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Old 02-16-2009, 02:44 AM   #91
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Cashworks

Gameflow: Red's initial spawn is probably a bit too close to the first point. The structures around the second point are a bit awkward to navigate around, and I think not particularly conducive for teamwork. I'm happy to know this area will be changed in the next version, but I do have to judge based on this one. Overall, I think the map is a little bit too large. The action and scale would be improved significantly if the distance between point 1 and point 2 were halved (which would also halve the distance between 2 and 3). 7

Balance: There's quite a lot for everyone to do on both teams, and I like how as the map progresses, the flanking opportunities on both sides escalate appropriately. 8

Detailing: Love the extent to which player-inaccessible detail areas and skybox are used in this map. So few custom maps do this well. There are hardly any places where the detail seems bland or blocky, and the custom content is very nicely used. 9

Optimization: Though quite beautiful, some areas had such a concentration of detail that my framerates suffered noticeably. On the other hand, this was not the fault of poor layout and visibility control. The map is just that detailed. While usually a good thing, in this case the author should take a look at the larger areas and think of possible detailing alternatives that would be easier on engine resources without sacrificing too much visual interest. 6

Style: This map really nails the alpine theme. Almost everything feels natural, and the fine attention to detail really tells the story of a general site under construction nearly everywhere you look. The only thing that seems odd is the actual namesake of the map. I have no idea why there is a big vault full of gold sitting next to all these other structures. Still, it looks pretty sweet when it blows up. 9


Zig

Gameflow: The biggest and most notable problem this map suffers from is long, singular corridors leading up to capture points with no other means of approach possible. They create elongated choke points that can be impossible to break even with multiple ubers if the defending team is even reasonably competent. Other problems that hurt the flow of the map are cramped side corridors that are unintuitive to navigate, and doors that all look the same but have no reliable means of determining if and when they will be locked. Those aside, however, the winding track provides an interesting layout, and the map seems to be reasonably scaled with good travel times from the spawns. 5

Balance: As mentioned under gameflow, the long corridors before the second and third points greatly favor the defenders. Offensive pyros also suffer in these corridors, being unable to reach the enemy before being blown to bits. Lack of any real elevation changes also weaken the scout, soldier, and demoman. 6

Detailing: In a different game, the detail work on zig would be pretty phenomenal. Each area invokes a sense of the surreal in a different way. The custom materials are quite well done for their specific uses. My only gripe is that the art overlays are both way too faint, and too blatant. Surrealist art posted around on the walls hits the player over the head a bit too hard with the "surreal" bit, driving the environment a bit too far into "real" as a result. 8

Optimization: Frame rates were pretty consistently in the comfortable range throughout the map, and the layout is indicative of well-planned visibility. 8

Style: While a lot of thought went into the detailing of this map, hardly any of it meshes with the art direction of TF2. If the author could change the player models and HUD elements to match his new artistic vision, the final experience would be quite interesting. As it stands, however, the two art styles clash, and the resultant discord hurts the map more than the innovation helps. 3
 
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:45 AM   #92
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Repository

Gameflow: Once enough time has been spent on the map, navigation isn't too much of a problem. However, Red's initial spawn seems a bit too far away from the beginning action, and getting there goes through a mess of different structures that is not terribly intuitive. Even once the map is familiar, the size seems a bit on the high side for a single-round PL map. Particularly in the latter half of a round, more time is spent traveling than fighting. 7

Balance: There are good places in this map for all classes to shine, so it's fairly balanced in that aspect. Blue has perhaps a small advantage at the beginning due to the distance Red has to travel, and a major advantage at the end if they can get one or two demomen at Red's only spawn exit. One other thing that seems odd is Blue's final spawn which, when they get it, puts them in front of the cart, but given the layout and distance to the next point it doesn't have that large an impact on the gameplay. 7

Detailing: There are some really nice examples of finer detailing in this map. I was particularly impressed with the little side-room next to Blue's final spawn. However, Blue's initial spawn feels a bit awkward in its texturing and architecture. There are a few other places in the outside areas of the map that seemed like either experimentation or laziness, such as an unrealistically rounded stretch of ground supporting the cart track. 8

Optimization: I didn't see much of a problem with the performance of the map, even with 32 people running around. The only place my framerates dropped was near Blue's last spawn, looking down the big stretch of rail. It wasn't a significant enough problem to hurt the gameplay of that area, though. 8

Style: the outside detailing suffers from a bit too much, for lack of a better word, anonymity. The majority of it doesn't feel like any actual place. I can't tell what any given building is for, or what relationship it has to the building next to it. A few thematic high points in the outside surroundings could really strengthen the feel of the map. 7


Stovepipe

Gameflow: I love maps that at every step of the way, allow for intuitive flanking and sneaking, not just for the attackers, but also for the resourceful defenders. Stovepipe really gets this right, and the pathing around the first few points is even better than badwater at providing alternate routes. The ending is a little weaker here, but this may be balanced out by the fact that it is harder to defend than batwater's final point. 9

Balance: Both sides are pretty even, with spawn times and travel distances being well tweaked. Classes are pretty well balanced, though I did experience some frustration as a defensive engineer, particularly on the final point. Perhaps something could be added to make it a little easier for an engineer to guard the back route to the point. 8

Detailing: If the world were monochrome, stovepipe would be a thing of beauty. The natural areas are wonderfully constructed, and the industrial areas look like they're right out of dustbowl. Unfortunately, the physical aspect is hurt by the lack of variety in the color palette. The first half is all the same shade of orange-brown, while the second half is an even duller continuous grey. the author should look at badwater for inspiration on how to incorporate more wood and metal into the buildings in that half. 7

Optimization: I saw excellent framerates throughout the map, even at the higher elevation points. 9

Style: Despite my gripes about the color palette, the map still looks like a love-child between badlands and dustbowl. It really seems like it would be quite at home in the Valve family of maps. 9
 
Old 02-16-2009, 02:46 AM   #93
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Reservoir

Gameflow: The blue spawn is difficult to navigate out of, there is a lack of obvious signage on some important pathways, and the first segment of track crosses perilously over a sequence of awkward and difficult pits full of water. The map itself is far too large for a single-round PL map, and this results in a lot of dull travel time. There are a couple places with 45-degree stairs that really feel awkward going up and down, due to the extreme vertical swing of the mouse required to still keep an eye on where you're going.3

Balance: I witnessed the Red team block the Blue team into their beginning spawn area almost until the timer had expired. 4

Detailing: There are some discernible ideas starting to take shape in the detailing and texturing, but the execution remains geometrically blocky for the most part. Some of the detail overlays are oddly placed or over-scaled. While a custom bomb card can be a nice defining feature of a map, the mass of stickies just looks weak and a bit too forced. The standard bomb cart would be a better choice here. 4

Optimization: The strongest point in the map is the optimization. The layout helps a lot in keeping too much from being rendered at once. Only at the end did I see any really noticeable hit to my performance. I didn't investigate what water was used, but if it is expensive, it should probably be switched to cheap. 7

Style: It's trying to have a more urban Hydro feel to it. It's making a good attempt, but there a certain lack of consistency between buildings and "out of bounds" areas. Some of the builds look like they fit together. Others seem out of place, like the structure just after the first point. 5


Viper's Den

Gameflow: Though I've criticized some of the other maps for being a bit too large for a single-stage PL map, Viper's Den is just too large for anything. The entire map needs to be selected and scaled down at least 50%. As such, it takes far too long to get anywhere, and given how open the map is, chances are high players will be sniped before ever reaching their destination. If scaled down, the layout would be excellent for a single stage of a 3-stage map. 2

Balance: It's difficult to say which team is hurt most by the layout and size, so it'd be fair to call the sides balanced. The classes on the other hand, have a lot of trouble. Snipers dominate just about every other class with possibly the exception of scouts. Even the enclosed spaces are so large that pyros and other close range classes suffer considerably. 3

Detailing: The detail is reasonable in some areas of the map. The buildings in particular have a decent start, and some of the displacement work is above average. Unfortunately, because of how large the map is, what detailing there is feels vastly insufficient and incomplete. 3

Optimization: Though framerates were high, that is probably entirely attributable to the fact that details were so low. There were several places in the map where the game was rendering the entire thing, and few places where it wasn't rendering at least half of the map. 1

Style: The desert theme is, fortunately, not difficult to pull off with the assets provided by Valve. If there is any saving grace to this map, it's the desert-canyon style displacements in certain place. They even look better than warpath's environment. Granted, that's not hard to do, but it does indicate that there is some promise for the future of this map if the author is willing to make very big changes to its size and structure. 4
 
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:50 AM   #94
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Annnnnd the easy-read chart:
MapScore
Cashworks7.8
Zig6
Repository7.4
Stovepipe8.4
Halfacre-
Reservoir4.6
Vipers den2.6
Tranquility-
Frontier-
 
Old 02-18-2009, 03:32 PM   #95
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Cashworks:

Gameflow: Awkward moments: Enormous first area tightens to a small choke before the point. Sideroutes place players behind RED on point 2. Fabulous downhill is perhaps underutilized due to emphasis on fight around the corner; I still wonder whether this section wouldn't be more interesting fighting uphill. Work on reducing -areas- involved in each side passage. Health packs etc are standard. Everything else is great. 8

Balance: The map's been through enough testing that I trust the team balance, statistics have shown this too. A few enormous sightlines, namely snipers on hill downwards before point 2, area before point 1 in back wooden area, area after cp2 before it's capped. These are more or less compensated for and not too frustrating. Engineer stacking is medium effective, perfectly acceptable. 9

Detailing: An excellent representation of the Alpine detailing structures, but some areas experience a degree of cacophony- namely the peeling blue metal panels, the area leading up to the last point, the strange glass rolling units. Sacrificing some detail to have a greater overall appeal would be great- but that's a style issue. 9/10.

Optimization: It is more or less impossible to nail large areas and optimize them as well. Great effort has been exerted to deal with this, but still only merits a 7; only way to combat this effect is to plan in advance.

Style: The vault explosion is fabulous. The cacophonous areas, not so much. Tighten these up and the map will feel more in place with Valve's own work. 7

Zig:
Gameflow: Awkward moments: Twisting sideroutes with strange playerclipping, severe chokes in the CP2 tunnel; route before CP1 takes defenders too easily behind attackers; strangely placed resupply cabinets. Map's last stretch is pretty well done. Provide side paths rather than opening up the choked areas, and this map may play better at the vanilla 24 level. As it stands, recommended for smaller numbers only. 6

Balance: Chokes tend to polarize gameplay: great teams will immediately push through on offense or make the area impassible on defense. Still, seen defenses on all points; team balance is therefore rather high. Class balance favors pyros and heavies too much in the chokes and engie stacking is too effective after the star tunnel. 7

Detailing: Some very neat moments; the 3d skybox is incredible; crystals in general, neat; purple metallic wood is hideous; side passages don't retain a sense of individuality enough to properly teach players. Brushwork is interesting in some areas but amateur in others: pillars extending from their rooves in the first area as one example. 7

Optimization: Perfectly fine except after star tunnel. Holes in walls prevent good visblockage. Filesize is a bit ridiculous but it's fine for the payoff. 9

Style: Again, cacophonous. The crystalline aspects are really cool; the ending has a disco club feel to it; the side passages have no relevance to the rest of the map; starry tunnel fits with the crystal theme but the metallic wood ruins that next area(ugly!=unique). Stick with one or 2 themes max and revise your detailing to accommodate that vision. Looking forward to the new cart. 6

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Old 02-18-2009, 03:44 PM   #96
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Repository:
A map I'd prefer to judge by current edition, as many of these things have already been touched upon.

Gameflow: Pretty standard; some doorway sizes awkward (dropdown near point 2) Prop usage breaks up flow too much before cp1; CP4 red spawn placed poorly, fight centered too much on side areas rather than on the track around this area; fight concentrated at RED gate near CP3 really neat. Strange pickup placement: 2 smalls in one area, etc 8

Balance: Defense too easy on PT 4 (corrected in later versions unfortunately); class balance excellent; snipers' sightlines a bit large on CP4; 9

Detailing: Individual detail fabulous; again, cacophonous; too many styles represented in some areas... BLU spawn unusual in a bad way; some natural surfaces unnatural (i.e. land bridge); pipes in odd places (near cp1); 9

Optimization: Shares similar problem with Cashworks- optimization must be designed in before detailing. Still, enormous effort spent in this area, so 7

Style: Great view out of BLU spawn. Cacophony really inhibits this map and prevents it from feeling on par with Valve's. Later versions correct much of this. 6

Stovepipe:
Gameflow: CP4 upper areas hard to get to for BLU; affects balance. Easy to navigate, some clipping issues, 8.

Balance: CP4 bit of a clusterfuck, RED able to spam BLU roundabout overlook from near their spawn, main BLU entrance spammable; CP1 sentry location unfair (to the right of rightmost exit); pickup locations good, 8

Detailing: Individual details on par with Valve's for the most part, almost too much so; some wall faces rather bare; concrete overused as floor past CP 3, some areas overly dark- area leading to BLU roundabout overlook near CP4, 8

Optimization: Acceptable, but not designed in from the start in some areas-namely beginning. Thus, 9

Style: Nails Valve without improvement; visually appealing yet slightly monotonous; very put-together overall, with room for individual style to be added; 9

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Old 02-18-2009, 03:55 PM   #97
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This map is early in development. Please do not take the critique too harshly; for although I am rating all the maps in relationship to each other, the others are obviously far more developed.

VipersDen
Gameflow: Excellent in the sense that there's more or less only one way to go. Sightlines huge. Symmetry wasted as the gameplay is unidirectional. Without some degree of complexity, player choices are incredibly minimal. 2

Balance: Not much to comment on teamplay wise, except that RED cannot win due to a lack of a round finished output. Snipers and soldiers benefit greatly from the large sightlines; spies a bit shafted. 2

Detailing: The outlines of potential. Break your displacements up into more brushes to get a more consistent texturing when stretching them. All I can say is keep up what you're doing and refine what you've got. 2

Optimization: Only good because of a lack of detail. Planning and optimization work not evident. 4

Style: I've got an idea of what you're trying to pull off, but there's simply a lack of detail work to support it. 2

Again a map that with a bunch of improvement could do pretty well.

Reservoir

Gameflow: Simply enormous. Strange dead ends; unused track CP props are a bit confusing; arrow placement is strange; reference to points as A B C D unusual for payload; ability to get on strange areas (namely between CP 3 and 4); BLU spawn completely confusing; hard to understand how setup works for BLU; a neat first area ruined by how players enter from both sides; last area pretty cool 4

Balance: Seen defenses all around but mostly just player confusion. Some sentry locations far too overpowered. 7

Detailing: Unfinished, some good ideas; prop shadows strange; giant blank walls; mismatching texture palettes. Strange lighting choices--too yellow. Cacophonous, some custom textures strange;Red beams? Rooves styled strangely. 5

Optimization: Some attempt made, and decent frames.8

Style: Fix the cacophony. Make things look more valve standard- you're in uncanny valley at the moment. Redo some of your custom textures. Get a new cart-the current one looks too patched together. Less HL2 textures+props. 5

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Old 02-18-2009, 04:23 PM   #98
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Chart:
MapScore
Cashworks8
Zig6.6
Repository7.8
Stovepipe8.4
Halfacre-
Reservoir5.8
Vipers den2.4
Tranquility-
Frontier-

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Old 02-18-2009, 05:14 PM   #99
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Final scores:
Score = .6* popular vote + .4* judge vote



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