View Full Version : Contest #6: Judge Reviews
06-08-2011, 10:32 PM
Asymmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical|reviewed
Symmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical|reviewed
06-08-2011, 11:17 PM
At first glance at the screenshot i expected some of the poor geometry detail to hint towards bad gameplay, but the gameplay is actually OK if not that the map contains perhaps too many routes and balances towards a coordinated RED team. health and ammo seemed to be quick appropriately placed even if i found myself running around looking for health, generally where there was combat there was some ammo and engineers seemed to setup their gear fairly successfully.
BLU are fighting an uphill battle for nearly the entire map, certainly past the staging area before it levels out at and after CP2, only then to require fighting against a few more disadvantaged height differences at the final CP. The large health At CP3 makes sandvich heavies cycling healing themselves without medics a powerful obstacle, especially if their primary loadout differs where they become increasingly difficult to overcome as they swap flanks. The map is very balanced in RED's favour. Also, even with the long sightlines at locations like the staging area, each class seemed to be performing relatively well and this is said as a heavy taking on enemies at distances of up to 2048 units, thinking "shit" when i see snipers, only to see them get flanked my a pyro. So class balance was a little better than team balance.
The map has a lot of open doorways but the amount of corners that tend to disorientate players also helps to cull lengthy sightlines and the generally low level of detail prevents the larger areas from really affecting map performance.
The level of detail between some areas is sporadic, some areas having moderate detail, one has a lot of attention to geometry detail and others have almost no detail besides the odd prop and LoS breaking walls. The theme has mostly been lost to generic-ness how ever which is disappointing, the map revolving around spy-techness after the inside industrial theme seen at the staging area.
The map plays well in general, plentiful opportunities for all classes and manner of player tactics and the map's design compliments all manner of weapon unlocks. However progression of difficulty feels schizophrenic at times. The long winding flanks lead to semi-frequent ninja caps when unprotected and the above average quantity of health pick-ups makes for breaking player heavy defences (not sentry farms) problematic; and chasing wounded enemies to finish them off all the more dangerous.
The map suffers a bit from up-hill battle syndrome where RED almost always have the height advantage and over zealous buffer areas between one point and the next that make it twice as challenging to push forwards to the second CP; battles rarely occur on or around the second points.
The layout doesn't seem to have been produced with performance in mind. Geometry is messy and to no fundamental grid setting. There is little obvious sign of breaking LoS for anything more than gameplay purposes, but it is more present within larger structures. Since detail is not over saturated there is no real loss to performance on current generation machines.
The attention to detail can be rather hit and miss, some areas receiving significantly more attention than others making it feel rather patchy. There is a lacking attention and care in the creation of brush based arches, but use of props has been clever and effective. There needs to be a more obvious definition of player space and out of bounds areas; on the first few rounds on this map it is difficult to assess where threats might approach from, but once the layout is learnt it becomes rather enjoyable and you can start to apply effective and appropriate tactics at certain points.
There is however a lack of definition regarding the theme, there's alpine mixed with industrial and the custom made construction pack mixed with lumberyard with dockyard thrown in for good measure. Whilst mixing themes isn't necessarily bad by default, there's no real coherent method in its execution. The map progresses from one scenario to another, no location feeling specific or with purpose. Spytech appears at one point half way through the map then disappears as you progress into a construction scene, then it reappears before disappearing behind some industry.
One would ask themselves why a mercenary battle is occurring at this location besides the fact that there's a spytech base with other mercenaries in it. As beautiful as the spytech aesthetic is it is literally generic with no real specific objective present at the finale or hinted at throughout the map. If it is a server hub this should be emphasised, if it is a monitoring station it should be made more obvious with recording equipment etc.
Canyonfodder's gameplay feels a little odd in places, large spaces make way for contrasting tiny corridors, but scale in general is quite appopriate but for a couple unique locations that could use more development. The varying scale does make progression of difficulty schizophrenic and there's no real method to the distance and location of CP1 and BLU spawns; which varies significantly between stages. The varying scales and distances means this is a map where you will spend time changing your loadout and class a lot to suit the circumstances of the layout design which may or may not been seen as a pro or con to gameplay, but having to change classes and loadouts within a single stage as opposed to between rounds is very annoying.
Again, progression of difficulty being so schizophrenic makes it hard to judge overall balance. BLU rarely make it past stage 2 unless RED have a poorly made up team in which case the map is prone to steamroll.
With all the winding corners and corridors it may seem that aspects if considering performance has been worked into the layout design, however the map is littered with unnecassery gaps in geometry and levels of detail hit over saturation in some points of the map yet completely miss others. It kind of evens out in the end, but it is by no means perfect.
In a similar manner to Copperhead the map feels very unconsolidated, less so in theme this time and more so in architectural design. The map is quite obviously desert in appearence but the structures are very arbitrary and have not been given an appearence that serves any particular purpose. Even a store house needs implications that it is a store house but these just appear to be generic structures serving little use but to obstruct players and force them around corners to even more arbitrarily located control points.
On a final point, I already mentioned that there is almost no aesthetic important to the capture points, least of all the final point. The final point is hidden behind smaller structures when it should be highly visible and using the badlands final point model is not enough for an A/D finalé; which incidently lacks any epicness at all and is a massive anti-climax.
Desertion feels strange in many ways. Scale is on the large side and outside areas are open but with "some" obstacles; these do provide limited cover but the obstacles don't funnel players in any particaler direction (such as to objectives) or provide any substantial presence as to allow players to flank each other in a coordinated manner or for engineers to setup gear; they just get in the way and make combat convoluted.
The map's weakness is in being unable to draw players together, players split up and skirmish even in coordinated play, scouts dominate the health packs and rocky obstacles whilst snipers dominate the open expanses between control points/buildings. The lack of defined flanks also makes controlling territory impossible and BLU can barely setup any lasting forward position and keeping teleporter entrances operational is a chor. When combat reaches the contested CP BLU players are forced into the one obvious route of attack with the single advantage making the map repetitive to play.
Balance is a massive issue, the large space on offer and amount of exits/entrances to buildings allows RED to easily slip past BLU attackers, take out teleporter entrances and flank individuals respawning/travelling to the front line. There is also an issue with class balance, the over scaling makes scouts and snipers the prefered class of choice and the proximity of the final point to the defenders spawn makes it nearly impossible to complete a capture on without getting interupted by people you previously killed to get there and the tiny nooks and crannies between medium sized props make for powerful hidden sentry locations.
The map is low in saturation of detail but doorways don't seem to be placed to methodically break los giving off huge sight lines into and out of large structures; doors which would normally be utilised under these circumstances have not been utilised.
Details are sketchy and displacements don't align at seems making playable space difficult to ascertain, players will frequently get stuck against or slide off rocks or stairs. Buildings are monolithic and overwhelming and each area is rather same-y in size.
The theme feels very empty, prop usage is repetitive and limited; it's in the desert and that's about it with a little cargo hold at the end which doesn't look particularly important.
Scale is on the large side and many of the structures outside in the staging area serve little purpose beyond replicating the feel of gravelpit A. Whilst with a little more detail the scale might feel more acceptable, long winded corridors between CP1 and 2 are a deal beaker that send many players running for the disconnect button.
The map feels rather balanced in terms of teams besides the one ultimate sentry spot in the reel room opposite RED spawn. RED usually win, but BLU have had their moments, but worst is class balance. Wins were possible without class stacking but scouts were deffinately a prime choice as a result of the travel distance.
The exceedingly low level of detail gives a high performance by default.
Aesthetics leave a lot to be desired, effort has been made in odd ways, there are alpha blends in the displacements, some light fixtures even have sprites and there are the starts of what appear to be detail rooms. However the map should in no way be labelled "final" when it looks barely out of alpha.
The further the map progresses the less refined the map seems to feel. Gameplay is still fairly tight nip, players aren't given too many options which is great for the most part when it comes to influencing teams to consolidate before assaults; but many of the CP's feel incomplete and insignificant, with uninteresting gameplay, often tucked flush against a map boundary wall or a far corner with limited surrounding space.
Balance feels a little off in places, the capacity for RED to counter attack and retake positions at CP1 of both stages effectively resets BLU's progress. BLU should really get a spawn advantage to counter-act the unusually long walk distances to the secondary capture points. The map also needs some more appropriate respawn visualiser placement, the capacity for RED to push BLU past their own setup gates and into the spawn rooms is not a good thing for the map when RED have so many other advantages already, the fact that there are so many exits and doors at the setup gate area just makes it all the more easier for a single RED player to sneak past aggressing BLU attacks and deal massive damage at decisive moments.
The map has plenty of turns and doorways that generally cull most potential LoS issues and the level of detail is never excessive, keeping frame rates within acceptable limits. Although the numerous doors with glass windows and gaps in solid walls feel unnecassery.
The red environment light, red dirt ground and excessive use of red brick and red/brown wood gives the map a very mundane feel and the less than pleasent lighting condition is exasperated in the shade where the ambient light fails to highlight existing detail. The choice to go to red brick on the inside at CP4 would not be a bad choice on its own but considering the high level of red seen throughout the map's last 3 capture points a change of atmosphere would have been appropriate. The map also fails to highlight the lesser structures contents such as around CP 3 where there are sheds with item drops; these lights need to be brighter and the author needs to follow detailing trends in that many wooden structures utilise the white wood beams to increase inside ambient light. The map really needs to show off it's control points, none of which are aesthetically significant and very generic.
The map's gameplay is not very refined; areas contrast between small rooms with limited entrances to linear corridors and wide open spaces. Classes out match each other in an extreme fashion, so depending on the location the terrain advantages stack against the disadvantage and class perks. Cooperation for attackers tends to go out the window when players try to make an impact on their own in an effort to attract as little attention to themselves and make progress stealthily; also medics get prioritised and assasinated in the open fairly consistantly making it a difficult class to play.
As i mentioned in gameplay, classes tend to out class each other in the extreme environment designs from tight close quarters to long distances that keep scouts and snipers to certain areas and engineers, demomen and soldiers to others. BLU are almost always exposed, if not to long sight lines, to winding flanks that are impossible to hold and control. It's easy for RED to hold the immediate area around the CP's and difficult for BLU to gain any forward ground due to the open space and winding flanks that allow scouts and spies almost free reign to harass your team support.
The map is particularly snake like and winding so even though there are some excessive light lines, the map isn't excessively bad and the below average levels of detail mean that performance isn't as much of an issue as it might be if the map had reached further development in the artpass phase.
The maps aesthetics are particularly bare, especially when it comes to prop usage, but the geometry is interesting, the buildings look quite nice on the outside and many have been given inner details such as trusses and detail rooms. The map has an emphasise with trains and i certainly feel the map could have been better executed around this theme in a manner that would have also complimented gameplay by utilising more appropriate scales.
Powderhorn's gameplay can be a little off at times, although nothing all too serious to call it broken, but i will seperate the negative points in detail. The excessive space to the far right flank of the BLU spawn goes largely unused and only serves to turn decisive assaults into diluted skirmishes that almost always end in RED's favour (because of the height and item drop placement advantages). The spawn should either be moved into a more central location or the map boundary expanded if only slightly to BLU's left and the right flank removed entirely to provide more space for combat. But once combat reaches the control point after BLU finally push past their spam-tastic primary exit the combat starts to get more interesting (if not that the CP position itself is prone to the same predictable SG positions). When CP1 falls, CP2 is usually quick to follow making it feel very much that the progressive difficulty curve is a little backwards; and the lack of height for RED on their final CP also feels a little backwards, and their spawn exit proximity to the CP makes it very easy for BLU to spam the door whilst capturing the final point.
As hinted at in my gameplay discussion BLU are too easily trapped in their spawn where RED have a direct height advantage over the BLU spawn exit with readily available health and ammo supplies; and BLU have a height disadvantage within their own spawn area so red will often stand flat against the respawn visualiser shooting in. The space to the far flank is so wide and open that it serves as little respite for escaping BLU players (besides perhaps the odd skilled spy that can rack up a kill streak or harass the SG positions before being killed with little to no discernable impact in their teams favour). The maps difficulty progression needs to be revised as does the area surrounding the final point.
The map has obvious attempts from the layout design to cull LoS making the use of rain affects less damaging to performance. The slightly under saturated detail levels also leand to relatively high performance rates. Although the high concentration of spam towards the primary BLU spawn exit and LoS to the area behind as well as rain particle affects makes for some occasional choppy play at this staging area.
The shiney affect on the metal roofs is a great addition to the sawmill-rainy theme that really stuck out to me for this custom map. The level of detail in the out of bounds detail was pretty much executed at the most efficient levels but inside details were quite bare. The outside level of detail was OK considering the amount of open space that was being rendered however displacements were sub-par and in need of way more love and attention to make the map as a whole feel more complete. The water also felt arbitrarily placed, i'm not even sure the waterfall and pool lead anywhere, it just suddenly stops.
I really have nothing to complain about regarding the gameplay. Areas have a pleasent variation in height and size and are never too big or small, except perhaps the space before the CP 3 building which has a tendancy to allow RED to bulwark much further ahead of the CP, clearing out forward BLU positions that might have gone up during an assault; though this also has the drawback of ninja caps in BLU's favour so it's hard to call foul in terms of balance (despite how i feel about cp_sekhmet's easy defence yet tendancy for BLU to ninja cap). The amount of long corridors (roads), numerous doorways into the ware-house like structures make it difficult to set up dispensers at key points or eat lunchbox items without someone exploring and coming across you or your gear by chance and killing it/you. Which can be troublesome for engineers who prefer to help the team more acgively as opposed to setting up sentry nests on or behind objectives.
Balance is great, cap times seem a little on the short side, but only by a second or two. Distance between CP's is appropriate but the tandancy to give RED a ledge overlooking the capture point gets a bit repatitive.
The saturation of detail is just under par which means it looks nice but is incomplete and this generally gives maps like this a quality performance level. There are enough corners and walls/structures to cull LoS so the outside areas don't get excessively choppy.
The amount of bland gray walls outside prevent any real landmarks from speaking out to players and reinforcing player orientation. Sometimes it gets confusing to RED as to which direction BLU will assault from. The size of the map helps to reduce the capacity to get lost though as you usually run into BLU reinforcements or a CP area fairly quickly. The details on the inside are a lot better than those on the outside and the unique approach to details such as windows fits nicely into the TF2 theme.
Sekhmet's A/D gameplay has been unrefined which makes me wonder what happened during the alpha testing. for A/D the map is very wide making it very difficult to defend with so many entrances into any area, due to them being spaced so far apart. There are chokes inthe form of said entrance/exit-ways, but there are so many that they become diluted and often scouts or even just regular speed classes will flank an entire team and begin to ninja cap. The distance between CP1 and BLU spawn is such that it's very difficult for a full team to push through the initial defence, secondary defence at the buffer area and then again at the exposed CP within the initial time limit; and i am disinclined to call the potential for ninja caps balance, although we have managed to get to the final point on non-full servers it's just bad layout design that ruins combative gameplay when the only option is to run past enemy players to reach the objective in time. Maybe for a final point, but not for CP1.
In a less than full server the massive gaps between capture points is less of a hinderance to map balance as ninja caps force defenders back past the staging area and buffer to directly around the point. The maps difficulty is created in a very strange way that throws off standard gameplay tactics and creates more of a cat and mouse play. Some might enjoy this but it seems in negative contrast to the game mode that is attack/defend.
the tight spaces between areas break LoS nicely and seperates areas of significant detail and combat. Performance has obviously been a consideration from the start, though the amount of particle effects from both torches and high levels of combat can cause periodic screen tears and the amount of brush based detail probably doesn't help (monuments/catwalks/trusses).
The colour throughout the map is fairly monotonous, though this is often the case with egpytion themed maps, it just seems to be an extreme here as the orange torches and light brown textures in the night theme combine to a less than attractive ambience. Brush based details seem to have been prefered in the face of props which is slightly understandable given the lack of egyption theme related props, but a lack of imagination in stretching the potantial for the egyption theme seems to have limited the selection more than what could have been achieved.
cp_ship's gameplay is fairly loose and the map feels like it was not extensively play tested, tight lengthy corridors for flanks that also tend to wind around many corners and the numerous stairs and catwalks disorinetate players; plus a lack of signs doesn't help. Pillars/I-beams and boxes get in the way of combat more than aiding it into something interesting, often making it incredibly difficult to attack the CP's. The small spaces coupled with a completely new theme make it difficult to figure out where to progress forwards or even where exits and entrances are (which tend to be more recognised with more refined and typical TF2 themes).
It's almost impossible to define and review the balance when players are so easily lost in the layout the true nature of the map is never fully revealed, but the map is generally a ton of tight spaces and corridors one after the other and the single exit at BLU's spawn does not bode well for its potential.
As seems to be the case with many of the submissions, again, this map like the others has a generally low level of detail so performance isn't terrible. But much of the layout around CP2 shows a lot of brush work that is not efficiently executed, the authors inexperience with Hammer is quite blatent in the smaller details like stairs and windows.
Effort has been put into an entirely new custom theme but the theme has been terribly executed. It neither fits the stylistic painted style of TF2 nor executed in conjunction with existing materials or themes such as spytech; which for a space station might have been the most logical choice. The resolution on many of the textures also leaves a lot to be desired. Attention to the finer details such as trims or mini-scenario's depicting "life" and "use" is almost completely absent. But at least there is some significance to the objectives that tell a narrative within the map, even if the details of the narrative are not well demonstrated by the minor/finer details.
General balance aside the map provides plenty of height difference and path opportunities before diverging into a series of linear corridors between CP1 and 2 of each stage. The map doesn't support a wide variaty of tactics or weapon loadouts, both teams tend to utilise what ever weapons pack the biggest burst damage punch to lock down corridors or push through predictable static defenses.
If a player enjoys a challange then playing BLU on Slush is similar to playing BLU on the last stage of dustbowl or first stage of goldrush and will keep you coming back for more if only out of stubborn-ness to never give up. Slush's difficulty curve is shocking for BLU and all sense of progression of difficulty is lost at Stage 1, CP 2, where attackers not only fight a literal uphill battle but have to double back on themselves to reach the control point and engage sentry nests whilst putting their back towards the enemy spawn. The first stage is by no means impossible and a little team stacking works just for the sake of moving the map on to the second round. One might call it goldrush fever and until this is resolved much of the map remains to yet show its full potential. CP 2 of stage 2 is just as difficult to take where demomen and soldiers can cycling through the locker room to negate reloading between spamming the CP; or sitting next to a well protected dispenser behind a wall beyond the capture point to keep ones health and ammo conviniently topped up despite offensive pressure. The amount of doorways, catwalks and routes between control points make this map a dream for spies who can consistantly wipe a quarter to half a respawn wave and keep teleporters from staying up for any length of time.
The plentiful corners, appropriately high walls, doorways and lack of see through windows keeps performance within good standards. Density of detail is not excessive nor lacking and generally hits that sweet spot.
As previously mentioned the level of detail generally hits that sweet spot between too much and not enough, the outside areas are superb, a little gorge mixed with some snow is executed rather well, but inside details seem a little off. The inside industrial detail relies too much on pipe props and the industry to spytech theme progression is a little nonsensical. One could say the map lacks detail consistancy on the inside which is emphasised by the amount of different textures and styles utilised for trusses and trims that busy the scene with unnecassery additional visual information.
Zig's gameplay is pretty straight forward thanks to the methodically created layout and this can be considered more of a pro than a con. The distance between right, left and middle flanks between CP 1 and 2 is such that coordinated pushes are difficult, but usually a mass assault down the middle is enough against a defending team that doesn't counter attack; the only worry is that this basic and predictable tactic repeats itself throughout the stages, especially when the last stage is expected to have fewer flanks and height advantages for BLU to exploit for progression of difficulties sake. Besides that (which i can't judge because stages 2 and 3 do not exist yet) individual gameplay can be a little fiddly. unalligned displacements on the floor and rock props that aren't visually ascertive as to their walkable/climb-ness leave players getting stuck in tight spots during combat and dry humping walls and props to get to odd places when out of it.
Distance between spawns, capture point 1 and capture point 2 are a little on the long side, but for stage 1 this hasn't posed too much of a balance issue as of yet; but without stages 2 or 3 it's impossible to tell how progression of difficulty will be and a 50/50 win ratio for stage 1 is unfortunately not completely balanced. The long distances make sniper and scout favourable classes. Whilst it's nice to see scouts utilised in A/D maps, the threat from snipers usually sends attackers down the more protected routes making BLU relatively predictable and easy to ambush.
There are no complaints for performance on my current generation machine though i have heard some from other less powerful PC users. Detail is not over saturated and executed methodically and with purpose. My only gripe is the number of gaps in structures that need not be there and increase face counts that aarn't necassery, though that coincides with the fact that it causes light to bleed through these gaps creating a strange ambience where blue-y white, orange and the ambient sun colour mix, and not in a pleasent way. Speaking of which, onto the aesthetics.
Zig's aesthetics are more unique than any other submission and this definately deserves kudo's, unfortunately it also means the maps general development has suffered as there is only 1 stage; and the comparrison of the level of detail in 1 stage of Zig vs multiple stages of other maps isn't that impressive. The location of detail is also relatively odd. Whilst the custom trees on the horizon is an excellent execution in terms of the theory of focal points within a game environment, often areas of high detail density are out of the general view of players and hidden between patches of trees on cliff tops or where players only momentarily look. For example the detail area behind the BLU staging area, players only momentarily see this area when leaving spawn before turning 180 to assault the RED defences and much of the setup time is spent looking out the gates at RED defences, jumping over the rock props, spamming rechargable abilities or dry humping gaps in the gameplay fences to unsuccessfully access said detail area.
Clocktower's gameplay is simple and straight forward. There are few flanks at CP2 which generally keeps the team together, but the scale of CP1 is on the large side with much unused space and flanking paths that are unnecasserily long and still don't bring players any closer to the CP than if they had just gone forwards. The ramp at mid used to pass past CP 3 forces a certain flow which is fun but does limit the amount of tactics one can employ and makes combat around mid a little linear, however a lot of the time players will play soldier/demo and rocket jump past this feature in defiance of the maps influence on player traffic.
Clocktower feels odd in terms of balance. By default it's symmetry makes it balanced between BLU and RED But CP2 is very difficult to access as a class without jump perks and the exposed floor level from which attackers assault does not help the matter. Still, what ever circumstances surrounding the weirdness and design of CP2 that make it not very nice to attack (as either the attacking or defending team) cp_clocktower's basic layout seems to work. CP1 for both teams has a good capture speed and is appropriately easy to attack and defend. Fights can and will move back and forth and the map is not impossible to win. unfortunately the latest version does tend to stalemate around CP2 increased LoS's in terms of both FoV and individual LoS's make snipers powerful and despite the lacking number of flanking paths individual players still frequently flank entire teams (mostly scout and engineer); mostly a result of the one way ramp at mid that is more hidden out of view now it's been narrowed. This location needs at least more light.
The map's layout around CP2 is not perfect in regards to culling LoS and sometimes FPS in the middle can get choppy despite the fact the map is in early beta and further detail is expected to come. As it stands my GTX 460 copes fine with 220 FPS. But action should be taken to prevent further loss to performance around mid/CP2 and many complaints have been made from players with lower spec machines.
The final point is industrial as apposed to spytech, which is fine, but there is little importance implied through detail regarding its location besides the fact that defenders spawn there. The industry is also in contrast with the halloween/medi-evil theme seen in the middle as these themes generally don't cross match. CP 2 is also rather generic, the structures imply nothing of their purpose and don't compliment either the theme in the middle of the map or the industrial seen at the end.
Omen's scale is on the large side and it takes height differences to the extreme, no single section is really on the same level as the surrounding areas. This forces combat to occur at more distant lengths as players struggle to close the distance on enemies should the attacker be either on the low ground or behind one of the many low walls that frustratingly cannot be jumped over. The large doorways help to reduce the effectiveness of spam but the huge doorways don't compliment the over large areas and emphasise the feeling that the map is too big.
The map tends to favour whoever captured middle first. Although i've seen a couple back and forth matches it tends to be a downhill battle for attackers for the rest of the map.
The map has some hints to an optimised layout but in some areas it does not, so it makes me wonder if those that do exist (structures and walls that block LoS) are merely there by chance. In any case, the lack of solid geometry within areas around the control points and acxessive use of wooden planks worries me that should the map reach further levels of detail it would really affect the performance of the map on average level computers.
The colour pallete is quite limited, mirky brown mud, murky brown wood and grey and brown metals; this is not improved by the tall cliffs that block out much of the contrasting blue sky. The outside levels of detail are reasonable if not that the displacements could seriously use a lot more care and perhaps better execution, but the inside areas tend to lack any real level of attention.
cp_croissant is obviously very much a competitive map, it is incredibly scout and sniper friendly; and for public play, too friendly to them. It becomes particularly unbalanced when on the other hand you also have a lack of consideration for classes such as pyro (if not for the long death pit boardering CP3) or spy or engineer and the long sight lines destroy the heavies worth. Entrances into the bases bring combat to a linear state with narrow corridors on the flanks and dynamic door doorways that cause long stalemates between CP2 and 3. CP2 is incredibly difficult to reach as a class without a jump perk and the only 2 directions to approach it from mean that it is often not a wise choice as you will lack support and get mowed down by a consolidated defence stuck between CP2 and the primary base exit. The orientation of spawn to CP1 and the route out of CP1's location towards CP2 are such that even after tens of rounds i continue to walk the wrong way and have to refind my way towards CP2/3.
Crossaint is not balanced for all classes, but it is not so bad that it is impossible to play. A slight overscaling tends to be the norm and usually acceptable as opposed to slightly underscaled which is a lot less desirable. Sniper lines need to be cut with more geometry and sophisticated structure designs that bring close range combat into play and provide a rounder gameplay experience and tactical opportunities.
The map has a ton of wide open space and detail is incredibly sparce and confined to large props besides perhaps around CP3. The lack of any substantial details creates a high performance rate by default, but that's not to say that there are performance spikes when turning corners and revealing large fresh batches of terrain.
As mentioned under performance fine details are sparce and much of the prop usage has been limited to medium to large. Rocks, containers, the odd hydro double stacked crate. The lack of any roof creates a strange feeling, like the map isn't entirely complete; the lack of any theme besides bare alpine exasperates that idea. Is it a dock? Is it a lumbermill? A depot? Who knows. The aesthetics leave much to the imagination.
Process's gameplay tends to be a repetitive stalemate between CP's 1 and 2. CP1 is incredibly difficult to take; over powered SG positions tend to bulwark the flank from CP2 whilst still covering the CP point and large portions of the far flank as well; and the bases primary exit's proximity to CP2 mean that flanking CP1 as an attacker is highly impractical. CP2 constantly needs direct reinforcements while defenders require far few players to defend the main route than is required by attackers to attack. Any attempt to flank CP1 is met with a close proximity counter attack to CP2 by defenders behind the door on the main route resulting in a back cap, that is then re-taken by the flanking attackers forced to retreat resetting the progress and round timer to full (thanks to the 2 consecutive point captures).
Process doesn't have a lot of tiny problems like many of the other maps but instead suffers from two massive ones. As previously mentioned CP2 is very problematic. CP1 is too hard to attack and CP2 is too easy, resulting in a constant capping and back capping of CP2. CP3 is barely seen and often a decisive battle from the very beginning. Smaller teams to tend to allow for more decisive combat and flanking moves on CP1 are more successful thanks to the lower player count and lesser chance to be caught flanking CP1 by straddling defenders. Jumping onto higher ground tends to be incredibly fiddly and the excessive height advantages around mid for soldier, scout and demo make most other classes redundant, even the medics survival rate is practically zero because of all the flanks and higher platforms.
Sightlines havn't been entirely culled and outside corners by large structures are wide resulting in the outside areas peering through to each other between CP2 and 3. Although the generally low level of smaller details means that performance is not affected too negatively. Lower end machine users may take a liking to this map whilst high end machine users will ask more of the maps level of detail.
There's nothing really innovative about Process's details. A gorge theme clone through and through that is at best well executed if not incredibly boring and uninspiring. A complete lack of facade is a disappointing aspect of this maps aesthetics, especially for a 5CP push map that would sit next to maps like badlands, well and granary. Besides this complaint the height differences feel natural thanks to the well executed basic details/geometry and the use of I-beams in the industrial themed space is better than most, but catwalks tend to be oddly shaped, narrow and come off at random angles with no supports. The light is nice and bright though on the inside and outside.
06-09-2011, 05:10 PM
Naturally, I still have many maps to go through on a single player basis to check and look at things, so these scores will change over the course of the judging period.
Asymmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical
Symmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical
06-09-2011, 09:33 PM
I score using the entire 1-10 scale. A 5 score is not a failure, but the average, compared to the rest of the competition.
I think Gameplay and Balance go hand in hand. You really can't have one without the other, so I found it awkward to rate them as different categories.
Asymmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical
Symmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical
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i. In case anyone is confused when I say 'Fiction' (for a lack of a better word), I'm referring to the sense that the map is consistent with the TF2 world, and provides a non-gameplay reason the two teams are fighting each other. It could also mean giving your buildings and corridors a purpose other than existing for the game.
Think: If there wasn't a battle going on, what would these areas be used for?
ii. Minor = I wanted to leave a note, but it shouldn't affect your score.
iii. I grade perf on the lowest consistent FPS I get while on your map. This means that a single badly optimized area can bring down your perf score, but incidental or flash drops in FPS shouldn't affect it. Rating perf is going to be unusual for me this time since I recently bought a new machine and I don't really take any visible perf hits any more. If you're wondering what FPS I usually get on official maps:
iv: I also urge everybody to take a look of your map on our servers with the feedback system. We have had lots of helpful players leave comments during Valve's blog post.
CLOCKTOWER - 210fps
+Cool style unique enough to be recognizable
+good detailing, but most of the map is walled off with cliffs. Lacks vistas, "outside world"
-Gameplay is very derivative of Freight and Badlands
-really dark is some parts
-minor: nobuild on last CP is uncalled for; no indication
-minor: nook above mid CP too hidden. Most classes have no means of countering a camping soldier/demoman supplied with health packs
-Insufficient spawn points; players spawn on top of each other at round start
SLUSH - 300fps
+Decent detailing outdoors, and style is different enough to be unique. I notice a lot more effort has been put into the first stage.
+Ray gun and spytech area gives the map is good for the overall fiction
-lacking fiction, especially indoor areas. Several empty wooden/concrete corridors with little decoration or meaning
-I'd like to see more of the outside world, in terms of inaccessible areas and vistas
-CP 1-2 is placed at an awkward angle and height. Poor visibility to the CP and overpowered height advantage.
-Confusing due to too many turns, corridors. Players should be able to get an idea of the layout of an area and where different paths will lead them.
-Red consistently gets nasty height advantages over blue, whom is forced through several narrow corridors
-minor: need to mark capture areas more clearly
-CP 2-2 lacks flanks for blue, red only needs to look in one direction to defend
-several out-of-map exploits, using engineer teleporters
-CP2-2 is too difficult and tends towards impenetrable sentry nests
-lacks forward engineer spots for blue. These are perches with sufficient metal and cover for buildings, as well as a decent overlook at all of RED's approach points
ZIG - 180fps
+One of the best quality single stages I've seen
+unique and instantly recognizable style
+Good sense of direction, assisted by simple game spaces with good visibility
+Good use of sightlines. It is way too common for mappers to fear them.
+Good use of colour. Feels vibrant, and helps with direction, especially the cool hues near the CPs.
-Although I feel the gameplay is solid, there only exists a single short stage. Too short and small to be a standalone map by itself, and feels incomplete
-Fiction isn't all too clear. No real clue why teams are fighting over Zig, except for the glowing crystals, which are probably significant for a reason that isn't explained.
-Minor: Fade distance issue on CP 1-2 rock (I think you know what I mean)
Minor: Huge filesize (116MB)
COPPERHEAD - 300fps
+good progression of difficulty
+Vistas could use a little bit more detail, but I like them, especially stage 3's
+Consistency between stages. Stages smoothly transition onto the next
-Bright Alpine green + Well's orange lighting looks odd and clashes
-Cannot change classes in certain areas of resupply, but engineers also cannot build. Bizarre restriction.
-Minor: Can build in stage 2 & 3 resupply, in areas that are clearly unintended
-too easy for blue to flank RED's CP2-1. Attackers should find a harder time mounting an attack on RED spawn when the first CP hasn't been taken yet.
-BLU spawn stage 3 -- Two doors right next to each other that look like they're made completely differently. Turns out only one of them opens, but there isn't enough indication given.
Minor: -CP 1-2 ramp up near RED spawn, roof needs to be clipped. I get caught on it too many times D:
-Too mane "doors like look like doors but do not actually open"
-RED respawn time feels very long in Stage 2
-Out-of-bounds areas need to be made clearer. At times the clipping is a little too rough, and I can't get to where It looks like I should be able to get to
-Stage 3 red spawn - direction needs to be more clear
-seams in water, possibly as it transitions to 3D skybox
-It's annoying to rocket jump to upper areas in certain places as objects like trims and roofs make it really tricky.
-Stage 3 is probably too similar to Dustbowl's S3, with winding, narrow corridors/chokes
-In stage 3, between CP 1 and 2, the windows in the hallways are invisible?
-Texture bugs; pitch black doors
DESERTION - 210fps
+No major technical issues were noticed
-Emulates Upward's style too closely
-only consists of a single short & small round
-red spawn susceptible to spam
-Chalkboard drawings make the heavy look like he's mentally handicapped, when, in fact, he is not. :P
OMEN - 270fps
-fiction on last point, but the rest of the map doesn't really make sense. I was left confused at what most rooms were used for.
-messy art style
-messy geo; confusing and lacks direction
-attacker spawn times too fast when vs last. Prevents defending team from leaving their base too well
-water everywhere prevents fall damage; an awkwardness that stems from the source engine, but you can't just leave it like it is
-water everywhere creates overly powerful rocket jumps
-last is too defensible: sentry friendly and abundance of metal
-lack of access points to last CP
-short defender respawn (14s)
-long cap time on last
-one way passage for defenders makes the position too strong and too risky for attackers to approach
RELAY - 170fps
+Focused Gameplay, with good pacing and use of defensive positions
+distinct style; easily recognizable in screenshots
+Good aesthetics, except C exterior, which stands out too much as different style than the adjacent buildings
+Good use of height. Complex, but still accessible
+No major technical issues were noticed
-bad perf mostly around CP1 and BLU's spawn
-Need to work on direction. Too many signs; complex geo makes it hard to find objective
CROISSANT - 200fps
+decent detailing, but doesn't really offer anything new aside from the last CP
+interesting twist on mid CP cap area
+unique game spaces
+pretty brave of you to use mirroring
-perf is worst around the mid CP area
-poor visibility of CPs, especially the 2nd CP. It's tucked away around a corner & on the other side of a raised floor.
-fake water; objects fall through as if it isn't really there
-Too many tight twists and turns makes for bad direction, can be difficult to keep your bearings indoors
-clipping problems near last: there is a cliff ledge off the catwalk behind the last CP you can stand on; feels unnatural
-deathpit on mid needs to be more identifiable; needs to be a farther fall. you could probably just drop the elevation on the deathpit, or sink it into he water
-coming out of 2nd spawn room is pretty disorienting and there is no natural direction to follow when you come out; you pretty much have to do a near 180 turn from where you come out
-You should use something other than the general chrome texture for the pipes
-Arrows should only point in one direction: towards the middle. Attackers can then 'backtrack' by following the reverse direction. This is a Valve Standard and they even asked Mangy to change Yukon to match it.
PROCESS - 300fps
+I like the secret, alternative jumps
-Has doors that aren't too clear that they are, in fact, doors. The texture you use is more often used for unmoving doors. Some more detail around the frame could help as well.
-unoriginal Gorge style
-derivative gameplay (badlands+granary)
BREAKOUT - 300fps
+I like how you re-used the BLU spawn
-direction needs work; Shouldn't have to rely solely on arrow signs. Think about using geometry space and aesthetic contrast to direct players to where they need to go.
-beginner level detailing
-minor: CP1 cap area could be bigger
-teleporter out-of-map exploit between CP1-CP2
-red spawn camped at CP2. Too close to an upper alcove often occupied by BLU
-You need to set team_control_point_master to award teams points per capture instead of per round
-round time feels too short
-last CP is too easily locked down by sentry spam
SEKHMET - 210fps
+simple, coherent game spaces
-lacks fiction besides Egypt textures
-blue respawn time is too long (20s)
-Difficult to spell name
-CP B feels cramped, lacks visibility of the CP
-blue lacks entrance variety into CP B, and can't see what they are running into
-it is a shame that the most unique part of the map is the bridge area between CP 1 and 2, but it almost never sees any combat because it becomes BLU's staging area. Your CP B area is so tight and uninspired, but you have so much potential in the area right before it. You could probably cut the CP B you have now and pull back that entire bridge area and put the CP there and have your self a much more interesting game space
-pickups unusually high in the air, they should be 8-16 units above at most
POWDERHORN - 210fps
-Unoriginal style (Sawmill)
-Red respawn time is way too long (24s)
-Reflective roofs are too much; look really weird without a running water texture or splash particles on them
-poor perf outdoors
-only one short stage
FROZEN ASSETS - 300fps
-It feels like this would be someone's first map. If this isn't your first, you really need to start putting some effort into it.
-short, feels incomplete
-basic, barren game spaces
PILOLUKPASS - 220fps
-blue spawn way too long (20s)
-cap times too long
-overscaled, confusing layout
-unfocused gameplay, red flanks blue too easily
-minor: Confusing name
SHIP - 300fps
+neat, unique style
-textures are a a little flat and too cartoonish
-confusing layout; aesthetics doesn't and only adds visual clutter
-lacks any direction whatsoever
-Red respawn times way too long (32s)
-Blu respawn times too long (20s)
-Blu spawn only has one exit
-respawn rooms lack func_respawnroom entity, preventing players from switching classes, and building inside their spawns
-no observer points for spectators/dead players
CANYONFODDER - 270fps
+consistency between stages
+fiction, radio tower
-could use better direction; all areas feel samey, too many twists/turns. Your detailing does not assist in leading player direction
-Not clear where all the access points to areas are. Not clear where each access point would lead to. Sometimes a passage that looks like it would lead to the last CP ends up going in circles.
-old style, doesn't offer anything new
-too many corners and twists on last CP make it awfully sentry-friendly
MOJAVE - 250fps
+unique enough to stand out
-Gameplay is very standard; doesn't offer anything exciting
-Orange env lighting is really strong and there isn't enough of other colors to break it up. I'd constantly have to look at it when playing, kind of like Furnace Creek's problem
-minor: Really dark corner under ramps near CP 2-1
-minor: Stage 1 deathpit launches you into the air when you fall. The other ones might do the same. You should tick the "Zero Damage Force" flag for your trigger_hurt
-Progression of difficulty issues; Stage 1 is too hard, Stage 2 is rolled
-Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think they'd use brick walls when building underground complexes
-lacks landmarks in the scenery; nothing too interesting to look at.
06-09-2011, 10:34 PM
Gameplay: Overall, teams get very spread out. The map is very wide inbetween points and as thus, blue teams finds themselve in 1v2 competitions when on the point. The flanking routes are can be advantagous, and I see them used regularly when the main routes are locked. Although, the transition from Blu to CP1 and CP1 to CP2 feels very similiar, and as such, brings a bit of monotomy to the game.
Balance: Red has many places to adequetlty defend. Most of the time I see Red being able to lock out blue on the first point for up until the last minute of gameplay, then repeat building up again (very quickly) on the final point. Possibly increase the amount of time given for the start, and for captureing point 1.
Aesthetics: Yyler nails the upward theme. Desertion has Upward-esque design/geometry of its structures. There is many creative uses of props. One thing that is noticeable is the lack of properly interior lighting. The buildings themselves are properly lit, but the lighting flat, as they are not accenting any of the key features/details of the building. When used inconjunction with proper detailing (which I feel desertion has) it can help players distinguish instantly where health is in the room, and where exits/escape routes/enemy entrances are.
Gameplay: Relatively channeled into main CP area's. Lack of Flanks around S2-2, S1-1 disrupts flow of game and gives red an advantage. S1-2 is generally inconvient for Blu as Red has a large height adventage and good visibility of what's coming. Blu's flanks can easily be locked down by sentries, and the need to do a 180 to get to the main via the main route is very bad for blu. Overall, map gameplay is extremely vertical, giving red strong and natural advantage
Balance: Due to the natural heigh advantage to red, red seems to be able to hold of blu for extended periods of time, if not a whole round. This coupled with poor flanking capabilities for Blu makes Red easily be able to win.
Aesthetics: There is a lack of general story. Although, it fits into the TF2 universe, there evident landmarks/backstory. Also unclear of solid theme. There is general lack of attention to the skybox. Map surrounded by cliffs, and details on top of cliffs generally poor. Some creative use of models. I do like the melting icicles.
Gameplay: Layout is simple and straight forward, but many flanking routes either don't provide much advantage for Blu, or are not very well marked, so many players attempt to use the main route which can easily be locked out. It takes a bit of time before a team understands where the flanks are and how to use them. Better detailing/placement of flank entrance(s) would be beneficial.
Balance: Balance is not even throughout the stages, the progress of difficulty isn't evident, blu can have trouble with S1-1, but roll S1-2 and all of stage 2, then get stuck again on S3-2. This can be attributed to strong sentry positions either due to height, hallways and/or Full ammo placement.
Aesthetics: First half of First stage is a decent alpine them, but from there it the themes seem to clash overall. Moving between stages has no visually logical progress theme wise, you go from alpine to a maratime meets industrial theme to dock/industrial and with a spytech theme tossed in without warning. Usage of certain texture colors, specifically the large custom construction building visually work together, but overall provide no depth or intrest to the detailing. There is a creative use of props in most places. Repetative use of the same texture (as in Stage 3 CP 1 and the large industrial buildings), do not add depth to the visuals and make the map feel flat and dull. This happens in all stages.. Overall, the usage and blending of theme(s) was poorly done and final detailing overall felt more like a Half Life 2 map, than anything in TF2.
Gameplay: The map is very mazey. The layout of structures makes it so that teams are split up even though they are within close vecinities. There are many flanking routes, but not many can be used the gain any ground.
Aesthetics: There are many repetative textures on a lot of the buildings, makeing the detailing very dull. Suggest breaking up with supports/frames, or something along those lines to allow for less-repeativeness. Many of the buildings just don't make sense (ie, a large wooden tower). What purpose do these buildings have? There an unpleasant amount of random prop usage, and a lack of coherency in what story the detailing was actually trying to convey.
Gameplay: Spawns are not adequetly places, only 1 exit for blu and red can easily camp it. control points are in the most obscure places. Layout is extremely confusing and tight in some places.
Balance: Red has favor, just through prop placement and detailing and general layout of the map.
Aesthetics: A lot of usage of non-tf2 textures. Conrtols are locked. General color scheme is very flat, nothing stands out. Skybox texture is very very busy and low-resolution. A lot of time though appears to have gone into detailing.
Gameplay: The distances between spawn exits isn't too bad, and if more time/testing was put into this, Spawn to CP1 wouldn't have been that bad. CP1 although is quite open and there are a couple of strong sentry spots.
Balance: Favor is defiently to the red side, the flanking routes provided can be covered by a sentry, nor are the very favorable for blu.
Aesthetics: Very undone, looks like an early alpha. There is a lot of overscaling. First CP is compeltely orange, which not only is it super repetative, but it very annoying on the eyes.
Gameplay: Pretty good. The first point (1-1) though is harder than it needs to be to cap, which to new players for the map is discouraging. The Sentry spots are there, and progressively the control points gets harder to cap (For the 4 points amongst the 2 stages submitted) ... with the difficulty increase being balanced. Although dustbowl and other A/D maps do the same thing, I feel that NOT having respawnroom_visualizers on the entries to the spawn areas is a very bad idea. Allowing blu to fight their way right up to the only door at blu's spawn seems a horribley silly idea. Although I did not see it much during testing, with some of the new weapons from the update it may pose an issue in the future.
Balance: The really main thing that needs to be addressed is S1-1. Red has a lot of favorable sentry spots which gives them a veyr good advantage, I have played a couple times where red held off Blu until the last minute of gametime. Red then held off blu again until overtime. Stage 2 is balanced relatively well.
Aesthetics: It is very obvious that a lot of time was put into detailing. There is a good balance of textures and detailing, nothing feels too overdetailing, and nothing too underdetailed. The underground displacement work is great. The only complaint is the Red color saturation from the skybox, it causes a lot of the red/purple textures blend together. Suggestion is to make the skybox lighting less red, as to let the texture contrast stand out more.
Gameplay: Generally unfun, for attackers, there are many sightlines which snipers can dominate with. The layout is easy to understand early on but becomes confusing after cp 1, although it is very overscaled. The distance between points is very long, which drags out gameplay too much. A couple of times I had an issue finding the points.
Balance: Very red favored, the sentry spots are strong and hard to counter The distance between spawns is long, and red has a lot of time to build up a very strong defense.
Aesthetics: Very simple, underdetailed in many places. Textures don't make sense (HL2 Gravel texture) in their palces, and are generally clashy. Overall, not horrible, but could use more work.
Gameplay: Quite fun. There is a lot of useful height advantage for blu to attack cp 1 with, but it doesn't help capture the first point, if there was an opening in the roof, that would be very beneficial to capture CP 1, as it is now, red can hold it pretty well with 1-2 sentries and a medic/heavy. CP is very good, but it doesn't feel like the end of a single stage 2CP map, it feels more like the end of a long stage from a multistage CP map.
Balance: Balance changes throughout the map, it feels like red is very strong on CP1, but blu is equally, if not stronger on CP2. CP1 has less flank routes, but more height advantage to help clear out the points. Whereas Blu has better flank routes, and some height advatange for CP2, while red has weak sentry spots.
Aesthetics: Generally, the map has a nice feel, but the transition from Stormy Alpine to Gorge is very abrupt, not a lot of signs that say "hey! there is an industrial building here." The interiors of the alpine buildings are very good. There is a general lack of exterior lighting, which makes things feel flat. Better exterior lighting would help point out exits/entrances, health packs, etc.
Gameplay: The map flows well, there was (after the first round) little confusion onto where the next point was for blu, red on the other hand had a little bit of trouble locating the points, especially B.
Balance: The map seems very well balanced. From the multiple times I played, Blu won a little over half of them, but not wihtout red putting up a fight, I never saw any steamrolling. The height differences provided were designed very well. Each team could use the height to their advantage when it was needed.
Aesthetics: It s a different twice on the industrial them, and well done at that. There was some noticable random prop placement early on (before CP2). The Cars in the road added a nice touch, but in some locations (around CP2) they became a bit of a hinderance. The skybox detailing and texture was superb, but, the enviromental light felt a bit too orange. Suggestion would be to add more red.
Gameplay: Layout is nice, but the vertical height differences on the bridges is rather high. The interiors are rather chokey, giving just about every class barring scout, sniper, medic and spy a huge advantage. Flank routes onto points were useful for travel, but not advantageous for tryign to pressure the point. Because of this, most battles were fought directly infront of the point.
Balance: balance shifted throughout the map, the first point blue and red are equally balanced, but for CP2 Red has a huge advantage. Blu does not have much visability onto the point, and red defiently could use sentries to lock the point.
Aesthetics: Lighting is generally dark in some places, the custom egypt textures are very useful. EArkham, defiently did the egyptian ruins theme very well. But with that being said, I felt like there was not much views to the outside world. Even in places where it would be easy to do this (behind blu spawn), it is still uncreative and dull. Reds spawn also is rather dull and uncreative.
Gameplay: For a single stage of a multiple stage map, it plays very well. The first point could be a little less easier to defend (2 sentry spots, lower/upper... 3 if you put one in the tunnel). The sniper position covering the point (up the hill) is pretty strong, but has a narrow field of view, which cuts down its strength, but breaking it up so that it isn't as long would be good. There are a few narrow chokes (entrance into cave behind CP1, building onto CP2) that should could be a bit wider, if only to help spy's sneak around a little and make it so people don't bump into the side and get a little stuck
Balance: For being the first stage of a multiple stage map, the stage is balanced quite well. Red can defend, blu can easily attack. Again, only the first CP is the stronger than it should.
Aesthetics: Very well done. The theme is great and refreshing for the game (seriously, everything looks "fresh"). The lighting is great, and really helps the colors of the trees and building texutre (and assorted crystals) stand out. The only thing I feel that draws back from the map is that the cliff and ground texture are the same shade/color. Adding a bit of color somewhere to break up the motonomy would be very beneficial.
06-11-2011, 08:04 AM
Asymmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical
Symmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical
Gameplay: Point A is very open and flat, no exciting combat. Reaching a highground ledge is a long detour and doesn’t provide all that much advantage. A-B connector, 180 degree turn for ‘main’ path causes most people to attack B from a narrow catwalk instead [Image 1: attack routes] (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1281220/contestreview/Breakout/Team_Fortress_2-2011.06.21-18.36.12.jpg). Attackers gain a path that grants them a height advantage to attack the exit of defenders spawnroom as they wish. B-C connector, the center path leads behind the final point! Free entrance to the final capture point room, rare to see people put up any real defense on that lower path. In turn, feels like you have to flank before you can attack the last point head on. Defending last is difficult. The respawn doors are exposed to sniper fire from a long range and you’re always threatened by a attack from behind. But if you can get senties up quickly you're set like in a bunker and the attackers must uber to even stand a chance.
Balance: Players are basically swimming in healthpacks, almost feels like an emergency addition in most places to counter the open layout. Each point can be defended if you know what you’re doing. The map in general feels catered to the attacking team. Defenders need to hold ground early on or they get pushed into corners quickly and have to reset at the next point. Due to the open layout and flat concrete floors, some classes have it easier than others, Snipers and wrangler engineers should be able to cause some havoc on all points. Pyro and Heavy are still options for the many side routes, but as stated earlier, these often fall under control of the attackers quickly and not much fighting takes place in them once controlled. Soldiers and Demomen can’t really use their jumping abilities to full potential since there are no real tactical high grounds to speak of, but together with the scout the three of them can take advantage of the health packs in the map.
Aesthetics: ‘Concrete’ is the word you’d use to describe this map. While the concrete makes sense (it is a prison), you’d have to make up for the monotony with great architecture and pleasing brushwork. Sadly Breakout does not deliver and all the rooms are concrete boxes with very little feeling. Not to say there isn’t any detail work at all! Ceilings and walls have indentations and pillars. Metal beams, pipes and ventilation systems strewn around, but it just isn’t enough. The detailing is on the very large scale and it feels only like a rough coat of paint and the fine details have yet to be added. The current lighting feels like placeholder stuff. Enough to make the map playable but it doesn’t have much merit beyond that. With proper lighting work and more small scale detailing I don’t think a prison setting is impossible to pull off, but the current look of Breakout is dull.
Apart from the looks, there are some other things that don’t make sense. The lower path into point C is just weird from a prison design perspective, did the floor collapse? Why is the main road bricked shut in the B-C connector? Why is the prison housing dozens of gigantic beer kegs? Who is driving around in a rusty pickup truck on the prison ground? These are questions I shouldn’t have to ask myself.
Performance: Great! This map runs very smoothly, there’s plenty of areaportals to keep rendering at a minimum. Prop fading has been put to good use but maybe slightly overboard in some places. In several places you can see quite large props fading in and out, which is never pretty. But in either case it’s a good effort and it does indeed help map performance. I think some of the prop fading problems could be avoided by utilizing occluders. That way you can afford to allow more props to be rendered around the player (by completely hiding stuff they can’t see, regardless of fade distance).
Technical: As mentioned earlier the aggressive prop fading is bad. And there are merging areaportals here and there, It’s not a very serious thing in this case, but it’s worth to note [Image 2: areaportal merge] (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1281220/contestreview/Breakout/SS-2011.06.21-18.03.13.jpg). The clipping is solid, stairs have been smoothed out properly, light fixtures and other props are non-solid where they should be. It’s not perfect though, a handful of places still need to be clipped, most notably two parts of the C point building’s roof. But it’s neither game breaking nor important, just casual nitpicking. Respawnroom triggers and visualizers are in good order, and the map logic works like it should.
Gameplay: This map is easy to pick up and just play. The major paths are all easy to follow and you don’t need to actively look for directions to make sure you’re going the right way. This is great for new players and the gameplay in general. Once you’ve become familiar with the basic structure players can start looking for alternatives, and thankfully they are available (as they should be).
However, due to the straight forward layout, the defenders can with a little effort lock down the main route when it goes into a choke, and sometimes it’s hard for the attacking team to coordinate a counter against this as the layout guides players right into the trap and the slaughtered masses don’t know what they did wrong. The attacking team must have one or two players that know the map and preferably they should be capable of some killing too, otherwise the round will end right there. This is not something that is unique to Copperhead. Many A/D maps start out as being defensively biased until the attackers (which aren’t a collective hivemind) learn how to handle all the possible defensive setups, and that can take years. That said, I think Copperhead does a good job of maintaining the choke vs attack options ratio. And I’m interested to see if the strong chokes that exist today will be effective in a couple of months.
Balance: It doesn’t feel like a chore to play on either team, so there’s that. What I mean is both attacking and defending is fun and I will gladly take the challenge when facing the team selection screen, boldly hitting the “random assign” door. I really don’t have any complaints about classes either, the map is so large and features all types of combat you can imagine. There are high-ground ledges, water puddles, indoor corridors, cliff edges with death pits and so on. One of the strengths of making a multistaged map is exactly this; you can cater to almost any playstyle somewhere in the map. As far as the actual map win/loss balance goes I think it’s too easy to defend some points, but it’s very hard to judge that accurately as the players switch and the teams are completely random, with limited map knowledge. It’s promising, but I still think there’s work to be done.
Aesthetics: The detailing is evenly spread over all three stages, which I think is great. There’s a lot of creative brushwork going on, like the crane in the third stage. But honestly I would much rather see these elaborate structures as props instead, and not because they are blocky (though that is a part of it), but because the texturing. It just is a thorn in my eye to see wall textures and metal trims being used in this fashion, when I can visualize how great it would look with a proper texture. This is just being picky, and I know that not everyone can model and/or have time for it. Making brushwork replacements is a good effort, it does look acceptable and it’s not something that distracts. But closer inspection just gives it away. My point with all this is basically; it’s not looking as awesome as it could, but I won’t fault you for not having modeling skills.
It’s easy to see that a lot of time has gone into detailing this large map. And the walls are clad in wooden beams, and overlays are naturally placed. The map has a good feel to it and the architecture is believable and fitting to TF2. I just can’t help this feeling that it’s not your full potential, many things look randomly thought up and opted for the easy solution instead of a more eye-catching (and time consuming) design. Though I should not forget that this is a three-stage map and just getting it to look like anything is a challenge, and by accomplishing that alone you should get a gold-star sticker. Copperhead doesn’t blow me away with its current look but I still have to say that it looks great.
Performance: My FPS is stable on this map. Each stage is properly sealed off from the others, so no extra rendering of those areas are done (if they had I would have murdered you). I can’t really say anything other than that the map does run fine. I think you could gain even more performance with prop fading and increasing the number of areaportals. Right now they are sparse for no real reason, but those that you have in place work wonders. Except one in stage 2, that one is defunct (merging).
Technical: This right here is the problem. There are many small misses that could have been avoided easily, Most notably your func_respawnrooms seem to not conform with the actual shape of the rooms. The most obvious one is blue spawn for the third stage. Where there are gaps and just overall sloppiness. The spawns for red in the second stage are not clear, I believe they still work, but it spews error messages in the console and is unclean in general. I’ve seen some odd things going on with doors having texture bugs causing a huge black box (not the weapon) to appear. There’s some places where you can stand “on” the death pit triggers, which is a really minor thing, because.. what are you going to do down there anyway (other than teleporter grief).
You also have a setup gate misaligned, but that’s just a funny mistake I happened to see.
The clipping is great though, stairs are smoothed, wall beams are clipped, props are nonsolid where they should be.
NOTE: at this point I realized I couldn't keep writing this much for each map, I simply don't have the time. But I left the full length versions of both breakout and copperhead in, so you can see a little better what my thought process is. I did not change my methods in the following reviews, I just chose to not comment on everything.
Gameplay: The layout is tricky to learn. It takes a few tries but eventually it becomes clear, the problem is the often high walls surrounding you making it hard to build any sense of direction, especially with the sharp turns here and there. The actual points however handle combat pretty well and the design varies enough to be interesting.
Balance: In my experience, map competence is vital here. A player who has understood the map will crush everyone else (more so than in the usual case, because this is almost always how it works). It seems you can find areas designed for some classes in mind, but at the same time it hurts the rest of the team who can’t use the class specific advantage. Decent sightlines turn into walkways of peril and the shortcut for the soldier and demo leaves the engy and pyro in the gully of doom (not actual references!).
Aesthetics: The map looks good, but it’s not amazing. Many rooms are empty while others are fully detailed. I believe a lot of effort has been put into the progression from wood and rock into industrial concrete smooth and nice, which it is! The colors blend together after a while and there are no real eye catching buildings or points of focus. The exception is the center tower which I absolutely love.
Gameplay: I’m going to tackle this in 2 parts. First capture point is a nicely designed and interesting point. It has multiple entrances and several defensive positions both inside and outside. Defenders can’t really spam the point from afar which keeps the game interesting. The initial push from blue’s starting gates is a mad dash across a basically open field, but attackers have the distance advantage and manpower to handle that so it’s okay. So the first part of the map is fine in my opinion, however the second part is where it falls apart. The area after CP1 is just impossible to defend in any manner so red is forced to retreat into the CP2 stronghold/werehouse. Now blue has free access to all paths and entrances up to the doorways of the building. As if that wasn’t enough they even get a path that leads inside, has the height advantage, is one way (relatively safe from defensive counter pushes), clear view of both reds spawnexits and the point itself. I honestly think this path alone just ruins everything. Red has nowhere to hide and eventually they crumble and lose.
Balance: Reds only chance is to have a very stacked team. As far as class balance goes it’s pretty decent, the classes you’d expect to see in a a/d map make their appearances. But there are very few great soldier/demo only spots. No real shortcuts. The one class that can claim some advantage is the sniper, but it doesn’t really show because the areas where he’d excel are rarely fought in.
Aesthetics: Looks pretty nice, it definitely feels like a certain maps theme. I like that, because it’s not trying too hard nor is it being dull. But it doesn’t have the special spice, it’s just grows old and there is nothing to wow me or something that would surprise me and make me go “hey that’s amazing” or “I wish I would have thought of that!”
Gameplay: There is none. The map consists of blocky tunnels and over scaled areas. The ground is flat and uninteresting to fight on. Having 150 days to produce a map should yield better results than this. If this is your first map in the hammer editor I won’t say you did a bad job for a first try, but again I believe that for the timespan allotted, this is below expectations. As a competitor it does not measure up and does not feature any gameplay to speak of, just a place to kill people.
Balance: Same story. No real effort can be spotted. Balance also relies heavily on the gameplay, and with that lagging behind, there is not much more to say.
Aesthetics: Looks like a map that would have been released by the mapping community in 2007, before the official SDK was released. You get a point for having a working 3d skybox that actually lines up with the world, but that should really be a given and not worth mentioning.
Gameplay: The gameplay is simple but effective. No real surprises, anyone who has played a a/d map before could pick this up and do fine. The points are easy to fight on. There are often multiple paths to take and sentry spots to make use of. I personally feel that while that is a great and solid way to design a map, a real “masterpiece” or what you’d call it has that little extra twist, and I don’t mean something major like skewing the gamemode into something weird like putting the point on a train. Just a little something that gives it an individual touch. Some classics would be the containers in granary middle or the badlands spire (auuugh, don’t hurt me, it’s just the most obvious example).
Balance: The main thing that brings down the score here is how the second stage is easier than the first. Though I can’t say for certain that this is definitely the case, from what I’ve observed in my playtesting it seems to be the case! (and what else can I base judgment on). Red team in general seems to be able to push back blue fairly easily if they suddenly slip up for just a moment. This can roll all the way back to the spawns and the entire round is essentially restarted. Apart from these occasional issues, the class balance is fine, there seems to be room for everyone.
Aesthetics: I like the look of this map a lot, it feels warm and cozy. The detailing is evenly distributed over the map and didn’t thin out because of that, the quality is high and a lot of small details can be found even after several matches. The redness of the entire map does however drain me as a player; I get kind of tired of it after seeing it for extended periods. Since it’s a strong color and essentially the whole map is the same shade throughout.
Gameplay: I’m constantly wondering if I’m going the right way, and when I know I am; I have trouble fighting anything due to the abrupt changes from wide open spaces into narrow corridors. Something always seem to be shooting in my direction, taking of 4-5 hp every second, with no cover to speak of, I just lay down and wait for death. Unless there’s a sniper, then I’m already dead so there’s one less worry.
Balance: Blue has to wait for decades to respawn, and then traverse a long map just to be greeted by the strong sentry nests that killed them in the first place. The map is just too confusing and (probably unintentionally) leads defenders around the attackers so they get a free back-attack initiative.
Aesthetics: At least there is something. But with this level of competition the bar is set very high and this just doesn’t reach all the way. The detailing is simple and uninspired, a lot of the time it seems like props have been added as a afterthought rather than a design choice. The Half-life 2 textures doesn’t help the cause, but at least it’s something that looks nearly TF2 styled, if you squint.
Gameplay: Personally I don’t like fighting on either of the points. My favorite part of the map is the first 30 seconds of each round and then the battle to hold the main garage door. There isn’t a lot to offer classes or tactical players due to the size of the map, with only 2 control points in total and minimal fighting between them. The final point is especially tricky, because there’s not many ways to defend against a uber heavy/demoman/pyro that drops in from the vent system above.
Balance: The balance appears backwards to me in the games that I’ve played. Red should be strong at CP2 while Blue has a slight advantage on CP1, this seems reversed! Blue can approach the last CP from several angles, all which have the doorway just a second away from the capture area. This forces red to always stay near the point and they can’t afford to spread out and defend from a distance. This makes it hectic and unsustainable, as soon as blue can cause a dent in the armor everything collapses very quickly and the round is over. On CP1 red has the opportunity to control the whole area and respond to threats earlier and they are the ones who pick the battles, giving them a clear upper hand.
Aesthetics: I think this map hits the sawmill theme right on the mark. It’s really all I can say. Great job!
Gameplay: This map is fair for both teams, the access to high ledges is not restricted to one side only, and the layout is easy to just glide through. Paths often lead to where you expect, so you can blindly run into a corridor and somehow estimate where you’ll end up, that is some magic right there. The points do get harder and harder to capture for blue which is good, but in a couple of cases the last one goes down far too quickly. Depending on how fast red can get their asses into position, the last point can either be good high-tempo battle or a constant edge-of-seat terror stress battle where the capture progress is never really reset as blue (team color of course, you silly) demomen keep pouring in from the upper level.
Balance: As mentioned above, the progression is usually fine. There’s plenty of sentry spots to use, but none are particularly indestructible. Among classes that really show their feet here is the sniper and pyro. An odd combination you’d think because of their opposite environment strengths. But that just shows how varied and interesting the map is.
Aesthetics: I was afraid this map was going to have the same problem as Mojave, where the red sky overpowers everything. But you seem to have avoided that and the different texture colors and shades show up properly. However, the overall detailing is a bit thin, and it lacks a certain ‘oomph’ if I may say so. It does feature a kind of unique style with asphalted roads and pavement and all the stuff that comes with it, but still it feels unfinished and more like a great start of something cool rather than a final showcase of your theme.
Gameplay: I like how simple the layout Is, but not in a boring way. This map is fast and easy to play. I can’t put my finger on what it is that makes me have fun in this level, but I know it’s there somewhere. The one minus is just the lack of content, with the limit of 2 control points, the fact of the matter is you can’t really cater to everyone and their playstyles.
Balance: The first control point plays a lot better than the last one. On the second point red have a very secure bunker without blind spots, they will see everything entering the room and that makes it very hard for blue to get so much as a toe on the point. But the defenders can get whittled down thanks to correctly adjusted spawntimers.
Aesthetics: I think you’ve done a exceptional job with keeping the map well lit in a night time setting, the colors are strong and a good variation between the Egypt rock and wood textures breaks up the monotony you can often see in these desert maps. The detailing is believable, and feels “real” if you can even make that comparison with a game such as TF2.
Gameplay: The game never takes off, no matter what happens in the match, this map just can’t provide a TF2 gameplay experience. It’s just too complex and there is no sense of direction. Going round in circles is the main method of transportation on ship.
Balance: With no one ever fighting each other properly, balance is nearly impossible to judge. The win can go to either side, depending on which side has fewer player lost in some corner of the level.
Aesthetics: There’s color everywhere, that doesn’t match with each other. Things don’t make any sense what so ever, and there’s textures from Portal on this ship? Space is a pretty bad choice of theme when trying to build a proper and serious TF2 map, especially when you consider that spaceships of this size/cost/durability/technological marvel would not have been designed and decorated by colorblind circus clowns. I give up, honestly, the map is so discordant with everything it just isn’t possible to take it seriously.
Gameplay: While the control point difficulty ramp from 1-1 up to 2-2 does scale well. The gameplay is often hindered by complex indoor layouts with far too many doorways and options. Players get spread out and to find a spontaneously formed attack group is rare. The defenders have no trouble fighting off one man charges over and over, but once real teamwork is used by blue, the map picks up pace and plays really well.
Balance: Classes can all find their spot here; with two stages the combat is varied and interesting. I often find health where I expect it and that is a very good sign. The use of height advantage for the defenders is clear through the whole map, and the blue team will not have any easy sections of the map. If blue makes a slip red can push them back a fair distance and actually hold them there due to the height and the scattered enemies. The battles of the control points are often less interesting than the in-between bits.
Aesthetics: Certainly a pretty map, it has a convincing snow theme and varies between wood and concrete to break it up nicely. The detailing is of a high quality but lacks the extra step, especially in the non-playable area department.
Gameplay: Understandably this is the first stage of a multistage map. But for all intents and purposes it has to be considered a gorge style map in this case. And for that it doesn’t match up to expectations. The map is far too small to provide a greater variety in tactics and options. On the plus side the geometry is interesting and fighting on it is fun.
Balance: Far too easy for blue team to capture both points and win the round. If red is quick or pre-emptive they can set up a viable defense at second CP, but most of the time blue should not have any issues winning. Snipers have clear view of the entire second area from a relatively safe position with health just around the corner. Making it a gamble to even try to defend or attack (this goes both ways see) the open point.
Aesthetics: The prettiest map in the competition, no doubt. It has a very fresh theme, and it’s executed beautifully. The detailing is top-notch even at small scale and the lighting feels natural and calming.
Gameplay: The middle area is a little odd to fight in. You have only a few options to engage with the enemy; head on, through the point itself, or a one-way drop into the enemies clutch being the obvious ones. Once you’re past the point the area beyond is pretty flat and people tend to avoid fighting here and instead quickly back off/push into second CP. I like CP2 though, it has a interesting layout, although similar to badlands it’s definitely an original design. Last point is very though to approach as a attacker AND to defend. It’s an awkward and huge place and I just feel overwhelmed by it every time.
Balance: The focus on jump classes is visible on all points but more so on 2/4 than the rest. It’s a though point to conquer without the right classes on your team. Snipers can lock down large areas of the map due to its flat terrain in places. The difficulty to capture points each point is about where you’d expect. Second point area could have been made slightly more accessible to lighter classes though.
Aesthetics: The middle point is the eye-catcher, and it does its job. It’s a pretty clock tower but once you look away from it you notice how barren and simple the rest of the map is. The lighting is also very dark in some places and this could easily have been fixed by light entities with proper “linear, constant, quadratic” settings. The world is surrounded by high cliffs and I feel there could have been so much more.
Gameplay: Instantly feels like a map geared towards the standard 6v6 class setup. There are some really powerful sniper lines around but I think there’s a way to bypass most of them with the many alternative routes. There’s a very quick shortcut from last to middle. This one is accessible from both ways and as such it often leads attackers from mid to last without going to the second CP first. This confuses and can sometimes ruin a otherwise nice clean team push. The second point is a bit odd since you are stuck on it once you start capping. Your only option is to drop down to a much lower ground which in many cases will leave you dead. The pacing however is fast and fun, and a team that knows the layout can find many interesting tactics to develop.
Balance: As I mentioned the map caters to the scout, demo and soldier classes but even the sniper has his place. The other classes has less of an advantage but are still viable options most of the time. But the long distances and open spaces lend themselves well to these faster classes.
Aesthetics: A lot of the props are placed for gameplay value and therefore not always in the most visually pleasing way. The map does have a nice thorough theme, and the lighting is okay. I do think some walls/ceilings are a little ambiguous and naked and there is a distinct lack of small detail touches. It’s a nice looking map but it’s very obvious that detailing has taken a backseat in the development.
Gameplay: Omen is a mishmash of varying heights and platforms, there’s almost always someone below you or someone above you, fighting feels unfair and it can be hard to navigate when you have to run based on instinct. The layout feels very messy at first and I actually think it is messy even now after learning it. But, the games are fast paced and fun in some aspect. And figuring out how to use the heights to your advantage is exciting.
Balance: Jump classes excel here and leave more specialized classes (indoor close quarter types) to be locked in specific areas. Pushing into second from middle is though as you have so many corners and heights to double check for enemies constantly and the last point is mazelike to enter.
Aesthetics: Very busy detailing, but it is a swamp themed map so it’s sort of expected. But it’s still an issue. The presence of water in 3/5ths of the map adds an animated, reflecting texture that messes with your ability to detect enemy movement in the corner of your eye. The huge 3d skybox canyon is stunning and very innovative.
Gameplay: The layout is very interesting and fun to play on. There are routes around the main path in both directions and interesting CP designs. The map might look flat from a first glance but once you take a closer look you notice the props and nooks you can climb to get above your enemy.
Balance: CP1 is too easy to hold for the defenders. They can easily harass the attackers since the distance from CP2 to the nearest door is very short (and it’s easy for defense to stroll up without resistance to that point). Eventually there will be a gap and then CP2 is recaptured, causing the clock to reset to 10 minutes.. if this gap doesn’t occur it will stalemate. Now, I’m being a bit harsh since this is not always the case. A successful uber push can break into the defense and end the game but the balance issue here is indeed troubling. The rest of the map is very fun to play on though and the pace of combat is nice.
Aesthetics: It’s very clean, some areas look better than others. CP1 definitely feels a lot more polished than CP2 for example and the side routes are barely touched at all. Prop usage makes sense and fit the theme which is always a good thing, and the lighting is a typical alpine setting. There is no impressive centerpiece that grabs attention, the nearest would be the ceiling in CP1 but even so it’s not as eye-catching as something more elaborate. To sum up; it looks like alpine theme, but it’s missing so much that could make it look great, the extra effort isn’t there yet, but not far off.
06-13-2011, 09:29 AM
Asymmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical|Reviewed
Symmetrical Maps|Gameplay|Balance|Aesthetics|Performance|Techn ical|reviewed
I apologise to all the entrants for the delay in getting all the full reviews written up, having a small baby and a new job that requires I commute for 4 hours a day has left little time to get these finished. I'll be moving soon so hopefully I'll get some time to sit and finish them then.
In the meantime partially written draft reviews and notes can be found here (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1766697/tf2m_6th_contest_judging_notes.txt).
How I Judged
Gameplay & Balance - Both get the same score because I can't see how the two catergories are clearly distinguished from each other.
Performance - Based on an average fps of 80 across Dustbowl, 2fort and Upward measured by running around the entirety of the map and benchmarking via Fraps. A value 5 means that the map runs at an average of 80FPS. For every 10 frames over the average, 1 point is added; For every 10 frames under, 1 point is deducted. Average frame rate is rounded up to the nearest 10.
Technical - Clipping issues, mechanics inconsistent with TF2, or anything otherwise broken will be the basis for this score.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Breakout is very mediocre. It has a very messy layout without much thought put into the flow of gameplay. Some entrances seem redudant and would be better if they were merged with others in order to focus the gameplay a little more instead of giving player's so many choices that they become too spread out resulting in a lot of 1v1 fights.
CP A can be very hard to capture due a complete lack of flanking routes. There is an underpass of sorts underneath which allows RED to easily sneak up on BLU from behind, which is really not fair for the first point in the map. On the other hand, B is the opposite and provides the attacking team with 5 entrances; 3 height advantages, 1 leading right to the point and a drop-down covering one of the three entrances available for RED to enter; making it very easy to capture with a tiny bit of teamwork.
C is a little better in the way that it focuses the flow of players. However, the the fact that it's symmetrical means that the 2 main paths are identical and so provide no real strategic choice for players, and the 3rd path leading underneath C is a complete gamble. There's a one way door followed by a long path leading to a ramp, with C nowhere in sight. You go up the ramp to find yourself situated smack bang between both of RED's spawn exits. I understand that it's meant to be a ninja route but it puts BLU at such as disadvantage that it's truly an uphill struggle making it largely futile. Then there's the CP itself which is very difficult to contest as it's situated super close to RED's spawn room situated on either side and they have an 8 second respawn wave.
There is also the problem with the spawn exit that opens for BLU once A and B have been capped. It stays open all the time, allowing RED a nice line-of-sight straight into where BLU player's spawn. Oh, and all those RED and BLU arrows cause more problems then they aim to solve.
This map seems to have taken a liking to concrete textures. That, in combination with the lack of colour, culminates a very drab and soul-less level. And whilst there is a certain degree of detail, it's not enough to make me ignore how empty the world is. Floors and walls are practically bare and there is practically nothing to look at.
I suppose that thematically it conveys the location intended but it's simply not fitting in with TF2.
Performance: Average of 120 FPS
Very little in the way of clipping, so it's very easy to get stuck on those doorframe models.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Overall, I'd say Canyonfodder is decent. It's not perfect by any means but it flows well (for the first 3 points at least) and generally provides an enjoyable experience.
Of course, there are issues. For a start, Stage 3 sits uncomfortably with me, and I think it’s because everything is so...awkward. The 3-3 area seems like it was clammered together at the last minute and lacks any real cohesion. It’s meant to be the last point of the map yet it has no visual importance and it's just too cramped to really put RED under any pressure. Think Dustbowl 3-3. It’s open, visible from afar and I don’t have to travel within 10ft of the point to realise, "Oh, there it is!". It’s a clearly defined space which makes the goal immediately obvious as soon as you make your way onto that final stretch, something which this map does not do.
The area leading up to 2-2 is really wide and has a lot of paths and rooms leading to very unrefined flow that spreads out players and causes unfocused combat.
Other small niggles include pickups that are awkardly tucked away for no apparent reason.
I find the detailing of this map is all over the place. Often, I can see something pretty but it’s in a place where player’s would rarely ever look. Why? When anybody plays a map they will spend 99% of the time running around with the floor in view and doorways being the main focus. So it would make sense to have a moderate amount of detail scattered around. Small rocks, debris, tires, foliage, light fixtures, all the usual stuff. But in this map the floor and doorways are completely barren of anything which is a major problem with the visuals of this map.
There’s also the rather random nature of the geometry where a lot of it doesn’t seem to make any contextual sense. I’m not going to say that everything has to make sense, but if I think, "Wait, why is this here?", when I’m running around it just breaks my suspension of disbelief and distracts me from the important business of blowing people up.
Performance: Average of 94 FPS
There are a few clipping issues and some non-consistent gates which means that the map gets a score of 8.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Copperhead is always a joy to play on either team and nothing sticks out as being particularly bad or imbalanced. The layout flows realy well, the gameplay spaces remain interesting to play in and the difficulty curve for BLU is pitch perfect and rises up between each cap as you would expect from a well-designed 3-stage A/D map.
CP 2-2 can be a tad annoying to take, mainly due to the height advantage RED is given on the right-side. 3-3 doesn't feel very much like a final CP of a 3-stage A/D so it comes across as a slightly underwhelming but otherwise it's fine.
Overall, not much to say. An excellent map.
Visually, this map is one of the best in the contest. The transition from alpine to industiral and spytech is handled well and really gives a sense of progression as you move through the map, something which many other maps fail to pull-off just as well. It's a little bare in places but not enough to rob it of a solid 7.
Performance: Average of 96 FPS
Ah. The Achilles' heel of this map. Unfortunately there are clipping issues up the wazoo such as wooden beams which I can get caught on very easily and doorframe models which stick out of walls that can stop me dead in my tracks. Also noteworthy is the doorway at 3-1 that gets blocked with a giant black brush when the CP is captured. What's up with that? It's bizarre and inconsistent with normal TF2 mechanics.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
I find Desertion to be quite enjoyable to play. The first CP is very hard to capture, mainly because of the long capture time but also because RED's entrances into the area are right next to the point making it easy for them to pop in and out to spam the point. The second CP isn't as bad. In fact, it's quite fun.
My main issue is the fact that this map simply does not work well as a single stage A/D CP map. It could do with expanding so that there's more progressive gameplay. Right now, there's not an awful lot of ground the hold. As BLU you simply push out, hold the first area, cap the 1st CP, push out and hold the second area and cap the 2nd CP. That's it. So it becomes very repetitive very quickly. I think that for a single stage to work it needs more areas for BLU to contend in order to capture the CPs, leading to more progressive gameplay.
Think of Gorge. You have to hold the first area, then the building, then you can get to CP1. After that, again, hold the main entrances to the building, hold the ground inside then push towards the last area. It has more scope and, ultimately, replayability.
In the end, I'd say it would work as the first stage of a 3-stage map, but by itself it lacks scope and ultimately replayability.
A good effort that gets the job done. The most critical issue with the visuals is the lack of out-of-bounds areas making the location feel very boxed in and artifical. There is a 3D skybox offering a view of the world beyond but it's simply not prevalent enough and stays mostly hidden throughout the map.
Again, there is lack of detail around focal points and there are some really large bare walls which stand out quite badly. Another thing is the transition from the wooden exterior of the final area to industrial really irks me as it doesn't make much sense to have one side of thing wall wooden and the other side metal. It's too sudden and needs work to make the transition more believable.
Overall, I'd say it's better then average but not much more than that.
Performance: Average of 90 FPS
A few clipping issue here and there. Visualisers outside the doorframes is a big no-no.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Frozen Assets is quite a large map with a multitude of randomnly placed buildings in the first area followed by uninspired interior spaces. The first CP is a giant flat area and the final CP almost always stalemates as it only allows BLU 2 routes in making it easy for a small group of RED engineers to lock it down. This is all adds up to something that doesn't flow very well and just isn't very fun to play.
This map is bland and gives the impression that this is one of the author's first few maps. There are bare walls abound, a lack of structural detail and none of it really makes much contextual sense. For instance, why are there buildings built on a hill that have no apparent connection to each other? Why are their city buildings on either side overlooking this area? Why would a bank have an barn as an entrance? If it's meant to be a facade a la 2Fort then why would it have "BANK" in 5ft high letters inscribed clearly on the front?
Confusing to say the least.
Performance: Average of 111 FPS
A few clipping issue here and there.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Mojave is a great map to play. I only have a few issues with it which prevent it from being excellent. 1-2 seems far too close to RED's spawn. It is very easy to block RED's only way out whilst capturing the point which I find to be a bit unfair. There is also the problem with spawn camping in S2, which could easily be solved by stopping RED from being able to enter the building seperating BLU's spawn and the 1-1 area. Finally, the last CP can be really annoying to play mostly due to that damn glass window which is very difficult to see in the heat of the moment.
The aesthetics in this map are excellent and always give the player something to look at no matter where they are. The 3D skybox could do with a bit of work so that it can break up some long horizontal lines especially prevalent along the right-side cliff of 1-1.
Aside from that, there really isn't much to say.
Performance: Average of 96 FPS
Some clipping issues.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Pilolukpass is gigantic and lacks flow, the map always leads to players being spread out everywhere ensuring that the majority of your encounters with other players will be one-on-one. Another thing is that I often find myself in an area where the way out isn't immediately apparent or I have to trek through a long corridor/tunnel make it back to the battlegrounds.
Much like Breakout and Frozen Assets, this map echos the feel of an early map from the author. And whilst it's certainly not as bad as the latter, it still suffers from an abudance of emptiness. A lot of surfaces remain completely void of any detail and some parts suffer from a lack of architectural geometry such as pillars. There's also the matter of the HL2 textures. A big no-no.
Performance: Average of 112 FPS
BLU's setup gates only open when a BLU player triggers it.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
I can't really think of much to say about Powderhorn. The initial area outside BLU's spawn is unneccessarily wide, only for the right-flank to converge again in the middle. I don't like how CP A is inside a building as it segregates it from the area too much. It would be a lot better if it was open and more integrated with the surrounding area. The base layout is perhaps a little too small and could do with expansion. As for the last CP, it's very easy to lock down RED's spawn due to the fact that their only exits are situated right next to each other.
The Sawmill theme is executed very well and the transition from alpine to industrial to spytech flows well. Detail is spread out nicely, the lighting is good and the reflective rooftops are a nice touch. My only qualm would be the lack of architectural detail at the last CP, leading to a lot of empty walls.
All in all, a very pretty map.
Performance: Average of 67 FPS
A few clipping issues.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Relay has quite an original layout which plays out quite nicely but it seems to alternate between really wide areas to really tight ones. Some sort of middle ground would work better. B can be very hard to capture once RED have a few player's in the room up top covering the entrances and hailing spam down onto the point. Yet, weirdly, C is the other way around and gives BLU a height advantage over the CP as well as direct access to RED's top exit.
The theme of this map is rather unique and is probably one of the only maps that I know of that pulls of a city theme well. There is detail in all the right places and their a real sense of context to the map thanks to the areas outside the playable area continuing roads and pathways off into the distance.
The architecture is generally good. But the final building is exceptional and offers some really cool architecture on both the inside and outside. It truly stands out from the crowd.
Performance: Average of 74 FPS
Some minor clipping issues.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Sekhmet is a map which fails in the gameplay department. The first area and the area between A and B are very wide and open, making battles very sporiadic and unfocused. There's also the seemingly random height differences which seem to serve no purpose other then to annoy the hell out of people. All of which is not helped by a lot of unintuitive design decisions such as pickups which are tucked far from the main routes for no reason and paths which are awkwardly placed and difficult to get to.
Finally - an Egypt-themed map that doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out. The nighttime lighting really helps to mute the colours of the textures, making the whole map pleasant to look at - though the abudance of the torchlights really does make the map slightly too monotonous.
Architecturally it's great, detail is good overall and there's a lot of little visual nuggets everywhere.
Performance: Average of 83 FPS
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Ship has no defined routes, no flow, and seemingly very little to no thought put into the gameplay.
Doesn't fit TF2 but at least you tried to make your own theme.
Performance: Average of 100 FPS
0 spectator cams. Only 1 clip brush in the entire map!
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Slush is kind of good, but it's not great. The one thing that I notice about this map is the abudance of doorways and walkways everywhere which makes up a very frustrating experience as players are able to flood each area with ease due to all the different entrances available to them.
Visually, Slush is very nice. There's some architectural wierdness in some places but the level of detail is more than adequate and the theme is a nice variation of the Viaduct theme.
Performance: Average of 94 FPS
Lots of clipping issues.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
With Zig, there is not much to criticise about the gameplay. But judging it as a single-stage A/D map, it suffers from the same issues as Desertion where it gets repetitive very quickly. There are also a few niggling issues such as a handful of random small walls I have to jump over.
Clearly this is the most visually pleasing map of the entire contest. It has excellent custom assets, beautiful lighting, and a great sense of location.
Performance: Average of 62 FPS
A few missing pickup overlays.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
I find that the middle CP is half-baked. Essentially it is one tiny chokepoint with a single flank accessible for all classes from either side and a walkway above. For a mid CP, I expect more options. 2nd is interesting enough but I find that the CP placement and routes leading to it are perhaps a little too much in favour of the defending team. Finally, the last CP suffers from Well-syndrome making it very easy for a scout to ninja cap it before you can even do anything due to the space being HOOGE.
The theme is unique and is executed very well. I particularly like how each point has an identifiable landmark, something which a lot of maps fail to achieve. The 1st/5th point have a great visual presence thanks to the lighting focusing strongly on the CP, making it immediately obvious where you should be looking when the area is in play. Mid features the titular clocktower and has some very strong architecture which makes it stand out.
There are only 2 problems I find with the visuals. The 2nd/4th CP is the least exciting of all 3 but it does still manage to provide a visual landmark thanks to the tree. Finally, the base interior is slightly bland and features none of the usual things you would expect like pillars, pipes, the odd decal here or there.
A very solid effort that makes it stand out from the crowd.
Performance: Average of 63 FPS
More or less no attempt to clip anything apart from the neccessary things to stop me getting out the map. Also, no pickup overlays!
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Croissant is delicious. It's a 5-CP map with a layout that has very little in common with Badlands/Granary and still manages to be a lot of fun to play. Each point has a unique and interesting design and I particularly like the middle CP.
The first CP is not the most unique I've even seen but it's fun to play on. 2nd/4th is very weird as there's a dropdown from the defender's side forcing you to travel around and back into your own base and there's also the matter of HUGE sightlines going all the way down the side towards mid. Mid is a very good gameplay space thanks to the multi-layered CP and makes battles incredibly fun.
I really do love the architecture in this map which helps to give everything a real sense of place. The 1st CP has huge windows giving a view of the valley and some incredibly high walls, both of which make the space feel very epic, and the Mid CP has some lovely curved brushes which ultimately leads to a unique gameplay space.
It is perhaps a bit empty in places and some of it doesn't even make much sense but the fact that it conveys a believable and consistent world earns it a solid 8.
Performance: Average of 91 FPS
A few clipping issues.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Omen offers some genuinely original gameplay spaces particularly around 2nd and mid but the base layout is quite a mess, seems very random and unintuitive, then there's the fact that the 1st CP is almost identical to Badlands.
An interesting theme that offers a great sense of scale thanks to the looming cliffs that overshadow the entire map. But it is a tad too bland for my taste. I think that the main issue is the lighting. It just makes every real flat and boring.
Performance: Average of 91 FPS
Clipping issues. Nothing too drastic.
Category | Score
Gameplay & Balance
Another 5CP map with an original layout. Mid is fun to play on unless an engi places a mini-sentry right behind a railing, then it's a pain in the butt because you can't take it down very easily. 2nd has a lot of height variation and looping interconnects making for some interesting prolonged battles. But 1st is something of a let down and isn't anything new or interesting.
The layout has good flow and is super easy to learn but I did find a lack of signage everywhere. One area where this is a particular problem is from 2nd through the interior route to mid. You walk in from 2nd and it's not immediately noticeable that there is a doorway leading through to mid, thanks to a lack of sign.
Architecturally, this map is excellent. Everything has context which culminates in a very believable world. My only issue is the lack of foliage/detail on the floor.
Performance: Average of 97 FPS
Lots of clipping issues and a lot of pickups have no overlays underneath.
06-23-2011, 09:07 AM
Gameplay: Interesting battles around middle, but I feel that its too focued on the mid chokes,
while the 2 side routes are too far out of the way to be really effective flanks. The upper area for
soldier/demos (adn wranglers) can be very strong expecially when the soldier or demo can spam,
and hide and refill his health. Points 2/4 are interesting, but make it hard for players to sneak up
on the point, giving the defending team a strong advantage. The final point is easily back-capped.
Balance: Once mid is capped, the attacking team is at disadvantage, the defending team has a
height advantage, and its hard to sneak up on 2/4. But, it is very easy for a scout to back-cap the
final points, due to the wideness of the flanks exits into the final area. For the final point
defenders has the disadvantage because the exits into the area are very wide, and there are no
solid sentry positions. While this can be argued to be good thing, in the end it just ends up to a
spam fest on the final point.
Aesthetics: Map is very dark in places. Places that should be highlighted with lighting arena (side
flanks on mid, forward spawns). With the detailing and lighting between mid and 2/4 on both
sides, players can be very confused as to which side they are. Both sides around mid look very
similiar. The map sides are very verticle, and can't not see to the outside world. Its a bit too
forresty for an industrial map. There is also a lot of clashing textures, as in, there were textures
that didn't have a defined and logical transition, like metal for the doorframe, for the transitions
into the building of 1/5. I really enjoyed the final points detailing and lighting.
Gameplay: Interesting shape of the map. The flanks seem very far apart, and don't really feel like
they are useful, they don't really help the attackers in the end. 2/4 really disrupt gameplay flow a
lot. Once you get there, your on the point, and the only way to get back onto the point if you fall
off is to run back up through the building. Really making it easy for a pyro to prevent the cap, and
making that point very spammy. Final was hard to defend, there was no good sentry positions, it
was very open and flanks made it easy to back-cap.
Balance: The map seemed well balanced, the only complaints is on 2/4 where classes that can
knockback have a strong advantage.
Aesthetics: The final points detailing is very well detailed. But elsewhere, things are generally
less exciting, the out of bound area tree's seem very odd and not good (low detail), not sure why.
Gameplay: Interesting and fun. The flanks are well balanced, and provide equal oppurtunity for teams to take advantage of. There are a lot of drop downs, which disrupt player flow. Vertical height variantion is well done, and effective, but feels a tad overscaled in places (Mid specifically). Gameplay flows well, battles flow from one point to the next. The capture points have a lot of cover, but are also quite small, which gives demomen, soldiers and pyro's a strong advantage.
Balance: The map is pretty well balanced, as mentioned earlier, the flanks are very well balanced and equally oppurtunistic. I will say that along mid there is a sightline across the map, so a team with a few snipers can cover and basically hold mid.
Aesthetics: I really enjoy the theme. It something new, using old parts. The interiors of the buildings though, seem dry, unexciting and underdetailed.
Gameplay: The game flows well, but my major concern is that this feels like it is too much of a competitive map, rather than a balance between comp and public play. Because of this, the flow is disrupted and balance greatly off.
Balance: What has become apparent through testing, is that the team who captures and holds the mid first wins. The flanks really useful, they have excellent cover and most have excellent visbility for attackers. Defenders usually have a hard time holding 2/4 and the final points are easily taken down with a heavy/medic (not necessarily ubered) and/or a back-capping scout. I rarely, if at all, have seen a team who got pushed to their final, push back to win.
Aesthetics: The detailing execution is okay and extremely repetetive. The diffence of each teams side is basically just a change in color scheme. There is some odd usage of brick to concrete textures that clash. The detailing of the map provides nothing new or exciting to the game.
07-05-2011, 06:01 PM
This thread is like some sort of twisted chimera
07-05-2011, 06:15 PM
Frankenstein threads are my favorite kind of thread.
07-05-2011, 06:22 PM
and by accomplishing that alone you should get a gold-star sticker.
In my mind I have decided that dancer is MangyCarface.
I am a happy man now.
07-06-2011, 05:15 AM
Well, i combined my reviews into 1 post so it looks a little neater.
Can we get this thread stickied for a couple weeks so map authors can find our reviews more easily? Seems silly to have stickied the public reviews but not the official ones; even if the public reviews were recently unstickied.
07-06-2011, 08:10 AM
Croissant is delicious.
Oh, very good.
A Boojum Snark
07-07-2011, 10:18 PM
It seems my insanity still holds the top spot. My enormous plr/adctf judge post was twice the length of the longest one here. (am I further insane for having actually checked?)
Good job though guys, nice to see several hefty posts.
07-16-2011, 07:40 AM
TF2M needs [spoiler] tags that collapse portions of a post.
I'll tidy my posts up a bit, they were never intended to see the light of day like that.
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