Ive been thinking a lot about payload design because of how much i've been working on a payload map of my own. Here are a few things i've noticed about payload (or just plain map) design decisions made by valve and other successful mappers. First off, on the topic of map design as a whole, i want to mention the importance of flanks and routing. A good map should have 3-4 attacking flanks, 3 being standard. Having more than 1 or 2 paths to attack from (or defend) allows attackers to have options when approaching a well defended objective, and keeps defending challenging for the other team by making them have to cover multiple paths. On the other hand, too many splits up the attacking team and makes defense nearly impossible. Take a look at the maps of even "open ended" games like Battlefield and you can see 3-4 flank layouts in most of them.This has been covered in other tuts and such so it's not worth getting too far into though. My main focus is how flanks and routes relate to Payload map design. Since maps are usually designed to have one main route, with 2-3 supporting flanks, it's obvious that the payload cart (given it being the objective) will turn any route into the MAIN route. So design around this and give each team advantages and disadvantages based on the idea that Blu team will WANT to push the cart. Most of the time you want to put the cart in a route that will have a good amount of disadvantages, (In a sniper nest's line of sight, in a trench, on a cliff, etc). This is for two reasons. 1 - the cart replenishes health and ammo. 2 - you want pushing the objective to be a challenge and something the Red team can prevent (with effort). Then you can give the flanks that don't follow the path of the cart a few advantages (or ways to support the bomb-pushers). This is so that you may reward the players that put more time into getting a better position (usually give more advantages to the flanks that are harder or take more time to traverse). Do this with moderation though, as not to overpower the routes that don't follow the cart to the point that no one pushes the damned thing. This is why in most good Payload maps there are usually good defensive counters to the supporting flanks, as will be mentioned later.* You can see some good Examples of this in the map "badwater", especially in the last point. The cart is put at the bottom of the area, where it surrounded by potential sentry nests and height-advantaged balconies. Then you have the supporting routes. Left flank : wraps around and leads onto the balcony, giving Blu team a way to flush out people shooting at the cart from above, *but it is countered by a spiral staircase that allows Red team to drop down in the middle of the flank. This provides defense with a route that can only be immediately used by them and helps them potentially stop attackers taking that flank. Right flank : An easily Blu-reached room that overlooks the final point. Has a good supply of health and ammo. *Also countered by a Red team drop down. Notice that in both cases there are ways to counter the Blu team's Flanks, but usually the counters are out of the way (right flank drop down) or lentgthy (spiral staircase.). This isn't a rule, but usually how I want to set up a map. You can deviate however you please, obviously, i'm no expert.