TF2Maps and Potato’s MvM Servers Present: Mappers vs Machines

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semi-trained quasi-professional
Aug 8, 2010

Special thanks to: Frozen, Freyja, Hydrogen, Gadget, SedimentarySocks, TF2Maps Staff, TF Team

Mappers Vs Machines
by LeSwordfish and Hydrogen


“Get ready to Mann Up!”

Remember how Team Fortress 2 has a co-op mode? We admit, we’ve not been the best place to come for MvM maps recently - so we’ve decided to team up with the people who are: Potato’s MvM Servers, home of Area52, Giza and Powerplant!

That’s right, this is our second Mann vs. Machine contest! We want you to make cool, creative MvM maps, and we’ve got some of the biggest MvM experts to help you! Set aside the differences between Red and Blu and stop by the upgrades station: we’ve got lots of robots to grind into scrap. You’ll need to make one map with two unique pop files. Check the FAQ below, there are some great guides to get you started.

"Greed is good. Have a bonus."

To motivate you, we’ve got a unique medal for all entrants - plus the Mapper’s Medallions and even more prizes for the winners. We’re giving out the same prizes as last time, plus we’ll be giving out a special prize for the most creative map - we want to see what cool ideas you have to really shake up the MvM formula!

  • For this contest, you are to submit one completed Mann vs Machine map with 2 population files:
    • One pop file must be of normal mode difficulty.
    • The other must be harder than normal mode, but should be possible to complete. You may choose the difficulty for this pop file.
  • This contest begins right as this thread is being posted, and the deadline for submissions is Monday, July 31st, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT (UTC – 4:00).
  • Collaboration is allowed:
    • You may form groups of up to 3 people for this contest.
    • Creating custom content/assets for a map counts as collaboration, unless they are released publicly at least one week before the deadline. Writing pop files counts as collaboration.
    • Each participant can contribute towards a maximum of two entries.
  • You may not copy or use content from other maps or pop files, including your own. You may take inspirations and ideas, but you must build your map and waves entirely on your own within the contest time. For pop files, you are permitted to use any of the in-game robot templates that Valve missions use, but we encourage you to also come up with your own ideas for robots.
    • Prior existing MvM maps and pop files (WIP or finished) are ineligible for this contest.
    • You may freely use any publicly available assets to build your map, including Valve pop files or decompiled maps, though you may not directly copy brushwork or waves.
    • Bot templates - as distinct from popfiles or waves - can be treated the same way as custom content. So you can use ones you've already made, or publically released ones - but you have to have someone's permission to use ones they made that aren't publically released.

Submission Requirements
  • Submit one MvM map, one .nav file, and two .pop files (plus any needed template pop files.)​
  • Before the contest ends, your work must be posted to the submission thread. The thread will open one week before the deadline and will be locked afterwards.​
  • Your map should be technically functioning well - custom content packed, clipped, optimised, with a functioning navmesh and pop files. Ideally, your map should be repacked.​
    • Note that nav and pop files may not work properly if packed into the .bsp! Instead, we strongly suggest that you put your nav, pop, and bsp files in a .zip file with a readme file, and upload that to the site.​
  • Your map must thematically fit the TF2 theme/universe (it should be “TF2-styled”). No HL2, CS, etc. themes.​
  • If you want to use point_servercommand on your map, contact the contest host for approval.​
  • Failure to follow the directions to properly submit your work may result in disqualification.

  • Your work will be weighted equally between community voting and a panel of contest judges.​
    • Judges can’t vote for their own map and can’t win any prizes except public choices​
  • Your work will be assessed by the following criteria:​
    • Fun: Is the map fun to play? Does the map make every class useful?​
    • Waves: Are the missions fun to play? Are they at the right difficulty and appropriate length? Do they offer an interesting variety of challenges?​
    • Aesthetics: How pretty is the map? How well does it guide the players?​
    • Creativity: Is it unique, or just another clone? Does it try new ideas, even if they have some issues?​
    • Technical (Judges Only): Does it work properly? Do bots get stuck or broken? Is it properly optimised?​
  • All participants who submit a finished and playable MvM map with two pop files will receive an in-game Mappers vs. Machine Participant Medal as a participation token, courtesy of Valve and Gadget.​
    • The medal looks like this, and can be equipped on all classes.​
    • Low-effort entries will not be eligible for a medal - as with the 72hrjam medal, you don't need to create something high-quality, but it should represent an honest effort.​
  • In addition to the medal above, we’ll be handing out five prizes for the following categories:​
    • Most Creative - which map is the most interesting and unique?​
    • Best Aesthetics - which map is the prettiest?​
    • Most Fun - which map is the most fun to play?​
    • Public Choice - which map gets the highest overall score from the community voting?​
      • Each of these will win a Mapper’s Medallion, three months of TF2Maps VIP, and a choice from the prize pool.​
      • (No map can win more than one of these, though.)​
    • In addition, there will be a grand prize for Best Overall - that gets all the things above, plus a steam gift card for $100!​

Can you clarify the technical requirements?

Nothing is too surprising or unusual, but your map will be disqualified if:
  • Map is fullbright. Fullbright maps break servers, clients, and people’s eyes.
  • Your map cannot spawn 32 players (six humans and 22 bots).
  • Custom content is not packed. PLEASE pack your map with any custom content before you submit and use sv_pure 2 or another person to check that it is functioning. Compilepal makes this very easy.
  • point_servercommands are used without the explicit permission of the contest organizer.
  • The map is not winnable in either pop file.
We reserve the right to disqualify maps that are so broken we can’t properly judge them (such as broken nav or spawnpoints.)

I believe you mentioned MVM Mapping Guides...

Yes! Some particularly good links, picked out by Hydrogen and Tumbolisu:​
Can I use or other tools to design my waves?
Yes, you can - but they can be buggy or poorly-optimised. Check and test them properly - and be aware that you might need to manually edit the popfile anyway.

Where can I get my maps and waves tested?
You can test your work on any MvM server you like - but if you don’t have one, our sponsors, the Potato MvM Servers, are happy to help, and have a great setup. See their Steam Group for more information - and join them for announcements of tests.

Where can I find players to help test my map?

Join the Potato MvM steam group chat and ask anyone with a star next to their name to broadcast an event to the whole steam group. If you’re hosting it anywhere but their servers, they’ll need the server IP and map name.

Where can I find people to collaborate with?
Ask in this thread, or in your own map thread. Be prepared to show off what you can bring to a team, not just what you need.

Can I still win any of the prizes or the in-game medal if I turn in just a map?
Nope - the pop files are mandatory.

How many waves should be in my pop files?
That’s up to you - as many as is fun, really.

Should I also submit my map to the steam workshop?
It's not mandatory, but we encourage it! We want to create a steam collection of all the final entries, so if you post your map on the steam workshop we can include it in our collection! For the workshop, upload just the bsp file and link your map page on the item description so that server operators can download the nav and pop files. Here is an example.

If you've got any questions, then get in touch with me (@LeSwordfish, steam) or @Hydrogen (steam) and we can answer it. For now though - get mapping!

What’s more, we’ve got a whole other contest coming up - very soon indeed! (And yeah, they work really well together.) Watch this space - it’s going to be another great summer for TF2 mapping!​
Last edited:


MvM Maniac
Apr 5, 2017
I'm hosting the server testing this contest and will be distributing the medals and the steam gift card. I look forward to seeing your MvM maps!


(*single chuckle*)
Apr 10, 2014
Oh nice! Time to learn how to make an MvM map!


L1: Registered
Sep 13, 2016
Nice. Unfortunately I have no idea what I'm doing so I probably wont participate, haha


L5: Dapper Member
Dec 30, 2015
Oh boy! Time to grab that hammer again! But seriously, thanks for hosting this contest. I always wanted to make an mvm map. Also it could bring a bit more life to mvm finally!


May 12, 2013


L4: Comfortable Member
Sep 12, 2016
i have a great idea. it will be a standard mvm map... untill the last wave! where i will flip the intier mvm formula on its head! completly break the mold! with an awsome boss fight! yeeeess!
Jun 10, 2015
I've always kinda wanted to make a MvM thingy, now i have a reason to actually do it lol


The 80s Vegetable
Jul 6, 2015
Looking to jump back into the mapping scene, already got tons of awesome ideas for this contest!
Hit me up if you want to collaborate, looking for people that know the technicalities and want some creative input and extra mann power to help build the (totally winning) map of the century!
*If you need to look at my expierence look at my downloadable map files or just ask me via PM/Conversation*


L1: Registered
Dec 22, 2016
if i team up with someone that wins any of the prizes will i still get the mapper medallion?


L1: Registered
Dec 22, 2016
Time to shake hands and blow histles, got ideias but no clue how to make maps xD


Mar 1, 2010


Feb 8, 2016
i did almost nothing there but if i need i will redo the work thanks for pointing out.