Major Mapping Contest #10: A Tale of Two Skillsets

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Fruity Snacks

Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums
Sep 5, 2010

TF2MContest10.png Major Mapping Contest #10
A tale of two skillsets

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of BLU, it was the season of RED ... in short, we’re old. Seven years old, to be exact: old enough to head to the workhouses and meet a wealthy benefactor, or something like that. Not only is this the seventh year of life, it’s time for the 10th major contest: A Tale of Two Skillsets.

Okay, we’ll admit it. We don’t actually know how the rest of that book goes- (one of the cities is Isengard, right?)- so let’s cut to the chase. This year, the contest is in two parts.
  • In part one, we want you to design the most fun layout you can possibly manage.
  • In part two, we want you to take one of the layouts submitted for the first part, and make it as beautiful and as dazzlingly detailed as possible.
You don’t have to enter both parts- if you’re a detailing maestro, you don’t need to make a layout, and if gameplay is your forte you don’t need to do the detailing bit. Each stage will be judged separately, and we’ll have two different sets of winners (And prizes too, don’t worry about that!)

Rules: Stage 1, Layout Stage
  • Must follow the game mechanics/scoring system as set by official game modes
  • Use the standard premise that Blue are attackers, Red are defenders when applicable.
  • MvM is allowed.
  • Mann vs Machine maps must have a unique popfile. You can use online popfile builders to create this though.
    Other “custom” gamemodes like Defusal, CSF, RCTF, PL-tug-of-war and 2cp koth are allowed.​
    Medieval Mode, Surf, Trade, VSH, Prop Hunt, Etc. Maps are not allowed. If you are not sure please contact myself or LeSwordfish and we’ll clarify for you.​
  • No collaborations. Custom assets may be used and requested, but must be made public when you release your map.
  • Must be able to spawn 32 players (16 per team).
  • You are allowed a maximum of 2 entries per author.
  • However, one author cannot win twice in the same stage.
  • You are not allowed to steal any part of any other map. Doing so will result in disqualification of your map.
  • Your map must have minimal to no detailing. That is, no theming details, few props, no fancy/detailed brushwork. You can design your map around a specific major prop, or a specific piece of detail architecture, but you want people to detail your map, right? Give them some options!
  • For the first stage, you will need to submit a .bsp file, a screenshot of your map (without HUD or character models), and a .vmf for people to detail. This .vmf is the version others will be detailing, regardless of how much you change the layout after submission. (Remember that dropbox breaks vmfs, so putting it in a .zip is best.) If you have any custom content, you should also include it, or a link to where it can be downloaded.
  • Your map development thread for your layout should be submitted into the contest entries subform.
By entering the first stage, you are giving anyone permission to detail your map for the second stage. It’s important that you understand this. That is, you are allowing your map to be edited by anyone in the second stage of the contest. Remember though that by submitting, you create a permanent recorded timestamp and connection to you, the author, in the case of disputes over credit. Proper credit will be given to all entries, as per the rules of the contest.

Rules: Stage 2, Detail Stage

  • You must choose and detail one of the layouts entered in the previous phase.
  • You are allowed to detail your own layout!
  • You are allowed to detail someone else’s layout, even if you entered the first stage!
  • You are allowed to enter the second stage even if you did not enter the first.
  • More than one person can detail the same layout, though one of them will need to change the map’s name.
  • The layout of the map must remain fundamentally the same. If you think that you’ve made too drastic of a change, you probably did.
  • The map must be optimized to the point where it can be released to the public (That is, Fade Distances, Hints, Areaportals, etc)
  • You are allowed a maximum of 2 entries per author
  • However, one author cannot win twice in the same stage.
  • Custom content is allowed.
  • All custom content must be publicly released before the contest deadline. Unless it is made solely by you, then you do not have to release it. If someone else makes it for you, the assets will need to be released publicly within 1 month before the end of the second phase.
  • No collaborations.
  • Too much custom content from one person counts as a collaboration. (That is, if you ask someone to make a lot of models for you, even though they get publically released, this is when the rule kicks in. You can make all the content yourself though and it won't. We don't expect this to be a big deal.)
  • Your map will need to be submitted into the contest entries subforum.
  • Your map must have a unique name. Failure to have a unique name will result in disqualification. As such, if you are detailing someone else’s layout, you must change the map name.
For the second phase submission, please include a .bsp of your map, a screenshot of the finished map version (without character models or HUD elements), and the name of the author who’s layout you detailed.

The first part of the contest will begin today, now, as of this post. You have until Sunday, March 9th, to finish the layout of your map.

The second part of the contest will begin Sunday, March 9th after the map pool is posted. You have until Sunday, May 11th to finishing the detailing of your chosen map. We’ll announce the winners of the first stage then, and the winners of the second stage a few weeks later.

A submission thread for both parts will be posted one week before their respective deadlines. You are free to submit and edit your entry as many times as you’d like during that one week period. At the end of the week, the thread will be closed and you will not be able to edit your submission!

For both phase submissions, please include a screenshot of your submissions. This screenshot should not have any character models or hud elements in it.
For the second phase submission, please include whose map you detailed.

Judgement Procedure
We will be judging each stage of the contest completely separately. For both stages, judges and the public will be rating entrants from 1-10 on each criterion, with results weighted to a 50-50 split between judges and public voting. Judges can enter the contest, but cannot official place. That is, they cannot win, but can receive feedback.

For stage one, judging criteria will be:
  • Gameplay (40%)- Is your map fun? Do we enjoy playing it? Do we want to play it again?
  • Balance (40%)- Can red beat blue as often as blue beat red? Are all classes balanced against each other? Does player skill control who wins most rounds?
  • Technical and Optimisation (20%)- do your doors work? Do the navigation and .pop files work correctly? Does the map break under certain conditions? Is everything packed correctly? This category will also include a limited amount of optimisation- not much, but if your map doesn’t maintain a reasonable frames per second rate it will lose marks here.

For stage two, the criteria are:
  • Aesthetic Appeal (40%)- How pretty is it? How realistic is it? How does the ambience feel? Could we sell it to a gallery?
  • Design (30%)- Does detail draw the eye to the right places? Does it feel like a real place? Does the detail add to the gameplay, instead of taking away from it. Look at Grazr’s “Immersian and Your Map” tutorial,’s tutorial and others (Seriously, Grazr has a lot of good ones!). This is about the “smart” aspects of detailing.
  • Optimisation and Technical (30%)- is the filesize reasonable? Are lightmaps optimised? Is the map broken up correctly with hints, areaportals, and skip brushes? Is the FPS high enough? This also includes a limited amount of technical stuff, including packing, clipping, entities and so on.

We’ll be doing things differently this time around. Due to the nature of the contest, we’ll be awarding two prize ranks per phase.
For each phase, we’ll have:
  • A winner; who gets two choices from Fr0z3n’s prize pool, a mapper’s medallion, and three months of VIP on the server. Also included is 20 dollars for steam from Grizzly Berry!
  • A runner-up, who gets one choice from the prize pool, a mapper’s medallion, and two months of VIP on the servers.
The Prize Pool is right here!
As always, we’ll take any donations to the prize pool. You’ll be credited on this page, and win eternal gratitude...
Thanks to Layl for donating Tropico 4
Thanks to Dr. Spud for donating THREE CoD: Ghosts + Season Passes
Thanks to Grizzly Berry for donating 20 dollars to each first place winner!

How detailed can my layout be in phase one?
Keep detailing as minimal as possible. Dev or sample textures, limited displacements and props. Of course some stuff is allowed, but if your map is too detailed it’s not fair to the people doing the detail stage. If you’re worried about what is “too detailed”, let us know and we can advise you. Maps being too detailed does not disqualify them from being entered in the layout contest, but we reserve the right to remove maps from the pool of layouts to be detailed if we think they’ll imbalance the detail stage.

How much can I change the layout in phase two?
Not too much. We want to see what you can do under a set of restrictions. Small changes for detailing purposes are fine, adding/removing routes, moving control points, deleting rooms etc are not. Mann Manor and Mountainlab are both based off the same root for example- that sort of amount of change is better. If you’re worried, though, let us know.

What if two people want to detail the same layout?
They both can, but it’s important maps have a unique name, whether you add your forum name to the end of the map’s name or change the name entirely. Be polite and work this out like gentlemen: the layout’s original author gets priority over the old name.

How much custom content counts as a collaboration?
If your map would look significantly different without any one other person, that will be treated as collaboration. Imagine cp_manor without the manor and gothic props, or koth_lakeside without the egyptian textures: they wouldn’t be the same at all without a dedicated modeller. The exception to this is with content released before the start of the contest, so detail packs like construction and bulletcrops are fine. Our intention is to warn people who would be flouting this rule before the deadline so they have enough time to change it.

What if I don’t want people detailing my layout?
Well, then, don’t enter. Or add a note with your submission that you would prefer other people not to detail it. Fundamentally though, that’s not the point of this contest. You couldn’t say “What If I don’t want to make a payload map?” for the payload contest.

I’m worried about people stealing my layout!
It will be obvious and public who posted what layout, and we will have zero tolerance for plagiarism. We will be running scans over the major map sites for several weeks after the release, to make sure that things are properly credited. If you find someone using a map without credit to the author, tell us and we'll take appropriate action. Once the contest is finished, we will remove all .vmf downloads.

What if there aren’t enough layouts entered?
We’ll find other layouts, whether from non-contest maps, or from the orphaned maps repository. We have ways.

Why can’t we collaborate?
In a way you can. Tailoring your layout to a specific detailer and theme is fine, and “one person does layout, another details” is the most common kind of collaboration. However, we discussed it extensively and came to the conclusion that allowing collaborations was a bad idea for a number of reasons- mainly because it can make contests about popularity and who you’re friends with, not how much skill you have. It’s also unfair on newer mappers and people without much pull in the community.

How can you not have read “A Tale of Two Cities”? It’s a classic of western literature and one of Dickens’ finest…
Not enough explosions, though we hear promising rumours of a beheading.
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Clinically Diagnosed with Small Mapper's Syndrome
May 21, 2009
when's the custom game mode designing contest gonna happen


resident homo
Dec 27, 2012
What's the rules on naming your map? Nothing (unlike 72hr)?


Clinically Diagnosed with Small Mapper's Syndrome
May 21, 2009
It's good to see that, as a community, we're not any less positive about things than we used to be.

i'm a grumpy old man from a bygone era. someone has to hold fast the cynicism of the old ways.


Ravin' Rabbid
Jan 18, 2009
Cannot resist, must map!


Dec 21, 2008
I like the second part of this contest. But haven't mapped for tf2 since a year and a half...