tf2mappers interview - Mr Muffin Man

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Shaar, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. Shaar

    Shaar L3: Junior Member<BR>toboruin

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    1) What was your first map that you created? What do you think the major flaws in it? What do you feel was the most important thing that you learnt from it?
    My very first map was called ctf_boats. It was a CTF map with a couple of tiny bases on the opposing sides of a small pool of some sort. Its major flaw was the fact that I didn't have any particular design plan, other than the fact that I wanted to force people to use boats across. It was a tiny map that I never actually released because it was so bugged, and with the 1x1 unit grid I couldn't easily fix the numerous leaks. However, it helped me improve from all my mistakes and learn almost all I needed to know, maybe most importantly - have a plan.

    2) When you were planning out both Shell and Mudslide, what were the key features you had in mind? Did you have to change these features as the map progressed? Do you feel you have kept true to your original idea for the map?
    Mudslide, at that time called Mud Bath, was planned around the Sniper/Spy update, when the rain particles were released. I wanted a map themed around mud - more specifially, slippery mud that would drag you into dangerous holes and such. I can certainly say the Mudslide is NOT true to the original idea. I changed the first and middle points several times, completely slicing off the middle and making a new one at one point. And, as perhaps expected, there's no slippery mud. Plenty of deadly falls, though, so I guess I haven't completely failed to hit the target.
    Shell, on the other hand, is almost completely true to my original sketches! It was built entirely around the middle rocket silo, with the basic idea being to have a unique landmark. I also wanted to make this a map with a short time in development, which is going pretty good at the moment.

    3) When designing Mudslide, were you aiming for a pub or a competitive audience? How do you feel designing between the two differentiates?
    I think a mistake I made was that I didn't actually think this through entirely, but I eventually ended up wanting to make this an enjoyable map for both audience groups, like Badlands. This forced me to test the map together with both competitve and casual players. Of course, the casual players can easily be found here, but getting a decent comp playtest was hard. I got some tests going, but the challenge was that those players weren't too keen on giving feedback. This meant I had to analyze their gameplay carefully, and... well, I got fed up and sort of drifted back to designing it for pub players. That's where I am today, and it feels better because our pub players are (naturally) willing to help out.

    4) What do you feel made you drop previous projects? What can you suggest to other people who are like this so that they are less likely to drop a project? Do you feel you’ll ever pick up previous projects?
    The maps I've voluntarily dropped so far are pl_smoke, cp_vulture and ctf_wadi, and all of them were dropped because of bad design. In Smoke, RED was attacking and BLU defending in a really tiny space, Vulture had a very strange layout that never felt natural to anyone, and Wadi was a sort of odd experiment where I tried to make a map that was detailed even in early alpha. What I learned from this was that you shouldn take it easy if you're a beginner. Stick to the standard of mapping and don't be afraid to make an ugly alpha. There's time for questionable new design choices in later maps!

    5) What game mode would you like to map for? Why have you not tried to map for this game mode yet?
    Single-stage payload. I have yet to make one for this mode because, at the time I started to think about it, the contest at TF2Maps was halfway over. I didn't want to join the enormous masses of similar maps at that time. Of course, I had lots of other ideas as well, so it's all a case of priority. The only thing stopping me from creating a PL map now is that I don't think I can handle 3 maps at once.

    6) You created one of the decompiled map packs; do you feel that they are a useful tool for mappers? Have you learnt anything from looking at the decompiled versions of Valve maps?
    Although it was overshadowed by a more popular version with decompiled community maps as well, I'm sure this is a very useful tool - I have learnt at least half of what I know from looking at Valve maps. It's good for inspiration and to see how exactly they did something, whether it's brushwork or entity systems. I highly recommend using Valve maps as a reference.

    7) Have you mapped for any other games previously, or was source your first experience at mapping?
    Source was my first, due to me never being into PC games before I bought the Orange Box!

    8) How did you learn to use the tools of source? Was it easy for you to pick up? What resources did you find the most helpful?
    I learned from trying to make my first map, just making some simple brushes and placing some models here and there. I found Hammer surprisingly easy and logical, which made me stick around and try to make something better. I was somehow directed here from the Control Point podcast forums, where I read some tutorials. The most useful resource I used was a beginner's guide to spawnrooms, which helped me a lot with entities as well. I can honestly say I used this site almost exclusively!

    9) How do you find working on two projects at the same time? Do you feel there is any advantage or disadvantage to working on two projects at the same time?
    There are definitely enough of both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, this always gives you something to work on on while you're waiting to get one of your maps tested, and it lets you work on something else for a while if you grow tired of your old map. On the other hand, this can make your mapping process really slow. It's hard to pick whether to work on one or two projects, but I ended up with two because I was sure Shell would be over quickly. Hopefully it will!

    10) What were some of the failed ideas that you have wanted to put into your maps, but eventually were never implemented? Why did you not implement these ideas?
    Well, there's the sliding mud. It was just gimmicky and I imagine it would be annoying. Even if I'd managed to do it, I don't think the Source engine would do a good job of making it look good. I also planned to make a swamp map once upon a time, but we all know what happened then... And, well, the swamp pack sort of made my idea less unique. Not to mention, I've had the idea of a zombie themed map, and to be honest, I'm still considering it. Seems rather cool, even if I can't have real zombies running around. :)

    11) How do you gain inspiration to map? What do you do when you arrive at a mapper’s block?
    I... don't know, honestly. Inspiration can kick in at any moment. Due to other games, a movie, boredom, who knows. When I have a mapper's block, I tend to get out my pen and paper to reconsider how I did some parts of the map, and think of things I could change to make it more interesting. It can also lead me to detail my map for a while, which helps me get back my inspiration so I can keep working. Or, if all else fails, I just go get some fresh air...

    12) What engines would you like to move into after mapping on source, if there are any? Why would you choose that engine? (If not, why wouldn’t you move on from source?)
    CryEngine 3 caught my eyes because of how versatile and powerful it is, coupled with how easy it seems to use. There's a problem, though - which game would I map for? I believe that's more important than the engine itself. I don't think I'll move on from Source before TF2 is dead and forgotten, because I love the game. Nothing beats mapping for a fantastic game, even when the engine is somewhat primitive.

    13) Are there any features that you would like to see incorporated into the TF2/Source engine which does not currently exist? Why would you like these features in?
    My biggest wish is proper physics for TF2. It would open up an entirely new style of maps that would feel much more dynamic. I know it's not very plausible due to performance issues, but if anything can keep me mapping for this game longer, it would be that!

    14) What is your favourite part about mapping? Why do you enjoy it so much?
    Detailing, because I find it very fun to create a little corner of the world that really looks like it's designed for this game. It has a much bigger payoff than any other part of mapping. The results can also appeal to anyone, even to those who don't know what an eff-pee-ess is.

    15) What parts of mapping do you struggle with? Do you feel you have overcome the problems in that area? If so, what do you feel helped?
    I still struggle with full understanding of the engine, especially how it optimizes. And, given the fact that I struggle with it - no I haven't overcome it. :p I find this particularly hard because of how hard it is to find tutorials and solutions specifically suited to your problem, so it's something you really have to figure out and learn before you can even try implementing any meaningful optimization in your map.

    16) What do you think is required to make a successful map?
    A well-structured work plan and the ability criticize your own work. But above all else, dedication. You must be willing to work hard and long, never doing anything half-assed unless it's just a placeholder or something. You must have a love for the game and the type of work you're doing, or else you will never be able to find what it takes in yourself to finish a map.

    17) When making a map, what is the order of things that you generally do? (E.g. what steps do you take to make up the map?)
    First, the idea. I make a sketch in Hammer, on paper or in my head. It's usually based around a landmark or some other special feature. Then I just hop into Hammer and begin the regular development process most people follow.

    18)Is there anything else you would like to be able to do, e.g. creating textures or modelling? If not why not? (Or vice-versa)
    Creating models is a skill I think would be very useful, and it's something I've been thinking about trying for a very long time. However, I have sadly never found time to pick up and learn yet another entirely new program.

    19) is there anything else you’d like to add?

    I finally got around to getting the new set of Qs. I dunno when I'll be doing the next one.
    • Thanks Thanks x 9
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  2. The Political Gamer

    aa The Political Gamer

    Positive Ratings:
    Very good read. I remember coming across the thread for ctf_boats, interesting map.
  3. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

    Positive Ratings:
    Excerlent stuff!
  4. Icarus

    aa Icarus

    Positive Ratings:
    Awesome, I was beginning to think Shaar had disappeared
  5. zpqrei

    aa zpqrei Theme Changer Extraordinaire

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  6. Owlruler

    Owlruler L12: Fabulous Member

    Positive Ratings:
    These questions were answered very quickly.
    A long slog to read through but good none the less.
  7. Ida

    aa Ida deer

    Positive Ratings:
    Yay, I'm famous now!

    It's Muffin Man by the way. :p
  8. eerieone

    aa eerieone

    Positive Ratings:
    mmhhh, delicious interview :)
    don´t keep us waiting too long for the next one :D
  9. Dr. ROCKZO

    Dr. ROCKZO L8: Fancy Shmancy Member

    Positive Ratings:
    These are really fun tor read, different personalities, different styles. Can't wait for the next installment!
  10. Westerhound

    Westerhound L5: Dapper Member

    Positive Ratings:
    Lies, its THE MUFFIN MAN

    The article could be described as moist and delicious
  11. Steff0o

    Steff0o L6: Sharp Member

    Positive Ratings:
    good read
    i like to see how other people create maps