So what the heck IS comp CTF?

Discussion in 'Contests' started by YM, Jan 9, 2010.

  1. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    Since a lot of you probably have no idea how competative maps play out, you're going to need somewhere to discuss how the mechanics work.

    There are a great many pugging resources around, I haven't a clue where to look for them, I'd have to do some major hunting, I will make a list in this post if people want to suggest guides from around the web. To get you started I'll post MangyCarface' post to Nodraw from the other day:


     
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  2. Shmitz

    aa Shmitz Old Hat

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    6vs6 CTF is an underplayed and underrepresented game mode, so before people rush off to design their contest maps, there are some things to consider and some questions to answer. Mangy's article on competitive map design is a good read, but a bit general to make a solid plan off of.

    1) Why do competitive players dislike current stock CTF maps?
    a) What makes 2fort awful?
    b) Why is turbine sometimes acceptable, but barely so?

    2) Are the problems with the maps, or with the mode's mechanics?
    a) Are there any adjustments to the way intelligence is picked up, returned, and/or captured that can improve gameflow for 6vs6?
    b) How will any potential design changes impact the usefulness and overall power of individual classes?

    3) Should maps be designed exclusively for 6vs6 play, or is it possible to reach a globally accessible design that scales well from 12 to 32 players?


    I don't want to say too much initially, because more creative ideas will come from community discussion. Also, I hope you comp players out there chime in with what you want to see in your game, and help explain why some things might work where others may not.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  3. Flame

    aa Flame

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    1) Turbines lack of different strategies is a problem. Whoever controls mid controls the entirety of the map due to essentially 3 exits... one controlled by a garage door (easily shut down with stickies) a tiny one (easily controlled just by looking at it, and a long hallway where every fight has to happen... The size of the other maps isnt viable it seems. Doublecross and even sawmill are a bit too big and have too many routes out of view for a 6v6 team.

    2forts intel is hidden BEHIND the spawn, meaning teams need to cross the spawn to grab and get out... not to mention the only 2 ways in after you get past the spawn are small narrow hallways easily shut down by soldier and demo spam.

    Engis are ok in ctf but you dont want uber fights to revolve around them. In pubs you have to pop ubers to get rid of sentry farms you typically couldnt take out any other way, If the map requires an uber to destroy the sentries it probably won't be as liked due to the wasted uber and time.

    The mechanic of slow reset times on the flag is an issue. you can sacrifice a soldier or scout for a spy and keep resetting the time. There are numerous ways to counter this as mangy and a few other mappers have shown.

    I'd imagine touch return would be a big hit since most of the comp players like to think theyre allstars at quake.

    You dont want snipers to dominate your map, you also dont want engineers to be needed or very viable. If a team is going to sacrifice someone for an engineer they should have to pay for it via obvious 1v2 scout fights or 1v2 soldier uber battles. setting up paths more viable for different classes gives the soldiers a need in a demo/scout oriented gamemode

    Obv atrophy is good in pubs as well as small games but even the carts can be considered a gimmick. And turbine is one of my favorite pub maps so yeah its doable.

    =]. I hope this post doesnt lead to 900 touch return atrophys... but speed and class viability will wind up being the deciding factors.
     
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  4. ParanoidDrone

    ParanoidDrone L3: Member

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    1) I can't say with certainty, as I don't play competitively, but going off my own CTF experience, I'd say that they dislike their tendency to stalemate. Furthermore, the scoring system encourages turtling the instant you fall behind to prevent further captures. The competitive scoring system means that if you fall behind, you have to attack. Given that competitive players like fast-paced gameplay, this suddenly makes a lot more sense than it did when I started typing this paragraph.

    a) There are a lot of things wrong with 2Fort. For starters, it's possible for a single Sentry to lock down all possible paths to the intelligence. For that matter, there aren't enough paths to the intelligence to begin with. Everyone is funneled through the same room (the courtyard), which means that every Engineer and their mother has a Sentry set up there because they know you'll have to face them eventually. (Interestingly, the core competitive classes can all bypass the courtyard because they all have extra movement abilities. Well, except the Medic.) And once you do get the intelligence, it's sufficiently deep within the base that you have to battle your way past a freshly spawned wave of enemies. This is not helped by the fact that you have to pass within spitting distance of the spawn room on your way out. (And in, for that matter.)

    b) Turbine is probably tolerated because it avoids a lot of the 2Fort issues. The bases are not so huge as to bury the intelligence within, there are 3 distinct routes to the intelligence, none of which converge until you're in the intelligence room itself, and you are not forced to go anywhere near the enemy spawn room. However, it creates some issues of its own. First, all possible exits from your base are on the same wall, which makes it easy to lock down the middle area and trap you in your own base. Second, out of the 3 paths to the intelligence, one goes right past the enemy spawn room, while the vents tend to be a deathtrap. (In my experience, anyway. Recall my disclaimer that I don't play competitively.) This leaves only one regularly viable path to the intelligence, which once again creates predictability in the attackers and makes the defenders' job easier.

    2) I'm pretty sure this was implied in the way I was talking about it, but I believe that these are problems with the maps, not the game mode. Doublecross is a CTF map with easily accessible alternate paths and several one way entrances and exits in close proximity to the intelligence. It still has a spawn room annoyingly close to the main path through the base and it's still possible to make life hell for any intelligence carriers by building a Sentry on the shack near that catwalk, but the sheer number of ways into the base and that delicious one way drop next to the intelligence room means that it's quite difficult to keep the enemy from getting your intelligence, which shifts the gameplay towards keeping them from getting away with it. This is in contrast to 2Fort/Turbine, where teams tend to focus on keeping the enemy out, and where the side paths are not worth the extra cost or risk involved.

    a) I believe the most fun part of CTF is the period where the intelligence has been dropped and both teams are in a rush to get it back before the timer ends or defend it for that time. The relatively long return timer and the resetting of this timer both help extend this period. This is one of the reasons I'm shakey on a touch return on the intelligence -- there would be no chance to recover dropped intelligence unless you were already in your base, so it would just be the same old grind again. One change I'd be interested in experimenting with would be a stipulation that your own intelligence cannot be anywhere but its starting location before you can capture the enemy's, but I have absolutely no idea what ramifications that would have for overall gameplay and balance.

    b) Reducing the timer on dropped intelligence would give less incentive for Engineers to set up impromptu Sentries to cover it. (Whether this is good or bad is open to debate.) My personal reservations aside, touch return could give additional utility to Spies in the enemy base who could backstab the carrier and touch their own intelligence. Compare this to now where intelligence in the enemy base is as good as captured unless you have an epic spawncamp going. Requiring the intelligence to be "home" before capturing the enemy's...again, I don't know how that would play out. It could create an interesting dynamic with touch return though, where you need to seek out an enemy flag carrier in your base and return your own intelligence before you can capture theirs.

    3) Should maps be designed exclusively for 6v6? No. Is it possible to make one that both competitive and pub players will enjoy? Yes, but it will doubtless take a huge amount of time and plenty of iterations.

    Phew, that was a wall of text...but it helped me think some more about the contest and what I could do, so I'm glad for that.
     
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  5. Grim Tuesday

    aa Grim Tuesday

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    1.
    A. Loads of stuff. The first and foremost, is that a single sentry can lock down direct access to the intel (defined as in a scout can not run and make a grab for it). Next, the yard/bridge is a heaven for snipers. It has way too long sightlines. Another problem is that the alt route to the intel (sewers) dont bring you to the intel, they bring you to sentry trap in the hay room.
    B. Turbine is good, because it has almost no good sentry spots for locking down intel, except for in the intel room. It has useful alt routes a-la vents. The reason it is only barely acceptable, is because one of the intel escape routes goes by the spawn room (2 if you count the vents). There is also a severe lack of ammo in the map.
    2.
    A. The maps. They are the ones with the chkepoitns, etc. Its our jib to make better CTf maps.
    B. This is something to conisidor. The big trick is NOT making engies too powerful, and empowering usually uselless classes, like heavy in indirect ways, such as NOT making sniper lines, or spy hide-holes.
    3.
    Comp gamers are a picky bunch. They want something balanced, with few chokepoints that they can show off their mad mousing skilz in. On the other hand, 32 player 2 fort people most likely want a team DM. I think that 12 and 24 players could have maps designed similarlly, but once you bump up to 32, its game over.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2010
  6. Lancey

    aa Lancey Currently On: ?????

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    First of all, both maps feature intel rooms that typically can't be attacked from outside, forcing players into dangerous positions to even think about capturing the intelligence. I'm talking Sawmill and 2Fort here.

    2fort has some chokepoints, but has more pins. In pins, players need to pass through them without using a particular class ability, which even then may not help. It has four: the main entrance, the courtyard, the basement, and the intelligence room. These are unfair to players because it forces them into a difficult to attack position.

    Turbine's fastest route is a chokepoint. Single classes can severely hinder progress, but can be flanked. There are two other entrances, one that passes by the spawn, and one that flanks the intel room but prevents attacking out of range of it. Turbine, however, places all three exits on the same wall, meaning that one demoman can pin down a whole team.

    Half and half. I've learned when making trainflats that CTF can be fun if done right. However, the way the maps use the game is wrong. Forcing attention onto a single player makes it difficult to use teamwork to win. The most you can do is surround the carrier with a few teammates and buff him with a medic, but little can be done to speed his progress.

    Yes. Teammates need to be able to assist in some way, either by making it easier to capture the flag or to reach it. For example, providing the carrier with more routes back to the CZ encourages teamwork.

    Mobile CTF (such as System, Backpier, and Atrophy) will make Heavies a more viable defense. Because the intelligence can no longer be turtled, Engineers become even more useless. FaH (Flag at Home) systems make Medics very critical to keeping your carrier healed, so that you don't give up the capture.

    Of course it's possible. 6v6 play is faster than typical games because players stick together more and use better tactics. Breaking a line is a lot easier with comp. play than with public games, as the increased number of players and decrease in average capability will make games last longer.
     
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  7. Tinker

    aa Tinker

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    Better yet, look at the GOOD parts of these both maps. Turbine's strength is its perfect location of the intelligence - at the same "level" as the spawn, but at the other side of the map. Also, a mid where you can't sneak through... unless you're really good at being sneaky, means you can't randomly escape with the intel (also one of the reasons why Double Cross is fantastic for pubs, but not so for comp).

    2fort's biggest problem is its terrible spawn placement. There's one spawn NEXT TO a part of the map which you will ALWAYS have to pass if you want to go the intel (the yard), and it's divided into two as well, making teams scramble if they die. There's a weird spawn near the intel, which makes camping easy and doesn't compliment fast gameplay in the slightest.
    That said, it's got a very fun middle arena, where snipers are strong, yet not too strong, and there are several routes to get to the other's base - where they are constricted again.

    Take the good parts, leave out the flaws.

    Also, don't worry about it being suitable for 6v6. Badlands, for example, is arguably the best 6v6 map in existence, and would you look at that! It's also great for pub play. A good map will find its way into people hearts (even if those people will put it on a 34-man 24/7 same map instarespawn server, but alas, you can't have EVERYTHING :p)
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2010
  8. MangyCarface

    aa MangyCarface Mapper

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    I don't think you necessarily need to answer Shmitz' questions, just to address them when you make the map.

    All I will highlight is -speed- -speed- -speed-; only fast maps will be popular, but it has to be a controlled tempo; chaos does not promote teamwork
     
  9. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    This is only my own experience, but here's how teams tend to be divided up in the 2fort games I've played:

    A. The intel runners. Maybe two per team and almost always scouts.
    B. Snipers. One per team; their only real job is to stand on the decks and play Chicken with each other, yet their potential to snipe other team members makes it necessary for one team to have one if the other does. Like nuclear weapons during the Cold War, their only purpose is to prevent their own use.
    C. Engineers and their assistants. Usually they hole up in the basement, and they take several forms: Two guns plus a spychecking pyro; three guns and all the engies watching each other's backs; one sentry and a dispenser-mounted heavy spraying everywhere... I can only remember seeing a sentry in the courtyard once, because as much of a game breaker as it is, it's completely unnecessary because of the next group:
    D. Everyone else. And they pretty much all hang out in the base, making them defense by default. All guarding against one or two scouts.

    And that's the central problem with CTF in general, as I've seen: It's too tempting to just hang back and defend. This is less true of some maps than others, and it's worse the more chokepoints there are (2fort has a big one before you even get to the enemy base, in the form of a narrow bridge, and it just gets worse from there!), but it's always true to some extent. Why this is, I don't know. Game design is [made-up figure] percent psychology, and I'm no psychologist. It's worth noting that CP tends to have the opposite effect, which is why it works so well as a game mode.

    So how would I fix it? Not knowing how to adjust the map layout to encourage forward pushes, I don't know; my approach would more likely be to just force one team to play offense by not giving them a flag. That's right — true A/D capture the flag. It wouldn't be like the ones we just had a contest for, because I'd retain the "there and back again" setup from the two-sided maps, something I have so far never seen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2010
  10. Shmitz

    aa Shmitz Old Hat

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    Yeah, I just posed a series of questions to get discussion started. Feel free to add your own thoughts, or respond to points others have made!
     
  11. absurdistof

    aa absurdistof

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    My big questions for this are as follows

    The map itself
    1) How much should I value vertical space? Is comp a really tactical version of tf2 where I should give opportunities to rocket jump to valuable places, and make small ledges to allow jumps from one room to the next?

    2) From what I've noticed many of the popular comp maps have a LOT of open space in them, they're hardly indoors. What I take from this is comp players like high ceilings, and loose cover amidst open space, am I correct in this assumption?

    3) How large should these maps be? My instinct says small, but I almost feel like it'll be the same fighting in the same small place for the whole game if I follow the intel>hall>main area>hall>intel mechanic

    4) Does the gameplay come before the map? I.e. should the map be just a medium to move upon or a thing to think about and consider whilst playing? I've heard that comp values the gameplay a lot so I'm sort of torn over this..

    EDIT: 5) Last one, large open space for combat or a more channeled mechanic?

    I could ask on forever, I guess it comes from the general newness of this whole idea, which I like but at the same time presents a big challenge ;)
     
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    Last edited: Jan 12, 2010
  12. Tinker

    aa Tinker

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    The gameplay comes WITH the map, not before it.

    .. also doesn't everyone value gameplay a lot? I mean, it's not like it's the most important part of any map or something :p
     
  13. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    designing for comp play will subsequently be designing for gameplay.
     
  14. absurdistof

    aa absurdistof

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    I guess it was more of a question of visuals, now answered :D
     
  15. Lancey

    aa Lancey Currently On: ?????

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    MangyCarface 2:9,

    "OPTIMIZE! Check out my other guide here on nodraw. For some reason many 6v6 players have really shitty computers, nearly all of them run FPS configs to get very high framerates , so make sure it’s well optimized!"

    So by all means feel free to stick with visuals, but remember that they're relatively unimportant.
     
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  16. shdw.puppet

    shdw.puppet L2: Junior Member

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    im not going to pretend that I have read all the posts, but I will try to answer these from the perspective of a comp player

    1) Why do competitive players dislike current stock CTF maps?
    The biggest problems are stalemating, spawn camping and lack of ability to feel like you can push into an area and hold it, a big problem in 2fort and turbine

    a) What makes 2fort awful?
    In a comp. setting, it breaks down into spawn camping and comp players are very, very good at spawn camping. Also, there are oly two ways onto the enemy side, one demo and one combo can very, very easily take control the whole map and make the whole thing stalemate.

    b) Why is turbine sometimes acceptable, but barely so?
    The stalemating is not nearly as bad, and there is one area besides the common middle that you can occupy on the enemy side (the staging tunnel) and spawn camping is not nearly as bad, it is fairly hard to spawn camp this map.

    2) Are the problems with the maps, or with the mode's mechanics?
    Maps, there is no real reason this game type wont work, look at COD4, CTF is a very fun gametype (ctf does not come with the install, you need a server config)

    a) Are there any adjustments to the way intelligence is picked up, returned, and/or captured that can improve gameflow for 6vs6?
    scouts play a pivotal role in the intel, in fact, that is all they do, so make it advantageous for a scout to get the intel.

    b) How will any potential design changes impact the usefulness and overall power of individual classes?
    remember that only four classes are ever really played scout, soldier, demo, medic. You will see some sniper and other utility, but make sure each class plays a pivotal role in getting the intel. The reason turbine is no fun for scouts is because there is nothing for them to do. Give the, something to do. Make it hard for a team that is not working together to get intel or defend it.

    3) Should maps be designed exclusively for 6vs6 play, or is it possible to reach a globally accessible design that scales well from 12 to 32 players?
    Design maps for comp. Dont worry about globally, make it so that there are no technical barriers to play in a 32 man server, but tailor it to 6s comp. There are different needs, different goals and better team work. One reason that a lot of types of maps arent played is because once people start working as a team, there is no longer any real way for the other team to win. PL becomes impossible to win (because of spawn cycles etc) and most CTF gets stalematey.

    Comp TF2 needs new maps. They need this gametype because, ill be honest, 5cp push maps are boring. Gpit is fun, but a bad map, turbine is ok, but a bad map. A really good, well developed and perfectly tuned CTF map will be a very welcome addition.
     
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  17. shdw.puppet

    shdw.puppet L2: Junior Member

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    I will answer absurd's questions. I am entering this, but I want to see comp TF2 take off more than I want to see myself win. So I will help people get 6s matches played on them, I know where pug communities are and I have a 6s team that can take a look at it.


    The map itself
    1) How much should I value vertical space? Is comp a really tactical version of tf2 where I should give opportunities to rocket jump to valuable places, and make small ledges to allow jumps from one room to the next?

    Comp is both extremely tactical and very fast paced. You dont want a lot of camping spots, because camping is useless, you will just get killed. Comp players are really good at rocket and sticky jumping, they will find every possibl way to edge out every possible second.

    2) From what I've noticed many of the popular comp maps have a LOT of open space in them, they're hardly indoors. What I take from this is comp players like high ceilings, and loose cover amidst open space, am I correct in this assumption?

    Comp maps only appear to have lots of wide open space (except badlands, that is sucker is HUGE, especially the spire area). almost all comp map fighting goes on inside a small area, called choke points. each map has 5-6 of these per side (turbine has 3 on the way from middle to intel, that is a good number for a fast game type). We do like high ceilings, but that is for the occasional jump and height should be restricted at choke points or they are too easy to get around. Medics NEED places to hide, there must be tactical advantageous spots for medics. Medics are the most important class in comp. and MUST be considered while making your map.

    3) How large should these maps be? My instinct says small, but I almost feel like it'll be the same fighting in the same small place for the whole game if I follow the intel>hall>main area>hall>intel mechanic

    Double Cross is too big, turbine a touch too small 2fort actually isnt all that bad of a size, just aweful in terms of everything else.

    4) Does the gameplay come before the map? I.e. should the map be just a medium to move upon or a thing to think about and consider whilst playing? I've heard that comp values the gameplay a lot so I'm sort of torn over this..

    Maps should control the flow of the game, they should provide a variety of spaces (demos like chokes, scouts like wide open spaces, medics like hiding spots with easy escapes and soldiers like height advantage and an easy way to protect medics). Maps should take into account the uber (the most important part of the game) it is ok to not include much of a kritz advantage. Maps should make it clear where to go, but also allow freedom. Dont funnel everyone to the same place, because comp players love to try out new tactics and strats for the best way to do things.

    EDIT: 5) Last one, large open space for combat or a more channeled mechanic?

    variety is the best option.

    I could ask on forever, I guess it comes from the general newness of this whole idea, which I like but at the same time presents a big challenge
     
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  18. Colt Seavers

    Colt Seavers L6: Sharp Member

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    Absolutely great advice here 8) Respect 8)
     
  19. absurdistof

    aa absurdistof

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    Sorry to ask such a novice question, but I've seen some ubers used by comp medics, and they're amazing (how they switch to playes right about to die :O). Anyways, my question is where is an uber most effective?

    To me it would seem like it gives a certain class incredible defensive powers for CTF to hold off the other team, and for the offensive team it's a ticket through a tough and well guarded chokepoint. But I doubt I'm correct so what do any comp players think about it?
     
  20. shdw.puppet

    shdw.puppet L2: Junior Member

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    oh, I almost forgot, dont forget replayability. Comp players will play these maps 20-30 times, learn them backwards and forwards and spend the greater part of a week on them. Then they will match. If you want a map to be successful competitively, you must make sure players will want to play them over and over. It may seem like the best maps are simple ones, but really, the best maps are ones that look simple, play easy and yet always have something new to find about them. Just this season (we are on season 5) I saw strats I have never seen before on badlands. Badlands has been played 1000's of times, and we are still finding fun in it.

    if you want that, keep it interesting kk?
     
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