Our letter to Valve, part II

Discussion in 'Site Discussion' started by Armadillo of Doom, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. Armadillo of Doom

    aa Armadillo of Doom Group Founder, Lover of Pie

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    After numerous threads and discussion, DrHaphazard has modified my original letter, and organized our numerous requests. Here is the semi-final draft:

    Dear TF2 Design Team,

    I am writing this letter on behalf of the mapping community at TF2maps.net. As the site name implies, the community is geared towards mapping for Team Fortress 2 and making other custom content for the game. Most of the discussions on the forum center on the usual optimization, layout and entity questions. However, there is also a recurring theme of posts trying to get around some of the limitations that seem to be built in to the TF2 mapping system. This letter and the list attached mentions some of the more common roadblocks that the TF2 mapping community runs into. We are all hoping that some of these restrictions could be looked into by Valve's TF2 team.

    Our overarching request is to introduce more flexibility into the Team Fortress 2 custom mapping process. Several of our members have been mapping since the days of Team Fortress Classic, and they have praised the TFC system in which an infinite number of game play variations could be created. We would love some of that same flexibility to be present in the current mapping system so that we can more easily create custom objectives and game play styles beyond those that are included in the game.

    Some overall examples of our requests include the addition of more working filter entities, both by class and by weapon damage type, which would allow for custom, class based objectives. Another example would be the ability to customize the item_teamflag so that variables such as carrier run speed and return timer could be tweaked to better fit into different game play styles. The most important request of all, however, deals with ability to create custom scoring structures so that the TF2 mapping community is not tied down to the current standard CTF and CP styles of play.

    We are aware that making changes like these can be very time consuming. We also know, however, that Valve has an excellent record when it comes to supporting its products and helping the modding community that works with its games. Your continued work in creating new maps, class tweaks and game play styles for Team Fortress 2 confirms that reputation.

    Finally, while this letter might appear to be one big gripe, none of us over at TF2maps.net would be mapping at all if we did not enjoy the challenges and the rewards of the mapping process. Keep making great games and keep giving us new stuff to work with!

    Thanks for your time,
    Your fans at TF2maps.net

    List of requests follows. Because these suggestions were contributed by multiple mappers they are not unified in wording. We have, however, tried to group them by general categories to make things clearer. Thanks again!

    List of requests follows. Because these suggestions were contributed by multiple mappers they are not unified in wording. We have, however, tried to group them by general categories to make things clearer. Thanks again!

    CTF – While the “game type” variable for the item_teamflag is an interesting concept, it is also often buggy. We feel that the inclusion of more variables for the flag entity would eliminate the need for the game type variable and would allow greater flexibility.

    1. Allow CTF return timer to be changed in Hammer
    2. Create a speed penalty variable so carriers can be slowed/sped up, preferably a percentage of normal speed.
    3. Currently a flag carrier can pick up an infinite number of his team’s/neutral flags, but in the process the pickup disables any previously grabbed flags. This makes multiple flag games (more than one per side) a very buggy situation and hinders the recreation of some classic TFC scenarios, such as CZ2.
    4. Allow for CTF maps to have a Setup Time and allow each team to place the intel at a certain point in the map before the match begins
    5. Ability to have CTF scoring based upon flag possession / time

    FILTERS – Adding these filters would allow for more custom objective based upon class or flag possession, making for unique game scenarios.

    6. Allow a way to filter player classes
    7. Allow a way to filter weapon damage
    8. filter_activator_name appears to be broken for TF
    9. Allow a way to filter out flag carriers

    SCORING – This is a major category. Scoring gets to the heart of how a level plays. More variety in the scoring system might allow for flag captures to count for different amounts depending on where the flag is returned. A point system based on time of possession for Capture Point games would help branch out from the current all-or-nothing winning system. These are just examples of how more variables when it comes to scoring in TF2 allows for new and interesting game play options.

    10. Ability to set cap limit in hammer (could be overwritten server side)
    11. Allow for other scoring systems than CP/CTF, such as a gradual scoring system, that can be displayed in the HUD
    12. A way to modify/control the text displayed during a round win. (e.g. "BLU captured the intelligence 3 times" and "RED successfully defended until time ran out")
    13. A more direct way to manipulate team score. Having to tie a game_score entity to a trigger_multiple with a filter_activator_tfteam is awkward and leads to some unavoidable bugs.
    14. The game_score entity currently does not alter individual player scores, only team scores, making it difficult to correctly reward players completing custom objectives.

    HUD – In combination with the Scoring system, more variables in how the HUD is set up would allow mappers to better direct players to objectives and more easily display custom scoring systems.

    15. The option for turning OFF any auto-HUD stuff that the mapper doesn’t need for his map
    16. Allow both CP HUD icons and CTF HUD icons on at the same time
    17. Custom HUD element entity. The entity lets you define where on the screen they go, and what is linked to them (state of an entity, compass position of an entity, etc) how many elements

    MODELS

    18. Scalable models. (We know this is a major request, but this ability would truly be a godsend for any game that uses the Hammer editor.)
    19. Add the ability to automatically embed custom models and textures into your map from Hammer (during the compile process, if possible)
    20. Ability to filter models for TF2, doesn’t seem to work currently
    21. Incorporate the custom model compiler into either the XSI Mod Tool or Hammer. Having it as a separate step between the two is inconvenient and confusing for many people

    ENVIRONMENT

    22. Ability to use fire as part of the environment in TF2 maps
    23. Ability to create brushes/entities that the pyro can light on fire
    24. Ability to create clip brushes that can block only certain projectiles.

    ENTITIES

    25. Give many of the entities (cap zones, flags, doors, any moving/togglable brush entity) something like the Goal# system TFC had, in which you could set certain things to only interact with certain other things.
    26. Make func_rotating work
    27. Make func_nogrenades work (to avoid stickies in the wrong places)

    MISC – Despite being stuck in the miscellaneous category, these would also be useful additions. The class limit request is especially important since it would again allow for the mapper to better tweak his map to favor the completion of custom objectives.

    28. Ability to limit classes (or disable) and ability to change the limits as objectives are met
    29. Ability to control max spawn time, not just min spawn time. Even if min spawn time is set to 5 seconds, in game it still gets as large as 15 - 20 seconds randomly.
    30. Ability to implement a territory control overview map/window for non-TC game types.
     
  2. MrAlBobo

    MrAlBobo L13: Stunning Member

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    just pointing out this double paragraph thing
    nice work though, I just found out while reading this that fire is not available...kinda disappointing as i was planning to make a functioning (to a degree) volcano
     
  3. l3eeron

    l3eeron L8: Fancy Shmancy Member

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    Everything I need is listed already. I want to give a player 10 points for capping a flag. I want to make a func_breakable that only demoman can blow. The flag's speed penalty is too much. The announcer/game messages dont jive with the situaltion sometimes.

    anyways... Good Job Team! Great letter.

    IMO filters and scoring would be the most important, which doesnt seem to be too hard, but I dont know jack about coding (if thats what you call it)
     
  4. l3eeron

    l3eeron L8: Fancy Shmancy Member

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    red steam?
     
  5. MrAlBobo

    MrAlBobo L13: Stunning Member

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    i want to have it burn people as well ;D
     
  6. MangyCarface

    aa MangyCarface Mapper

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    Use http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Env_particlelight with an env_smokestack and a trigger hurt. Looks perfect.

    But on topic,

    Can we possibly ask them to show a bit more support to their games' mapping communities? It doesn't really take any work on their part to feature a map once in awhile. When you have like 1/8th of the servers out there playing warpath or what have you shouldn't Valve endorse it or something? Or pick a map a week/month/whatever to say, hey, we like what's been done here, check it out. I mean, usergeneratedcontent is what keeps Valve games alive for so long, wish they'd be more official about it.

    Not really Hammer changes but it'd be pretty awesome of them to come through on. Anyway if you guys disagree that's fine, just wondering if anyone else thought along the same lines and wanted Valve to hear it.

    Great list though!
     
  7. Shmitz

    aa Shmitz Old Hat

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    It's a good idea, Mangy, but not really on topic for this list of requests. We want simple manageable alterations to mapping resources. We don't want them having to think about stretching resources in different directions to accommodate us.

    That said I think it can still be simplified. 4 seems too specific. 5 is covered under 11. 17 seems too generic; either simplify that request or break it up into more specific existing HUD elements.

    20: What is the problem with filtering? I have no problems sorting by mod and getting a list of TF2 models. In an overloaded list this request seems superfluous, unless there's a known bug that I just haven't encountered.

    21: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Valve is not the developer of the XSI Mod Tool. Hammer doesn't really make much sense either. Maybe incorporate compiling functions into the model viewer?

    Environment section should be more specific all the way around. Let env_fire work in tf2 or just make a env_fire_tf2 that'll also react to pyro flame. Specify what projectiles are being referred to. Do we want a clip brush for all projectiles and allow hitscan weapons, or do we want it to block all weapons?

    25: This confuses the heck out of me. "Certain things can only interact with certain other things" is very vague and ambiguous. It sounds like the input/output system should be able to handle this, but since I don't understand the request, I don't know.

    There are a handful of other things in there that I'm just not sure have been robustly tested to make sure there's not already some way to accomplish it. It would be terrible embarrassing for us to request something that's already possible.

    Overall though, the list is a whole lot better than the previous version.
     
  8. DrHaphazard

    DrHaphazard L5: Dapper Member

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    MrAlbobo - The double paragraph thing is a result of me sending that paragraph twice when i sent two pms to Immortal.

    Shmitz - heh where were ya when i needed comments on the list?! In any case tho, 4) Well i agree with setup timer part, dunno bout the moving the flag part. 20) I have this problem too, its an annoyance but i agree its not a major issue, probably can be removed. 21) I agree that we should probably remove that.

    17) Well i guess its too generic but I am not sure how to make it more specific really. I didn't submit that particular request, but if i had done so id ask for a way to display a score (like the current CTF HUD) for non-CTF situations.

    25) This one comes from Boojum Snark. He mentioned how good the TFC mapping system was and i requested an example if he could give one. I've forgotten where that exact phrasing came from, but you can see more of what he was talking about over http://forums.tf2maps.net/showthread.php?t=784&page=2 I really wanted to include some of that because I am sure there are some people at valve right now that would know instantly what he is talking about. But since i never worked with that system I am also confused as to what hes saying.

    Oh and frankly I am willing to ditch the whole environment section. Those things pale in comparison to the usefulness of new filters and what not.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2008
  9. Hampster

    Hampster L1: Registered

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    Really well-formed e-mail, thanks for sending this out! It was really fun listing out the maps in TFC for each of your suggestions (e.g. 4. Allow for CTF maps to have a Setup Time and allow each team to place the intel at a certain point in the map before the match begins - "banana_r"! :D). Hopefully there'll be more flexibility.

    The one issue with changing Hammer this drastically for TF2 is compatibility with the Xbox/PS3 versions.. but I can't imagine that would be a problem for us map builders whose maps will never see the console..
     
  10. ryodoan

    ryodoan Resident Bum

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    I would imagine that 99% if not more of the code for the XBox is identical to the code on the PC. After all the XBox is made by Microsoft so I would imagine they wrote the system to closely mirror how a game would run on Windows.

    Also, updates CAN be pushed out to the consoles, I am reasonably sure its been done before, albeit rarely. Also, it does not look like custom maps are coming to the consoles any time soon so its probably a non-issue anyhow...
     
  11. Shmitz

    aa Shmitz Old Hat

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    For some reason all the forums in the "TF2 Forums" section don't come up red for me on new posts, so I have a tendency to not notice what's going on in here. =\

    Yeah, making it more specific would be something like this:
    game_hud_score: Would be positionable on screen, and contain fields for which team's score is displayed and whether it displayed the score for that round or the team's overall score (rounds won).
    game_hud_status: Would be positionable on screen, and would display specified hud icons that could be changed through inputs. If given the name of a target, it produces a radar pointer behind the icon that always points to the closest entity with that name.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2008
  12. dirtyminuth

    dirtyminuth L5: Dapper Member

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    This is a good improvement. I'm not going to offer wording suggestions (I've made my peace with what's being included of my suggestions), just more general ones.

    * Remove line item 5. You should be able to accomplish possession-based scoring using timers, OnPickup / OnDrop IO, and the game_score entity.

    * Swap line items 8 and 9. Makes things more organized.

    * Remove line items 22-24 (Environment) from the list. I don't see their importance beyond gimmicks.

    * Remove line item 26. A Valve Dev posted in Steam Forums that there is a fix in the pipeline.

    * I would argue that someone needs to devise a more organized list of the SCORING sublist. Feels too fragmented.
     
  13. Half-Life_Maniac

    Half-Life_Maniac L3: Member

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    A nice list. I'd be interested in hearing any response from VALVe.
     
  14. Jive Turkey

    Jive Turkey L3: Member

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    Yay for class filters being featured so prominently on the list! Yay for them being so high up on the list! Yay! Thank you.
     
  15. Vilepickle

    Vilepickle L7: Fancy Member

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    The spawn timer variable does not currently work like regular numbers. You may want to modify that misc thing. To get the exact timer, it's whatever you specify x 3 approximately (that's the max time you'll have to wait: for example, 3 yields about 9 seconds max, where 2 is about 6 seconds like Dustbowl attackers).
     
  16. Shmitz

    aa Shmitz Old Hat

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  17. VelvetFistIronGlove

    aa VelvetFistIronGlove

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    Filters?

    As hydrage said, we need a way to filter out players based on ubered status.

    Also being able to filter out cloaked and/or disguised spies would help enormously too, so you could e.g. have triggers that only work in the same circumstances where you can cap a CP right now.
     
  18. Brandished

    Brandished L5: Dapper Member

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    Has this thing been mailed off yet? If not we really need to set a deadline for when it does get mailed, it's been a while since this was originally started, lol. I ask this because I'm planning on emailing Valve this week about some map bugs and also possibly invite the devs to participate in one of the gaming nights (I was thinking one either directly before or after the mapping contest one to get their input on the entries).

    In other words, If I email them about Gaming Night they'll likely visit the forums for more info (if they're interested), and will probably see this thread making emailing it to them unnecessary.


    Anyways, if this hasn't been sent off, another addition I'd like to add would be support in Hammer for custom plugins/addons, keys combinations, and skins (ala Firefox / WinAmp).

    Also, did no one like my other idea for Hammer I posted in the last thread? The one about having doors (and other moving entities) show their current moving direction with a way to edit the distance traveled when "show helpers" was turned on, similar to how lights and env_soundscape are set up now.

    example:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2008
  19. Armadillo of Doom

    aa Armadillo of Doom Group Founder, Lover of Pie

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    It has not been mailed yet, and that's my bad. I was swamped w/ school stuff, and watched this thread get buried. Anyways, I like your idea Brandished. I will be working w/ DrHaphazard on the letter's final construction soon. Stay tuned!
     
  20. Hampster

    Hampster L1: Registered

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    Update?