Questions for next map project - PLR Helix Mine

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Aki, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Aki

    Aki L4: Comfortable Member

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    After a long hiatus from mapping I started a new map last night from a whim of thinking what a payload race map would be like if the carts followed a double helix route, curling around each other. Story wise the administrator is mad at the teams, so both have to go into the mine, push little cart up and out of the mine, then back down into the shaft to detonate it and bury the losing team alive.

    The Layout:
    The cart paths never cross. The carts never get more than 700 HU apart either, they are continually in sight of each other as they proceed to spiral three times before emerging from the mine. Once out they go a very short distance to a drop hole at the top of the mine shaft to be pushed in, winning the round for the team that pulls this off.

    While I say spiral, in truth the paths are squared off. The corners are enlarged to provide reasonably covered sentry positions. Also, symmetrical side passages link the two spirals together at the corners.

    Spawn rooms are at the base of the shaft. Through glass windows persons in spawn can see each other before exiting. Each spawn has two exits on the base of the spiral, and a third onto the second turn of their cart's path.

    I'm considering putting water at the base of the shaft to extinguish fires. Having to jump down is a considerable momentum loss.

    Before the final third of the cart route each team has a side room with a resupply cabinet. The shape of the room and it's purpose is to help an engie get a teleporter and gun to guard it set up at this level. A level three teleporter is expected to be critical to succeeding at the final stage of the race since it can take a while to get back up to the cart at this point without one.

    Class checklist
    (Every class should have something to cheer for)

    Scout: Scouts should be able to double jump between the spiral paths, and combined with the side passages they should be able to really work their maneuverability advantage on this map.

    Soldier: Rocket jumping to get back to the cart will be used a lot.

    Pyro: Compression blasting will be very useful on this map since the entire cart route for both teams is close to an edge to knock people off of. The side passages should also be useful to ambush pyros.

    Heavy: One of the classes I worry about a little here. There's a lot of open space on this map on the cart route, though the heavy can use the cart itself for cover much of the time.

    Demo: As with the solly, the demo's nade jumps will keep him up with the cart.

    Engineer: The team that helps its engie get a nest with tele set up for the final push should usually be the winner. There are numerous spots to put a sentry that I think will be good spots without being overpowering.

    Sniper: The shaft has a lot of long shots to play with and it's structure provides quite a bit of variety. No spot a sniper might want to use though protects his flank and back that well...

    Spy: The spy has a lot of chinks in the walls and side passages without there being so many that the combat gets diluted, and with some work he should be able to flank the foe when needed

    Medic: I haven't put anything in specifically to make playing a medic more or less enjoyable


    Questions:
    Anyone seen a map lacking a cross in the cart routes? I might be able to take some notes from that.

    Lighting - I'm wanting to make the side passages pretty dark. The center room has the sky light and is expected to be well lit in general. Any examples of what is considered the darkest acceptable lighting for an area in a level?

    Symmetry - How critical is it in payload race? I've been running under the assumption it's just as critical as in CTF.

    Cart Rollback - I'm thinking of checking the cart's rollback at each corner.

    Route length - The track length is longer than I've seen in any PLR map I've seen, though shorter than the three stages of Pipeline combined.

    Any other thoughts? I hope to have some screens up within a week of the alpha build.
     
  2. Fr0Z3nR

    aa Fr0Z3nR Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums

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    Lack of lighting can be detrimental to gameplay, in a game where silhouettes and color recognition is key, lack of lighting is horrible. You need to have properly lit routes and paths so people can see, and tell if the person in front of them is good or bad. Lack of lighting also increases the effectiveness of spies, and any other effective "Ambush" class (Pyro and FaN scout come to mind)

    You can get away with Asym if you design the layouts properly, but lack of symmetry in a map that is generally a symmetrical gametype can lead to initial player confusion. There is a big essay I could write about map symmetry and "seeing" sides before confrontation with the enemy... But I won't, just know that it generally isn't advised, unless it is subtle asyms.

    If they are small, I don't think it'll be an issue, but it'll just be a minor challenge for each time to do around each corner, and since there will probably be a lot of turns, this might just lead to player annoyance.

    If the map is constant spiral for that long, gameplay will be dull and repetitive.


    Looking at your class-checklist, I see that while each class has "something to cheer for" that doesn't mean it is balanced, consider:
    • The pyro will be more powerful than the scout. (Since airblasting gets people off the cart and out of the way)
    • Soldiers will be weaken by the time they get to the cart via rocket jumping (similar for Demo). Making them in-effective overall.
    • Heavies will be overpowered.
    • Spies probably won't be as effective as you think, chinks in the wall aren't as good as you think, at least for me, I like to keep moving as spy... and it is a little obvious when you see something come out of the chinks.
    • Engie's might not be able to get ahead of teams and set up nests, mobile nests are generally un-effective, and if your major design is for engies on the final push, no one will want to play them because they won't have much really to do for a majority of the map.
    • A constant helix will make it extremely hard for snipers to get a good range, since they have to constantly look up. They want to be looking down, far away, and behind some cover.

    If you are going to have it so that teams constantly see each other, you will either see no-one going anywhere, or one team constantly winning whilst the other team is very far behind.

    Overall, what you propose isn't the best of idea's... but I hope that you learned something.




    Man, I need to stop writing over-analyzed essays.
     
  3. Aki

    Aki L4: Comfortable Member

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    The areas where I'm considering poor lighting are those the ambush classes should be frequenting, the side routes.


    I wasn't planning on doing asymmetry. Bothers me as well as a player.

    The distance they could roll back is 512 HU before hitting a corner. Playtesting will determine if it's excessive. If the total run is too long it can be cut down.

    That remains to be seen.

    Why?

    The point of spies is to give them somewhere to evade to, and alternate routes to get behind folk with.

    They have plenty to do throughout the map I think, but I need to play it to be sure. Engie is my main.

    Which they have, even on the draft.

    The carts are always potentially in view of each other - the side passages not so much. I honestly don't know how it will play - you may well be right and it's an unsalvageable concept but I'm going to draw an alpha and see what happens.
     
  4. Fr0Z3nR

    aa Fr0Z3nR Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums

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    You still want the visibility, other players still need to see other players even if they are side-routes and ambush area's. Not giving the chance to see an ambush is poor design in TF2.


    Good.

    Constant 512 rollbacks is very rough, tied in with the open-ness and constant visibility to the other cart, this is a LOT and probably a very poor choice.


    Because they can do well in open spaces, if the carts don't get any farther than 700u, this will make them powerful.

    little nooks though overall are less favorable. You'll see spies (who know what they are doing) using the continuous flank routes

    I still think that the way you describe the map, is poorly designed. While, you might not think it right off, constant view, means a constant sightline between carts, which means that people will constantly be spamming back/forth between the carts. What I mentioned previously I'm almost certain you will see happen. You MIGHT get even motion, but even then, the gameplay will probably not be that good.

    Make the map, have it tested. Don't let me stop you. You can't learn something unless you do it.


    Also, you might have trouble with optimization if you continue with this.
     
  5. Aki

    Aki L4: Comfortable Member

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    There's a world of difference between shadows and pitch black. The more you go on the more I think you're picturing the passages being pitch black. That's not what I intend. No point in arguing over something that hasn't been shown.


    The openness can be constrained - I have a few ideas on how to do that without massively changing the map structure, if needed. One possibility is to increase the openness gradually as the team progresses, presumably slowing down the winning team's progress.

    Another possibility is to have one team going downhill while the other goes uphill. To make that fair would require an slightly asymmetric layout that leaves the team going downhill far more exposed than the one heading uphill.

    Open medium range spaces yes. Open long range spaces make them sniper bait. I'm aware of these concerns already.




    You always this negative?

    Listen, I know a lot can go wrong with this structure. I also know that a few well placed brushes to close up what was an open space can make an enormous difference.

    Your comments aren't in vain though. While I was planning on erring in favor of too open on the first go round, I think I'll err on the side of too closed.

    Since the central area is smaller than many Valve maps I doubt that very much.
     
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  6. Fr0Z3nR

    aa Fr0Z3nR Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums

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    @Lighting. Yes, I know you are not using pitch black, but you really should have proper lighting through-out, even getting on the dim end of lighting can effect gameplay because of color-recognition... this is the downside of Red and Blue colors... you need to have a good bit of light to properly see the colors. If you look at all the night maps, you will see they all have very very well lit gameplay area's. (Double cross, pipeline)... even maps that have large shadows (granary mid) have lights to keep the lighting up. If granary didn't you might be able to tell colors apart, but having proper lighting ensures EVERYONE knows who's on who's team.


    I'm usually not negative (I apologize if I seem that way), I'm just giving an analyzed feedback based on my knowledge of TF2 level design. It is not my intention to shut your idea down.
     
  7. Mr. Wimples

    Mr. Wimples L6: Sharp Member

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    You should upload what you have built so far, criticism on that may help more than guessing on what you have so far.
     
  8. MangyCarface

    aa MangyCarface Mapper

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    OK this is so silly... there are a few mapping discussion Qs at the very end of your post but you seem jumpy to refute any disagreements with your hypotheses. Just post the damn map; there are no concrete rules and as with everything in life the context is extremely important in determining an action (i.e. mapping decision)'s effectiveness
     
  9. Aki

    Aki L4: Comfortable Member

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    I fully intend to, but I just started building it in hammer last night while I wasn't able to sleep. I hope to have a rough alpha done over the weekend. I'm out of practice - in any event this discussion has been helpful to me.
     
  10. xzzy

    aa xzzy

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    To jump on the lighting conversation, TF2 (and any game, really) has a number of tricks you can use to make a place feel gloomy without actually making it dark.

    Sawmill is one of my favorite examples. The caves on Dustbowl are interesting too because they feel oppressive, but don't actually have any dark corners.

    Use dark textures for walls and ceilings, and lighter textures for the floor. Make use of spotlights pointed at the ground to limit the amount of light illuminating up high. Tint the lighting golden (Dustbowl does this) to blend in with dirt textures. Fog is useful too in small quantities, and map details casting shadows into non-playable areas works also.

    This should free you to have a playable illuminated path and yet still have it feel dark.
     
  11. Empyre

    Empyre L6: Sharp Member

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    I had a similar idea that I never built, after the negative reaction to my koth_helix and koth_helix_tower maps. It was even going to be a mine, like yours. The differences are that my map was going to be all closed with several "bridges" connecting the paths, there was going to be 1 or 2 places where the paths crossed, and the paths were going to be octagonal rather than square. I wish you success where I failed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  12. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    There is a saying... a picture paints a thousand words.

    Whilst you may be reluctant to post progress because of either embarrasment or some other ego related reason, it is always better for the maps sake and your learning speed to just post your progress to get the most accurate feedback potential.
     
  13. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    Also, i hate to say it, but an awful lot of people here can say whether an idea is good or bad from a description of it. And some of these ideas... just don't seem very good. Dark areas- at all dark, any darkness is kinda bad- open areas, long rollbacks, and massive, constant, height differences are all ideas that work so badly in theory it's worth listening to us before you go to massive lengths to make them and find out for yourself.
     
  14. Aki

    Aki L4: Comfortable Member

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    You got to remember that a lot of folks here hate - nay loathe 2fort, but that's the most popular map out there. So tablespoons of salt and all that.

    I'll build it out and see. That's all I can do.
     
  15. Wilson

    aa Wilson Burial by Sleep

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    We hate it for a good reason.
    Just because bunch of snipers and new players play it a ton, doesn't make it a good map.
     
  16. Aki

    Aki L4: Comfortable Member

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    I know, I know. Anyway, I ditched the previous draft based on feedback off the description - but I'm not giving up on the helix quite yet. I rattled off a second draft last night but at the moment it's just paths, no walls or ceilings yet.

    The "helix" is now just a single loop over for both teams, and the loops are entwined. Height variation from ground to floor has been reduced to around 1000 HU, not counting roofs when they are put in (if I allow them to be reached). The beginnings and the ends of the path taper to the bases which are two leveled. Each team's endpoint is almost on top of the spawn room of the foe so the team who's leading has the problem of getting ever closer to the foe. I put that huge satallite dish from Hydro on both maps to mark the finish point of the race.

    The helix itself is in it's own building, cutting off site lines between the sniper battlements. Each spawn currently has 6 exit doors, 4 to battlements and 2 down to the start for the race. This second draft map - which I will post sometime tomorrow if I get a chance to work on it, is very tight - Overall length for level is 3000 HU, and some 1200 wide. Should grow a bit once the side routes are added.
     
  17. Aki

    Aki L4: Comfortable Member

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