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

Discussion in 'Contests' started by Idolon, May 16, 2018.

  1. Idolon

    aa Idolon the worst admin

    Positive Ratings:
    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.

    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:

    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.

    • Thanks Thanks x 3
    • Like Like x 1
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
  2. Jack5

    Jack5 L2: Junior Member

    Positive Ratings:
    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?
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  3. Da Spud Lord

    aa Da Spud Lord L0: Crappy Member

    Positive Ratings:
    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]
    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]
    Also, here's the download page for voltage.
  4. Jack5

    Jack5 L2: Junior Member

    Positive Ratings:
    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]
    Last edited: May 20, 2018 at 2:47 AM
  5. MegapiemanPHD

    aa MegapiemanPHD Doctorate in Deliciousness

    Positive Ratings:
    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.
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
  6. Idolon

    aa Idolon the worst admin

    Positive Ratings:
    Please use numbers, not letter grades. I can't put those into a spreadsheet and do math with them.
  7. Idolon

    aa Idolon the worst admin

    Positive Ratings:
    Please change your scores to 1-10 numbers.
    • Agree Agree x 9
  8. saph

    aa saph crossword blues

    Positive Ratings:
    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.
    • Thanks Thanks x 4
    Last edited: May 25, 2018 at 3:47 PM
  9. MegapiemanPHD

    aa MegapiemanPHD Doctorate in Deliciousness

    Positive Ratings:
    Sorry about that, I was fallowing the previous post. I have updated my scores with numbers from 1-10
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  10. Jack5

    Jack5 L2: Junior Member

    Positive Ratings:
    I have fixed my post and the template.
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  11. onra77

    onra77 L1: Registered

    Positive Ratings:
    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
  12. Erk

    aa Erk erk

    Positive Ratings:
    MAPS Gameplay Aesthetics Theme Overall
    Backwash 7 6 7 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. 20180521202829_1.jpg

    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)


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


  13. _Blamo

    _Blamo L1: Registered

    Positive Ratings:
    MAPS Gameplay Aesthetics Theme Overall
    Backwash 5.4 6 6 6
    Guava Gulf 5 5 7 6
    Ice Tower
    Log Place 5 4 6 5
    Oasis 7 8 9 7
    Snowcastle 5 6 7 6
    Voltage 5 5 5 5
    Yanqing 7 8 9 7

    Notes: 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)

    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.
    Last edited: May 21, 2018 at 10:42 PM
  14. Flipy

    aa Flipy I like foxes

    Positive Ratings:
    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
    Ice Tower
    Log Place 4 4 3 4
    Oasis 5 9 10 8
    Snowcastle 10 7 7 8
    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. upload_2018-5-25_19-25-56.png
    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. upload_2018-5-25_19-22-20.png
    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. upload_2018-5-25_19-27-16.png
    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. upload_2018-5-25_19-36-13.png
    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 upload_2018-5-25_19-35-41.png
    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. upload_2018-5-25_19-41-0.png
    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. upload_2018-5-25_19-42-12.png
    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.
    upload_2018-5-25_19-43-9.png upload_2018-5-25_19-43-29.png

    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. upload_2018-5-25_20-37-13.png
    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'. upload_2018-5-25_20-41-0.png
    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. upload_2018-5-25_20-59-30.png
    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 upload_2018-5-25_21-39-45.png
    this next shot was probably the best view I could get of it as an attacker 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. Like this random detail blockThe 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. upload_2018-5-25_21-41-15.png
    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. upload_2018-5-25_19-48-32.png
    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. upload_2018-5-25_19-50-27.png
    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. upload_2018-5-25_20-2-57.png
    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.

    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.
    • Like Like x 1
    Last edited: May 25, 2018 at 10:20 PM