Twin Pines Mall - Level Design Document + Maps

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by theIguana, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. theIguana

    theIguana L1: Registered

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    Hello Mappers

    HERE is a link to the preliminary LDD for a map I am creating for my MA.

    Twin Pines Mall (TPM) is a standard CTF Map located withing a 1950's Mall.

    ..and here's just the proposed maps.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I look forward to your questions / comments / concerns.

    Greybox to follow.

    thank you in advance

    iG
     
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  2. sooshey

    aa sooshey :3c

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    I read through your PDF, and it seems that your map will have no trouble taking on TF2's style. However there are some things I wanted to point out about the gameplay, if your map was intended for more than just being showcased as a final project.

    Firstly, in TF2 there are no weapon pickups that are a part of the map; you can only grab weapons from killed players. If there was a way to implement this in the game anyway, it wouldn't work very well because every class has their own (mostly) unique pool of weapons to choose from, and in most cases, the other choices are neither upgrades nor downgrades. In fact, lots of people prefer the stock weapons. The fact that you can choose your own weapons from your backpack before you spawn also makes this system kind of pointless.

    There's only one official TF2 map that takes place completely indoors: cp_junction. It's somewhat poorly received because it feels cramped and there isn't much ceiling space. If you want your map to play better, try to avoid Junction's mistakes and give players a decent mix of tighter side routes (like your neutral shops) and wider play spaces. Never make common battle areas cramped; that only leads to frustration from classes like scouts who rely on dodging and movement to survive. Also, make sure the explosive jumping classes (soldier and demoman) have opportunities to jump. You could probably make the ceiling in the middle of the map two stories high like many malls in real life have.

    Overall, it looks like you did your research, and you have a solid understanding of this game's level design. I look forward to seeing a playable version of your project!
     
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  3. theIguana

    theIguana L1: Registered

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    Thank You for your input.

    Good catch on the weapons, for got about this (was pointed out last week and I forgot to update. I've built UT maps and hence the weapon and ammo labels) and need to change to wording to "consumables" (health etc...). The intention here is to add secondary risk/reward balancing aside from immediate gameplay.

    Your suggestion about the double height space matches my intention. Although an interior, the space will be spacious enough to accommodate vertical gameplay.

    Curious of your opinion of the INTEL location. I'm not a fan of FLAGS too deep in the base, so I'm considering moving out into the COURTS that are in front of each base. This is an easy thing to evaluate during play testing however. Maybe set each side up unique and observe?
     
  4. sooshey

    aa sooshey :3c

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    Most official CTF maps have the intel somewhere other than the spawn, so that it's actually a challenge to defend. While not the pinnacle of quality ctf maps, ctf_sawmill is a good example, as is ctf_2fort. On the other hand, a recently added map, ctf_landfall, was criticized for having the intel right outside the spawn room. I'd advise against making each side different, because all you'll hear during a test is people pointing out that it's not the same on both sides, instead of which side is better. Perhaps pick one idea and try it first, and if it doesn't work, try another idea.
     
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  5. Berry

    aa Berry if you read this you're a nerd

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    Another little nitpick to expand on what soosh has written (which aren't really a big deal if you're only going for 'playable'); I'm not sure if you've incorporated this into your layout from your design images but ideally TF2 levels are split into main sections, which are connected by 3 routes (one height-based, one main and most directed towards and one flank-based) which connect to a small buffer-zone of sorts (where a team's players can meet to help each other push forward) which then connect to the next main area with 3 routes.

    I appear to notice (or presume such) you're basing your findings off of CTF 2fort which may not be the best idea as it is often criticised for its gameplay design (its aesthetics are perfect for use as a reference however), though there aren't really any specific out-standing CTF maps gameplay-wise to reference as it's a mode which relies on one player's actions within a team-based game (and you can imagine how that goes, really).
     
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  6. Zed

    aa Zed Certified Most Crunk™

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    Just going to quickly point out that small health and ammo pickups are worth 20%, not 25%.
     
  7. sevin

    aa sevin

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    As soosh mentioned, mobility is pretty important in TF2. We have classes that can rocket and sticky jump to great heights, and having an entirely indoor space is really limiting. I hope you have some nice vaulted ceilings in your plans!
     
  8. henke37

    aa henke37

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    I thought that it was 22 %. I think they changed it "somehow" in the last 18 months?
     
  9. zahndah

    aa zahndah professional letter

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    It was 20.5% then they recently changed it down to 20%

    Also just want to reinforce what others have said, everything mentioned is very important so it therefore is important you take it on board. However you seem to have picked up a lot already!
     
  10. theIguana

    theIguana L1: Registered

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    Thank You everyone for your comments !
    All considered and I am hoping to have a playable greybox very soon.
     
  11. RataDeOrdenador

    RataDeOrdenador L5: Dapper Member

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    Sir,you really have done a pretty awesome job with your ideas. And I really hope to see an alpha version very soon.

    If you need help,there's always the forums with tons of tutorials about displacements,stairs,scales,textures and such. You can ask for models if you don't know how to make them/there's nothing that catches your eye,and even the Steam chat group for even more help. o3o
     
  12. hutty

    aa hutty

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    ctf_turbine is also entirely inside.
     
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  13. sooshey

    aa sooshey :3c

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    Tbh i completely forgot about turbine even though this thread is about a ctf map
     
  14. Yrr

    aa Yrr An Actual Deer

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    dont worry we all repress our memories of turbine
     
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  15. RaVaGe

    aa RaVaGe

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    What's a MA ?
     
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  16. theIguana

    theIguana L1: Registered

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    Masters of Arts. I am getting my Masters of Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development at Savannah College of Art and Design. That's a lot of words though (and eventual letters I guess :)
     
  17. RaVaGe

    aa RaVaGe

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    Ok, so first thing first, here's a cool design document from Kim Dahlgren for pl_vanishingpoint.

    http://www.kimd.se/files/Kim.Dahlgren.Design.Document.PL-VaninishingPoint.pdf
    http://www.kimd.se/pl_vanishingpoint.html

    I'm going to be honest with you, you will not impress a lot of people with what you have at the moment, imo you're focusing on the wrong thing at that current stage of dev.

    1. You're not defining what makes a good ctf map at any moment in your design document, that's a mistake because you should state at the very beginning what you're aiming for, ctf is not the best gamemode for tf2, and i'm pretty sure it can be improved, how will you do this, give you a goal.
    2. While you already have choose the theme, which is a good thing, you should not be so fixed with your references, you're describing way too much how this will be and how this will look etc, and it shows it in your layout. Working with reference is a great thing, but references are mostly there to inspire, your layout will gain in quality if you try to make a good piece of level design and not just a good looking area. Keep the reference, but don't say where it will be.
    3. Also ditch that spatial Arrangement, it's way too detailled for now, who care where the candy store is ? I do, but not there. You have to understand that making a map is not only focused on art, see that has something with two opposite which are level design and art, and when you start a layout you want to be at the middle, you have to consider both sides, and asking you that question, if i'm focusing too much on one side, does it prevent me to make something great on the other side ? Is a candy store going to play well , can I put some great gameplay elements in a candy store ? I'm afraid you can't, especially for tf2. (Candy store or whatever, you get the point)
    4. And it leads to the biggest issue there imo, the layout. I'm sorry but you will not impress anyone with such a layout, and if it's for a review, you're aiming too low. Take a look at some maps, like ctf_doublecross, here's a good article for you http://www.nodraw.net/2010/01/interview-iikka/ , now look at your layout, it's way too simple, and your over-detailled structure is killing it even more. C'mon dude there's a lot more you can do than squares. Makes some angles, something circular, do something in your map that will look just amazing. Imo that's the only thing you should care now, you have to think about a great idea in your map that will make it instantly recognizable, and work around that. A circular middle is probably a great thing to start with, I have something like that in mind.

    [​IMG]

    Take a look at arena_nucleus by example, see how they managed to work around a central element, it's amazing and that's what you should be aiming for, you should not focus on where the candy store will be, it's out of place and fundamentally limiting.

    Koth_roundhouse use a great instance system that could inspire you.

    Ok, I think you get the point, now what should you do ?

    1. Define your goal, define your deadlines, how many assets can you do for this ? Do you have enough time to do everything ?
    2. Define what makes a good ctf map, know what are the issue with the actual ctf maps and how are you going to fix them with your map.
    3. Sketch some great elements that will make your map stand out, how will you impress the people who are judging you ?
    4. Do it.
    You don't have to define where will be the ammo, you don't have to define where will be the sightline, you don't have to define where will be the candy store, these things occurs during the procces, you will have to iterate your map, don't waste your time now.

    Now I completly get that you have to show a design document, and the best way is to show the devlopment of the map, explain what problem you faced and how you fixed it, show the thing that worked and didn't and explain why.

    A good structure for your document could be

    1. Introduction
    2. Context of the game
    3. Explanation about TF²'s design/artsyle/gamemode
    4. Explain the actual ctf maps and their problems, show what works and what don't, explain their structure, understand what is making a ctf map a ctf map.
    5. Define your goals, how to make ctf better than it is atm, your deadlines, the amount of custom content you will be able to do, give some references.
    6. What is the central element of your map, the thing that will stand out ? Landmarks ?
    7. Some sketches for your central idea, some sketches of mall elements which can create a good gameplay
    8. A page for every version of your map, with datas, good things and bad things, how you will fix the problems and how to make the map better, that's the biggest part of the job, it's a journey and people will enjoy reading that if there is a good presentation (people love charts). The more version you have the more you can slide to the art process, make some overpaints, think about the colors, make some rough models. Don't forget the map optimisation !
    9. Start your texturing, define the colours you will use, explain how you will lead the players with colour guidance.
    10. Lighting pass, same about player guidance, read that article from Magnaaaaarrrr Jennnnnnsseeeenn http://magnarj.net/article_funclight.html
    11. Model pass.
    12. Conclusion.
    13. Appendix.
    That's a basic idea about how I would do it.

    Some articles that can help you :

    http://magnarj.net/article_workflow.html
    http://www.nodraw.net/2010/06/tf2-what-your-map-is-missing/
    http://www.nodraw.net/2010/08/tf2-density-of-detailing/
    https://www.mapcore.org/articles/development/making-agency-the-popular-csgo-map-r62/
    https://www.mapcore.org/articles/interviews/working-as-a-level-designer-in-the-games-industry-r67/

    Hope it helps and I wish you the best of luck :)
     
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    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
  18. MrBlonde

    MrBlonde L1: Registered

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    First off, SCAD is a great school! I look forward to seeing your work on this project.

    And secondly, I'd like to say great suggestions and feedback RaVaGe! Your thoughts have given me some ideas.
     
  19. theIguana

    theIguana L1: Registered

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    RaVaGE - Wow, thank you for your feedback! I have taken the time to go through all the material you have provided and appreciate the depth and honesty (delivery is a little aggressive, but we all have our style). I am absolutely new to even consider all the gameplay requirements to a TF2 CTF Map, so I appreciate your opinions and obvious passion for this topic.

    Few actions that I have taken from this.

    1. Purpose - Totally did not identify the purpose behind this map well enough. I appreciate being called on this. This would be...
    • Learn to use Hammer and build a TF2 map
    • Develop a successful CTF map
    • Successfully use a real-world inspired space to assist in navigation across the map (something beyond the lumberyard and factory in a rocky setting that is seen frequently - hence the 50's mall, seems appropriate and potentially useful)
    • Create a modular set of assets to populate the map
    • Beta stage development (placeholder models and textures, 1 step beyond greybox, but not detail pass - probably hand off development to community once progressed far enough)
    • 6 week development cycle (yeah, I know... not long at all...)
    2. CTF Map analysis - I included a little analysis in the document (flow, enclosure, aggregate gameplay etc...), but I have gone back and am in the process of updating to include additional information as you have stated SPECIFIC to CTF maps. More importantly I am going to use the language I have discovered that is common to this community. More to come...

    3. Spatial Arrangement - Do not agree 100% with you here, but I think the document is misleading in it's presentation. For me the Spatial Arrangement is another layer of navigation that can be applied to good gameplay-appropriate designed spaces. One precedent is the TERMINAL map in the COD series. The logic behind the arrangement of spaces assists in the passive way finding and believably of the map (and potentially succees). Have not fear, I follow the same motto that gameplay trumps art, so it is really only a starting point.

    4. Layout - Layout was a high-level diagram. I've blocked in a first pass GREYBOX of the level and have posted it to the community. There is substantially more detail within. I agree that the first pass might be slightly underwhelming, but I'm not convinced that it necessarily needs a circular space or angles to be exciting (2Fort for example is mostly rectilinear - with the overarching theme being compelling - going for the same idea here with a mall). Overall, complexity will arise, but I have found that complexity is not always the best place to start, and with my inexperience with this editor and platform - I'm taking it easy to start ;)

    Once again, thank you for your insight, opinion and contributions - EXTREMELY APPRECIATIVE !!

    iG
     
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  20. theIguana

    theIguana L1: Registered

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    First Pass GreyBox (no gameplay data yet) has been posted the maps download.

    Focus is on...
    • SCALE and PROPORTIONS (she be too small IMO currently)
    • CHOICE
    • PATHS
    • FLOW
    • SIGHTLINES
    I already have my own opinion on playability - eager to get others opinions.

    much thanks as always

    iG