[Tutorial] Good Health and Ammo Pickup Placement

Discussion in 'Tutorials & Resources' started by Radaka, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. Radaka

    Radaka L7: Fancy Member

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    NOTICE: This guide is not yet finished! I will be covering every official gamemode and every official map with time!

    Good day everyone!

    I have noticed that many people struggle with where to place pickups in their levels, often reverting to the practice of throwing down pickups without much thought. This is a bad practice, as pickup placement in any map, regardless of how good or bad the map might be, can have a huge impact on how well the map plays. That being said, this guide will (hopefully) clear up some common mistakes and provide good examples and scenarios for pickup placement, as well as provide a little insight on how to determine good locations for health and ammo before having any playtests.

    This tutorial assumes that you know how to use hammer to construct a working map with a semi-decent layout and know how to place pickups in the map.

    The method I will follow in this tutorial is as follows:

    1. The Basics
    2. Health Placement
    3. Ammo Placement
    4. Official Examples
    5. Common Mistakes (Coming soon!)
    6. Specific Requirements for Each Official Gamemode (Coming soon!)

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    1. The Basics

    It is first necessary to explain the importance of health and ammo in maps. Pickups need to complement the gameplay, not drag players so far away from the fighting (countering the usefulness of the pickups). Too few pickups and the map will feel like a no-man's land, as well as being more likely to stalemate. Too many pickups and it will be frustrating just to get a kill, also causing the winning team to easily push the other team back to the point of camping. Lastly, pickups are used to make certain areas of the map more significant, altering strategies and causing players to take risks, leading to much more entertaining gameplay.

    I'm sure most of us have felt the rush of standing on the spot waiting for a healthkit to spawn, and knowing that it could mean the difference between success and failure. It is moments like these that truly show how much fun properly placed pickups can add to a map. :)

    When thinking about how to position pickups, it is useful to think of players as guinea pigs. Pickups thrown in random corners and nooks will likely not be used very often, while those pickups that are placed in visible, convenient, useful spots around obvious points of interest in high player traffic will be grabbed the most. Pickups can be useful for making a lesser used area more appealing, but typically it's better to build the area around the fact that there will be a healthkit or ammopack there.

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    2. Health Placement

    Healthkits in maps play an extremely important role. Health pickups have a heavy influence on where battles take place, as well as strengthening/weakening many positions. Generally, healthkits tend to be more helpful to attacking players, helping to break chokepoints and stalemates.



    Sizes

    [​IMG]
    The small healthkit tends to be very moderate in terms of tactical advantage; it can be used to give a small nudge in the attacking team's favor, whilst not throwing it too far off. Small healthkits are great companions for scouts, rocket jumping soldiers, and turtle engies.
    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    The medium healthkit is good for creating a strong position without overdoing (usually). Medium kits are also good for placing just behind chokepoints, allowing the attacking team to get the resources they need to push through a pretty hefty defense. Medium healthkits can be used to create a good reason to retreat from a battle, make useful a weaker sentry spot, or lure a heavy to hang around the area.



    [​IMG]
    The full (or large) healthkit is an extremely powerful tool that can alter the entire battle, and can lead to domination by the team that controls it if not placed properly. Full kits are best used as a means to make extremely weak positions worth defending.
    [​IMG]
    Another use is to provide a good place to retreat to after attempting an attack on a heavily defended sentry gun.
    [​IMG]
    A final note to add to this is that full healthkits should be used only when they are required (most often in a/d maps, rarely, if ever, in others).



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    3. Ammo Placement

    Ammopacks should be placed in areas of importance, with smaller packs placed in locations where flanks might be taking place. Ammo usually tends to help the defending team more than the attackers, as running out of ammo is a common concern to those holding a single position.



    Sizes

    [​IMG]
    Small ammopacks can be helpful to increase the usefulness of sentry spots slightly, and they are great to help flanking routes feel more appealing. Use these when you wish to place ammo in an area, without creating an unintentional sentry spot (though that still may happen, so be wary).



    [​IMG]
    Medium ammopacks are good for reinforcing an area without overdoing it. Medium packs make sentry spots seem more viable, and provide players with a worthy amount of ammo to go out of their way for.



    [​IMG]
    Full ammopacks can be very persuasive, to say the least. Full packs attract engineers like a magnet! These can be used to either solidify a sentry/teleporter spot, whether it be for the attacking team or the defending team.

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    Official Examples

    This section will cover the theory and gameplay implications based around many significant pickups in official maps.




    ctf_2fort

    [​IMG]
    This spot focuses around the fight around the intel room. The medium healthkit gives attackers who finally make it downstairs with a little bit of relief while assaulting the sentry farm in the intel room, while the ammopack helps replenish the loss from the fighting above, as well as occasionally persuading engineers to leave their sentries behind to fetch some more ammo.



    [​IMG]
    Though both small, these pickups assist attackers who have either rocket jumped up through the grate, or those scouts that have barely made it past the barrage of spam and sentry fire (and the spawnroom).



    cp_gravelpit

    [​IMG]
    This lone healthkit creates a very interesting game mechanic around point A. It gives an instant boost to stamina, but also places players in peril as they run through a small enclosed space (while also being incredibly predictable).



    [​IMG]
    This is a good example of the "nudge" in the attackers favor that I mentioned earlier. When C is under attack, this route is subjected to a ton of spam from red team. This healthkit gives some relief to attackers while they duck behind cover.



    [​IMG]
    This small healthkit is possibly my favorite in the entire game. It provides a good incentive to flank around the backside of the building and serves as the most used healthkit in the area. A small detail that most don't think of is that it is raised off the ground. The reason behind this is so soldiers can rocketjump straight up while standing in the healthkit, and pick it up on their way up AFTER jumping.



    cp_dustbowl

    [​IMG]
    These pickups serve 2 purposes: To provide a fun bit of spawncamping for the defending team, and to give the attacking team a place to duck in while attacking.



    [​IMG]
    Same as the previous example.



    [​IMG]
    These make the first cap building easier to defend, while conversely weakening it to attacks coming from the side.



    [​IMG]
    This healthkit is mostly used to keep red from holding the one-way tunnel after the first point is capped, and also to keep red from pushing back into the first point.



    [​IMG]
    These pickups form the main defense right around the point here, while also helping out the occasional (occasional my ass) pyro that W+M1's straight down the stairs to the right of the picture.



    [​IMG]
    These may seem like a tad much, but they provide a heavy, HEAVY incentive to pull the battle to the side that this building is on. This position helps the defending team while they hold the building at the start of the battle, and it helps the attacking team break through the flat plain right after this building leading up to the point.



    [​IMG]
    These help red make teleporters while cap 1-1 is being fought over, and helps blue to keep red from pushing back into the area once cap 1-2 is being fought over.



    [​IMG]
    This full healthkit complements the one way door next to it to provide a very strong forward base for the attacking team (and many, MANY battles hinge on this forward base)



    [​IMG]
    This position is used often by both teams, but is more useful to the attacking team as they push forward, giving to them a useful retreat spot and a fantastic place to pop an uber from.



    [​IMG]
    This spot is the main defensive pickup location for point 2-2 in dustbowl. It gives the engineers a good boost, as well as helping point defenders a bit.



    [​IMG]
    This is primarily a defensive location, giving defending engineers plenty of metal to build with, and keeping players going back for the health.



    [​IMG]
    This location is extremely important to the blue team attacking the final point. The metal provides the resources for a powerful forward base, and the healthkit helps to strengthen it further, and counter some of the pyros that come out of the small tunnel behind.



    [​IMG]
    This ammopack mostly helps red engineers build sentry spots in this area.




    More maps to come! Place requests in your replies!


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    Common Mistakes

    Coming soon!

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    Specific Requirements for Each Official Gamemode

    Coming soon!

    --------------------------------------------------

    This is going to be a work in progress over the next week or so. This weekend I will not have access to TF2 or even a computer that can even remotely run a game like it.

    I hope this helps!
     
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    Last edited: Oct 23, 2009
  2. Radaka

    Radaka L7: Fancy Member

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    Saving space in case I need it.
     
  3. ScorpioUprising

    aa ScorpioUprising

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    Very well written thread. You tended to focus on A/D maps, why not examine 5cp maps (especially comp favored ones) to show how the placement affects competition? I was thinking of badlands, in particular.
     
  4. The Gentlemanne

    The Gentlemanne L4: Comfortable Member

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    small fix on this..
     
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  5. Radaka

    Radaka L7: Fancy Member

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    Fixed that, heh.
     
  6. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    Please trim your image sizes, they hardly need to be so big.
     
  7. MangyCarface

    aa MangyCarface Mapper

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    Large health packs have no place outside of a/d maps IMO.
     
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  8. Nutomic

    Nutomic L11: Posh Member

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    You could also add, that Valve nearly always uses these patch decals where health and ammo are, so people can even recognize a pickup spawn when it has picked up. People often forget that.

    (As i write that, i should also add these to my map, was too lazy yet)
     
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  9. strangemodule

    strangemodule L5: Dapper Member

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    I really like this tutorial. I'm gonna have to rethink some of my item placements now...
     
  10. Radaka

    Radaka L7: Fancy Member

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    I'll be sure to do that once I get back after this weekend. I would do it now, but my ride gets here in ten minutes, and I'm not done packing D:


    This is true.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2009
  11. Tinker

    aa Tinker

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    Really cool, I was worried about you using dustbowl as an example as it has lots of terrible placing, but you picked out the good ones. Well done.
     
  12. Faux Rhinoceros

    aa Faux Rhinoceros Also known as Dr. Element

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    Necrobump mathafakers!

    Great tutorial.

    One of the areas which i found the most difficult suddenly got a lot easier.