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! 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! 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! 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! 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.... 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.......... 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..... 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.