem of keeping the action flowing without sacrificing team or class balance.

    Detailing: There is a lot of attention to detail on this map, a lot more than at first glance. So much that, while enjoyable to discover, it probably hurts optimization some. I kind of wish the whole nucleus assembly in the third stage could be moved towards the center some instead of the end, because the way the carts play out, I've hardly ever actually looked towards that area. The carts are usually sliding in the other direction. =P

    Optimization: With the first stage as small as it is, I can't think of how it could be optimized so that not everything is being rendered at once. The second stage, on the other hand, suffers a lot of problems because many things are being rendered that don't need to be. There is perhaps a bit too much detail in the upper areas of the stage which can't be hidden behind any walls.

    Style: Between the roller-coaster cart intro, the dynamite opening of the second stage, and the pure panic of the last stage, this map really makes itself memorable. The early-evening feel is well captured (without sacrificing lighting and team identification).


    PLR Rollout
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 1
    Balance 2
    Detailing 1
    Optimization 3
    Style 1

    Gameflow: The concept behind the map would be much less confusing if it were a true tug-of-war PL map (such as pl_waste). Using PLR doesn't make much sense.

    Balance: Asymmetry is always tricky to balance, but making one side higher than the other is never a good idea. The mid-stages really give the higher side an unfair advantage.

    Detailing: There's practically no detailing on this map.

    Optimization: The only saving grace on the optimization is that there's so little detailing that there's not much to actually hurt performance.

    Style: With no detailing, there's also very little to say about style.


    PLR Scoville
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 2
    Style 3

    Gameflow: It's easy to figure out where to go, and path interconnections are interesting and intuitive. My only issue with directions is on the final stage, it's hard to remember which door leads to the beginning of the track and which leads to the end of the track, depending on what team you're on.

    Balance: The map is well balanced. I didn't notice any one class dominating, and there are some really fun Surprise Sentry spots for engineers.

    Detailing: What detailing exists is fairly well done. Sadly, the map is quite unfinished.

    Optimization: There is very poor render control being utilized here, even though it seems like the layouts could easily support good hints and areaportals.

    Style: Scoville has a fantastic third stage finale. If only more of the map were actually detailed and the theme developed more, more points could have been awarded here. It looks like it's going in the right direction though. Keep it up!


    PLR Solitude
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 3
    Style 3

    Gameflow: For someone who has played the map several times, or for someone who just has a really good head for directions, the layouts of each stage are actually really interesting. For newcomers however, they are frightfully freeform and directionless. Even following the tracks isn't a sure thing. On the third stage, for example, it's pretty easy to end up following the wrong set of tracks.

    Balance: The map is fairly well balanced, with plenty to do for every class.

    Detailing: Solitude is nicely detailed. Nothing stands out as being unnatural or awkwardly placed.

    Optimization: There is very little visibility control within each stage, even in places where some obvious horizontal hints would help out a lot. More or less, the entire stage is rendered from most locations.

    Style: Despite relatively strong detailing, the style turns out rather generic. There isn't anything defining about the map as to where it is and why people are fighting over it.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 9
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  5. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

    Messages:
    7,099
    Positive Ratings:
    5,745
    CTF Vector
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Vector only has acceptable 'flow' for me. I find that its often quite dull to play defence because there is nothing to do (where are the attackers syndrome) and whilst attacking I've found, particularly stage 3, to be full of fruitless advances that happen over and over. The last stage is where I'll point most of my criticism with good reason, there seems to be no clear line drawn between what is and isn't reachable. Areas like the command room (used as the intel's forward point) are disastrous. The player has been taught be 2fort that exactly this kind of intricate area isn't accessible, and to have it open is very confusing and not to mention its a nightmare to navigate around all the terminals. How fun vector is to play for me falls off reasonably sharply after the first stage.

    Balance: I can't really fault the balance much. Blu win most of the time but that's not too bad for an A/D map. Sentrys used to dominate in several areas but those spots have been reduced in their strength to act as good but not overpowered points. I haven't had a bad experience with any particular class, they all seem to have somewhere to fit in.

    Detailing: Fantastic level of detail throughout the map, there are plenty of great things for your eye to wander at. The only area I feel is under developed is the skybox, there are several things about it (poor roads, sharp lighting changes, an incomplete mountain) that mark it as the least-loved part. Too much detail injected into some places, most notably the office hallway in Blu spawn, stage 1. Its a horrible hallway that makes my head hurt whenever I get near it, the contrasts are far too high and there are far too many lines rushing past the screen. The other notable over-detail is the second half of the third stage where as I said above it loses clear flow.

    Optimization: Knowing about your edict limit problems I can't give you a full 5, I can't help but feel you ploughing head first into the limits over and over shows you don't have a complete understanding of how to handle your entities. However, there are no areas (possibly excluding the first stage) where too much is rendering, vis-culling is pretty good. In the first stage there are a lot of props that don't fade, making them do so could help in this area.

    Style: Great usage of the Hydro building work as well as the landscaping. I feel two parts are misplaced slightly, the overuse of the very orange computer wall texture in the third stage (it's everywhere!!!) and the 1-1 building, it doesn't match the theme of the rest of the map at all and sticks out. It's also one of the places that is cluttered with too many different visual elements in one small space.



    CTF Snowdrift
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 3
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Very bi-polar map you've got here. You know how it's going to be from the first few minutes - either the offence cap the first point and continue to make quick caps all the way through or they struggle to take down the masses of sentries and snipers holding each point and its a very long drawn out game that isn't much fun for anyone. The second point frustrates me, the pseudo alternate route takes you right into the primary route and yet half the time I end behind the point and having to turn around to attack. The whole lot is pretty linear though so you can always tell as defence where to expect attack, making ninja caps harder (but not impossible).

    Balance: I feel defence have got it easy. All too often the first point is capped but then held for a further minute or more until Blue can really clear out the point and move on. Class balance is also way off, engineers and snipers are at home and the pyro is totally lost since everyone can see him coming a mile off.

    Detailing: I've said it before and I'll say it again, the map is far too blue, use of plenty of blue metal, purple lighting a purple sky and snow more blue than white makes the entire map a blue-wash. I'm genuinely not sure if that's the moon in the night sky or the sun in the day time sky, its low quality makes it a wasted addition to the map. The entire map is incredibly boxed in, there may as well be no 3D skybox at all. The main feature that breaks up walls is windows, windows and a lot more windows. The level of detail isn't bad, it's just that there isn't any interest or amazement in what's there.

    Optimization: Since the map is basically one corridor vis is always cut off suitably, not too much rendering and decent framerates.

    Style: I feel the one defining aspect of the map (it's blue) spoils it and removing it would turn it into blandsville, the various aspects of the TF2 theme have been well met, but there isn't a coherent theme or progression of a theme throughout, one big jumble of brick, metal and wood.



    CTF Slate
    lol straight 5s obviously. For your own personal interest, here's what I think of it (5 being the best I can possibly do):
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 3

    I'm happy with its balance although there's still room for improvement and with _b2 the optimisation has risen a fair amount :)



    CTF Panamint
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 3

    Gameflow: There isn't one particular bit that sticks in my mind as being particularly memorable, it is overall a pretty average map, a good average map but reasonably average none the less. No one point has that epic battle feel that captures a great A/D map but none have that washed out feeling from a bad point. I particularly dislike the transition between 1-1 and 1-2, so few and convoluted routes seem like it would fall flat on its face, it always leaves me amazed that it doesn't.

    Balance: Balance is good, blue win the right amount and there are spots for all classes in most places. Pyros suffer in stage 2 due to its openness but are better in stage 3 where there are more twists and enclosed spaces.

    Detailing: By extrapolation of what currently exists I can see there is great potential to become a well detailed map, however there are a few things like the improperly implemented goldrush-wall and the planks on the badlands spire that leave me wanting.

    Optimization: Stage 2 lets you down here. The whole stage is rendered when only half of it should be, this was a major problem in earlier versions as a sightline, but the problem persists as an optimisation problem now. You've got areaportals but their use does nothing to alleviate the problem.

    Style: What exists fits one particular theme very well so plus points there but lost points for the giant laser gun thing (I personally think it's whatever the fossilised alien in 'Alien' was using, only not-fossilised). The gun just doesn't fit the TF2 style at all and it really brings the rest down.



    CTF Premuda
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 4
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Horribly convoluted map, even the spawnrooms are a pain to navigate and get out of (very few of the contest entries actually have good spawnroom-flow) In the third stage the attackers are required to make not one, but two full U-turns before reaching the final point. That's incredibly disorientating for the player. Deathpits, not a fan of death pits, thirty billion of them is too many.

    Balance: Win ratios are fine and I've certainly not felt like any one point is too hard/easy to defend/capture. All classes have a place to fit in and teamwork is great.

    Detailing: The strong orange only hurts the map, although the new sky is far less contrasting i feel the sunny part of it is still too strong a colour to use against the dark colours in the world. Plenty of stretched displacement textures and even more sharp lines cutting rocks in half. The capture points don't fit anywhere into the TF2 theme. Illogical grass sprites too. Your spytech is definitely your strong point, with the exception of the direct vicinity of the satellite dishes which combine a poor mix of just about everything instead of one clear style.

    Optimization: Very poor job done here, you had my big review of your lumps in your thread, the size of the pakfile is ridiculous for the amount that is actually custom, pushing filesize through the roof. I also question your usage of areaportaling and the ground. It seems like you decided to use a hybrid of areaportals and real-world terrain instead of opting for the more conventional 3D skybox system... curious.

    Style: The rainy day feel has been pulled off well, but at a great cost. As I said earlier the orange is too strong and I feel the rain is quite a distraction. All the displacement arches make very little sense as well, they just couldn't exist in real life and "TF2 isn't real life" isn't valid justification for impossible rock formations.


    CTF HAARP
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 5
    Optimization 4
    Style 5

    Gameflow: Only one complaint. The very first point is in an illogical location, the attacking team must (from one side) be placed in between the point and the defending team to get to the point.

    Balance: Not much to complain about here as well, win ratios are good and each class has his own place to fit in.

    Detailing: Top of the contest for detail. The spytech is fantastic and the outdoor sections feel great too. The only thing I'd criticise is the ridiculously high scale cliff texture that just ends up looking blotchy.

    Optimization: Some problems with areaportals here, watch out for them auto-merging but framerates are nice.

    Style: Really well presented theme, nothing really feels all that out of place, level of detail is consistent and not too cluttered. Proves that snow can be applied to more than just alpine, which I'm sure we'll see a lot of in other maps.



    CTF Bayou
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 3
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Slanted buildings. As amazing as it is it's a nightmare for the engine and it plays havoc with your brain, which doesn't help lost players. I've found the layout to be very difficult to navigate smoothly, particularly straight out of the steamboat.

    Balance: Win ratio is a little in Red's favour when it should probably be in Blu's. This is in line with how the map feels to play, the second point can be filled with sentries and can be quite a challenge to cap. Most classes have an area to perform well in though.

    Detailing: Low level of detail over most of the map except for small areas which are JAM PACKED with props. The areas currently filled with details seem rushed and poorly planned. I hope that once it's completed the density of props is evened out more.

    Optimization: I had a terrible shock when I turned on portal rendering, the entire screen is filled with areaportals! There is a cost for every areaportal, they aren't free, in cases where you're using so many in a small space it might be better to consider func_detailing the whole building or simply not using them. Definitely watch out for auto-merging portals since you have multiple. Rain here is the biggest cause of frame rate loss.

    Style: Bit of a jumble but the swampy nature shines through well. The finale doesn't fit in at all though, there isn't any spytech anywhere in the map to support it like you'd expect, it's just sort of sprung with no justification.



    PLR Cornfield
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 3
    Style 4

    Gameflow: When the carts don't get stuck I find this map very enjoyable to play, it doesn't seem to get into the stalemate zone that a lot of PLR maps do. Getting lost isn't an issue with the simple-to-learn layout.

    Balance: Most classes have a good spot to be effective. I quite like playing engineer on the third stage, there are some great spots to set up and harass the enemy team. :)

    Detailing: What's there is great, especially the projector. If the same level of detail is extrapolated to the final product you're on to a winner. The 3D skybox and finale are lacking, the water bursting out is particularly disappointing. I also don't like the cart much, quite a 'wtf'.

    Optimization: World in a box method isn't doing you any favours, I get pretty bad framerates here, probably because the entire stage is visible at almost all times.

    Style: Very clear style coming though, quite similar to furnace creek only with more wooden elements akin to ravine, certainly feels like TF2.



    PLR Highwind
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 2
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Quite an intense little map. Since its just one stage and one small stage at that there isn't much progression which leaves the fun gameplay turning a bit boring after just a few games.

    Balance: That middle building is so good to the team that holds it and the rollback on the carts makes it a really nasty snare, but then there are a few stalemates too and without a time limit! It can be pretty fun to play though.

    Detailing: Lots of bland blank space including a lack of 3D skybox. The colours of the new theme are reasonably good with the exception of the cellar area that uses only the incredibly repetative cobble texture.

    Optimization: Pretty poor, almost the entire map renders in a lot of places.

    Style: Quite a unique style for TF2 to be taken in, its executed reasonably well too, the lower than par level of detail makes me wonder if this would continue to trend towards TF2's theme or if it would continue to diverge if it was detailed further and I can't help but feel it would diverge further.


    PLR Scoville
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 1
    Style 4

    Gameflow: Stage one is easily the best of Scoville's three, with the worst being the final. The second has potential but needs a lot of clearing up, the main arena feels like it's just a giant box with a few obstacles thrown in hastily by some lazy deity and the death pit to the side is just pointless. I've jumped down there thinking I can safely hide there for a moment or two only to find I'm suddenly dead. Not cool. The final stage lacks any kind of logical layout. The many ramps make it a chore to run around especially the first few meters of track, it really is a nightmare to get the cart up that first hill. There are far too many places where you can get caught between the cart and the geometry too, there should always be a player's space on both sides of the cart or it should be blindingly obvious that you won't fit. I'm not even going to mention the pointless fans of death.

    Balance: Can't really complain about this, I've found it fun to play as all classes I've tried and I've seen all classes fit in well.

    Detailing: Large areas of unfinished work but using extrapolation if the entire map is completed to the same level as the few detailed parts it will look great.

    Optimization: I'm not even sure you know what this word means.

    Style: Great style here, really good, clean application of the more neutral industrial tech. I will say that the difference between red and blue isn't quite right, Red have some clearly red textures whilst Blu have a lot of matching grey textures.



    PLR Animus
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 1
    Balance 3
    Detailing 2
    Optimization 2
    Style 1

    Gameflow: I've found Animus an incredible frustration to play, the stages are so long I think at one point the distances between the carts is longer than the distance from Blu to Red spawn in Hoodoo stage 2, which makes achieving any kind of objective as a team just ridiculous. The third stage isn't great either, its all about who can pile on to their cart the most and not leave it. The massive separation between the carts the entire way through the final stage makes

    Balance: Stage 1 has some nice open sightlines for snipers then stage 3 needs high-health classes just to swarm around the cart. The slower classes get bogged down in stage 1 due to the long walk, it gets very hard to push through and can turn to stalemate quite quickly once each team has pushed their own cart behind the enemy's dig-in line.

    Detailing: It's dark, it's orange and it's a mess of bits and pieces. The pumpkins stick out far too much with their ridiculously bright albedo and the flares draw attention to themselves far too much. The level of detail is reasonable but the quality isn't, far too many planks with poorly rotated textures, z-fighting brushes, over-contrasty blue elements, poor use of dustmotes.

    Optimization: Closed and visible areaportals loses big marks here. Stage 1 also is rendering far too much at once.

    Style: Such incredible one-colour tint dominates this map and it spoils what could look quite nice, the detailing is all consistently styled except for the final stage which stands clearly appart. The voodoo elements are also poorly explained.



    PLR Solitude
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 4
    Detailing 3
    Optimization 4
    Style 3

    Gameflow: I find that it can be a challenge to get out of the spawnrooms sometimes, the layout of spawns is compact, but not all that clear, twists, turns, stairs always leave you wondering where you're headed. The third stage as well is quite confusing, having the carts right next to one spawn exit and miles from the other had me stumped for the first few plays, I thought you had to walk all the way around instead of being able to cut through the spawn.

    Balance: Can't really say much here, all classes found a spot, difficulty ramps with stages. Nothing sparkley amazing though.

    Detailing: Yet another map submitted that is all one colour, the lighting combined with the strong brown ground and cliff texture leave the map a very yucky mud colour, it's almost off putting, the cool neutral colours of say lumberyard really invite you in, in contrast. Level of detail is pretty consistant over the entire map, there are some serious lighting issues in spots and plenty of dynamic shadows that shouldn't be there. One major gripe of stage 3 in one of the exits to spawn there are four beams of the light-I-beam texture from nucleus. It sticks out like a sore thumb since it looks so much more futuristic than anything else in the entire map.

    Optimization: A bit too much rendering in stage 1 but not really a big drop in framerates for me. Again some problems with rendering too much in stage 3. You've also fallen for the auto-merging areaportals.

    Style: As I said earlier the whole map is a pretty dull beige. The complex doesn't seem to have much of a clear drive either I can't pin it down to any one of the already established TF2 themes or even one consistent new theme.



    PLR Rollout
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 2
    Detailing 1
    Optimization 1
    Style 1

    Gameflow: Bit of a jumble so far, the huge floating ramps are a pain to navigate in particular. The pseudo attack/defend mechanism is an interesting one but it was not immediately obvious what was going on and there were some HUD problems with carts appearing to have a starting advantage and then suddenly not.

    Balance: It's hard to balance a bad layout. The problems with gameflow carry over into balance, at the map just hurts.

    Detailing: Nothing to go on here, I can't even find potential for extrapolation. The skyboxes, I'm not even sure what to say about those, they're just bad.

    Optimization: Crashed almost every time I played this map. Hitting a limit isn't good, especially as you're in alpha, what on earth are you doing to have hit a limit already!?!?

    Style: Again, nothing to say.



    PLR Nightfield
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 4
    Balance 4
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 4
    Style 5

    Gameflow: Really fun to play, even the final stage with its sudden death mechanic plays out well. The final stage before the slope has a little bit of a relax point but it all heats up once one cart is on the slope. First stage's layout is good although I find the final few meters of track a little bit taxing.

    Balance: All classes I've seen have had a spot to fit in. No stage seems to stalemate, generally good work :)

    Detailing: Beautiful, only two comments: Would be a 5 if it was finished and the grass-cliff blend is a little odd, it looks like the grass is growing horizontally.

    Optimization: only issue here is the rain collisions.

    Style: Really good execution of the sawmill theme, no part of it feels out of place. I'm hopeful for a larger portion of spytech in the third stage than the first two.



    PLR Panic
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 2
    Balance 3
    Detailing 4
    Optimization 3
    Style 3

    Gameflow: Each stage is pretty simple to learn which is good but frustration levels rise each stage. The second stage has that side path that irks me most, you come out of spawn and there's a fence and staircase between you and the opposing team, they can get closer to the point than you can when you run out of the most obvious door. The rubble also gets in the way visually "Can I run through that? Perhaps I'll run around it just in case" for every bit. I find the final stage really tiresome to play. I don't think I've ever seen it won but simply [/i]not lost. It's a chore to move around the final stage.

    Balance: First stage is fine, all classes work pretty well. Second stage also has a good balance of classes but like I said before it's too easy to get closer to the point than the defending team leaving their spawns. The third stage is where it all breaks down, the rollback punishes such good pushes severely and a lucky spy or spamming pyro/demo/soldier can easily clear all the players off the cart only to have it roll ten miles backwards.

    Detailing: Pretty good and at a consistent level in the first two stages. The exploded wall leaves me wanting though, the dynamite looks blue-tacked on. Bridge in the skybox is nice, but the skybox itself isn't, makes this just another mud-map.

    Optimization: Pretty good here, but there is a large amount in the second and third stage that renders, none of the models have fade distances so I'm a little concerned there.

    Style: Another one of the contests multiple mud-maps. Brown isn't a good lighting colour, it gives the whole map a very depressing feel. It's sort of alpine but sort of industrial and then there's a bit of doomsday machine at the very end, lacks a uniting theme.



    PLR Arctic
    Column 1 Column 2
    Category Rating
    Gameflow 3
    Balance 3
    Detailing 1
    Optimization 2
    Style 1

    Gameflow: Pretty unremarkable gameplay here. First stage is ok, nothing wrong but nothing amazing either. Second stage has good alternate routes but that poor sightline straight out of spawn that you can't avoid. Stage 3 is pretty neat, but has a largely wasted upper level.

    Balance: Second stage suffers terribly from that long middle sightline straight out of spawn, but otherwise there seems to be a nice level for each class to play at over all stages.

    Detailing: Nothing to go on really. I particularly don't like all the curious subdivided displacements. Makes me wonder what on earth you're going to turn this map into.

    Optimization: Ok frame rates, there's a little too much rendering usually but it's not overwhelmingly bad. The random crashes are very curious though.

    Style: Nothing to go on here.
     
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  6. A Boojum Snark

    aa A Boojum Snark Toraipoddodezain Mazahabado

    Messages:
    4,769
    Positive Ratings:
    5,535
    Preface

    Procedure
    I began by, obviously, playing the maps as much as I could. Then I spent an average of 52 minutes per map doing an in-depth technical examination of each map by myself using a plethora of console commands while taking notes and screenshots. After that I moved on to writing the gameplay analysis and turning the technical notes into something usable. My ratings began with assigning an overall grade for each category, then deducting or adding score depending on the number and importance of specific points.

    Not all points are important enough to have played into score, but they will still be mentioned herein.

    Gameflow
    • Is it obvious where the player should go?
    • Is there anywhere the player will get caught?
    • Are there too many or too few routes?
    • Is there anything that disrupts the player's normal actions?
    • Is important information conveyed to the player?

    Balance
    • Is any class over- or under-powered?
    • Does each team have a fair chance of winning?
    • Does each team have a fair change of recovery? (PLR)
    • Is there anything that needlessly tips favor?

    Detail
    • Is there enough detail that the map does not feel bland?
    • ...or too much to the point of clutter?
    • Does the detail look good?
    • Any "finishing touches" that are not necessarily world detail.

    Optimization
    Framerate is a poor, inconsistent and incomplete measure of optimization, I went for the technical approach. I want to mention that players in the rendered area require more frequent updates and are one of the primary reasons you need to keep the amount of rendered area low.
    • How much is being rendered?
    • ...that is not visible?
    -- These encompass many aspects, AP use, func_detail (over)use, excessive detail, fades.
    • Is custom content used for noticeable things with a sensible filesize?
    • Is there any lightmap optimization?
    -- Valve gets away without it, but filesize is a factor in custom maps. It is a positive to have it, but I do not mark off for not having it (exceptions noted).
    • Crash issues?
    • Extraneous entities. Primarily an issue with PLR due to the edict limit dance.

    Style
    • Is the detail cohesive and logical?
    • Does the map feel like it belongs in TF2?
    • Do the visuals of the entire map flow together?
    • Spytech usage?

    Things I need to explain for several maps so I am writing them here once.
    A required observer point is not set when the finale is triggered.
    Doing so forces dead players and spectators to view a specific camera. Goldrush and Badwater use this when the finale is triggered to make sure people can see it. It is accomplished by sending (at time of finale!) the tf_gamerules an input of SetRequiredObserverTarget with the name of an info_observer_point as the parameter.

    Non-dynamic capture point signs.
    The props_gameplay/sign_gameplay01.mdl "Capture Point" sign and it's variations should change color when a point is taken. This is a convention established by Valve and while it partly falls within detail, I place it under flow as it is conveying information about the state of the game to the player.

    Lack of final rollback zones.
    PLR maps should always have a small rollback zone before the end. This was established in Pipeline to prevent victory from repeated suicide runs nudging the cart forward. Without one it hurts the balance as there is no concerted effort required to get the cart to the end.

    Precipitation with collisions.
    Nearly always when the map initially loads I suffer extreme stuttering (5 seconds frozen followed by 1 second normal) for about 20-30 seconds. About a third of the time it will never cease and I have to restart the client and try connecting again. Though I do not know the exact reasons, I am quite confident in saying the precipitation is the cause as I have only ever experienced it on Bayou, HAARP, Nightfall and Slate. At one point HAARP was switched to use the non-collision Valve snow and it has never occured there since.
    Everyone chided Valve for rain coming through the roof, but perhaps this was the reason behind it.

    The trigger_capture_area are accessible.
    While having these at the point can provide useful information to the player such as "defend this point" or "previous point not owned" I believe it is outweighed by the confusion caused by the capturing player count appearing on the hud icon. Therefore I feel they should be kept out of reach.

    Horizontal hints.
    When visleafs extend high above walls they can see each other, meaning stuff on both sides of the wall will be rendered even if the player can never see over the wall. Place a hint at the height of the wall to chop the leaves and prevent this. Picture!

    Because I know people will ask...
    Total word count of this post is 12790. Raw size is 93731 characters (including BBcode).

    A list of the commands I used during the technical inspection.
    +showbudget
    cl_showents
    developer
    ent_fire func_lod color "0 255 0"
    ent_fire func_illusionary color "0 255 0"
    (occasional other uses of the color input to determine entity type)
    map_showspawnpoints
    mat_leafvis
    mat_luxels
    mat_wireframe
    mp_showrespawntimes
    r_drawbrushmodels
    r_drawclipbrushes
    r_drawdisp
    r_drawfuncdetail
    r_drawlightinfo
    r_drawportals
    r_drawstaticprops
    showtriggers_toggle


    Payload Race reviews


    Animus
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 2 2 3 2 2


    Gameflow: 2
    The first stage is too long, but almost so much so that "long" doesn't even apply anymore. You spend huge amounts of time just walking to where you need to be. The actual flow from place to place within the stage is logical and obvious, but that only serves to make the length "tolerable". Were it long and complicated there would be no hope for unfamiliar players.
    Another issue I've seen arise is the center water pool. The death trigger is quiet deep in the water leaving players confused and looking for an escape route that doesn't exist. Death pits should do their job, not dance around it and trap the player.

    Stage two is considerably smaller but while the size is acceptable, the linear cart path and overall layout is less than ideal. The building [AN32] in the center along with the cliffs it provides access to are largely unused. There isn't any real purpose to going up there except for the occasional sniper or engineer hiding a teleport in the corner. There is mostly only one way to the middle of the stage, because not many people will use the upper exit from spawn due to the time they lose while still ending up nearly in the same place upon reaching the center (you head back down again).
    There are also insufficient spawn points in stage two. Only 12 each. [AN34]
    While I was writing this review sitting in stage two the timer ran out, and I tabbed back to find the anti-stalemate had not triggered. There also appears to be issues with this that sometimes cause the carts to be left behind in when you advance to the third stage. Upon pushing the cart to the end there was still no victory. [AN35]

    The third stage is mostly straightforward along the main routes. However some of the lower passages are confusing and fairly useless, taking lots of time to get somewhere of little importance. In such a short and fast playing stage this is not helpful.

    • Carts should have space for a player on all sides at all times. There are several locations where the player is knocked off if riding, and a few side-clearance issues in stage one.
    • The short setup time can cause confusion, and is entirely useless since there are no gates.
    • PLR convention is to demarcate crossover and roll zones with hazard tape. This is missing from the stage two crossover and stage one rollbacks (both center and final).
    • This beam is unclipped and can catch the player while going up the stairs. [AN24]
    • This displacement is all but hidden except for the corner sticking out, which can cause players to get stuck. [AN15]

    Balance: 2
    Here again the length of stage one is an issue. Time you spend traveling is time you are not guarding or advancing a cart. This makes it substantially difficult to attempt a victory if the enemy gets ahead of you, and can lead to a stalemate very easily.
    Teleporters could be useful here but there are few safe places to leave an exit that makes leaving your sentry an uninviting venture. Snipers have some fairly significant sightlines into major areas, making them a little too useful.

    In stage two there isn't much issue in the way of balance. Engineers don't really have anywhere useful to set up a gun for defense, as the enemy has numerous routes to avoid, outrange, or flank.
    • Lack of final rollback zones. (see preface)

    Stage three has nearly always been a streamroll when I've played, in stark contrast to the often slow attrition of the others. The spawns are at one end of the track so whichever team comes out of the initial battle with the upper hand has a very easy and unrestricted time to reach the end. A major factor in this is the complete lack of any rollback or slow zones. Moving the spawns to a more central location would also help.

    Detail: 3
    The overall quality of the detail is fairly good. However there are still numerous dev textures along with large undetailed walls with real textures.

    • It seems little or no effort was made to line up track models in a sensible way.
    • VRAD was not ran with -staticproppolies leaving many bad shadows.
    • There are a couple ledges [AN01] [AN25] that should be playerclipped and are not.
    • A required observer point is not set when the finale is triggered. (see preface)
    • The cart has no interaction with what occurs in the finale.

    Stage one:
    • Weird crack [AN30]
    • The info_observer_point over the blue water never disables in later rounds.
    • The ugly door APs in spawn.
    • The respawnroomvisualizer texture is on the outside of the doors.
    • The imperial mining overlay on the central building changes render order with the blue paint depending on where you stand.

    Stage two:
    • I have no idea why these brushes are here. [AN16]

    Stage three:
    • Bad texture choice/alignment. [AN17]
    • Unsewn displacements. [AN19] [AN27]
    • Obnoxiously short fade distances on all the rocks. [AN26]
    • Horrible water rendering [AN18] in here that spits out some errors in the console. I suspect either you have the concrete on the other sides of the brush or a custom water with VMT problems.
    No such variable "$bottommaterial" for material "concrete/concretefloor003"
    material "0" not found.
    No such variable "$fogcolor" for material "concrete/concretefloor003"
    No such variable "$fogenable" for material "concrete/concretefloor003"
    No such variable "$fogstart" for material "concrete/concretefloor003"
    No such variable "$fogend" for material "concrete/concretefloor003"


    Optimization: 2
    Stage one has significant issues [AN05] with over rendering. There isn't much that could be done to fix this due to the two large sightlines down either side. This is another thing restructuring the stage would help with.
    These double-layered APs [AN07] are redundant and here [AN06] you have some merging that creates a useless AP.
    The roof overhangs [AN20] [AN22] and shack [AN23] are not func_detail and will create unhelpful leaves.

    Stage two has less severe render distance issues [AN13] which could probably be helped with an AP above and below the large concrete beam with the arrow sign on it.
    The two APs [AN11] within the spawn area are useless.

    Stage three has good render culling due to it's more confined design.

    • The cart has no level-of-detail. For such a high-poly object this is a must. I realize you did not create it but model detail is the mapper's job to pay attention to and bring up if a modeller does something poorly.
    • There was some luxel optimization done, which is good, but there is much more that could have used it to help with the large filesize of the map.
    • Two info_particle_system (particle_soul_red/blue_cp1) that have no particle defined and two extra spawn points [AN33] [AN34]. With a map this high in edicts such extraneous things are important to find and remove.

    Style: 2
    The overwhelming colored tint of the map separates it from the TF2 normal. Valve has created many different themes but they all keep and overall neutral tone that balances out between the two team's colors.
    The blue brick buildings that exist in a few places contrast heavily in a bad way with the rest of the theme, which is consistently wooden with subdued colors. However, this could just be a relative effect of everything else being red tones.
    As an experiment I switched the sky to badlands [AN37] and the results are interesting. It seems the color that causes so much controversy is entirely the sky's fault.
    It's just too dark, red and gloomy. Perhaps lighten it up and make the reds rich instead of drab.

    Lack of spytech.

    Other notes
    • The crossover failure is due to both Valve's strange coding and the extreme length of stage one. Raising the capture time on the cart trigger will prevent it, but ideally the stage would be shortened as well.
    • There are several places in this pit that are missed with the death triggers. [AN31]
    • In stage one, there two physics-simulated pumpkins on RED's side while BLU's are static.
    • There are numerous props set to Vphysics that lack collisions spewing errors to the console.


    Arctic
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 3 3 1 2 2


    Gameflow: 3
    I have not seen any major issues with stage one. Everything is straightforward and easy to navigate even without any directional signs. There are enough alternate routes while not having too many, so there aren't any unused areas and players don't get spread too thin.
    However, none of the edges or beams are clipped off, and you can get caught on them.

    Stage two on the other hand has a main route and too many other routes. It's not entirely clear where you will end up when heading into a side path, with many of them having u-turns in the middle.
    There is a single spawn point [AR03] for each team that faces the corner, somewhat disconcerting if you spawn there.

    The routes in stage three aren't considerably good or bad, but the main problem is the size of the stage. It always felt like I was taking too long to get where I wanted to go.
    There is also somewhat of a disconnection between the upper and lower parts of the map, without any real direct path between them except at the ends.

    • The func_respawnroom in stage two and three do not fill the entire room. Players expect to be able to change class once they pass the door.
    • Stage one and two have the crossover and rollbacks properly marked with hazard tape and on the hud, however stage three is lacking hazard tape.

    Balance: 3
    Again, stage one is just about right. No complaints about recovery or class ability. The only issue is the ledge [AR00] you can get up on, but it's a fairly vulnerable location without much advantage.

    Stage two has a horrible sightline through the center that always results in too many snipers camping it, let alone spam from anyone else.
    All the under-used side paths make a good place to hide a teleporter exit, and because you can build the entrance within the spawn room where it can't be killed, you can quickly flood the enemy base and overrun them.

    Stage three suffers some balance issues due to the length of the stage and the spawns being situated at one end. It takes too long to catch the enemy to stop them, though the large slow rollback zone at the end does alleviate part of the issue with it.
    We also have the safe-entrance teleport problem here, if an engineer manages to secure an exit in the final room it can be extremely difficult for the other team to recover.

    Detail: 1
    Not much to say here. Two of the stages are mostly dev textured and that which isn't generally has large plain walls without detail. The two or three spots that have detailing done are good, but not enough to have an impact.
    • You can see through [AR15] the sky brush here.
    • In stage one the upper spawn exit visualizer is on the outside of the door, which is ugly.

    Optimization: 2
    No APs anywhere, the natural occlusion due to the layout isn't bad, but there are still some issues [AR01] [AR02] with how much is rendered in certain spots which APs could easily help.

    There is some mysterious issue causing clients to crash at random times. It's never obvious who will crash, when, or why. Sometimes it is one here one there and others half the players go at once, but I've never seen it crash the server itself. This is a pretty significant bug that needs to be tracked down and squashed.

    Style: 2
    It's hard to grade style when a map is so lacking in detail. But I see nothing wrong with what has been done so far. The coloring and lighting is pleasing. The metal and wooden buildings fit the teams and feel right for the cold wasteland environment.

    Lack of spytech.

    Other notes
    One thing to consider to help with the flow/balance of stage three might be to completely remove the area where the carts currently start. Then put the starting points [AR05] where my buildings are in this shot.
    This gives a two-win advantage similar to pipeline, in that you bypass the entire first hill. After reducing the size of the stage this way the spawns could be moved to a more central location to provide equal access to all areas of the stage.

    • There are numerous props set to Vphysics that lack collisions spewing errors to the console.


    Cornfield
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 2 3 2 3 3


    Gameflow: 2
    Stage one is easy for a player to learn. This is partly due to the smaller size, but all routes are obvious, they are all useful.
    The crossover isn't wide enough and the carts will physically collide and cease to move.

    Stage two also has a simple layout but several areas feel under-used. The routes that go from behind the cart, behind spawn, under the CP and up into the building are extremely out of the way and rarely are used. I would be surprised if many players ever discovered them.
    Here again the crossover fails to function at times, except it's a logic issue rather than physical.
    The ability to shoot over the dividing wall during setup is annoying and unneeded. But setup time itself is nearly useless, as there is nowhere to go and little reason to build anything.
    These door frames [C37] are not playerclipped properly and will catch the player in a number of ways.

    Stage three is decent though some of the side routes don't see much action, but they seem needed to allow flanking of the top of the hill. The main complaint I have is the double-ended arrow sign you see upon spawning. An indication of which way is towards the hill would be better.
    The building behind where the carts start seems entirely useless, as the action moves away from there very quickly.

    • For some reason when spawning in this spot [C07] I stick to the floor and need to "jiggle" myself free.
    • PLR convention is to demarcate crossover and roll zones with hazard tape. This is missing on all.

    Balance: 3
    Stage two has a single spawn exit, this is never a good thing. The rollback zone is also quite large and too close to the point. Once you get up the hill you will probably win. However at the same time it's too far from the point for this to be allowable.
    • Lack of final rollback zones in stage one and two. (see preface)

    On stage three once the cart gets past the large rollback hill there is little chance to recover for the other team, even though there is a fair bit of distance left. Again this is probably because the spawn resides at one end of the map.

    Detail: 2
    Stage three detail is solid, but lacks that final polish. I especially liked the displacement flaps [C03] on the box conveyor.

    • The angled wood [C02] is just weird, nothing would be built like that.
    • The second stage red control point print name is typoed causing the localized name to not be displayed.
    • The carts float above the track.
    • The ground in the 3D skybox is not properly aligned and you can see it parallax with the cliffs when you fall off and then fall through the sky-ground.
    • A required observer point is not set when the finale is triggered. (see preface) It's not a real fancy finale, but should probably be done anyway.

    Optimization: 3
    Stage one has slightly excess rendering [C33] which could be helped by placing an AP above and below the main gate, along with some horizontal hints. (see preface)

    Stage two renders nearly the whole place [C35] at once, largely due to zero APs in the area, but also lack of horizontal hints.

    Stage three also renders nearly everything [C36] but there isn't any obvious solution, it's just a result of the open layout.

    • Several of the custom textures are extremely large due to being uncompressed formats when they do not need to be. This is bloating the map by 15 MB or so.
    • Extraneous spawnpoint entity. [C01]
    • Some minor luxel optimzation was done.

    Style: 3
    Another case of difficult style evaluation due to dev texturing. Stage three has good TF2 detail styling. However I feel there are too many different types of textures, particularily on the red side. There are two different major kinds of wood, several metals, conrete block and old brick. This can work if they make sense or are using for accents, but they are used for the major textures of different buildings that are all stuck together, and gives a discordant appearance.

    Minimal spytech with no progression.

    Other notes
    • The main gate in stage one is a grate material that explosive damage will pass through.
    • There are numerous props set to Vphysics that lack collisions spewing errors to the console.
    • Easter egg ahoy! [C32]


    Highwind
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 3 3 3 3 3


    Gameflow: 3
    Obviously, there isn't much confusion in where to go given the small size of the map. However it's considerably chokey with only one route through the middle. While there is the underground route, if you take it you'll still end up having to walk back into the middle if that's where your cart is.
    It might be good to make the side passages connect all the way across in some way or another.

    The result is the map gets boring far sooner because you have limited options.

    I find that it's easy to get turned around in the center room during battle and there are no color markers to quickly orient yourself, and more than once I've ended up walking back into my own side. The only defining thing is the tracks, but since both colors go out both doors it isn't very helpful.
    A similar issue exists with the underground when teleporting in. Players don't know which side of the map they arrived on.

    The scoring system is flawed somehow. It's very inconsistent in when it hands out points for capping.

    A player can get jammed between the wall and the cart here [HI26] resulting in niether being able to move until the player dies.

    Balance: 3
    There isn't a "recovery" aspect to look at like in normal PLR when the enemy team capping doesn't make you lose, but the carts could use a checkpoint or two that they cannot roll back beyond similar to standard payload. That would help prevent "anti-recovery" of losing all your progress.

    • There is no ammo box here [HI17] on the red side, but over on blu's there is. This is actually advantageous to red as their engineers can set up outside blu's base easier.
    • This ledge [HI19] is pretty ridiculous looking to stand on, and is too advantageous of a camping spot, especially right in the corner above the main entrance.
    • It is possible to get up into the tower [HI16] as soldier/demo and rain down death.
    • This window [HI22] and the door frame [HI24] should be playerclipped, again because it gives an excessive height advantage (and it's just awkward).

    Detail: 3
    The detailing is good, though sparse and empty in places. Lack of a 3D skybox hurts.
    • The control point names are fake localization strings, kinda ugly.
    • There is a displacement crack on both sides of the map. [HI09]
    • This roof has no wall under it! [HI11]
    • These windows are not embedded [HI18] but it seems weird to have windows inside a building anyway.
    • This detail room is completely empty, how lonely. [HI20] Except you have a lock on both the inside and outside, tricky door to open.

    Optimization: 3
    Pretty much the whole map [HI04] [HI05] is rendered at all times, except when in the center area. This is because there are extremely tall leaves [HI06] [HI08] that can see each other over the roofs and so the engine thinks it must render everything at the bottom of the leaves. This could be easily fixed with a few layers of horizontal hints. (see preface)

    There is a bunch of dead space [HI12] amongst the center buildings. Including this deeply buried pitch black room. [HI13]
    Also some unused random spawns. [HI25]

    Style: 3
    A very different theme attempt here that actually is quite refreshing and nice. It fits with the fanciful stereotypical themes of TF2, and could easily go all the way if finished in the proper direction. The addition of spytech devices would be the most significant factor, as it is the uniting factor of all the themes.
    I would, however, recommend ditching the palm trees or the snowy mountain. Either one could fit with the building style, but both together clash.

    Other notes
    Looks like you missed a func_detail here, the trim by the door and corners. [HI10]


    Nightfall
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 4 4 3 3 4


    Gameflow: 4
    Overall good layout that is easy to learn and navigate. The edges are well playerclipped.

    The first stage seems a bit too wide however, with too much neutral ground that removes action from the base areas. All the routes seems to be used often except this one [N14] which I rarely see used, and doesn't provide any particular advantage.

    The second stage is similarly wide, but the base areas are smaller and the neutral ground is more elaborate and complex, so it plays out better.

    Stage three is interesting, one enormous arena much like Pipeline, but it has no real urgency until the carts reach the downward hill.

    If in the rare case both carts reach the crossover in sudden death mode, the second one will not stop and will ram into the first. Usually they seem to slide out and continue, but it might be worth accounting for so there is no chance of a deadlock.

    • These func_lod are not playerclipped and provide an edge to catch on. [N09]
    • PLR convention is to demarcate crossover and roll zones with hazard tape. This is lacking on the stage two crossover and all of stage three's roll zones. It would be especially useful on the front roll zone as it seems a lot of players don't realize that exists.

    Balance: 4
    Recovery balance is fairly good, as is class balance. Demomen and soldiers are a bit strong on the last stage because of the carts heading down into a hole they can spam.
    The sudden death mechanic is not the best solution and remains slightly unbalanced, but it is certainly better than a round that goes on forever.

    The main issue I have is with the lack of a final rollback zone in the first two stages (see preface).

    Detail: 3
    High quality detail in the first two stages, though obviously the unfinished third hurts the grade.

    • Wrong color sign pointed the wrong direction. [N08]
    • Door half embedded in the wall. [N12]
    • The dump trucks in stage two don't make any sense. Everything is surrounded by cliffs and the only place they could drive out is through the door the cart enters, but that leads up a hill to where the truck would be stuck.
    • Unaligned visualizer. [N13]
    • It feels like there is an overall excess of company name overlays. They are everywhere, and every individual structure block is apparently owned by different people.
    • Unaligned starting block overlay. [N06]
    • The small pool of water in stage three seems out of place.

    Optimization: 3
    Good render culling in most places. Decent amounts of luxel optimization.

    Precipitation with collisions. (see preface)

    • A strange tiny AP here [N03] which I believe is to help preserve view over the top when blast jumping, however you end up seeing pieces of stuff missing on the other side anyway.
    • These large APs [N04] serve a similar purpose, but from the ground they only allow you to barely see the tops of trees in exchange for a lot of extra rendering. [N05]
    • Extraneous spawn point. [N11]
    • This func_lod [N07] seems it could be left as world brush since it's flush with the walls.


    Style: 4
    Excellent execution of the sawmill theme.
    Unfortunately the spytech is quite lacking.

    Other notes
    • The carts produce penetration errors [N10] when the map starts and are then put to sleep. Might consider adjusting their starting position to see if this can be remedied.
    • One time the red cart began moving by itself on the second stage, but I do not know why nor has it ever happened again.
    • There is an extraneous displacement buried here [N15] that is producing the following error:
    SurfFlagsToSortGroup: unhandled flags (4000808) (nature/blendgroundtograss008)!
    - This implies you have a surface (usually a displacement) embedded in solid.
    - Look near (-128.0, -8832.0, 192.0)

    • An idea that I think would balance overtime better would be for the carts to only self-drive when niether one is being pushed. That way if you are actually on your own cart pushing you cannot lose to the ghost cart. This means maintaining the "farthest pusher wins" aspect along with the ability for players to influence the outcome (as standard PL/CP overtime allows) while not making players feel cheated.


    Panic
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 4 3 4 4 3


    Gameflow: 4
    The only real complaint I have about stage one is the low doorways that prevent cart riding. Players enjoy doing so and hindering it without good reason should be avoided.

    Stage two feels a little large but I usually see all routes being used though area part opposite of the cap points merely serves as a flanking route and really doesn't see much purpose. Overall it's pretty good.
    The spawn rooms could use some signage indicating which door leads to the cart and which to the point.

    Stage three is straightforward in where you need to go since it uses the large single arena method, however it has some unused areas like this one [PC10] which I didn't even know existed until my inspection and the little C shaped hallway behind the point. Given the urgency of the stage players either need to be pushing or stopping a cart, there is no time or reason to wander off in these side halls. Trying to use them to gain a tactical advantage is useless since by the time you get through them the cart very likely will be nowhere near anymore.

    It is also entirely too dark in stage three. The others are dim but there are places here that I have actually been unable to determine team color. This is mostly down in the crevices to the sides of the track.

    Balance: 3
    The sudden death mechanic is not the best solution and remains slightly unbalanced, but it is certainly better than a round that goes on forever.
    Lack of final rollback zones in the first two stages. (see preface) In particular I feel it makes recovery in the second stage harder than it should be, with the relative closeness of the one rollback and the rollback-less control point.

    The third stage obviously has an extremely erratic balance that is difficult to figure out. The primary issue I have with it is how sometimes the stage will end within a minute.
    It also has some class balance issues given the nature of the system, anyone that can knock people off the cart is substantially stronger here.

    Detail: 4
    Detail is exceptional and distributed well, except for the upper hallways of stage two and some halls in stage three that are devoid of any detailing.
    • The stage one info_observer_point over the center is still active in later stages.
    • The starting point overlays in stage three are 1 2 3, while convention is 0 1 2.
    • Wrong arrow. [PC06] This would be flow if not for the fact that you can't follow the arrow.
    • A required observer point is not set when the finale is triggered. (see preface) Since there are actually two different finales, I would suggest having a camera for each, especially as people can be confused about what happened when a cart falls off. Having a camera that shows it happening would help.

    Optimization: 4
    • A little too much is rendered [PC00] while standing in the lower parts, could probably be fixed with a horizontal hint or two. (see preface)
    • There is a lot of debris that gets hidden under the surface [PC05] but is still rendered.
    • It would be a good idea to put an AP under the center [PC07] to reduce some of the over rendering in the stage.
    • The main support beam prop for the nucleus objects is so far back and in shadow that it might be good to replace it with a handful of brushes since the prop is very high poly with no level-of-detail (most of it can't even be seen).
    • The water in the 3D skybox should be removed. It is rarely ever seen and is a pretty expensive thing to have rendered at all times when it doesn't add to the map.
    • Significant luxel optimization was done. Nearly every dark ceiling, several roofs, the 3D skybox, and some of the pit.

    Style: 3
    Overall it feels a little drab and depressing, it's all brown tones and feels old-fashioned like there is a sepia filter on the game. The old industrial style fits with TF2 good though. A few of the wooden objects feel out of place.

    Not much in the way of spytech.

    Other notes
    • There are numerous props set to Vphysics that lack collisions spewing errors to the console.
    • This error:
    SurfFlagsToSortGroup: unhandled flags (4000800) (swamp/nature/blendswampmudtomud001)!
    - This implies you have a surface (usually a displacement) embedded in solid.
    - Look near (6448.0, -6320.0, -112.0)

    • An idea for the third stage balance and early-end issue. Adding a progressive rollback speed that starts out slow and increases every 30 seconds or so could do a lot. It would prevent the stage from ending right out the door if one team gets rolled or doesn't get to the cart soon enough. For conveying this mechanic to the player it would probably be good to have the alarm sound again every time a speed increase happens, and perhaps have a custom model in spawn indicating the current speed.


    Rollout
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 3 3 1 1 1


    Gameflow: 3
    Nobody really got enough playtime due to the crash to accurately judge this. But some of the things I did notice...
    • The center of the middle stage is too dark, can't descern team in places.
    • The carts are too tall to be jumped on from the ground.
    • Stage transitions are really jarring since there is no indication there was a victory, even a capture sound would help with this.
    • The storage stages have too many routes going every which way over and under each other.
    • Door triggers are too small, I ran into the door before it opened even as a heavy.
    • Lack of final rollback zones. (see preface)

    Balance: 3
    Again, little playtime to judge. All I noticed was the storage stages can be spawncamped from up on these crates. [R07]
    There are also no playerclips over the pits in the base stages and you can sticky jump up and around to the enemy spawn. [R08] [R09]

    Detail: 1
    What can I say? There is nothing here. The fake skyboxes really don't work since the parallaxing is obvious and they are extremely low res.

    Optimization: 1
    Edict overload really seals the deal here. Completely unacceptable. In addition to that the whole middle stage is rendered [R01] unless you are inside the buildings. This is because of the tall leaves [R02]. Could be remedied with horizontal hints. (see preface)
    The storage stages have a similar though less severe issue. [R05]

    Style: 1
    Again, nothing to go on.

    Other notes
    The really really dark windows are pointless. Either make them walls or make them easily seen through.


    Scoville
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 3 3 2 1 2


    Gameflow: 3
    I don't have any huge issues with the flow, most of them are small things. But then you've gone for an approach that uses large open arenas. The most significant issue I see is stage two. The whole thing is just big and your walking distance to anywhere is just a bit too long.

    • The wall behind the stage one point is too close, and players can become jammed between the wall and the cart preventing the cart from reaching the final path_track.
    • Too many low doorways in stage one will knock you off the cart.
    • Stage one spawns need some sign differentiation [SC38] indicating which way is the point you need to defend.
    • Four of the spawnpoints are obstructed [SC35] in stage two, even when fixed there is still only 14.
    • Also in there the func_respawnroom only covers the back half of the room. [SC36]
    • There needs to be clearance for a player between the cart and walls at all times. [SC42]
    • Again the signage needs to indicate which exit goes to the point. [SC33]
    • If you spawn in the middle locations [SC34] you are just facing a wall and can't see either door. It might be better to move them all back with some on the raised platform so that you can see the doors upon spawn from all locations.
    • The big elevated conveyors running down the middle of stage three need a playerclip between them, as it is possible to fall in and get stuck up there.

    Balance: 3
    Stage one seems much too easy to defend. It is almost always a tooth and nail struggle to move the cart once it enters the enemy yard.

    Stage two has the spawn and point entirely too far apart making it hopeless to try to respawn and stop people nearing the point. The spawn needs to be moved to a more central location.

    Stage three has the weirdest imbalance I've ever encountered, one usually associated with sports. The sun. [SC43] [SC44] The angle and location puts it right in Blu's face since they need to look upward to their destination and the enemy.
    It is also possible to get on the roof of the spawns [SC37] and camp people as they exit. Also those little triggers sticking out are the func_respawnrooms, and yes you can change class using them, even on the enemy side.

    Detail: 2
    Stage one's detail is solid though a handful of walls are a bit bare.

    • Silly pipes, [SC45] the walls are 16 units thick that they disappear into.
    • Do not use the silhouette models without a night skybox, it just looks bad.
    • Crate clipping into the pipes. [SC00]
    • One of the finale sounds does not turn off when the map resets.
    • The visualizers are stretched. [SC25]
    • This texture just feels out of place. [SC39] Strikes me more as an interior texture.
    • These A signs [SC40] are really high and cluttered, and then this one [SC41] just seems to serve no purpose.
    • A required observer point is not set when the finale is triggered. (see preface)

    Optimization: 1
    [SC27] [SC29] [SC31] This goes beyond lack of optimization into anti-optimization. Stuff is being rendered that has absolutely no logical reason to.
    There is also the giant skybox around the stages, biggest nono there is.

    Stage three could use some areaportals or hints near the end to prevent the high poly Nucleus props from being rendered unless you are above the pit. [SC32]

    Style: 2
    What exists adheres to the TF2 conventions, but there isn't enough to judge anything beyond that.

    Other notes
    None.

    Solitude
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 3 4 3 3 3


    Gameflow: 3
    The stage one spawn room is really cramped, perhaps move it to the other side of the hallway where there is room to make it larger. Stage two has blocked spawns [SO33] for Blu. In stage three there is a large spawn room but for some reason all the spawn points are crammed together in a corner, as well as there being only 15 of them.

    Stage one just feels too large and open with too many routes. Teams spread out all over the area. Though it's obvious why, it's a little unnatural to be separated from the cart.

    Stage three is entirely unobvious. There are no signs in spawn telling you which way the to the cart, and it is in fact the least obvious route. The outside areas feel a little too separated from each other and with doors that may or may not be open due to previous victories or cart progress leads to a fair amount of confusion for new players.

    PLR convention is to demarcate crossover and roll zones with hazard tape. This is lacking on stage two's rollbacks and further the hazard tape is merely used as detail [SO15], appearing on all of the Blu side slopes and on none of the Red side slopes.
    The third stage's main rollback zones are not marked on the hud.

    • The duct needs to be playerclipped so you won't get caught going up the stairs. [SO05]
    • These halls (and the red counterpats) all have tiny edges you can get caught on. [SO24] [SO25] [SO26]
    • The func_respawnroom in stage three doesn't fill the room [SO18] let alone the halls [SO17].

    Balance: 4
    Not a lot of complaints, but the one that came up the most was in stage two. One spawn exit is too close to the point and the other is too far. This leads to the last bit of the track being fairly steamrolly since the attacking team can just spam the one exit and anyone coming out the other is too far away to be a threat.

    Minor issue in stage one. There isn't enough clearance here [SO38] for a player to hide behind the cart as the push, making a sentry over to the right a little too powerful.

    Detail: 3
    Good execution of detail but a handful of buildings are bland blocks. I like the little island building in the 3D skybox.

    • There are dynamic props all over the map that should have their shadows disabled. A few examples: [SO23] [SO35] [SO36]
    • Missed a texture embed. [SO00]
    • Don't use silhouette models without a night sky, it looks bad. [SO19]
    • The visualizers are outside the door rather than behind. [SO21] [SO22]
    • I have no idea what's causing this anomolous lighting but it is hideous. [SO27] [SO28]
    • These lights could be improved, the spot on the floor is strange. [SO32]
    • It seems the same pipe model is being used as both pipes and supports which just doesn't work. [SO34]
    • Captures and who made them are not reported in the death notice area.

    Optimization: 3
    Stage one has just too much [SO12] [SO13] rendered at once but there isn't an easy way to solve it without restructuring things.

    Stage two has bad AP merging [SO14] and for some reason they are only on Blu's side. [SO16]
    There are also 18 spawns for each team that should be trimmed down to remove extraneous entities.

    Stage three is good except for where the carts start, which render together because of the tall leaves. [SO20] Fix with some horizontal hints. (see preface)

    Style: 3
    Good industrial theme but there is a lack of color variance. It's overwhelmingly yellow/brown, especially in the first stage.

    The Nucleus beam textures clash and don't fit with anything in the map. [SO30]

    Not much spytech.

    Other notes
    • I would playerclip this area straight up and not allow standing on the edge of the train. [SO29]
    • This detail area is accessible but it doesn't do anything to gameplay. [SO39]
    • These windows can be blast jumped through before all the doors open. [SO31]
    • There are numerous props set to Vphysics that lack collisions spewing errors to the console.
    • It seems a PCF was not embedded. This is not the precache error that shows up for all custom particles. Attempting to create unknown particle system 'env_buoy_flash'


    Attack & Defend Capture the Flag reviews


    Bayou
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 2 2 3 1 3


    Gameflow: 2
    Much of the map is convoluted and awkward to navigate with lots of small routes and stairs. Everything feel like an extra route, the only major route is the big hall in front of point D.
    Signs. There are lots of signs, but this is something often misunderstood. Signs can not and will not make people understand where to go if a layout is confusing. The purpose of signs should be to confirm that which the player already assumes.

    • The player will get caught on this ladder [B07] when trying to walk onto it from the boat.
    • A jump is required to get off the balcony [B03] which is bad for a required route. I've seen people confused about where to go because they don't think about jumping off.

    Balance: 2
    The overall win balance feels about even, though it has been difficult to discern because of the learning curve of the layout affecting how well the players strategize. However the difficulty of taking each point also seems out of order.
    Point A nearly always gets taken, which is good. Point B is defended often though can be easily taken with speed if the point is not being blocked.
    Point C seems to be the hardest of the four due to Blu's assault route confined to a lower level, or coming through a window, both of which do not allow for much strategy other than brute force.
    Point D quite often falls quickly after C, possibly due to a steamroll effect originating in the large amount of force required to take C. This tends to make C the pivotal point of the map.

    • There is no visualizer on the Point A spawn room. Red may enter and spawncamp if they sneak through the doors.

    Detail: 3
    The detailing is a mixed bag. Individual pockets of detail look good, but overall it flops between over-detailed and noisy to sparse rooms and bare walls.
    There are not too many specific issues because as a whole everything is a little "off".

    • The visualizer textures are outside the doors [B08] at red spawn and are stretched to ovals in all locations.
    • This support [B09] is floating.
    • The large ship inside the cave is strange and seems wasted, along with the water looking poor.
    • A required observer point is not set when the finale is triggered. (see preface)

    Optimization: 1
    The level structure and AP use is actually quite good at keeping unseen things from being rendered. However there are some significant issues that undo all of that.

    Firstly, a second sky_camera exists in the playable zone. Normally this would prevent any leaves from being built causing the whole map to render at once, and then again in the sky. This case is unusual though, in that leaves were still generated meaning only part of the map was doubled in the sky, along with allowing the normal render culling to occur.
    The sky_camera is in Blu's starting boat so only the first area and part of the second are doubled, thus these areas had the worst issues for players (due to each player being doubled).

    Precipitation with collisions. (see preface)

    The entire sunken mansion is func_detail. Now while this may seem the sensible thing to do I believe it is actually detrimental. It causes the entire area to be rendered as well as the areas in front and behind of it to render each other.
    If the main dividing walls of the building were left as world brushes the leaves would not be terribly messy as convex shapes could still be fit within the rooms, they would merely have angled sides. All that may need to be done is encasing the outside of the building with hints that are aligned to the grid to prevent the skewed leaf splits from extending farther out.

    • There is some really strange AP merging/construction here. [B02]
    • Lots of extra faces that will never be seen. [B04]

    Style: 3
    The map pulls off the swamp feeling quiet well, but there is no real cohesion or sense to the areas. It just feels like random buildings with illogical relationships.

    The rocket makes for a good TF2 aspect, but aside from that there isn't much in the way of the spytech theme.

    Other notes
    • The bottles [B05] in the boat curiously disappear [B06] at various viewing angles.
    • The particle manifest specifies PCFs that are niether included with the map nor used.


    HAARP
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 5 4 4 4 4


    Gameflow: 5
    Congratulations, the only 5 point gameflow I awarded.

    Not much to say here. The map follows a very straightforward layout with a pattern of two equal and obvious routes from place to place. It's almost impossible to take a wrong turn.
    Everything you could get stuck on while in battle is properly playerclipped.
    The only issue I've seen is a few people running up the stairs away from the point when using the entrance next to the helipad. An arrow of some sort on the support beam [HA15] probably wouldn't hurt.

    Non-dynamic capture point signs. (see preface)

    Balance: 4
    The second point in stage one seems too easy to hold at times, but conversely Red only has one spawn exit which can be spawncamped. However I wouldn't say these counter each other, because niether is fun for Red.

    In stage two I feel the first point is more of a throwaway than 1-1 in this map or Dustbowl. It's just so close to Blu spawn that it is extremely difficult to defend.

    Stage three has two highly unsual points. The first is so elevated it can be tricky to assault it, but as it's the final stage I feel this is ok since it usually ends up falling eventually.
    The second point is just one giant hallway. Usually this would be bad for sniper balance, but it doesn't seem to be the case since 100% of the action is focused in the area. The real problem I feel is the number of sentry nooks in the second half of the area. They are extremely inviting to players and it is not uncommon to find a sentry in all three of the main nooks, if not more.

    That last issue is probably the only thing preventing me from marking a 5. It is the last line of defense, but it is more the class balance here than red winning that is the issue. Too sentry friendly, I've never seen the point held because of too many or too skilled of another class, it's always the sentry guns.

    Detail: 4
    Wonderful detailing, feels like a quality Valve map. The only complaints are a bunch of minor issues but to me they do add up (just like Valve!).
    • This generator [HA05] is extraordinarily bland and dumb looking. This wouldn't even exist at Black Mesa back in Half-Life.
    • Where do these wires go? [HA06] Deadending into a floor plate is strange.
    • The extinguisher is designed to to mount in the middle of the case, not sit on the bottom. [HA07]
    • The texture seam in these pipes [HA00] is pretty ugly and could be easily remedied by rotating them.
    • Displacing concrete [HA09] into such an organic shape is strange. Especially when the surrounding building is structually sound. This was done next to point 1-2 as well.
    • My word good Sir, I do believe your toolsnodraw is showing! [HA16] (Red's first spawn)
    • This seam is obnoxious. [HA17]
    • As is this extremely dark lit patch. [HA11]
    • The visualizer material tiles. [HA12] This is the case on pretty much all of these shape spawn doors.

    Optimization: 4
    Rendering occlusion is excellent.

    I have issue with the way the 3D skybox clouds are implemented. Two or three env_sprite could accomplish the same effect with a third of the sprites being rendered. Additionally, the first cloud should turn off when the third stage is reached, and the cloud by the large dish should be off until then.

    Faces exist under the catwalk displacements [HA08] which means wasted lightmap data.

    Nearly all of your indoor areas have very dim to near black ceilings. These are extremely good canidates for aggresive luxel size optimzation but none was performed. This is significant enough for me to consider it a negative, as opposed to seeing no luxel opt as neutral and having some being positive.

    Style: 4
    The styling is exceptional. My only qualm is the over-use of the spytech theme. There is little thematic progression over the course of the map. From the begining to the end there are many spytech elements present, the only change is transitioning from rough and functional to fancy and clean.

    Other notes
    • There are a handful props set to Vphysics that lack collisions spewing errors to the console.
    • I think you missed this glass when doing func_detail. [HA01]


    Panamint Springs
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 3 3 1 2 1


    Gameflow: 3
    A big flow issue is the first point. It's very easy for people to miss it and go through the tunnel to the second point. The rest of the map is fairly straightforward and simple to navigate with the except of the area around the final point, which seems to have too many routes.

    The spawn spawn room between stage one and two is very disorienting. There is no defining marks aside from one door being marked with the no entry hand, which you can't see from the angle you spawn. Plus there are spawns on both sides of the room. All of this means players are continually confused as to which way is the exit.

    • This spot [PM03] has a strange "stickiness" to it. When walking across the spot in certain directions you will get caught and be unable to move without jiggling yourself free.
    • These signs [PM16] are redundant, there is no need for arrow signs when you can actually see the control point.
    • Non-dynamic capture point signs. (see preface)
    • The trigger_capture_area are accessible. (see preface)

    Balance: 3
    The main problem is that stage two is easier to defend than stage three. Quite often I see red win on stage two but I have never seen them win on three.
    In stage two the point is extremely elevated giving red a huge advantage, and in stage three there are so many routes to the point that it is impossible to cover all angles of attack since the point is out in the open.

    Also, the spotlights on the final point shining at the computers are distracting/blinding to players trying to stand on the point and defend.

    Detail: 1
    • Most of the textured parts are bare walls with little to nothing on them.
    • No soundscapes.
    • Big nodraw hole [PM36] inside the stair building with a bridge to the first point.
    • All the visualizers are stretched. [PM06]

    Optimization: 2
    Stage one has some issue [PM00] with this rendering sightline which could probably be fixed with a world brush behind the dividing wall in the tunnel.

    Likewise in stage two the whole area is rendered [PM02] because there is no world brush behind the large cliff separating the first and second areas.

    There are giant boxes of sky around the second and third stages. This is simply unacceptable.

    • The laser cannon and computer console below it have no level-of-detail. For such a high-poly object this is a must. I realize you did not create it but model detail is the mapper's job to pay attention to and bring up if a modeller does something poorly.
    • Minimal luxel optimization is present, though some of it in bad places that blur shadows too much.
    • All three tonemap inputs are sent nine times.
    • These support pillars [PM04] the canopy [PM07] and the small walls around the point [PM08] are all world brushes. It would probably be good to func_detail them.

    Style: 1
    There really isn't enough to go on here.

    Other notes
    Rather than trying to fix the stage two/three balance (though the third does need less routes), I would suggest trying out the map with the stages switched. The rock spire is difficult to capture but it would make for an interesting final defense point.

    Additionally, the placement of the laser cannon at the end is very underwhelming and boring. If the last point was the rock spire, the spire/platform could be made larger (don't use the badlands prop, it's just ugly in other maps) and the laser could be mounted on some heavy duty framework above the point, which I think would look much better.


    Premuda
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 4 4 3 3 3


    Gameflow: 4
    The overall flow feels good though a few routes feel under-used or awkward. The side route in stage one that leads up to the metal walkway above the point is a little hidden and dark so most people tend to charge through the main door. In stage three the upper one-way gate path for Blu just seems off. The other team can easily spam the exit because of the tight corner, and while the other route is low elevation it ends up more advantageous because it gives you more options, including the small building that quickly gets you up top.

    The small building to the right (from Blu's perspective) of the first point in stage one seems to go unused as well. It's too convoluted to get up there as Blu to fire on the point and after the initial battle Red doesn't usually bother going back up.

    • Things that could use playerclipping: the door frames [PR25], support beams on the sides [PR27], and the framing on the wall [PR30].
    • On occasion when spawning in the lower final red spawn I would be stuck to the floor and have to jiggle myself free. Possibly due to the playerclip or the glass. (similar happens in Steel when you spawn over the grating on Blu)
    • The trigger_capture_area are accessible. (see preface)
    • The little window looking onto the flag at the begining is a clever way to get players to notice the flag.

    Balance: 4
    Overall win balance felt good, no major complaints. The bit in the gameflow section about the one-way route in stage three applies equally to the balance aspect.

    The flag return time is too fast, another 10-15 seconds might be good because right now it feels like everything has to be done with repeated staccato rushes because the flag returns so fast there is no way to get back to it in time.

    • The sides of the building [PR20] need an info_no_dynamic_shadow linked to it, as the anomolous shadows give away defense positions.
    • This rooftop [PR18] seems like it could be too advantageous, though I haven't seen it used much. It is possible most players don't except it to be accessible and don't try.
    • This perch [PR10] is above the stage two entrance.

    Detail: 3
    At first glance the detailing looks superb, but the more I continued my inspection the more glaring issues I found. It seems as though there is lots of good solid detail there is a lack of attention to detail. Unfortunately there are more unsightly flaws sprinkled throughout this map than any other in the competition. It feels rushed. The following is somewhat in order of severity up until the bullet point list.

    Cracks between displacements all over. In stage one at the corner of the side path [PR08], under the bridge near CP 1 [PR22], and also these [PR24] [PR34] [PR35] [PR41] which should be in obvious locations. Then some more in stage two. [PR26] [PR39]

    Numerous displacements stretched beyond acceptable at the edges, two I took shots of are here [PR37] in stage one and another [PR01] in three.

    A few strange texture seams. The vertical one here between two different colors of wood [PR36], another here in stage two [PR40], and I'm not sure if this is a material difference or not [PR29].

    • The stair texture isn't offset on each step. [PR04]
    • The ropes for these lights are not set to rigid [PR12] though it has been done on all the others I noticed.
    • Barrels this large seem out of place in such a small nook/building. [PR23]
    • The detail area behind the grate is odd. [PR28] The keg is too big for the door and a heavy door is odd when the other side is mesh.
    • The top stair texture is stretched out. [PR31]
    • It seems odd for these support pillars to be here when all around the map there are similar rock formations without any. [PR32]
    • This building is curiously skinny for it's height and presence of windows. [PR33]
    • The net material is concrete. [PR21]
    • Particle effects show up through the canvas. [PR00] I had no idea why until I finally noticed they have about 5% transparency, either raise or remove it.
    • The respawn room visualizer material is visible outside the doors, it should be behind them.
    • A required observer point is not set when the finale is triggered. (see preface)

    Optimization: 3
    Stage two has a little too much cross-rendering between the areas, but nothing specific or obvious enough to pin down something to screenshot.

    The custom model texture data is excessively large for what it provides.

    Using up the entire world grid size is never a good choice, it's why 3D skyboxes were created, so I'm not sure why you chose to use the normal world zone for the ocean panorama.

    There is a lot of luxel optimization which is good, but there was a lot overlooked. Some of the islands in full sun could have had their luxel size turned up further, and the ocean floor can't even be seen through the water, and could have had an enormous luxel size. Though that would not matter as much had it been done with a 3D skybox.

    Style: 3
    The main problem with the new theme is contrast. The difference in brightness between the shade and the sun is tremendous and enhances the overwhelming yellowness. I think turning the brightness down a little and the ambient up would help alleviate the eye complaints without actually changing the color scheme.

    Minor thematic progression and moderate spytech use. Though it doesn't feel entirely like a TF2 map but I can't quite put my finger on it. It might be the clash of the island fishing village aspect and the spytech, as each area has both heavily present rather than a progressive transition.

    Other notes
    • For some reason the flag appears to have fell through the world [PR14] [PR15] [PR16], note the compass direction in each of the shots. It also partially fell through over here [PR17] though both of these only occured once, so I'm not sure what to make of it.
    • One of your custom models or materials is throwing the error ShaderAPIDX8::CreateD3DTexture: D3DERR_INVALIDCALL
    • Self explanitory error:
    SurfFlagsToSortGroup: unhandled flags (4000848) (nature/blendrockwallpremudatogravel001)!
    - This implies you have a surface (usually a displacement) embedded in solid.
    - Look near (-37.0, 854.0, 994.0)

    • and another, there is one for each dish:
    !! ERROR: bad input/output link:
    !! momentary_rot_button(rotate_dish_03,SetPositionImmediately) doesn't match type from logic_relay(rotate_relay)



    Slate
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 3 3 4 4 4


    Gameflow: 3
    The two main issues I've seen in stage one are for Red. When they head through this tunnel [SL10] the natural choice is the wrong one. Not only is the proper route obscured from vision when entering but it is a complete u-turn.
    Similarly, due to cliff shape the natural route out of spawn [SL01] would be to the right.
    Something feels off about the upper route between areas, perhaps it is too skinny and convoluted for a primary route, characteristics suited to an auxiliary pathway.
    The buildings near the point [SL11] are cramped and awkward to navigate with so many doorways to get caught on.

    The first area in stage two feels oversized compared to the rest of the map, which could be a result of the effectively dead space between the point and the dividing cliff. There is no purpose to that space other than delaying Blu, and it might be better to shift the cliff and give the second area more space to defend in.
    The long side route between areas is considerably less useful than it's Dustbowl inspiration, which is the only entry to an elevated position and the gate makes it a good prep zone. Slate's has niether of those, and are in fact accomplished by the opposite route through the building that has a one-way gate of sorts due to the tall ledge. The tunnel is just redundant and time consuming.

    No significant complaints about stage three, though it's far more linear and restricted than the others.

    • This beam needs taller playerclipping, occasionally it catches you. [SL00]
    • The playerclip here should be extended to the edge of the cliff. [SL09]
    • Shift this displacement up so jumping isn't required. [SL13]
    • None of the four doors in this hall are playerclipped. [SL15]
    • Disabled spawn doors in the third stage spawns aren't marked.
    • Non-dynamic capture point signs. (see preface)

    Balance: 3
    The only major issue I have with balance is the blocking zones. They are entirely useless and favor Blu far too much. Rarely have I seen Blu fail to take all 7 points.

    Perches, here and on the power conduit. [SL21]

    Detail: 4
    High quality detail for the most part, though ironically the absolute worst visualizers of the contest. [SL02] [SL05] [SL06] [SL07]
    Stage three has some bland walls around the second point.

    • The lightmap bleeding by the beams is horrible. [SL03]
    • Wooden framing around a concrete block looks all wrong. [SL14]
    • How did these get under there? [SL16]
    • Window frame construction is all wrong here, sides should rest on the bottom. [SL17]
    • Missed a face. [SL18]
    • What water? [SL19] The spigot is much more difficult to see compared to the sign, which is also excessively large.

    Optimization: 4
    Good render culling except for this one location. [SL20] I'm not sure if this is a side effect of viewing through two APs, or because both sides of the building are in the same "area" (see mat_leafvis). Could be diagnosed by placing APs somewhere long the path around the building to split the area.

    Precipitation with collisions. (see preface)

    • The barrels and tires under here are too dark and obscured to see. Wasted rendering. [SL04]

    Style: 4
    Excellent execution of the Sawmill theme, though I question the presence of blue buildings in stage two and three.

    No progression, little spytech.

    Other notes
    • There are enormous amounts of props set to Vphysics that lack collisions spewing errors to the console.


    Snowdrift
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 4 3 4 5 3


    Gameflow: 4
    The map is fairly linear, overall the routes are logical and obvious. One issue I've seen are people going the wrong way when exiting Red spawn at the begining, the big arrow on the far wall just doesn't work. Perhaps a wooden barricade sign right here would be better. [SN22]
    The other thing is people running past the point or back to spawn while carrying the flag. This is made slightly worse because of the single stage factor allowing much more area, consider adding some of the "no intel" barriers like other maps have.

    • Edges are well playerclipped except for this tunnel which is devoid of any. [SN10]
    • The orange cones should be debris since they will trap a player if they come to rest inside of one. I thought this was done but I find myself colliding with them now during my review runthrough. Maybe something is up with them.

    Balance: 3
    The blocking zones are too small to be of use, making the balance very strange. Each point is best defended at forward chokepoints, rather than on the point. However doing so means you leave the point completely open to slip-through captures because it is effectively impossible to block by someone running back or one player guarding.
    This leads to excessive amounts of engineers, as they are the best chance for stopping the flag both through damage and knockback.

    Detail: 4
    It feels like there is an excess of windows and not enough other types of objects breaking up the walls. This could be the result of so many being illuminated, making them stand out.

    • The snow to concrete transitions around the map are too sharp. [SN09]
    • The visualizers are stretched. [SN04] [SN08]
    • The skybox half of the rocket isn't aligned. [SN11]
    • An ugly line that looks to be made from tiling bleed. [SN23]
    • Most of the horizontal beams should be straight, having them all at angles would be weak. [SN24]

    Optimization: 5
    Congratulations, you are the only one to pass the Boojum Technical Inspection™ well enough to receive a 5 in optimization. There were no significant issues, only a few minor render culling issues. The silo tanks by point two are rendered [SN00] when outside Blu spawn. Some of the higher objects [SN05] at point four a rendered on the other side of the wall. Two or three leaves below point four will render the pathway [SN06] on the other side, though it is rare you will be looking that direction while in those leaves.
    All three of those could be easily fixed with a horizontal hint (see preface) to chop the tall leaves. [SN07]

    Style: 3
    The map feels like TF2, but it is repetitive buildings the entire length of the map with various construction materials and colors all mixed together at the same place.
    There is no progression and the aside from the rocket there isn't much in the way of spytech.

    Other notes
    • The top of the door needs to be playerclipped, but it doesn't have any gameplay implications. [SN01]


    Vector
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    Grade: 4 4 4 3 5


    Gameflow: 4
    Good amount of routes, all of which are easy to navigate and mostly obvious.

    Main complaint is the inconsistency of the flag respawn. The first two stages it respawns in the original location, but at the third it respawns far forward. This might be helpful for balance, but it causes excess confusion since Blu players may not even get to that room to find it since Red can hold it fairly well. Some method of indication would be good, perhaps something on the desk where it originally spawns.

    The control room itself is awkward. Fairly large when the main battle zones are in front and behind it, while the computer consoles just feel in the way and taking up space to make you walk further. The position of the flag in it's new location is itself strangely out of the way.

    Cramming everyone through one area at the beginning of stage three is a bit awkward.

    The first two stages flow well though.

    Balance: 4
    Stage two point two, it is way too easy to defend. There are so many very effective entrenched sentry positions that are too enticing for people to resist and the point gets sentry farmed. They are also spread out enough that it is difficult to take them all down in one push.

    The final point seems a tad hard to assault, I think mostly due to all entrances to the area being small and tight. However the point is also less likely to be blocked, since it's far out of Red's way.

    • This perch is a little too useful for Red. [V56]

    Detail: 4
    Detail is outstanding, but like with HAARP I find too many small flaws to award a 5.
    • Displacement crack. [V57]
    • For some reason shadows cast on the ceiling in the cave. [V01] (far left, the engineer)
    • Why would anyone hang tools on such a high beam? [V39] (why are the pyros there...)
    • This puddle makes no sense. [V44] It is bright and sunny, nothing is wet, there are four drain pipes, yet water is pooled.
    • All the paper lunchbags are set to metal property. [V36]
    • The metal/fibreglass paneling seems strange to have around concrete things on the outside. Though it looks perfect inside the setup area. [V37]
    • Two different kinds of beams at two different heights and none hold up the roof. [V45]
    • This texture is obnoxiously flat white [V46] and has a really tiny repeating pattern on it. When a texture is this flat it ends up showing the fog opacity layer lines. [V47]
    • These lightmaps are too low res, perhaps tip the light outward. [V00]
    • The concrete block is inaccessibly trapped. [V48]
    • Floating motor in stage two/three spawn. [V38]
    • All the red/silver beams are brushed out into an I-beam shape, yet the ones with the texture meant for doing such are flat. [V50]
    • The only thing supporting the device is the tiny beam running under the catwalk. [V51]
    • I think this beige rectangle is due to the "red carpet" design but it looks out of place here. [V55]
    • A required observer point is not set when the finale is triggered. (see preface)

    Optimization: 3
    Render culling is great. Except for parts of stage one that will render things around the corner. [V35] Possibly fixable with some horizontal hints. (see preface)

    I am still deducting a point for the edict overload of the initial submission. Such things are entirely unacceptable and easy to check and it was submitted a week before the deadline so there was no rush to blame.

    Luxels. The most significant waste of luxels I've ever seen. While toolsblack may be unaffected by light, it still gets black lightmaps generated. By their nature of being solid black, the luxel size could as large as is allowed (not sure if there is a limit or not). This means there is a tremendous amount of extra data for the black ceiling [V52], and more importantly the final chamber [V54] which apparently is yet further doubled by a layer of toolsblack func_illusionary [V53] over most of it.

    Style: 5
    Congratulations! The only map I see worthy of 5 points in style.

    Great execution of the Hydro style. Thematic progression from outskirts, through more industrialized areas, into a spytech base. 100% TF2.

    Other notes
    material "sprites/obj_icons/icon_obj_vector_blu" not found.
    [V41] Oh [V43] my, [V66] what [V62] the [V63] hell, [V64] have [V65] you [V59] heard [V60] of [V61] texlights?
     
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