Major Contest #14: Connect 5 (Finalist Voting Thread)

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a survivor with too much paint
Feb 7, 2008

Finalist Judging

Here it is: the final round of judging! 10 maps await your playtesting and criticism with great delight. There's a lot to talk about, so let's just get right into it!


The deadline is June 4th, 11:59 PM BST
Click here for a local countdown

This deadline may be moved back if players/judges need more time.

Voting Procedure

As usual, there is public voting and official judging, each accounting for 50% of the final score.

Public voting has been simplified to encourage more people to vote. All that is required is a single 1-10 overall score for each map. You may use decimals.

There are only two additional requirements: You must give a short justification for any overall score below 5, and you must vote for at least 6 maps.

Here is the simplified voting form:

MAPS | Overall
Backwash |
Chounai |
Guava Gulf |
Hazyfort |
Ice Tower |
Log Place |
Oasis |
Snowcastle |
Voltage |
Yanqing |

Complete Judging Rubric

This is the rubric the official judges will be using to score maps. Public voters may use this rubric as well. The % splits are suggestions only - you are expected to also provide an overall score that may or may not be calculated directly from the other scores. You may find it useful to calculate an overall score and then nudge the scores around to your liking.

Gameplay (Suggested 40% of overall score):
How fun is the map to play? Is this a map you want to come back to and play again? Does this map provide a unique kind of gameplay, or does it parrot existing maps? Is there any recognizable layout theory behind the map that you find impressive? Does the layout do anything particularly ambitious or risky? Does the map’s logic ever break?

Aesthetics (Suggested 30%):
How good does the map look? Does it feel like a place? Is it recognizable, or does it feel like just another TF2 map? Are there any graphical hitches?

Theme (Suggested 30%):
How well does the map adhere to the given Connect 5 Board line? How difficult is that line to execute on? Does it do something ambitious with the chosen line, or does it play it by the book?

Overall (Actually 100% of overall score):
How good is the map in comparison to the others in the contest?

(Technical issues are accounted for within the layout and aesthetics scores.)

MAPS | Gameplay | Aesthetics | Theme | Overall
Backwash | | | |
Chounai | | | |
Guava Gulf | | | |
Hazyfort | | | |
Ice Tower | | | |
Log Place | | | |
Oasis | | | |
Snowcastle | | | |
Voltage | | | |
Yanqing | | | |

You may duplicate this spreadsheet to help manage and calculate your scores. You can adjust the %s to your liking to aid in calculation, and there is also an "Error" column to tell you how far off your written overall score is from the calculated overall one.

These more in-depth scores are not taken into account when placing maps in their final ranks, only the overall score matters. However, these more in-depth scores may help you determine your own overall scores, and they may also be used for determining caption awards (more on that in a bit).

Official judges may or may not nudge their scores around from the calculated overall score. We will discuss this internally and figure it out as we go.

Official Judges

The official judges for this contest are:
  • Idolon
  • LeSwordfish
  • Another Bad Pun
This list may grow or shrink as life circumstances change and people become or stop being available, but our intent is to stick with this list.

Awards and Prizes

As per usual, there will be a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. These are the awards that earn you prizes:

First place:
*1 draw (first pick) from The Prize Pool
*A Mapper's Medallion (should you not already have one)

Second place:
*1 draw (second pick) from The Prize Pool
*A Mapper's Medallion (should you not already have one)

Third place:
*1 draw (third pick) from The Prize Pool
*A Mapper's Medallion (should you not already have one)

*Prize is awarded to each map collaborator
This list may be updated. Things will only be added, not removed.

In addition to the top three maps, there will be caption awards as decided by the official judges. These are for maps that maybe didn't have a podium finish, but still deserve recognition for something specific they did well. For example, Most Creative, or Most Ambitious. These awards do not come with any prize.

(Oasis has been voluntarily withdrawn from the running by the map's authors, and Snowcastle has been withdrawn for reasons of conflicting interest. They will not be considered when placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, but may still receive caption awards.)

Additional Information

The following is a list of the finalist maps and their chosen portion of the Connect 5 Board.

1 Objective under a Bridge

1 Objective on a Raised Platform

Guava Gulf:
1 Objective in a Cave

1 Objective on a Bridge

Ice Tower:
1 Moving Train

Log Place:
1 Moving Train

Desert/Arid Land
1 Objective in a Spytech Lair

1 Objective over a Deathpit

1 Objective on a Raised Platform

1 Objective on a Raised Platform
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L4: Comfortable Member
Apr 6, 2018
Where can I find the map "Voltage"? I don't see it in the Connect 5 upload thread.

Also, I can't seem to create a table using BBCode. What format do I have to use?
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Da Spud Lord

Occasionally I make maps
Mar 23, 2017
To make a table, surround your table data with the table tags:
[table] This is a table
This is another row in the table [/table]
This is a table
This is another row in the table
The site will automatically add a header to each column. We can get rid of this by adding "=head" to our table tag, which will make our first row into the table header. To separate columns, use the vertical bar character (|), and insert a newline/return to separate rows:
[table=head] This is the first column | This is the second column
Here's another row | :engieyay: [/table]
This is the first column | This is the second column
Here's another row | :engieyay:
Also, here's the download page for voltage.


L4: Comfortable Member
Apr 6, 2018
MAPS | Gameplay | Aesthetics | Theme | Overall
Backwash | 6 | 6 | 8 | 6
Chounai | 8 | 8 | 10 | 8
Guava Gulf | 3 | 6 | 10 | 6
Hazyfort | 10 | 10 | 8 | 10
Ice Tower | 8 | 10 | 10 | 9
Log Place | 8 | 3 | 8 | 5
Oasis | 8 | 10 | 10 | 9
Snowcastle | 8 | 6 | 8 | 7
Voltage | 6 | 7 | 10 | 7
Yanqing | 8 | 6 | 8 | 7

My template:
[table=head] MAPS | Gameplay | Aesthetics | Theme | Overall
Backwash | | | | 
Chounai | | | | 
Guava Gulf | | | | 
Hazyfort | | | | 
Ice Tower | | | | 
Log Place | | | | 
Oasis | | | | 
Snowcastle | | | | 
Voltage | | | | 
Yanqing | | | | [/table]
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Doctorate in Deliciousness
Mar 31, 2012
MAPS | Gameplay | Aesthetics | Theme | Overall (0-10)
Backwash |3|4|4|4
Chounai |5|7|8|6
Guava Gulf |6|5|6|7
Hazyfort |7|7|7|7
Ice Tower |3|6|7|5
Log Place |3|3|3|3
Oasis |8|9|9|8
Snowcastle |5|5|5|5
Voltage |This|map|is|mine
Yanqing |5|6|6|6

Here's Some Feedback
Backwash - Mid is a bit too thin and last is too difficult to push into. The space between Last and Mid that bypasses 2nd can also be confusing.
Chounai - Small, way too small.
Guava Gulf - Pretty fun for plr but has the same issues plr maps generally have, as in it stalemates. I really like stage 3 with how one cart can push the other as it makes a memorable and unique set piece. I'd suggest maybe remaking stage 1 since I think it's the weakest of the 3.
Hazyfort - It's kinda strange how this map mixes themes. It's got frontline, medieval and industrial all in one space and yet somehow it works. I find the first point the most interesting part of the map with the last point being difficult to defend and not that interesting to attack. 2nd dosn't feel like a last point but I do like how it uses vertical spaces and the routes blu can take to it, perhaps make it a 3cp map with the current last point being the middle point.
Ice Tower - This map has a fundamental design flaw that really ruins it for me. Spawn rooms are both on the same side of the map with the majority of the map being on the opposite side. This makes it so I rarely saw players in some of the maps more interesting spaces (by the cliff and train) and the map doesn't do a great job funneling players to the point.
Log Place - I really don't like this map at all. The points aren't all that interesting to fight in and it's detailing is very chunky. Last feels like a chore to both defend and attack while blu's spawn has 3 exits but players only really use the one in the middle. Also I can easily spawn camp the drop down exit.
Oasis - This map is pretty fun and looks amazing. It's main issues are some pretty nasty choke points and that a lot of the map feels thin, the oasis area in particular.
Snowcastle - Pretty fun for 2cp arena. The lighting's a bit dark and uninteresting and the detailing could use some work overall but it's not a bad map. Perhaps a bit too easy to go from one spawn to the opposite point though.
Voltage - How is this here? I made this thing in like 2 or 3 days and then had to change it from night time lighting to daytime lighting last min since I forgot it was supposed to be a day map. I am very surprised it made it this far but doubt it'll go much farther.
Yanquing - Really fun 2cp arena. The spaces feel like they are the right sizes and the points are repetitively easy to both attack and defend. The only issue gameplay wise is that it can be difficult to do much about sentries by the points. Mini's aren't too bad but a level 3 is a nightmare. I also don't like how the detailing transitions at spawn from industrial metal inside to ruin temple brick on the outside. It doesn't make sense to me how those 2 materials would be like that just looks off. Maybe make the inside more concrete and plaster instead of metal focused.
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a survivor with too much paint
Feb 7, 2008
Please use numbers, not letter grades. I can't put those into a spreadsheet and do math with them.


a survivor with too much paint
Feb 7, 2008
As a general rule of thumb, F is 0, E is 2, D is 4, C is 6, B is 8 and A is 10. Ultimately, the Overall score will likely be quite a bit higher than the letter's values because of the complicated ways we judge.

If this is too serious of a problem then I will change my letter gradings to 0-10.
Please change your scores to 1-10 numbers.


Here's a download link of all the finalists' maps. It's 357 MB total when extracted. I have also added the boards that were posted along with each map in the spoiler below.
I'll be continuing to fill this out as I play through the maps. Good luck to all of the contestants!

NOTE: I have played in both the May 20-21 and May 25 playtests. Ratings are subject to change over the next week. I most likely won't add much more to my feedback.

Map Name | Gameplay | Aesthetics | Theme | Overall
Backwash | 2 | 4 | 4 | 3.2
Chounai | 4 | 5 | 5 | 4.6
Guava Gulf | 7 | 5 | 8 | 6.7
Hazyfort | 4 | 6 | 6 | 5.2
Ice Tower | 3 | 5 | 5 | 4.2
Log Place | 5 | 3 | 6 | 4.7
Oasis | 6 | 8 | 9 | 7.5
Snowcastle | 9 | 8 | 7 | 8.1
Voltage | 4 | 5 | 6 | 4.9
Yanqing | I can't | vote because | she is | my map.
CP Backwash (symmetrical, on bridge, night, jungle, seaside)
This is one of the maps I've spent more time on through out its development. Then again, it wasn't much total. I'll be going in progression from last to middle, including lobbies.
  • Last is pretty basic and functional. The pipes behind the point aren't really needed as the jut up is sharp and unnecessary. The three routes don't really pair well together. On the right, the somewhat-tight cave was easily spammed out. On the left, a passive push wasn't too effective and defenders could squash players in upper lobby. The middle entrance was underused as it was the most exposed and didn't offer much room to jump from without a high risk. The two overhangs on the left side of last feel out of place. You could maybe add an entrance from lower to where the tank is, but don't overdo your number of entrances.
  • I really like the lobby you have between last and second. The upper area allowed for pinching, but the entrances were far enough away that rotating over felt awkward. Lower lobby felt really weird. The side (water) flank once again juts players up unnecessarily and leads to a mostly-useless lower route. The connections to the outside platform were weird as the small one felt natural, but the larger path along upper provided a better area to attack and defend second from.
  • Second felt really odd, but I somewhat like it. I really can't pin down on my feelings on this one. The point being on the side is nice, but the outer path is kinda long and bland while the entrances (that were way shorter for rollouts) are all clustered together and led to a mess. The hut felt useless and the door from lower lobby was awkward but blocks a major sightline. Maybe rework the pathing of this area to promote player movement.
  • The second-to-middle transition felt gross. The outer open route fit what many 5CP maps use, but wasn't effective due to being presented with a massive height disadvantage when approaching middle. The middle route was a big no-no as players went up stairs, had to do a 180-degree turn to go down more stairs, only to turn again to face middle (which is obstructed by a dinky entrance ready to be spammed out). Streamline your routes more, otherwise, it'll feel unnatural. The right-most route just turned out to be full of spam at all times due to it being the shortest route and a somewhat small room. It also provides a sightline across the middle point.
  • And finally, we've arrived at middle! This best exemplifies what I find to be fundamentally wrong with the map. It feels very linear and constricted with flanks that don't add much. This area is extremely small and has basic raised ground that overlooks the point. The bridge felt out of place as it was extremely low. I'd widen this area and not clog it up with all sorts of rocks and trees.
For the general things, just clean up your displacements (especially the seams), some small rendering issues elsewhere, and make things feel effective while breaking the basic nature of the current state of the map. I'll be completely honest, I couldn't find the areaportal issue on blue second, but please do fix that. Lastly, smooth out your work with more clip brushes. I appreciate the ones on the beams in lobby, but you missed a lot of other spots that could use it.
Visually, there's not too much to say. Some of your facades are really nice. Textures could use better selection, diversity, and pairing throughout the map. Some of the basic walls could be spruced up. Also extend your underwater ground out further to account for the difference in shading. Give your lighting some love! It's rough in a few areas, especially with brightness. There's a lot of holes throughout the map, but the next map you make will definitely show great strides in you progress as a mapper!

ARENA Chounai (symmetrical, raised platform, day, Asia, city/town)
There's just so many routes and buildings that create weird obstacles to play around. Spam classes were the most effective on this map even though the sheer openness of some areas was paired with all sorts of odd sightlines and chokes. There were tons of unused pockets and corners around the map. Most rounds, one team just overrun the middle area uncontested, often leading to a complete wipe. Flanks were sometimes outstanding as many players would be able to continuously move around areas without being punished, but towards the end of our test, players couldn't even penetrate the front line of a team that spread out. The train didn't feel too impactful as it went by later on in rounds and only really divided the lower section. I got caught on a few things, but overall, the clipping was very good.
The map felt kinda plain, but then again, it was made in a very short period of time. I wish the buildings had some more depth and didn't feel so boxy. The detailing that only really looked nice was underappreciated as it was behind the players when they spawned. Textures (and even some surfaces) don't really look great together. Cleaning up things vertically and giving a little more recognition to each side would be greatly appreciated. Lighting feels pretty flat in most areas. Just make things more unique so they stand out.

PLR Guava Gulf (symmetrical, cave, night, jungle, seaside)
The only multi-stage finalist! I really enjoyed this last night (May 20) when we played it. Then again, it was also super late and I might have been going crazy. To be honest, most of my gameplay thoughts are pretty general as I couldn't pin down exactly what it was that made portions of the map not work for me.
  • On Stage One, it felt odd pushing into the opposition's territory early on. The stair sections of the upper platform felt underutilised and some of the shorter connectors (to the checkpoint) and raised areas didn't feel effective. I really like the checkpoint, but I think it'd benefit from the area being squashed down a bit.
  • On Stage Two, the spawn being cramped in the corner with drastic height difference played out really weirdly. The far section after the cave was hard to reach as the closer doors and middle connector between spawns was favorable for conflict. The turn before the point was the area where a hold or stalemate felt most common. The two arches for attackers to wrap around the track led to some super awkward gameplay, so maybe tighten up that outer pocket.
  • I think you know what comes next: Stage Three! The middle area played nicely and had some interesting rotates, but eventually, it became dominated by a middle team, sometimes its possession being thrown back and forth due to the stalemates that occurred from the door to the point. The lower routes in middle felt underused and the drastic height difference made attacking last awkward. It felt more effective to camp spawns (which attackers were led to). The curve in the upper section of track (in middle, before the junction) acted as a lobby. Defenders would flood out from the drop, but could be held back. The way in which the platforms wrap around the last point strung out defenders, but it still felt hard to attack due to the clusters of people found sometimes.
On both Stages Two and Three, the spawns were somewhat obscure in shape, but didn't lead to issues or much confusion. And please disable the collision on your torches! This was one of the more fun maps, but didn't blend dictative geometry into some areas to the best extent possible, almost sectioning off areas.
For some basic detailing, you communicated the region pretty well. I wish some walls were less bare, that there was more consistency in doors, and that the density of detailing in open areas was better. However, the function of each piece was well-communicated.

CP Hazyfort (asymmetrical, on bridge, day, farmland, castle/ruin/temple)
This might be the map that I've played the most throughout the duration of the contest (even without excluding Yanqing). I have some pretty mixed feelings about it. There's a ton of open areas that aren't really coherent. In more recent versions, players are able to traverse height a little better, but the map still feels like a mess, especially in lobbies and super wide flanks. The route to A is kinda messy and attacking from far away makes it confusing for players. The lobby between A and B is still pretty confusing and connects to so many different places. The biggest fault in the map is probably the B point. Two flanks lead to RED spawn while BLU can also spam down upon the point. Players often flood the point after destroying the sentry nest on the platform before getting completely wiped. Most attacks don't feel effective in this area without a swift enough execution and complete clearing of the area. Don't let me just stand on a bush, remove it. Some columns and doors should be cleaned up along with the other spots to get stuck, but very nice job.
Detail-wise, things don't mesh together or feel extremely plain. There's a ton of walls that are flat and some areas that just don't make sense. The lighting is very diverse but can be dark in a few areas, making it hard to identify players. My biggest complaint here is the close clipping plain and heavy fog as it interrupts the longer areas of the map. I like the diversity in forms and textures, but some things don't add up structurally or contribute to the map. The farmland itself isn't really noticeable within the map and it juxtaposes the castles and cities right away. I think you need to improve upon keeping a general consistency throughout your work while making things identifiable and coherent. Repetition is present throughout the map, but the depth itself is lacking.

KOTH Ice Tower (symmetrical, moving train, day. snow, alpine/forest)
This map is huge! Jeez, you crammed so much into a KOTH map. Players are guided away from the point due to the way your entrances are positioned and the sheer size of the map and pathing of its routes made it hard for many of us to find the point. Even right outside of spawn, players are met with a wall for one exit, then follow a sightline past the point directly to the enemies' base. Things felt cluttered all over the place and sightlines could be found in all sorts of areas. Flanks felt kinda useless as buildings were clustered together, making most places in the map a death trap. The point itself was incredibly hard to both attack and defend. Even though the train ran right through the length of the map, it barely had an impact in actual gameplay. Other than the stairs, I ran into almost nothing else being smoothed out for the players.
I like the ideas being thrown around here, but the overall map doesn't feel coherent and doesn't incorporate the alpine theme inside the actual play space too much. There's just so much noise that it can become distracting for the player, interrupting the actual gameplay.

CP Log Place (asymmetrical, moving train, day. snow, alpine/forest)
Thanks for the flashbacks to working on Fiori with your brushwork. What a trip! I really just wish you had more time to test and put some love into this sucker. There's definitely potential here! A handful of areas are overscaled, brushwork is messy (but boy do I love those signs), and clipping is needed. Some flanks are massive, sightlines plague the map, and the displacements are a bit rough. The diversity in height is a bit staggering at last and outside of BLU spawn, but would work better if multiple ways up existed to facilitate player cycling and movement. The middle section of the map feels like a grid to weave around and acts more as a buffer that works out of confusion instead of strategy. The train doesn't greatly influence the map outside of just blocking a push or retreat. The dynamic door (that closes after A is captured) closes pretty fast, but worked well for defenders to reach A. I guess if pushes wouldn't just collapse onto the point as quickly and if flanks were more impactful instead of drawn-out routes, I'd give this a higher rating.
As for the detailing, it just needed love. BLU spawn has a well-constructed building, but elsewhere, the map is mostly blocky brushwork that makes gameplay weird.

PL Oasis (asymmetrical, spytech lair, day, desert/arid land, city/town)
I'm sorry, but as much as I love blue, BLU shouldn't be winning so easily. The inital area is by far one of my favorites on a payload map. However, the way it connects from the second half of first into second led to a lot of rolls with some short holds. Most routes are effective, but feel repetitive in their zig-zagging shape. The reliance on box jumps makes sense as a risk/delay-reward, but feels uneccessary in a few areas. The area just before second played way better than I expected, but could easily become messy if RED pushes back out due to how non-dictative that whole area is. The entire last area is just gold. Routes wrap around one another in creative ways, the pillars and bridges are extremely useful in gameplay, and the choke fits the tried-and-tested payload final while still being unique. The deathpit in the left flank felt unnecessary, but the way it opens up the room was needed. Clipping would be nice in some areas, but I know the brush limit was tight. I honestly wish I could've played this more during its development as I think there's a potential for interesting rounds.
This map is stunning. With the majority of the assets being custom, it just works so well. Some default ones don't fit in as well though (mainly the brightness of the banners, one of the crate models, obelisks near second, and the interior of BLU spawn -- especially with its rough arches). Lighting is super diverse throughout the entire map and works well with the mixture of smooth textures and gritty props.

ARENA Snowcastle (symmetrical, deathpit, night, snow, castle/ruin/temple)
Oh boy, oh boy. This is one of my top picks for the contest. And producing this within two or three weeks? That's just astounding. The various platforms and routes feel all over the place, but they're deliberate and just make sense. The diversity in scale and form leads to a few awkward areas, but this map pans out really well most rounds. The middle area was somewhat underused in the playtest I participated in, but there was still a deliberate ebb and flow when pushing. The points themselves led to some super interesting gameplay with the two sets of stairs and the upper area. The cliff feels pretty powerful, but then again, that's part of the fun. To the left of each spawn, the area opens up a little more than I'd like, but it didn't cause any issues. The two and a half chokes created to reach the point very well, but holding from the spawn to balcony feels a bit too useful. Maybe extend the capture zone just slightly past the corner to form an 'L' shape to aid in tapping the point as a way of initiating conflicts. There are a few spots that would be nice if collision was disabled or that they were clipped off, but overall, you achieved a high level of polish gameplay-wise.
The structures are just gorgeous. There are a few inconsistencies throughout them, but I'm just blown away by the forms you've created. Textures pair very well together and both facades are unique, aiding in side recognition. Although the portion behind the players' spawns isn't detailed, it isn't really too noticeable when playing. The biggest thing I'm docking points for is the lighting, which somewhat breaks my heart. Players are clearly visible excluding some small areas. Warmth varies depending on the player's location within the map. In some areas, the lighting is somewhat rough or doesn't contribute too much. If some of the structures (although high up) were lit up a little better and some other areas smoothed out, you would've gotten a higher rating.

ARENA Voltage (symmetrical, raised platform, day, snow, city/town)
I somewhat like this map, but it feels as though some areas have wasted potential. Gameplay-wise, the length of the map contributes heavily to turtling and snipers. The middle building within the map felt somewhat tight and was often underappreciated by players while some routes, flanks, and small pockets felt lackluster and underpolished. I wish the point area themselves weren't so open and that the point was a bit more easily contestable (even though it is raised). There are a few spots that need clipping (especially along your columns and trims!), but you did a pretty good job of smoothing out the map.
Visually, I like the point atriums. Although cluttered in some areas while expansive in others, the best detailing is centralised at each of the points, drawing the player's eyes there. Outside of that area, I wish texture choices worked a little more well together. For the majority of your buildings, I think simple columns along the walls would have greatly contributed to the map's aesthetic. Some portions of props without a face and the edge of the map are clearly visible. Outside, the snow and some walls are bright (especially once I turned on HDR). There's a missing roof texture that I'm sure you know of. Lastly, the city feels like an afterthought just thrown in on the sides. If there were some way to incorporate this into the industrial area or expand it further, I probably would have thought that this fit better.

ARENA Yanqing (symmetrical, raised platform, day, Asia, city/town)
She was hella fun to work on, although frustrating at times. The intent was to create fast-paced and predictable rounds while offering a variant on 2CP Arena. I think the layout completed my goal fairly well. After spending two months of over-designing pre-alphas, I finally got to release a version. Very few alphas were needed throughout the development cycle. I wish some more experienced mappers got to play the initial versions to hammer out the issues earlier on, but that got straightened out. I want to give a huge thank you to my collaborator partner, Diva Dan, for showing off his excellent detailing on my map. As reluctant as I was, that took it to the next level. I may release the design document, but we'll see if I do get around to it. I'm super happy with how this came out and can't wait to see her future!
Gameplay-wise, the map intends to break the normal style in 2CP Arena maps by excluding a middle contested area. However, this sections off the map and makes it hard to create a flow that is uninterrupted by tight chokes (Dan helped fix this, but the rotations used in maps are cyclic and require forceful dry pushes early on). The verticality isn't as prominent as I initially planned, but I think it works well. The unique aspect of making the spawns still function after the round starts (as a flank behind the point) has led to some interesting rounds. A bit more polish in clipping and with blockbullets would smooth out the map. I wish I could somehow balance out sentries more, but it's partly my fault for starting that trend in an early test.
Visually, I'm stunned by what's Dan's done. I wish the textures felt more TF2-y and that spawn felt a little more structurally sound, but hey, I only gave him a couple of weeks to detail it. Under balcony, there's a noticeable dark spot that can interfere with player visibility. In the lower section of the map, an areaportal barely affects the skybox, but this is only visible while rocketjumping in yard. There also happens to be two suns, but very few people have noticed, so shhh... All that remains are some very nitpicky things that mainly boil down to personal preference.
If I could vote on her, I'd maybe give her a 7/7/8/7.3. That feels a bit high in my opinion, but I guess it's just a mixture of all my thoughts thrown together over the development cycle.
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L1: Registered
Feb 16, 2017

MAPS | Gameplay | Aesthetic | Theme | Overall
Backwash | 7 | 5 | 7 | 6.5
Chounai | 7 | 9 | 8 | 8.5
Guava Gulf | 8 | 6 | 9 | 8
Hazyfort | 9 | 10 | 10 | 10
Ice Tower | 8 | 10 | 10 | 9
Log Place | 7 | 7 | 9 | 7
Oasis | 9.5 | 10 | 9 | 9.5
Snowcastle | 8 | 10 | 8 | 8.5
Voltage | Where can I | download this map ? | [edit:] nvm it's | here
Yanqing | 10 | 6 | 7 | 7


Aug 6, 2016

MAPS | Gameplay | Aesthetics | Theme | Overall
Backwash | 7 | 3 | 4 | 7
Chounai | 7 | 8 | 9 | 8
Guava Gulf | 8 | 7 | 9 | 9
Hazyfort | 7 | 5 | 6 | 7
Ice Tower | 4 | 7 | 6 | 7
Log Place | 6 | 6 | 7 | 6
Oasis | 8 | 9 | 8 | 8
Snowcastle | 7 | 7 | 8 | 7
Voltage | 6 | 4 | 6 | 6
Yanqing | 9 | 8 | 9 |9

Hazyfort: It's really yellow on this map. I like the interiors, especially red spawn, but it really is too yellow.

Ice Tower: Mid is really open, and it takes too long to get to the point and most of the connectors are equally open. People usually got sniped before they got to the point. On the point its rather cramped, and awkward to play in.


Voltage: To begin with, I've got missing textures for the roofs of Blu's buildings and some of mids. Also while playtesting I heard others complain about missing props as well (I didn't find any I didn't already have)

Engineers have a really strong hold over the points. I've yet to play in a match without engineers stalling the game.


The exteriors are also really bright and are hard to look at from both angles



Backwash: I generally like 5 cp maps but I think Backwash's layout is uninteresting with little defining the routes, and I find the mid point to be too cramped. Both the sides of the map look really close to each other and often confuse people when navigating the map.

Backwash has a lot of detailing errors that I'd like to feedback as well.


I have no idea how this thing stands up with such a wonky support system. There's also a floating lamp to the right.


There's also beams going through the roofs.


I really don't understand the logic of having two doors ten feet apart from each other but only one is normally accessible by a metal ramp. The other one that most certainly was made intentionally has a makeshift platform for it that doesnt connect to the metal ramp at all. The makeshift platform has really thin supports too for such thick planks of wood.


Immediately coming out of the last forward spawn, players will go to the right usually to their own territory instead of going to the front lines where they're supposed to. Partially due to a lot of the same textures being used like the blue bricks all over the map.

Perhaps if the forward spawns were reversed (red spawns in the blu one, vice versa) it would be easier for players to know where their heading.


These bricks are used on both sides of the map and confuse players all the time.


On both sides of the map in one of the mid connectors there's a rock clipping through the wall.


Was there supposed to be a sign here?


Both teams spawns are just overall uninteresting. Not that much going on inside them.
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L1: Registered
Feb 18, 2017

MAPS | Gameplay | Aesthetics | Theme | Overall
Backwash | 3| 5| 5|4
Chounai | | | |
Guava Gulf |6 | 5| 7|6
Hazyfort | | | |
Ice Tower | || |
Log Place | 3|4 |6 |4
Oasis | 4| 8| 10|5
Snowcastle |5|6 |7 |6
Voltage |2| 4|5 |3
Yanqing |4| 8| 9|6

Notes 5/20/18

As I play more of these maps as well as figure out how to actually vote properly and not use peculiar scores, said scores will probably change, and as I play more of the unfilled maps (Chounai, Hazyfort, Ice Tower) I might judge those as well. But in the meantime I have some notes for a few particular maps that I actually had some more playtime on...(especially considering that I only played a good chunk of these maps like once, professional of me)

Update 5/26/18 after playing these maps for more than 10 seconds:

For some reason after today's playtest a lot more issues really started to stand out in comparison to previous play sessions regarding the finalists here. And in the end I would have to say that I have more negative than positive feelings regarding the quality of these maps. Although I wouldn't say that I was disappointed. As there is the expectation of having some added pressure as well as time constraints when it comes to these map competitions, so I can't really put the mappers at fault here too much. Especially seeing how every one of these maps at least has a competent mapper behind it (or multiple mappers depending on the entry).

5/20/18 reviews:
Log Place:
While the first point is alright I suppose (albeit somewhat uninspired), last is where it definitely starts to fall apart a little. This is mostly due to the height advantage that attackers have in my opinion, and while it's definitely is not as bad here as it was in its earlier versions, the verticality is still frequent enough to the point where the attacking team won almost every round, at least during the last test (5/20/18).

I also gave this map a 4 in aesthetics not just because of incomplete detailing (although that does contribute to a decent bit of my reasoning, even if that isn't fair) but also because of how some of the detailing felt chunky as Megapie mentioned earlier. Although, I am a fan of the more lumberyard/alpine inspired theme even if that is something already accessible in a decent chunk of TF2's stock maps. Hell, I'm even making a map that makes use of this theme as well! (Or trying to at least)

Oh! And the use of brushes to paste the map's name over several instances is a creative choice that I can't say I'm necessarily a fan of, as the aforementioned blocky/chunkiness of these types of brushes end up sticking out (and not just in a literal way, I meant in a more visual manner) much more than it needs to for a signpost or whatnot.

This map had a rather wonderful waterfall in place of a wall, in fact I'd say that it's a Wonder Wall

Mercenary grade puns aside, I quite like this map and expect it to at least come in the top 3.
Gameplay is probably the map's weakest point as while the majority of the map plays fine (maybe some parts feel a bit tight around certain chokes but I didn't really mind them at all), I couldn't recall when was the last time Blu didn't make it to last (which is rather odd for a PL map I feel). Not to mention, attackers also won the round (not without somewhat of a fight at the very least) after reaching red's last spawn. This could be due to too much freedom for Blu at the end, but I can't say that I'm for certain.

In terms of theme and aesthetics, Oasis looks wonderful. Despite being a desert themed map, I'm impressed with how colorful and playful everything is (which is especially important for a rather cartoony looking game), not to mention, the more Arabian driven theme is also a concept that I never really seen attempted before. However, I'm not gonna give it full points as I kinda agree on the notion that last maybe looks a little bit too shiny?


As some of you probably know from in game, I fucking hate arena (which may or may not play a role in grading despite my best efforts), and to see a map like this that I could actually tolerate is an accomplishment on its own.

I'm quite a fan of the subtle uses of highground making fights feel varied yet at the same time not applying too much pressure to the player (or rather, to me). And while the concept of a 2cp Arena isn't unique, it works really well for a layout helping to apply at least somewhat of a strategy. Sometimes, the two points switched back and forth spicing things up by the slightest but also to a necessary degree.

I also really enjoy the unique theme. While this certainly isn't TF2Map's first oriental inspired map it is definitely one of only a few that takes place at the foot of the Great wall of China, helping to establish a more unique landscape and interesting architecture to boot. However, I do feel as if there isn't too much of use of varying colors, as grey and green dominate the map. Not to mention, the more industrial inspired spawns end up sticking out like a sore thumb.

Other notes:

Voltage was probably one of my least favorite maps to play when it came to visuals. As while the outside areas looked nice I'm not personally a fan of the map's industrial theme dominating the eyes, leading to the eventual use of more drab colors in the process. Although that could be on more of the theme's part rather than the aesthetics themselves. I also saw a few missing textures but I'm not gonna let that deduct too many points if at all.

5/26/18 reviews:

First of all, the chokes are frankly flawed. As if you were to look at any point in this map (say...mid for example), most if not all chokes end up being too closed up making it easy to spam through.



Because of this, most games ended up in a standstill with some minor back and forth gameplay thrown in. Although the latter situation was probably due to one, two, maybe three players fucking up before a point was capped. Sorta like how CP maps play in casual pubs. Except here that the map is genuinely at fault here.

And another point that I have to make regarding the third image here: almost no one on the defending side actually used this route and the little building that housed it. As defenders don't really gain much from using it as they can just walk around the building and use the much more open (yet still pretty closed) route next to it instead. As uncuepa said in his Level Design in TF2: part 2 video essay, you need to look at your routes and ask yourself the question "What does an attacker/defender get out of this route?" he also mentions how routes can play poorly if they lack an intention behind their existence. As here, that same question might've been overlooked.

There are other issues with this entry as well. Namely that the mapper here played it safe regarding the theme and aesthetics. Which is fine if it weren't for the fact that said entry would also end up competing with a few other maps that experimented a little bit more regarding theme and look, and for the better imo. A few others also mentioned how the lights in this map were too bright for a night time map, though I didn't really mind that myself.

Guava Gulf:

I honestly did not expect this to be the most enjoyable entry that we played today here, as

1. I don't like Payload race terribly

2. I didn't really think much of it other than it did what it needed to accomplish (being a plr map and all).

And while that's how I still generally view this map, there is a lot less to criticize in light of everything else that I and a few others will have to say regarding every other entry.

I only played this map a few times in comparison to other entries so I'll keep it short.
This definitely works as a deathmatch map, as while I'm aware that TF2 is more than that, said deathmatchy-esque gameplay is sorta expected from a plr map as a side effect. Koth also has a similar situation but to a much smaller degree to the point where teams end up a little more organized and sewn together. Or maybe today's playtest made me think that, I can't say for sure. Regardless, If you're gonna make me play a plr map then at least please the scout main in me by making dm combat fun, which this map did imo

Speaking of today's playtest, a lot of the rounds experienced a standstill before one team inevitably pushed the cart, and that was with a lack of engies. The reason why I emphasize that this was all from today's playtest was because of how several (or maybe just one person I forgot) brought up the fact that this entry's lasts end up being contested for a shorter period of time in other playtests compared to today.

Oh, and while I do like the theme, the brick textures that dominate the map do feel a little bit too clean, especially if you take in the fact that RED and BLU have set up camp in what is probably supposed to be the remnants of some ancient Aztec/Mayan inspired city I'm assuming.

Log Place:

Not really much to say here other than how clunky the map feels, not just in the aesthetics department but on the gameplay front as well. While first feels fine I guess (though, I'm uncertain regarding how to feel about the three major angles blu can attack the point from), last is where this map really brightly as a slightly rusted screw.

You think that with the height advantages that blu has access to, they would have a chance...right? Well...having red spawn next to the point isn't a good move. As blu ended up winning zero games due to being spammed, pushed, etc off the point right after a push attempt was made. Which is funny considering how I previously stated "the verticality is still frequent enough to the point where the attacking team won almost every round, at least during the last test (5/20/18)" its a good thing that I put the date of my previous review there as the added context of adding to said review with my experiences of the last testing session we had adds to the notion that opinions (not just in mapping obviously) constantly change for better or for worse.

Last also felt awkward for sniping as the height advantage for BLU near RED spawn made it so I kept getting spammed out if trying to snipe across the point area.

The detailing here is also not worth being excited over, as the map hasn't actually made it out of alpha stage (resulting in some chunky geometry). Which might be unfair to judge but I'm not sure if you can update entries once the voting process starts so I might as well...

No I'm not making a Wonder Wall joke again shut up

Oh boy...where do I begin

Well, before I get flung into the inevitable shitstorm, I may as well
address the elephant in the room: how this map looks. In fact, I haven't really change my mindset regarding this entry's aesthetics so I'm just gonna paste my previous statement from the 5/20/18 review:

In terms of theme and aesthetics, Oasis looks wonderful. Despite being a desert themed map, I'm impressed with how colorful and playful everything is (which is especially important for a rather cartoony looking game), not to mention, the more Arabian driven theme is also a concept that I never really seen attempted before. However, I'm not gonna give it full points as I kinda agree on the notion that last maybe looks a little bit too shiny?

I forgot who mentioned this in game (and I deeply regret not knowing so), but the map sorta reminds players of a macbook, or really any other apple product. That is, it looks nice it like, nice?

While first point ends up being one of the stronger aspects of the map, I can recall that in other tests in the past, the first point was always capped in the end, as in Red team always ended up being overwhelmed resulting in first's capture. The reason why I say first is strongest here is because of how defenders are able to set up and secure ground, while also making the point feel achievable for attackers. I mention this as the feeling of a fair game is effectively undone.

Why is this? Could be because of how attackers are given all the advantages they could ask for when it comes to height and routes, while red is given nothing and expected to make use of those same advantages when no one is looking, with last exercising this notion the most out of all points. Sorta reminds me of how Soviet soldiers were told to pick up weapons dropped from shot comrades after the military ran out of weapons to supply them with during operation Barbarossa.

Just look at how little space red can make use of here:


The freedom that BLU has is especially bad in these two areas (You might have to look closely here):


PS. the window that snipers can make use of at last is pretty much rubbing salt in the wound.

Oddly enough, this map feels (and is I suppose) more improvised than other improvised maps. And I'm not even saying that improvisation is taboo. If anything, improv is normal to see in the mapping process


According to MegapieHD, he pretty much rushed this entry and was surprised to see it in the finalist section...and it shows.

Apparently, arena maps need some good areas to fight in as well as making risks even more encouraged as well as rewarding. Seeing how I don't play arena much if at all, this is the first time that I learnt of this notion.

So is it a good map? did get exciting at a few points, but that was with no engies on either side. Because the height advantages that defending teams can take coupled with all routes to the point being chokey doorways, it makes the risks that
separate arena maps from other gamemodes not worth taking. And don't get me started on how easy it is to camp with an engineer or two. In fact, I was once again reminded of a casual CP game because of this. (Which led me to believe that this felt like a pretty standard map, whoops)

I also haven't changed my mind regarding
aesthetics for the most part:
"Voltage was probably one of my least favorite maps to play when it came to visuals. As while the outside areas looked nice I'm not personally a fan of the map's industrial theme dominating the eyes, leading to the eventual use of more drab colors in the process. Although that could be on more of the theme's part rather than the aesthetics themselves. I also saw a few missing textures but I'm not gonna let that deduct too many points if at all." What does
genuinely impress me however is how much detailing pie was able to accomplish for an a1.

Though I would like to add that there is a rather large amount of missing textures than I previously remembered, that and how outside is a little bright:

Extra note: some players didn't even know that the turbine was supposed to be the point


This map has a similar issue regarding the lack of risk taking. As in how turtling the point leads to too many advantages. While Yanqing isn't nearly as bad as voltage when it comes to being sheltered by the map, the point is still easily
accessible. There are however subtle high ground advantages that both can freely use which is nice.


I would like to note however that there was at least a decent amount of back and fourth gameplay, so that's good.

Previous notes regarding theme and aesthetics because I've been here writing this for at least an hour and I'm getting lazy again:
"I also really enjoy the unique theme. While this certainly isn't TF2Map's first oriental inspired map it is definitely one of only a few that takes place at the foot of the Great wall of China, helping to establish a more unique landscape and interesting architecture to boot. However, I do feel as if there isn't too much of use of varying colors, as grey and green dominate the map. Not to mention, the more industrial inspired spawns end up sticking out like a sore thumb."



and I haven't change my mind one bit regarding those notes.
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I like foxes
Jul 20, 2016
Overall scores rounded to even numbers for easier grading

MAPS | Gameplay | Aesthetics | Theme | Overall
Backwash | 4 | 5 | 4 | 4
Chounai | 5 | 6 | 6 | 6
Guava Gulf | | | |
Hazyfort | | | |
Ice Tower | | | |
Log Place | 4 | 4 | 3 | 4
Oasis | 5 | 9 | 10 | 8
Snowcastle | 10 | 7 | 7 | 8
Voltage | 4 | 4 | 3 | 4
Yanqing | 7 | 8 | 6 | 7

I'm giving every map I can cover, regardless of final scores, feedback with images to look through.
Feedback developed from notes taken during tests, so even if you scored high, its worth checking to get a feel for how a player may actively view your maps quirks.

The wording on my feedback is constantly being updated, but most of my main points will stand throughout the edits

Aesthetically this map is really weak. The lighting is both strangely too bright and too dark at the same time, like in this screenshot, there's no real balance to it and it feels really off.

The overall structure and detail work on the map feels amateur at best, geometry feels clunky and awkward, and there are a lot of strange choices like having this platform right on-top of a staircase. Id highlight more but I don't want to overload you with screenshots.

Nothing really meshes well, feels natural, or feels like a believable building in the tf2 universe. I think the best example of this kind of stuff is with the connector building from 2nd to last for each side, none of the structure choices make sense here and it feels really stitched together at the last minute.

The map is a step in the right direction for future projects and I hope you keep at it because this is getting close, but for now its still very just amateur and takes me out of the experience. Theme wise I kept forgetting that the map was seaside because of how dark the sky box is and for how little it actually matters for game play space detailing, but I could definitely feel the map was jungle, and absolutely felt that it was at night.

Gameplay and layout on the map were very strange. Mid is smaller than last and second, and doesn't have much in the way of fleshed out connectors or places for teams to hold pre-push. You take a corner out from mid and you're already right in front of second. You can even skip over second entirely and go straight from mid to last if you take the right route. Its overly small in these areas. I enjoy fighting in the larger open areas of second, but pushing from second into last or vice versa becomes a chore because of how easy it is to keep an eye on all your entrances from one angle. There is no real flank or side entrance to try and trick up defenders with when attacking last, and if you're using the upper routes you are forcing yourself through some small hallways and doors creating a meat grinder. Last is also a bit too close to the spawns on the map and gets messy really quickly since defenders can just peep in and out of spawn to spam stickies at the point relatively safely.

Chounai plays it safe with its aesthetics and goes for the relatively well known and established japan town theme. In this regards, its neither remarkable or terrible, and feels just passable at best. I have some conflicts with there being a (silent) metro tram going down a road like this, but im not familiar enough with the area this map is based off to say its unrealistic. The areas between the buildings feel a bit small, confined, and uncomfortable. It doesn't look very fun to navigate and just all really squished.

Compromises like this arent anything that hasn't been done before and is passable if you're putting gameplay and layout first. However putting layout first does make me question the safety of people living or using these areas though, dont slip off this

It fits its relatively safe theme, but doesent do anything outstanding with it or try to really explore just what you can do in an asian city, the most interesting themed bit being the tram I guess. Nothing terrible, but nothing noteworthy for either aspect.

Gameplay brings up a few issues for me. The point is absolutely the strongest area in the map, which I feel isnt the goal of an arena map, you want the point to work as a way of drawing out enemies forcing a stalemate, but risking being in a more open disadvantageous position. Putting the CP on a bridge that raises it above the entrances for both teams means its an incredibly strong spot to hold with its high ground. Alongside this, being right ontop the CP only puts the team who gets the bridge first at that much more of an advantage since the other team is now forced to attack them or lose the round to the capture. From atop the point I can easily spam down both notable entrances for both teams, not worry about the others because of the height difference, and control the CP.

Areas feel really tight and squished together outside of mid, you can't get a good flank without immediately running into a group of enemies, enemies that most likely have high ground on you. There's just not much space to work with before pushing.

The lower route is almost suicide because of how low you are compared to the point and other routes enemies have, and using it puts you into a really open area ripe for sniping. Snipers also seem like they'd have a feel day with this map, I never tested it on good ping to get a feel for snipers power myself, but assessing some of the sightlines has me worried. Sniper can cover entrances from far back in shadow, or while hiding under a sign behind a staircase, it would be incredibly frustrating to die to and further puts attackers having to push through them at a disadvantage.

Well theres not much to talk about for this map's aesthetics, it never made it out of alpha! For what its got the first point works and is passable enough as an environment in tf2. Spaces feel the right size and nothing in it feels outrageously nonsensical to me except maybe why these walls exist. But given that its only in alpha you tried to get what you could in there, it just really isnt remarkable in comparison to the other entries, and it has to be judged with those in mind.

As for second, despite how comical this is, it still feels reeeeally empty and bland. I guess you're aiming to go for something like mvm_decoy where red are disguising this rocket behind the 'log place'.

honestly there isnt much I can say to this other than its just not realistic, and it doesent feel like any sort of log place id see, nor like any sort of rocket launching place id see. Its really hard to try and be constructive on something that really isnt finished yet, but It was never clear to me how im supposed to interpret the theme. If its a legitimate log place, then I dont feel this is how youd want it setup, and im seeing very few trees or places for trees to be. If I'm supposed to interpret it as a decoy setup, then I feel its almost too on the nose and further why would red have an active train running straight through their secret base. I dont know im just not really sold on what you're trying to accomplish here.

I guess thematically as well it checks all the boxes for your connect 5, but its nothing unique in that aspect and the train feels pretty forced. I'm not sold on forest since there are so few trees, but I guess your map feels kinda alpiney. It's really hard to say with it still being in alpha.

The good thing about being in alpha means your layout is going to make or break a map with no fancy visuals to fall back on, and I'm still not that big a fan of how the map plays out. First plays fine enough, I really enjoy how blue groups up on the roof and outside the point and kind of applies pressure from two angles naturally. The main gripe I have is that the only real flanking option blue has is long winded and goes around the point, I don't ever feel enticed or motivated to try and flank when its my farthest away option coming out of spawn. Second point is where most of my problems arrise, and it all stems from the ridiculous high ground you've set up. While I dislike all of the issues it brings, it is fairly unique and I can commend you for sticking to your guns on it, I'm just really not a fan of the end result. Blue team either has to push from low ground onto the point, crossing past an active instant kill train, or from incredibly high ground where they arent going to be effectively doing anything. If you hide sentries back under cover around the point, blue team cant hit them from high up and has to drop down really far, where they're attacking right at red spawn with high ground, and its just not fun. This also leads to plenty of times where blue is making a push on the point, has a fair few players, but justi gets overwhelmed by red's fresh spawns literally dropping ontop of them, or spamming down onto them. There is no real effective way to take this point, it just becomes a test to see how many times blue can throw themselves at the point until red gets tired and wins. Sure blue has some high ground if they take the upper routes, but fighting around that one way door and the drop off isnt fun, and naturally progressing down the side stairwell takes you right next to red's spawn door before it takes you to the point. It really feels like if you ditched this super high drop down stuff and instead focused on making the bottom route more fleshed out and engaging, having a ramp from that level to red's upper levels around the point attacking would be more enticing. I feel its also important you push Red's spawn back more so that Blue arent having to go right against it, standing vulnerable on top of the point.

No doubt about it, Oasis absolutely nails its aesthetics and all the custom work put into it really shines. The map is thematically notable for its creative use of the Egypt theme and really pushing what can be done with the theme. Some minor detail issues arise due to your given time constraints. Interiors around the first point are empty and barren in comparison to the surrounding areas, and the pillars near the 2nd bridge feel noticeably out of place due to their lighting and the different stone color. Last is where most of the custom work shines, and I really dig the reflective polished Egyptian spy-tech, it feels like the lobby to some fancy building.

Contrary to most, gameplay is where the map falls flat on its face for me, no matter how hard I try to like it, something about it just really isn't clicking for me. The first area can be fun to hold / attack and has a good variety of routes for either team to work with, but I've only played on a single round where the blue team didn't immediately roll past it and the following area before the bridge room. The bridge is the weakest part of the entire map for me and I dread anytime we have to go near it. Playing defense on it feels like you're in the frontlines of a hectic war zone, blue players can come from straight a cross the bridge, jump down from the cover of some trees, up from under the bridge, or explosive classes from at your side. Nowhere besides the room holding the point feels controllable as a red member, and pushing out any further puts you into an unorganized mess of a fight. On the bridge you're heavily exposed and get punished for falling off the bridge, and can easily miss blue players using their upper route with no real counter play to it other than "hide". I keep forgetting its even there because of how well its obscured

this next shot was probably the best view I could get of it as a defender and it still blends in.

Under the the bridge doesn't give you many safe retreat options either since you have to go up and past blue choke (dont do that), or risk spiraling around the obelisks and up back into the middle of an open area. On that topic the lower area is incredibly clunky and annoying to navigate as I find myself bumping into all the structures and trying to walk up surfaces that require a jump. The only ways out being awkward wraps around the pillars and having what looks like an exit (it is after point 2 is capped) be a dead end (which it has to be or else blue would have even more of an advantage). I don't recall ever seeing red put up much of a fight at this part, and I've never enjoyed being on other side of it. Last plays all right if red dont get steamrolled by momentum from 2nd. Only complaints being that blue has a surprising amount of entrances which is difficult for defenders to keep track of, I find myself always running around trying to find a medkit as a defender (the one on the left usually has attackers around it when I played), and that it wasn't clear to me this window area was even playable space or open.

I want to enjoy the map because of how beautiful it is and for doing awesome stuff with the theme, but the gameplay spaces wont click with me and no round i've played on it yet has proven to me that these gameplay spaces work well as is.

Snowcastle is one of the highlight maps for me in this contest, although that stems mostly from its gameplay. Aesthetics seem to be more like checking the "looks like a snow castle" box than really having fun with the idea. When I found myself trying to describe the maps looks all I could really find myself saying was that it has snow, and theres a castle-esque structure in it, as im running around the map none of the aesthetics really stick out or register to me. I completely overlooked that blue side had a castle to start, and red side felt even more generic.

While nothing stood out to me as like a "dang that looks awesome!" (maybe the point) there is also nothing outright flawed or bad. Your detailing gets the job done and when I start to take a look around I can pick up on the theme. Aesthetics always end up taking a hit in time constrained contests, so despite some overly empty and bland walls, the map does what it needs to do.

The downside is that the theme doesn't feel fully explored which is a darn shame since castles during winter time make for some great contrasting materials. The castle doesn't really stick out at all in comparison to the rest of the map and only registers because its the maps namesake.

Aesthetics are only the surface level of a map however, and I feel that this map is the most fun ive ever had with the 2cp arena format, hands down. Heck this map was some of the most fun out of the maps I tested for con5, and as an arena map, that's impressive. I can't think of too much to advise on layout or gameplay further so ill try to explain why I think the map deserves a 10 in gameplay instead.
The layout plays to all of the strengths of the 2cp arena, and avoids the stalemate hell some other maps find themselves in. Stalemating and camping is avoided by the map being so open given you ample space to attack, you never feel like you're pinned down or being forced to push through a choke the enemy will just be camping. But most importantly this changes the dynamic of the points.

The points work effectively as a tool for luring enemies out into a fight and forcing their hand, while also presenting a risk for doing so by being over a deathpit. You're risking being exposed and next to an instant kill pit, but by taking that risk you can force your enemy to engage and put themselves into that same situation themselves. While this is what the points in 2cp arena are always supposed to do, most times they dont get used that way because pushing into enemy territory to do so is a suicidal move to begin with, but the layout for this map makes doing so much safer in return for making the point more dangerous, and I love that. Rounds also never last long enough for me to be upset about early arena deaths either, and I feel any other maps attempting 2 cp arena should take into consideration the kind of balance you struck here with how the CP dynamic works. Maybe im reading too much into it, but Im also having fun in a damn arena map and this might just be why. Good job and its a shame about the conflict of interest in judging because id be looking for this to win.

I find it hard to formulate how I feel about the detailing on the map, mostly because I struggle with being a good judge of it, but also because I don't have much to work with here. First and foremost, missing textures are bad, pack your stuff! Outside of that everything I see is really flat and uninteresting, I can't even tell what exactly it is we are defending or playing on because of how generic it is, its not selling me on any specific theme. Thematically, you are really pushing it with your city/town square. These oob details are the only thing indicating im in a city.

Likewise, this is about as minimal a raised platform as you could have. It just feels like you stretched a capture zone out and down simply out of necessity for filling the checkbox, rather than trying to actually design a layout that had an interesting raised objective.

You played it incredibly safe and boring with an already safe theme to begin with, and didn't take the chance to do something interesting with your raised platform objective.

Out of all the arena maps making it to the top 10 of con5, this map plays the worst out of all of them, and suffers from a lot of camping issues. When playing 2 cp arena you've got two ways to win, capture your points or kill everybody. Once you come out of spawn you are right next to the point, with a turbine to run around and use as cover, and have no incentive to go push forward or attack anybody. All of your exits to other combat areas are through tight doorways save for your sliding door exit, which has its own issues being a sliding door. Playing on this map, I just dont want to push through any of these because theres a chance I could run into a pyro, soldier, heavy, demo, or scout and have no room to fight back. The other issue is just how strong the point position is on the map. You can spam down a staircase attackers come from while staying covered from other entrances and contesting the point. Holding behind the boilers gives you highground, good coverage of all entrances, and you can jump onto the point at a moments notice. Everything in the map is playing to a defenders strength and creates stalemates. If players see that defending is so strong, and that dying will have them sitting around waiting for turtling engies to die already, they wont attack. You need to open your map up and make attacking a worthwhile option.

Right off the bat I want to give props for trying to explore different parts of the Asia theme instead of going straight for the japan pack, and while its not perfect yet, the architecture you have is enough to sell me on an asian theme. The detailing you've made given your time crunch is pretty damn good, and I love the way some scenes look.

While the theme you're running with is great, your detailing gets samey and feels simple throughout, never doing anything too different outside of "trees and the same Asian structure". The only splashes of some different textures and colors come from team spawns. Otherwise all throughout your map, you're being given the same general feel. Both sides look too similar.


If I showed somebody only one of these screenshots, they might be hard pressed to tell what side of the map it is. While it never effects gameplay, neither part of the map feels distinct or special. Your theme presents another large issue, and while I appreciate something different in the Asia theme, you missed the mark on town and city. Nothing in the map sells me on this being near a town or city, and It hurts your theme greatly as ignoring a square defeats the purpose of the contest.

Moving onto gameplay, its not bad! Yet, I feel as time goes on and I play the map more, a significant issue starts to grow. Arena maps need to avoid stalemates where neither team fights and instead just camps forever, and the idea of a 2 CP arena is to use these captures as a tool for luring out your enemy into a fight, but your map layout does not allow for that. I remember a player mentioning they didnt see the point in trying to attack the enemies, which is a big red flag. By pushing forward they have to give up on defending their point and risk dying by crossing through a choke enemies can easily watch. If the only move is not to play, why play? This seems to stem from your CP's positioning and all of the benefits for staying right ontop of it.

There are so many benefits to playing this position:
  • Point has cover and high ground around the trenches near it
  • Point has a health pack under it, an incredibly important pickup in arena
  • The attackers have really good high ground through the entrance across from the point, but you can cover and spam it out while standing right on the point. They have to peek you.
  • The lower entrance attackers get is just that, lower
  • You can see an attack from the sides coming a mile away and have a really strong corner to fall back on
  • Its right next to spawn so players naturally group up here after a round start, meaning youre likely to have a team with you when near point
There is just so much reason to stick around that point that it begins to completely overshadow any other part of the map, and promotes safe play. Opening up your chokes so attackers can get the jump on point better might help, but as is, your map promotes doing the safest play in a mode where dying holds consequence, and it drags the entire experience down.
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L1: Registered
Apr 9, 2018

MAPS |Gameplay|Athstetics|Theme| Overall
Backwash |
Chounai |
Guava Gulf | 7 | 3 | 3 | 3
Hazyfort | 5 | 8 | 5 | 6
Ice Tower | 8 | 7 | 7 | 7
Log Place | 7| 4 | 6 | 5
Oasis | 4 | 6 |8 |6
Snowcastle | 10 | 10 |10 |10
Voltage |
Yanqing | 9 | 5 |7 | 7


Jun 15, 2013
Feedback may change overtime as I think over entries. Overall scores are rounded up or down for easier judging. Be prepped for jumps from past tense to present tense and 1st person to a retrospective.

MAPS | Gameplay | Aesthetics | Theme | Overall
Backwash | 3 | 5 | 4 | 4
Chounai | 5 | 7 | 7 | 6
Guava Gulf | 7 | 8 | 7 | 7
Hazyfort | 7 | 7 | 6 | 7
Ice Tower | 3 | 8 | 6 | 5
Log Place | 5 | 3 | 6 | 5
Oasis | 5 | 9 | 8 | 7
Snowcastle | 9 | 7 | 8 | 8
Voltage | 4 | 3 | 4 | 4
Yanqing | 6 | 7 | 6 | 6

I might make a video for my thoughts, I think I work better that way.

Feedback for Guava Gulf and Hazyfort will come soon.

Gameplay: I think of all the times I’ve played on this map I’ve only seen one match end with a victory. The majority of other rounds either end in a stalemate or a map switch.

Last: This is the area I have the most problems with. Pushing into last is incredibly difficult. The top two routes are quite narrow and still puts you a good distance from the point. The bottom route puts attackers immediately in the open with little cover. And to the right of the bottom route is an incredibly powerful sentry spot.

Second: It’s a bit awkward to move around and there’s a few places that I feel like I fall into by accident. The platform underneath the ramp from last to second feels really unnecessary.

Mid: “Cramped” is a good word to describe this area. The middle building going into this is cramped and confusing, the control point is cramped, and the areas around it are cramped. There’s also some confusing signage around here, since the arrow signs are colored with the team they’re on (red on RED, blue on BLU). The second forward spawn also sent people towards their own base and not the enemies.

Detailing: Your lighting work is odd, it’s either too washed out or too dark. The out of bounds area gets completely lost from it changing from completely bright to completely dark.

Theme: I never even noticed there was a seaside until I looked at your board. The seaside you do have though feels taped on because it has to be there.

Gameplay: The control point being the highest point in mid (with arguably the most cover) defeats the main purpose of the control point: to draw out players. Players who weren't on the point didn't seem to make that much of a push because of how powerful the bridge is. The railway underneath is long and open, and a single sniper can cover it incredibly well. Snipers, in general, have a lot of advantages on this map, with cover from far off spaces looking into wide open areas with little cover.

Gameplay: Where am I going? The layout is taking me all around the point and nowhere towards it. There’s even arrows that are taking me further away from the point and into some weird side route that feels completely unnecessary. And then there’s another side route that seems like it’s only there for the train. The only incentive to go there is for a single medium ammo kit, which isn’t too far away from two small ammo packs that are underneath the point. The train doesn’t really affect anything other than blocking sniper sightlines for a brief moment. Attacking the control point is pretty painful, I have to slog through whatever enemies that are there while also worrying about Snipers that are shooting at you from the other side of the map. Overall this is really big and it doesn’t need to be.

Theme: The train doesn’t really add much to this other than blocking off a sightline for a few seconds. Everything else does the theme pretty well.

Gameplay: A is weird, there are two very powerful flank routes, but one can be covered by a single sniper and the other is awkward to get to. B is absolutely weird with three levels on it. Which leads to either RED setting up a defense that BLU can’t touch or BLU using the 3rd floor to prevent RED from even exiting their spawn. The 3rd floor, if you don’t want to take fall damage, goes right in front of RED’s spawn going down the staircase. There’s so much verticality that someone on the 1st floor could never deal damage to someone on 3rd if they’re not a Sniper or Soldier.

Aesthetics: A looks good, except for that brushwork mountain with the flooding river. B is nothing but dev textures. I do like the brushwork signs, even if they’re a bit rough. Although it just doesn’t feel like a real area. If you’re going for a sort of undercover base sort of thing, it feels too fake for the lumber mill aspect, and doesn’t make sense as a rocket launching base.

Theme: I guess it checks the boxes, but the Alpine/Forest area feels extremely minimal. With the only semblance being a large brush mountain. The train also feels it was just tossed in.


A - This is the strongest point, it’s fun to fight in and doesn’t feel like any area is too powerful. There is an odd sightline from the right of Blu spawn, on the upper platform area.

B - And this is where the map falls apart for me. I’ve only seen Red win here once, and that was through three engineers, a phlog pyro, and a demoknight with a quick-fix medic. I never felt comfortable defending on the bridge, it’s quite open and easy for Blu to throw damage out onto bridge defenders. I never wanted to go to the under area, it seemed like I would be wasting time running around down there, and the only time I did was because I fell off. Getting out of the pit is tricky too. The midway spiral is risky to go up to, and one of the two hallway paths brought me straight to enemy lines.

C - Blu has a lot of entry ways here, which ended up overwhelming me trying to defend it. The area from Red’s spawn to the hatch also feels pointless and just adds time.

I also saw people questioning how they died, and noticed that there are quite a few cheeky sightlines that a Sniper has cover in.

A note for theme is that last really didn’t sell the spytech part of the board for me. The elevator area is my favorite part of last. The rest if it feels like a luxury hotel lobby, funnily enough.

Gameplay: I really do love running around on this map. The layout at control points is open, and I don’t have to push through some doorway that the enemy is already looking down. The lower routes are fun to tunnel around in (and surprise some players).

Aesthetics: While not entirely great, it gets the job done and feels like a nice castle. There are a few bland walls, but other than that, it’s neat.

This part of feedback is obviously not done, I need to play more rounds!

Gameplay: The way the control points are set up encourages camping, mostly by Engineers. They’re quite disconnected from each other and most of the entrances can be covered by a single sentry gun. The control point is really easily defended, with enough height variation to hide players on differing levels. The turbine makes this even worse, as a player can hide next to it or below it.

Aesthetics: They’re about as good as an A1 can be, mixed with missing textures. Lighting stays the same throughout the map and is actually quite bright when you go outside. The area is really generic and doesn’t scream anything in particular.

Theme: Likewise with my last point of the area being really generic. You are really stretching the city/town theme by just having a row of buildings off to the side. The raised platform is also as basic as it could be, and doesn’t even feel like a raised platform.

Gameplay: It seems like who wins is decided on whoever can control the most routes to the enemy team’s side first. Stalemates also seem to happen a lot, with both teams setting up to either defend their control point or whatever route they have in their control. There’s no real area where two teams meet up in, so not a whole lot of people die, and those that do are sitting out for the next 3 minutes until one team does a final push.

Detailing: There’s a very strong usage of trees and the same stone wall. I can really only tell what area I’m in based on the people shooting on me.

Theme: This is really stretching the City/Town block, I just can’t see it. None of the area actually feels like a place that people used to live in, just some door frames put onto buildings.
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L14: Bit Member
Oct 5, 2014
I've ranked each map from 1-9 for the final score, with 9 being my favorite and 1 being my least favorite.

MAPS | Overall
Backwash |2
Chounai |5
Guava Gulf |Mine
Hazyfort |6
Ice Tower |4
Log Place |1
Oasis |8
Snowcastle |9
Voltage |3
Yanqing |7
Here's the full rubric I used to figure out the order that I ranked them if anyone is curious:
Here's my feedback and justifications for the scores I gave:
I stand by my previous thoughts that it is too small. There's not enough space for the fighting to flow though, and there's a lot of hard chokes all over the map. The choice of routes is confusing as well; the buildings between mid and second make you turn all the way around to get where you want to go. Aesthetically it's fine; there's not much to write home about. In terms of theme, I don't think you managed to communicate the "Seaside" aspect very well. While it is visible in the skybox, I didn't even notice it until it was pointed out. Maybe make second into a boat dock or something if you continue with the theme?
This map really doesn't feel like an arena map, but I can't see it working as a koth map either. The placement of the point and the extreme height variation at mid feels awkward to fight around; it's difficult to rotate between areas on your half of the map, and suicide to try and cross mid. The train having no warning and no sound doesn't help in a gamemode where you can't respawn either. The aesthetics of the map are alright, but nothing too impressive. You did well on themeing and sticking to your line; great work on that end.
Gameplay-wise, this map works. It functions, there's routes and chokes, and both teams have a decent chance of winning. The reason I take issue with this map so much is that it feels so incredibly safe. It doesn't do anything interesting. There's a point on a bridge, and a second one occupying low ground, just like Gorge. It feels like just another A/D map to me; it's not memorable for the gameplay. Aesthetically it's great though, good work on that. Theme-wise I'm not too sure on the farm aspect, it feels more like a city to me (which it is), but it's enough.
I stand by my feedback that it is far too large, to the extent that it severely impacts gameplay. There's no good place to group up and push except for in the point building itself, so teams lock it down easily from what I've seen. Cut out like half of the play space and it would probably play alright. Your detailing is pretty nice, though a lot of it feels samey after a while since there's so much space you had to fill. You did stick to your line pretty well, though the train feels like it could have been done better.
The balance on this version feels way off. First is too hard for Blu, and second is too hard for Red. I think a lot of the issues with A are to do with Blu's spawn; it's easy for Red to camp and deny pushes from Blu. Visually, it’s quite lacking with it mostly being dev textures, but the geometry doesn’t suggest what the spaces are supposed to be either. I’ve seen far worse though. You stuck to your line well, but I would have liked to see more alpine-ness than just snow and explain the train a bit better.
I like the split capture zones, capture rooms, and the layout as a whole, but it’s got some issues. There’s no good routes on and out of the cap rooms; it’s all small doorways and hallways. Some of the staircases could be more straightforward as well. I like the outside bits though. It’s nice visually, but nothing’s to write home about. You did a good job with most of it but it feels a bit under-detailed in a lot of places. In terms of sticking to your line, I didn’t even know it was supposed to be in a city until I looked at your line. Nothing really screams “city” to me. While that’s fine and I think it works for the map, this is a contest and it could have been done better.
That’s all the feedback I can do right now, a family emergency came up earlier and I was unable to finish. Greetings from the break room at work!
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a survivor with too much paint
Feb 7, 2008
Judging is now closed. Thanks to everyone who submitted their votes! I may take a few days to process all of the scores (I just started a job today) but results will be out relatively soon. Sit tight!
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