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Payload Design Theory.

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by yikitama, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. yikitama

    yikitama L1: Registered

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    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.
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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  2. Faux Rhinoceros

    aa Faux Rhinoceros Also known as Dr. Element

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    The valve dev wiki actually has a great article on this subject.

    What i personally find interesting is the way you don't have to make the map center at specific points as much as you would have to do with control point based maps. The flanks and alternative routes are important to all kinds of maps, but payload lets you focus on a line that goes through the map (the track) in contrast to the single points in cp maps.
  3. yikitama

    yikitama L1: Registered

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    That's true, and it's the main reason why payload is my favorite game mode. It seems much more dynamic.
  4. ForbiddenDonut

    aa ForbiddenDonut

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    I was talking to one of my friends the other day about TF2 design (he's not a mapper, but we play in UGC and ETF2L together so he has a good grasp on how the game works), and we begun talking about the specifics of game mode design philosophy.

    I believe we were talking about Badwater when my friend said something that I hadn't really taken into perspective: payload is like an FPS tower defense game.
    For example, making a point easier for RED to win means limiting how useful the incoming routes for BLU (the TD enemies) are and giving RED good sentry (the towers) spots.

    Of course, it's more complicated than that due to utilizing a 3D engine and nine different class roles: you have sightlines to deal with, appropriate HP/Ammo locations, spawn entrances, turns/chokes, determining how far a demoman/soldier can jump and other complex design decisions, but I did find the analogy rather amusing.
  5. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    Another interesting thing about Payload is the way the cart functions as cover, and the effect this has on some of the usual layout principles. Longish, straight sections of track don't leave attackers particularly vulnerable to snipers, and declines are more of a choke than inclines because they leave attackers behind the cart exposed. (Badwater Basin illustrates both pretty well. BLU is usually able to coast through the tunnel, and gets stopped on the final decline.)