The role of sentries in maps and how it's affected by map design

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Chilly, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. Chilly

    Chilly L6: Sharp Member

    Messages:
    326
    Positive Ratings:
    127
    This discussion started in the Furnace Creek thread, but I figured I'd save Nineaxis and Youme and get it moved out here. :)

    First, why I feel I can comment on this. I play a LOT of engineer. I'm over 200 hours as an engineer and it's my most used class by about 4 hours. More specifically, I play a lot of offensive engineer and mostly play spy on defense. Those choices have allowed me to see sentries from both sides as a good player with both classes. I also play on a regular basis with CEVO-Pro and CEVO-Free players, so I'm not playing against complete scrubs. One of my clanmates is considered one of the better demomen in the game and I've played with many of the other top players.

    My initial rebuttal to Mar's posts...
    In the other thread Mar tried suggesting that sentries are crutches for poor players. This is completely ignorant. Sentries can be crutches for poor players just like stickies can be crutches for poor demomen, medics can be crutches for poor heavies, and w+m1 can be a crutch for poor pyros. However, sentries can also be a very effective tool for excellent engineers.

    In the thread he also claimed that sentries are extremely easy to destroy, but that they grind the game to a halt. If they're so easy to destroy, then why would they grind the game to a halt? Those statements are contradictory.

    The role of sentries...
    First and foremost, the role of sentries is area denial. Obviously once a sentry is up, smaller classes have a very hard time controlling that area. This is especially important now that scouts are so powerful... the sentry is the last complete counter to the scout class. Heavies move so slow that the Sandman makes them useless. Good scouts can easily avoid soldier's rockets and pyro's flames. So, the sentry is the only thing left in most situations.

    Second, the role of sentries is to force early ubers. A good example is putting a sentry near the exits on Dustbowl in order to force the enemy to uber immediately. That gives them far less time to actually attack the control points. This is very similar to CEVO players focusing their fire on the medic. The medics are so good it's rare that you're able to actually kill the medic, but you can often force them to uber before they really want to.

    Third, the role of sentries is to provide a distraction. This is #1 for me as an offensive engineer. I drop a sentry and separate from it immediately when facing a single enemy. That enemy is forced to come after me or go after my sentry. If he comes after me, there's a good chance my sentry gets built and starts killing him. If he goes after my sentry, there's 2 free hits with my shotgun. If there's metal around while I'm fighting I'd pick it up and repeat if he destroyed my sentry. Most players have a hard time dealing with this.

    Fourth, the role of a sentry is to get a few kills. In most cases I'll only leave a sentry up a few minutes max, unless it's in a highly valuable position. It's far better to move a sentry around and get multiple surprise kills than to have to hide behind it with my wrench the whole round. If you kill 2 players per sentry location, then you're being an asset to your team. More than that is just gravy.

    Fifth, sentries direct game action. If you have a good defensive sentry position in a map, you'll force heavy/soldier/demo/medic/pyro action to the edges around that area. You'll also force scout and sniper action away from those areas. It's a good way to get people to play areas of your map more by adding sentry locations on the outskirts of those areas.


    What this means...
    Obviously this means that there are uses for sentries outside the classic static defense role. Making a blanket statement that maps shouldn't get good sentry locations is stupid. That makes scouts and pyros far more powerful, makes it nearly impossible for teams to recover from an enemy uber, and reduces the effectiveness of friendly spies (which many times backstab a stationary demo/soldier trying to take out a sentry). Sentries add depth to the game. Without them it turns into a massive team deathmatch.

    Why is this in the mapping section?
    Because map design determines whether sentries are useful or not on maps. They also determine which of the roles they fill on a map. If you want players to focus their attention on a certain area, add a protected sentry location. If you want to give defenders a chance to recover from ubers, add a sentry location. If you feel that sentries can be too powerful in certain areas (Dustbowl 2-2), move the good sentry locations to the outskirts of that area. That allows engineers to focus on popping ubers while giving the attackers the ability to push through and then attack the main area without facing massive sentry farms.

    Surprise sentry locations in tunnels are great for this, as are alcoves that are easy to build in but hard to defend. Open areas with metal in select locations allow engineers to use the distraction method with their sentry. Finally, making good sentry locations that cover a limited number of choke points allows engineers to lock down those routes. As long as you have enough routes in, engineers won't be able to lock them completely down. A good example is Gravel Pit C, where you can cover 1-2 exits with sentries, but covering them all would require over half your team to be engineers.

    A good sentry location will have a clear line of sight across an area, completely to the other side (don't make the areas too wide). It'll have metal really close and will sometimes provide an escape path for the engineer in case his sentry is getting destroyed. To make them far more effective, they should be placed below dropoffs, on the back side of common routes (so you hit people as they run past), and underneath overhangs (Gold Rush 2-2). Those things should be decided based on the balance of that area.

    Hopefully this will help some of the mappers make decisions about sentries and sentry locations.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 6
  2. zehbr42

    zehbr42 L1: Registered

    Messages:
    5
    Positive Ratings:
    0
    I play with engie a lot to, and I agree with everything you said.
     
  3. mtv22

    mtv22 L3: Member

    Messages:
    116
    Positive Ratings:
    22
    Whenever I play engy, all i think is put the sentry on the point. but it makes more sense to put it farther out, that way it's still in their way but is harder to get to, and it takes up more time for the uber.
     
  4. Mar

    Mar Banned

    Messages:
    607
    Positive Ratings:
    63

    Don't have too much time on my hands, so I'm just going to go for the first part.

    1. Crutch. There not so much as crutch, but as a waste of a player. A sentry-humpping engi is no good to a team, and it takes no skill, and the player will never improve as a player himself, and will continue to be a noob. If you could only build a level 1 sentry be would drop them down, and around offensively, and be offensive engis, not gun-humpers.

    2. They are very weak against good players, and very powerful against bad ones. That's what I said. There was a interiew with Valve where they stated that the disguise kit is at the end of its life, and they are going to change the sentry gun so that it is useful against all player range.

    By main problem with the engie is that you the class has a gun that aims for itself, so that you can hypothetically leave it alone. But if you leave it alone it is doomed to be sapped by a spy. So you have to babysit it, which completely defeats the purpose of a gun that works by itself.

    3. The main counter for sentries are ubers. Ubers can now be shut down by 2 scouts with a sandman. This makes sentries even harder (for bad players) to kill. To compensate for this, you shouldn't make a good sentry spot. Force the engi to pick up move his stuff.


    In conc: I don't like the concept of a sentry, because people just gun hump. In a good map, there should be no good spot, and an engi should have to move his gun around an use the element of surprise.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
  5. Mar

    Mar Banned

    Messages:
    607
    Positive Ratings:
    63
    My dear friend, have you ever played against a good scout? With the sandman, FAN, and the regular old scatter guns, medics are dying like no tommorow. Serioulsy, the new tools let scouts own medics like no other.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
  6. Sgt Frag

    Sgt Frag L14: Epic Member

    Messages:
    1,443
    Positive Ratings:
    294
    Yeah I agree with most of what was said.

    But scouts aren't the only thing that can stop an uber from destroying a sentry. Has everyone forgot the airblast already? :D
    I have saved many a sentry/teamplayer with a good uber-juggle.

    I also like the suprise lvl 1 sentry. It can be a great tactic sometimes.
    I use it alot in arena. Players see an engy on one side of the map they stay clear and run into the sentry instead :) But a lvlv 1 can almost alwasy be cleared by any class and after you spend time building up a higher lvl it's hard to destroy and start over.
    Sometimes 'gun-humping' is required to hold off a strong offense.

    But all maps need a variety of terrain. Open areas, closed areas... Good sentry spots can also be good spy recharge spots, good ambush spots... If you get rid of those areas you also get rid of good spots for other players.
     
  7. Spike

    Spike L10: Glamorous Member

    Messages:
    716
    Positive Ratings:
    82
    I think sentries are one of the worst things of TF2

    Oh, and the sandman
     
  8. Mar

    Mar Banned

    Messages:
    607
    Positive Ratings:
    63
    YAY! Someone with a similar opinion.
     
  9. Icarus

    aa Icarus

    Messages:
    2,246
    Positive Ratings:
    1,181
    Great maps often come from great engineers and spies because they understand the importance of sentries and how it helps shape the flow of gameplay.

    I love playing offensive engineer. I love leaving my teammates to distract the enemy while I build my sentry in that inconspicuous corner.

    Holy shit I love Level 1s.
     
  10. What Is Schwa

    What Is Schwa L6: Sharp Member

    Messages:
    375
    Positive Ratings:
    220
    The best defense is a good offense.

    In a mirrored map every engy on your team is one less player that can help you win. Engies only delay losing.

    I also completely agree with Mar's suggestion for map-making. A "good" engy spot is a recipe for stalemates and 25 minute Dustbowl 3-2 marathons. Ignore the cries of the engy and just make your map, the good engineers out there will be creative and help their team. The rest of the pubs will have a good time because your map doesn't gridlock.
     
  11. Mar

    Mar Banned

    Messages:
    607
    Positive Ratings:
    63
    This is what I am trying to get at. This bascily summarizes my opinion of sentries in maps.
     
  12. A Boojum Snark

    aa A Boojum Snark Toraipoddodezain Mazahabado

    Messages:
    4,769
    Positive Ratings:
    5,521
    Make up your mind. Is it the concept you don't like or the way people play with them?

    Overall, this whole discussion is irrelevant. You shouldn't ignore the needs of an engy for his gun, nor should you cater to their every whim. But this is the same for every class! You should design maps with all nine classes in mind. That means not leaving anyone out and saying "they'll have to make do" and it also means not overpowering anyone.

    Engy is my #2 class in playtime (#1 in preference), and sentry spots is something I like to check when I get to test on gamedays. Some maps severely lack anywhere marginally useful to put a gun, babysat or not.

    I don't know if you've played with another account, and I don't want sound elitist, but you don't have much playtime for TF2 so I don't see how you can make such concrete statements about how the game works.
     
  13. Mar

    Mar Banned

    Messages:
    607
    Positive Ratings:
    63
    I'm bitching about whether or not the engi needs to exist. But he does exist so we should make sentry spots that the engi can build in, but make those spots somewhat easy to destroy.

    ie. Don't make sentry nests like dustbowl 2-2.
     
  14. MangyCarface

    aa MangyCarface Mapper

    Messages:
    1,616
    Positive Ratings:
    1,275
    Mar's being a bit of an elitist. Engineer sees comp play very rarely as a support class- as do the pyro and spy. I won't argue % appearance or anything. Engy has his, albeit rare, uses.
    Sentries are not a design problem. Sentry stacking is. Sentries stack better than any other class in the game, and this causes stagnation issues. Their stationary nature makes them easy lone targets, but their area denial power prevents this from being exploited without an uber.

    Yes, the 4 main classes are more powerful in small play, but a truly aggressive, manipulative and clever engineer who plays his sentry in risky locations plays as much of a support/mopping up role as a scout who picks off low-hp foes or a Natascha-equipped heavy setting up targets for his friends.
    Sentries need not have long lives; they are in fact weakened the longer they remain in one spot due to the entire lack of a surprise element. They are best used around corners, over hills etc where they can hit retreating or flanking foes and save a team while the engineer provides a light shotgun support as he can. This is most visible in highlander games, where you are required to have an engineer slot but cannot stack with more than 1 engineer.

    Maps need not be designed to accommodate engineers, nor snipers, nor any class; just designed to limit each one's effectiveness. Players will find their own niche. Problems arise with 2fort because the role of each class is too specified-scouts across the top of the bridge, engies in the bottom room, snipers across from the battlements from each other, pyros and spies in the tunnels, heavies across the bridge- you end up with a lot of static class v class battle. Let your players find their niche instead of specifically carving up niches for players.
     
  15. Mar

    Mar Banned

    Messages:
    607
    Positive Ratings:
    63
    Elitst? I'm gone quote Gman from TF2F here.

    "It's almost been 2 years and pub-only players still think comp. players are elitist simply because they know the game."

    ~Gman
     
  16. MrAlBobo

    MrAlBobo L13: Stunning Member

    Messages:
    1,059
    Positive Ratings:
    219
    ahh, a good argument, hasn't been one of these in awhile

    1. I question your use of a crappy player to describe a engie, for example: "Soldiers suck because they just stand still and repeatedly shoot rockets" "Scouts suck because they just run around, can't aim and accomplish little" and "Heavies suck because they can't move their cursor fast enough to catch a scout running circles around them". No good engie babysits their sentry constantly, view chillys many examples I lack the will to retype them.

    2. Well, lo and behold, the hypothetical use of a sentry is actually how a good player uses it. :rolleyes: Re-read #1 on how good player vs bad player does not make a good basis for class vs class comparison. As for babysitting, well it really depends on your view of babysitting, perhaps you like to hover over a child and watch every single thing they do, or maybe you would prefer to do something else and occasionally glance up to see that everything is alright. I mean honestly, a spies sapper gauge on a sentry takes a rather long time to bring it down with no help. In that time (ill use dustbowl 2-2 as an example since you like it so much) you can run from the arch above the mine doors to your sentry, have time to kill the spy and fix at least the sentry. And if you were further away then that...well obviously the action would be quite far away, giving you plenty of time to rebuild or perhaps move closer to the action.

    To take what the scouts can do segment...a scout can now use bonk, run in circles around a sentry and completely distract it while a pyro or other offensive class approaches. To compensate you should maintain the status quo, its all balanced as it is. And once again you bring up the abilities of players, either choose good players or bad players and stick with it, its pointless to use whichever better suits your point.


    I must admit I am curious, do you know of any good attack and defend maps that absolutely have no good sentry points with which to prove your operating on more then theory?

    Regardless, I happen to think maps should have a few "good" sentry locations, like chilly said, specifically where you want the focus of action to be, or places where you want to place an invisible barriers (think dustbowl 3-1). Bear in mind I happen to think a good sentry spot is one that can reach at the full extent of the area it is placed in, within the range of 150-200 degrees. Then a few "lesser" sentry locations that guard one area very well but are vulnerable from all other sides.


    EDIT: I rather like Mangy's idea of thinking in the form of how to limit every class rather then how to accommodate every class, seems like its a better mind set as long as it doesn't go overboard
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
  17. Shmitz

    aa Shmitz Old Hat

    Messages:
    1,129
    Positive Ratings:
    740
    Comp players are elitist because they think pub-only players don't know the game.
     
  18. MangyCarface

    aa MangyCarface Mapper

    Messages:
    1,616
    Positive Ratings:
    1,275
    If you'll note I called you out on being elitist, not any general portion of players. I happen to enjoy watching comp reels and I'm participating in the ETF2L contest because I support the leagues' efforts : /
     
  19. Mar

    Mar Banned

    Messages:
    607
    Positive Ratings:
    63
    But engie is the only class where he is encouraged to sit in one spot and mindless +attack. A dispenser provides constant metal, and the sentry aims for him, so he is rewarded for sitting in one spot and +attacking while heavy and soldis aren't. Also, gunhumping is effective enough and it works well enough to allow the engie to be effective. Their is no incentive to not babysit your gun.



    2. But you wouldn't have time to save your sentry, dispenser and teli. The whole point is, it kinda defeats the purpose of the gun of to have to watch over it


    I was critzing the sandman ruining the uber, but what keeps another scout from stuning the pyro?


    Well, lets take a look at GPit, the best A&D map out there. Point A has no good sentry spots, the place is too open. C doesn't have any, you can just stand on the other side of the map and shoot them, and there is no readily available metal. All sentries are really easy to destroy. While B is a bit more protected, sentries can still be blown up.

    The problem is that while 1 sentry on it lonesome is easy for a soldi or demo to take it out, when you have 2-3 sentries, and the other 13 team mates spamming the carp out of the map, you don't have time to fire 4 direct rockets at the sentry.

    Do you guys remember CP_Well before they added the extra stair way? 2 sentry guns with some teammates spamming the doors could complete shut the map down.

    Which brings me to another problem. On 5 cp maps, when a team is losing and is on their 2nd point or last point, they don't attack, they just defend that last point. They don't push. And sentries are the largest help to the team not pushing problem which causes stalemates in all maps.


    Finally, the sentries slow down the game quiet a bit. The game mechanics make TF2 a slow paced FPS, compared to today's CoD4, and sentries really bring the game to a gridlock.
     
  20. Mar

    Mar Banned

    Messages:
    607
    Positive Ratings:
    63
    I never said that. I said the steam forums and the 32 man servers don't know what they're talking about.

    EDIT: And some pubbers don't know what they're talking about. They think that cevo shouldn't have banned the sandman. There are people out there who just join any old server and just run in, shoot, die and enjoy themselves without thinking about the game.

    If you make a game for comp players the good stuff will trickle down to the pubbers, and they won't know the difference (I'm referencing the steam forum people here.) But trickle down doesn't work the other way.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009