Making of: Lighthouse Intro Some of you may have seen my TF2 map -- Arena/KOTH Lighthouse. This is simply a documentation of how the map developed from it's early days as an Alpha all the way through the Betas and to the Final release. I'm hoping to inspire mappers in some way or another. Origins The idea behind Lighthouse was based off a map created by Neale Roberts whose map had a lighthouse in the center that served as the middle capture point in a 5 CP map. As he was condensing the layout down in order to convert it for CTF, the lighthouse was less than ideal so it was removed and replaced with something else. This was the perfect opportunity to use it myself, so I asked him if I could recycle the lighthouse (as it looked far too good to be scraped) and he happily gave it to me for my own project. With the lighthouse at the ready, I put on my thinking-cap and begun to brainstorm some ideas. With a handful of ideas I was so willing to start that I decided not to do any kind of sketch or doodle for either the layout or any of the visual elements in the map. Above is what I completed in a weekend. Whilst the lighthouse definitely stood out I wanted it to quite literally be the center-piece of the map, not just visually but from a gameplay perspective. The core gameplay was just never going to work as it was far too simplistic and offered very little replayability. I also didn't know how to visually expand the theme and because of this I made the decision to scrap it and start again. It was at this point that I started the 'real' version of the map. Alpha After the relatively bad start I decided to start completely from scratch. Learning from previous mistakes, this time I sketched a very rough overview where the lighthouse served as the central point and from there I gradually worked out a simply layout. The idea behind this version was simple. Each team would spawn on either side of a hill, on top there would be a lighthouse that served as the capture point, and on either side there would be a small healthpack. Players could run to the top of the hill to battle against enemies and return back down either side to collect health, preparing to return to battle. Something that I really wanted to be an important element to the level was multiple routes which overlap to allow players to weave in and out of buildings, flanking the other team with ease. I just love that sort of gameplay. These screenshots show the map really early into development. I created this using only a handful of textures; enough to create a distinction between each side and to establish the island theme. It was at this point that I started to like the direction it was going but there was one problem though -- the layout just wasn't that great. In some parts it was far too complicated and in other parts it was too open so I decided to slim the layout down, aiming to keep it as simple as possible without compromising my multiple route approach. The revised version of the map was a mixture of old and new. I left the lighthouse and some buildings as they already were whilst removing or changing some of the brushwork which looked a little odd. The wooden ramps that used to lead up to the lighthouse were replaced with a gradual incline towards the hill to keep in line with idea of keeping it simple. The spawn room was moved so it was center aligned with the lighthouse. Overall, it was less abstract and became a much more believable place and most importantly new players would come to grasps with the map a lot easier as the lighthouse was visible as soon as you left spawn so the goal was immediately clear. Still, the basic idea remained the same. Now the map was at a stage that I was happy to release an alpha to the TF2 community. Alpha Release The first release couldn't have gone any better. I managed to get it playtested over at TF2Maps and Wireplay and a lot of people were liking it. From these playtests I was provided with some constructive feedback. Somebody came up with the idea of a curved staircase at the side of the lighthouse that would allow all classes access to the second floor. This was a great idea. It would make it a lot harder to capture the point as it would open up two more entrances to the capture point forcing players to be more aware of incoming enemies from above as well as the lower entrances. Kudos to whoever came up with that idea! Another thing that people pointed out was the middle area being a little bare and open. I promised to rectify this by having a play around with the arrangement of the current cover as well as adding some additional bits and bobs. Beta 1 With this version I started to beautify the map by detailing pretty much everything, throwing in some models, decals, and displacing the surrounding cliffs. (which took forever, I might add!) I took the lighting in a completely different direction as I tried to evoke a nice, calm, relaxing atmosphere beside the sea and it worked really well in tandem with the sound of seagull cries and waves crashing in the distance. These shots were taken a few days after I resumed work on the map after Alpha 1. Parts of the layout changed quite drastically as I removed many dead-ends and generally improved the overall flow of the level. How effective these changes were at the time would be decided by playtesting but I was pretty confident that would work in favor of the map. I made a model for the lighthouse to replace the horrible icky brush-based one which weighed in at around 600 polies and the UV texture was made entirely from textures sourced from TF2. Considering how simple it is, it really stands out and makes the map immediately identifiable which is exactly what I was aiming for. Now everything was up to standard and so I decided to release it and pimp it on pretty much every forum I could think of. Beta 1 Release Beta 1 was released on November 26th 2008 and was playtested again over at TF2Maps and Wireplay. There was still some issues that I wasn't happy with. Scouts would absolutely dominate the map as there were no places to refuge and the flow was a little stifled in places. Slower classes would be at the mercy of faster classes as there were no safe-havens so I made a mental note as something that needed to implemented into the next version. Most players complained that the map was too dark and that the healthkits unnecessarily lengthened rounds which was annoying. 1 or 2 players left in the round would constantly battle each other then return to the health kits on either side of the hill which would stretch rounds out a lot longer than necessary which was boring for dead players. Oh, and there was a mistake on my behalf with ammopacks -- I completely forgot to add more as I promised to do since Alpha 1. Now I had a good amount of work to be done for Beta 2 and I was sure that it would be as close to finished as possible.