Something something height

Discussion in 'Tutorials & Resources' started by Moonrat, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. Moonrat

    aa Moonrat The end of an era

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    When you play a good map, you notice that there is rarely a flat area. Team Fortress 2, more so than pretty much any other modern shooter, uses height rather than cover to diversify it's levels.
    So is there a true definitive way to make good, interesting heights in your levels? Prolly not, but here is my attempt at telling you shits anyway.

    Lesson 1: Flat maps, and why there are not sexy

    If you look at a map, any map in fact, you'll notice something. Height makes areas look cooler, while a flat area is pretty dull to the eyes. This is for many reasons, Height is often used in
    detailing as a way to add decorations to an otherwise boring wall. Meanwhile, on flat ground you really can't do such a thing. Adding height helps your map look better, not only with props but also
    lighting! I'll go more into why lighting is so closely related to height in a later lesson, but for know all you need to know is that people like their map unflat.

    Lesson 2: How to incorporate height into an area

    Let's say you have a point. Its pretty much Fastlane 2nd in terms of flatness. You'll notice most people will get bored as shit at your point when they have to play it. No height = no fun! So, how do you take this point and make it interesting? Welp, let's try to find out!

    [​IMG]
    That, is the second point of Fastlane! It is flat, dull, and very uninspired! So, what are a few ways to make it cooer!

    1. The point on a thing way!

    Pretty much the most common way to add height to an objective is to just make the objective higher!

    [​IMG]
    This is Badlands' second point, known as it is, Spire. This is pretty much the de facto example for TF2 maps when it comes to height variation, and it is not a bad way to do it. But of course we must go deeper!

    2. The things around the point way!

    [​IMG]
    This is Freight's mid! It's a flat ol' point, surrounded by raised buildings! Notice anything? Yep, the roof area only gives you so much coverage of the point, and leaves you blind-sided towards enemies. Overall a pretty good example of a point that is not on a thing!

    [​IMG]
    This is Granary's last! A very flat area, but with two long ass pipes to add that spice of height. The pipes are easy to access for the defending team, as well as any jumping class that happens to go and fuck about them. A nice example of how you don't need big lavish bullshit to add plenty variety to your heights.

    3. The "I sat on the point until it was pressed into my map" way....

    [​IMG]
    This is Gorge's (A/D variant, mind you) last. As you can see, the unique thing here is that the point is the single lowest thing in the room. The spawns, the entrance, everything is quite a bit higher than the point. So how do you balance this? Well, for the defenders, it's presents a unique situation where the defender's best spots are lower than where the attackers come in! Now, the attackers instead have to go down there and face RED in the most dangerous almost non-lethal pit in the world.

    4. The "Fuck you i ain't need to let you stand on the point because that is not as important as the murderous mercs around ya!" way..........

    [​IMG]
    That, is a Community map! *Gasp* That, to be exact, is Backlot! It's an arena map using the oh so beautiful construction pack to look purty! Basically, the unique thing about the map is that the point area is inaccessible until the timer runs out, making the fight a bit more focused rather than players standing near the point all the time (I am looking right at Ravine right now).

    This is also the way Gullywash did it's mid, as the only classes that can directly stand on the point is jumpers.

    5. The "If you stand under my point you might just catch a case of death" way.....

    [​IMG]
    Stoneyridge, another community map. This is the second point to be exact! As you can see, there could be a large deathpit under it! Players have to watch out as they are ascending the point's rickety woodways, as one misstep and they'll have to wait a respawn. not as much a use of height variation, but I figured I might as well include it, as it is technically height variation.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
  2. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

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    I've never ever ever had fun on Badlands' spire. It's spammy and it's really annoying to navigate if you're not a Soldier or a Demoman. Personally, as examples of raised control points, I'd have used Process' second or Egypt's first, or even Gravel Pit's final if you want to go the extreme.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
  3. Moonrat

    aa Moonrat The end of an era

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    I only said it wasn't a bad way to do it, I'm not a big fan of Spire either, it's just the thing most people would associate with a raised point.
     
  4. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

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    True, but it might be a good idea to provide some examples for good control points gameplay-wise (as well as multiple examples generally). For you see, just because something is recognisable, doesn't necessarily mean it's good. Take will.i.am, for instance.

    EDIT: Will there be a section on "point inside a small building" control points too?
     
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    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
  5. takabuschik

    aa takabuschik

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    Great tutorial!
    I got a few things that might be worthwhile to add: G-pit's 2nd and last, are two interesting examples for usage of height variation.
    You also didn't mention the lowerground idea- more cover, more sneaky, but with an height disadvantage
    Is there any chance that you'll update it to be approved for younger children (aka rated G) ?
     
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  6. hutty

    aa hutty

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    which gravel pit's second?
     
  7. worMatty

    aa worMatty Repacking Evangelist

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    When discussing both the elevation of a player in a level, and the vertical length of a structure, height should not be used to describe both. Height is the elevation of something above the ground. Tallness is the vertical measurement of something from its base to its head. Yes, you can use height to describe the vertical length of something but if you are using the same term for both measurements it could be confusing and it implies that they are the same thing, though they are not.

    This distinction is important, as the term height in layout conversation typically means the elevation of an area where a player will stand. Some examples of a high area are a suspended platform, a bridge or a cliff edge overlooking some accessible low ground.

    The geometry that surrounds a point on the ground can be tall but its effect is mostly to limit visibility and play space, like in your third screenshot.

    As you said, it's important to vary the tallness of structures in a map because if everything looked the same it would look dull. Tallness can be used to draw attention to an objective, as it is used in the final point of Dustbowl. A set of tall structures in an open area is a good contrast that sticks out a bit in the viewer's mind and makes them think that the area could be special.

    In my mind, height variation just means that a player's elevation will change as he runs through the map. It means that the combination of play spaces in a map are varied in height to make them more interesting, to provide advantages to some classes and to provide some breathing room occasionally when a player ignores anything above their eye line. Height can be contrasted by having a section of low path overlapped by a section of high path, as is the case in the mid point in badlands and the bridges in Doublecross. As well as providing alternate routes they help separate fighting without limiting visibility too much so people know where the action is. Alternatively, the tunnel outside at the beginning of pl_badwater is an example of height variation with no visibility between play spaces. Battles can take place simultaneously under the hill and above the tunnel.

    I don't think 'flat maps' should be treated so badly. A landscape isn't always rife with hillocks and ditches, and buildings don't always have pointless platforms and balcony routes (that would never pass health and safety inspection). Fastlane has elevated areas and some sloping ground, but they tend to be to the sides of the map while the middle length is mostly flat. The mid point and 2nd points are fairly open and flat, but perhaps that's the kind of fighting that the authors wanted to foster in that map. It doesn't suit everyone, but if each map played similarly, then there would truly be no height variation overall!
     
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  8. Moonrat

    aa Moonrat The end of an era

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    Most likely, as those are usually above ground.
     
  9. Moonrat

    aa Moonrat The end of an era

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    Uppitydate!