TF2 Theme Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Zwiffle, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. Zwiffle

    Zwiffle L6: Sharp Member

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    With the seeming popularity of each new theme that comes out, I wanted to make a discussion solely about themes. I haven't seen a centralized thread like this before and decided this was probably the best place to post a discussion thread about this kind of thing. The point of this thread is basically to discuss themes that work or don't work in TF2 and why, and what kinds of themes we would like to see expanded upon or new themes we'd like to see.

    I notice that when a new theme comes out, people really tend to latch onto it. That may just be because people genuinely like that theme and it inspires all kinds of cool ideas in them, or it could just be because its new and someone wants to make "The First Ever X Map!" It happened (is still happening) with Alpine, and now it's working through Snow and Swamp maps.

    I'm not a fan of Snow or Swamp, so I stay away from them. I like Alpine, but I don't think it's the best map theme ever. I think mainly I stay away from Alpine because it's just too relaxing, scenic and ideal - in other words I find myself wanting to spend more time imagining I'm in the Alpine level in question instead of blowing up those stupid BLUs.

    I would like to spend more time developing a junk yard kind of theme - it could fit easily with almost any other theme, especially Desert, Alpine and Snow. But I would really like it in a Granary kind of setting, and I don't remember seeing too much about junk yards. I think it's a light sub-theme at best, but it could be good expanded to it's own full theme with blended textures from ground to rusty metal, some car/truck remains, etc. These things can be approximated already by using many current assets with some tricks like sticking a pickup model halfway into a desert displacement, even though it's not really the same as having its own full theme.

    Another theme I'd like would be an Autumnal theme, which you see a little bit of in arena_harvest (I think) which introduces a dull orange lighting scheme, and makes one think of autumn with it being harvest time. I could see brown/orange/yellow complementing red and blue as themes, and it too could go well with many current themes with some additional assets like trees with dying leaves, scare crows, piles of leaves instead of piles of hay, etc.

    What other themes would benefit TF2 ? What theme currently doesn't work in a map, and why? Is there a general consensus that the themes we have are fine or do people think that newer themes is good for TF2 in general?
  2. J4CK8

    J4CK8 L11: Posh Member

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    I'm guessing an autumn theme is next. Alpine was spring-ey, Viaduct winter-ey.

    Not so sure on the junkyard theme...I can see it fitting OK but can't see many maps with it. A few other themes that are available but I doubt some would fit.
    -Tropical (pl_jungle)

    Personally, I love it when they bring a new theme out. But this time, the snow theme seemed to bring a lot of snow maps...not all great either. I didn't notice many maps with the Egypt theme until very recently. Whether that's because people have just got an Egypt map into beta or not, but I myself didn't make my Egypt theme until a while after cp_egypt.
  3. uma plata

    uma plata L6: Sharp Member

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    I fully support developing a junkyard theme, for reasons which should be apparent
  4. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    I don't think tf2 needs new themes. I think TF2 needs new gamemodes and more spytech.

    People need to be invintive with what we've got, theres an incredible ammount for TF2 already. And when your inventiveness leads you to "oooh i need a xxxx to go here" you go make it, one off type thing. I like the map specific things like shmitz' robot in meridan or the (now overused) explosions in payload maps.
  5. RedWatch

    RedWatch L1: Registered

    Positive Ratings:
    Junkyard might be cool.
    Space and underwater would'nt work, being crushed or the threat of asphyxiation isn't an awesome thought.
  6. Scotland Tom

    Scotland Tom L6: Sharp Member

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    TF2 is a kind of strange universe that I would generally describe as 60's/70's retro-tech. It's made up of the kinds of things seen in James Bond movies from Goldfinger to Thunderball and Moonraker. TF2 may be far more action oriented than Bond (originally) was, but the environments seem to be drawn from such sources.

    There are, of course, exceptions. Farms, ghost towns and deserts aren't very Bond-esque locations, but reading between the lines I feel that the spytech theme that crops up in some way or another in just about every map is the real environment in which the Red and Blu teams originate. They may battle in Alpine regions, lumberyards, deserts and dams, but the equipment they use and the technology they exploit all have that distinctly 60's/70's retro-tech feel.

    I imagine that if you went in search of the home bases, the main facilities where Red and Blu are headquartered, you'd find the following types of locations:
    Volcano Lairs
    Moon Bases
    Tropical Islands
    Artificial Tropical Reefs (that disguise secret underwater bases of course)
    Facilities secretly built inside the very slopes of mount Everest
    Oil Rigs (that are really secret facilities drilling to the Earth's core)
    And plenty more I'm sure

    And they'd all be heavily populated with spytech themed objects galore.
    Anything that supports those types of locations I'll be thrilled about.
  7. Nutomic

    Nutomic L11: Posh Member

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    Now as you say with the James Bond-locations, i am currently playing No One Lives Forever (anyone remember that), i think many of the locations there could fit into TF 2 :]
  8. luxatile

    aa luxatile deer

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    Yeah, you're right about spytech. If anything, there needs to be more elaboration within the spytech part of TF2's theme, not the outdoors wood/concrete/dirt theme. You've got all you need there already.
  9. SPHinx

    SPHinx L2: Junior Member

    Positive Ratings:
    I wonder if there is a distinction to make between (1) a theme that is a distinct set of props/textures or brush shapes and (2) a theme that is an application of existing props/textures in a novel way. I am quite new to map creation, but already feel overwhelmed by all of the materials there are to play with. So I can see what Youme and MuffinMan are saying about not needing new themes, understood in the first sense. However, I do think there is a lot that can be done to establish new "themes" in the second sense.

    For example, I have been working on an urban "themed" (sense 2) map, which is basically inspired by elements present in Granary - brick buildings, factories, ducts, vents, that sort of thing. After playing TF2 for a while, I thought it would fun to have a map set in a city where BLU and RED operate and fight for urban control centers. The official maps don't do a whole lot in that direction (e.g. very few automobile props), but there is still a lot that can be done with what is there (e.g. gutters, sidewalks, windows, power lines, etc.).

    I guess this is all to say that I think we can be more specific when thinking about map themes and theme ideas. Are they ideas for new themes that need new props and textures (like the swamp and snow themes) or are they new themes that use existing objects in new and interesting ways? I think the second of these is actually the more exciting to think about. But that's just me. :rolleyes:
  10. Pilk

    Pilk L2: Junior Member

    Positive Ratings:
    I think adding more themes won't necessarily create a fresh experience for casual mappers because ultimately everything is styled the same for that theme anyway.

    So what have we got now?

    • Industrial (e.g. Well)
    • Desert (e.g. Dustbowl)
    • Alpine (e.g. Lumberyard)
    • Snow Alpine (e.g. Viaduct)
    • Egypt

    • Swamp
    • Various
    That's more than enough to work with. If people have reached a mental block and need a new theme to get their mind going again then that's quite a problem.

    Edit: Would you also regard Yukon as somewhat Autumnal? It has got orange tinged light and (what I think is) afternoon sun. It also doesn't fit in nicely to any of the existing themes.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2009
  11. luxatile

    aa luxatile deer

    Positive Ratings:
    Yeah, it should be mentioned that you can create new themes yourself. For example, I made a beach/island theme for koth_shell using Egypt's wavey sand and some random cliff textures.
  12. Zwiffle

    Zwiffle L6: Sharp Member

    Positive Ratings:
    It's not so much that people reach a mental block with the given themes, its that they want to do something in a particular theme. "Oh I would really like to make a moon base with moon balls" is not at all the same as "Oh I can't do anything with this damn spy tech theme! Woe is me!"

    Now while I personally agree there are plenty of themes established that area solid, good looking themes I also push for exploration. There is a lot more that can fit inside TF2. It's pretty obvious Valve doesn't want or need to come up with a fresh theme for each and every update, but they subtly modify one theme and change it up. Pipeline introduced "night time" which had been done before, but Valve did it well enough. They also introduced the rainy Sawmill, which the rain theme had also been done before. But simple tweaks like that can add a lot.

    I had always wanted to make a Mega Barn City kind of level, where RED just kept building barns upon barns upon barns all the way into the sky, until there were barn skyscrapers and so on. A TF2-meets-Blade Runner kind of thing. Now barns are an established theme in TF2, but skyscrapers not so much as of yet, and the "Super Giant Tall X" theme could exist, where you add X as whatever other theme you want really. (Super Giant Tall Swamp Treehouse, anyone? Go LordNed!)

    So yeah, entire themes don't have to be made, there are plenty to do within the existing themes, but again, that's entirely the point. It's more an exercise in what you'd like to see, instead of whether it should be seen or not.
  13. Sgt Frag

    Sgt Frag L14: Epic Member

    Positive Ratings:
    I see it more as the TF2 theme IS spytech bases hidden in a facade that looks like something else (the setting).

    So the alpine, desert, winter and egypt 'themes' are really more of a sub-theme or setting within the greater TF2 theme.
    IMO anything goes BUT it is nice when an author pulls it all together and makes it work with TF2, whether it takes custom content or stock resources.

    Alot of maps seem to miss the whole TF2 theme. The egyption maps are all a classic example of this (there are at least 10 I know of). Even Egypt itself. Sure the egypt content looks pretty good in TF2, but the underlying theme was lost and I haven't seen a mission yet that incorporated it.

    There is NO spytech base hidden within the ruins. This is something that is in all Valve maps and all of good customs, the fact that no matter what the 'setting/theme' is it's whole purpose is to hide the secret bases.

    Seems alot of players miss this too. In a recent playtest someone said my rocket didn't fit the theme. Even though it's an alpha and there is no detail... But why doesn't it fit? That's what TF2 is about, secret rocket bases, etc...

    A junkyard could be a cool map, but it needs to be a cover for a spytech base. I don't see it so much as a setting alot of maps would use, but one really good one would be cool and alot of the props needed could then be used in other settings.
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