UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

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UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby Xerxes on Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:29 pm

TF2 Maptesting and WIP Maps:
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For a long time now, we’ve wanted to give something back to the fantastic map making community that has grown around TF2 and given us the absolutely cracking custom maps that are played everyday on UKCS. To help out budding map authors we are now running two different kinds of maptests; one to ascertain what you guys want on the servers (normal maptest), and another type to test brand new and WIP (Work In Progress) maps.

Because of the work of the (literally) hundreds of TF2 map authors, we have a fantastic selection of maps. However, these same authors need your help! They need to see how their maps are working on full servers, what you like and dislike about the maps and other key things that they can only learn through testing. This is where you come in! We will be conducting regular maptests of the latest maps as they are being produced, so that not only does it help map makers get their maps finished faster, you can help shape how the maps look and feel!

If you want to help new maps become better developed, more balanced and ultimately see them on the rotation when they are finished, make sure you come along to the WIP maptests! All feedback we get from them will be given to the authors and we will be posting threads in the TF2 Maps Forum so that you can also tell the map testers what they can improve. We will be working closely with TF2Maps.net and other maptesting sites to help the leading TF2 map makers with their work.

As well as WIP maptests, we are now running normal maptests more frequently than ever before, so that you (the players) can have your say about maps you like and we can work to get them on rotation as fast as we can! Not only this, it means you can suggest maps in the TF2 Maps Forum and we will try to make sure they get tested in the next maptest!

Huge thanks to Alias who is currently sorting the bulk of this out and liaising with the map authors to ensure we get the latest versions of the hottest new maps. Thanks, Alias! :D

We hope to see you there!


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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby Albi on Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:26 pm

Awesome idea, but to calrify I won't have to download 7 new maps every week will I? If they might not be used it's alot of comp space and hassle if so, might discourage new members too
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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby kan on Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:05 pm

Tests will be once a month on a predefined server so you can avoid it if you wish. Additionally we will be keeping an eye on map sizes and maps we deem are too large will not be used on the map tests (unless they are awesome)

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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby Rico on Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:22 am

Fantastic idea. You guys rock!
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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby Flare on Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:17 am

Once a month, not to sound ungratefull but when a mapmaker needs data to tweak the map its not good to have to wait for too long... you lose intrest and focus for that map.
Thats why I quit mapping, my old map was shaping up but I got so little feedback on how the changes were effecting the map that I simply lost intrest in that map, but when I tried working on some other map ideas I got discouraged because the new maps wouldnt get tested regularily either.

It was my own fault , I assumed the community would of been intrested in member made maps and keen to help tweak the map to the communities tastes... but didnt get much help hence my map didnt get completed.
Bit of a shame actually, it was the first map I actually got to the point of releasing... I have been playing about with mapping tools since Doom :P
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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby Unspecified on Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:56 am

We'd love to help out map makers as much as possible as obviously getting more brilliant maps finished is good for everybody. However we have to balance the need of maptesters to get lots of data with the sort of maps the community want to play.

A regular WIP event like this is great as we can advertise it and get interested players to help out whilst allowing those that don't want to help to stay away. We think monthly is a good starting point as its regular and will help us to get the feedback to the mapmakers, but not too often that players get sick of downloading lots of slightly different versions of the same maps, which would put many players off (the sort of casual players who would be playing the map once released!)

We hope this new WIP test will produce lots of useful feedback for mapmakers, and once we have run it a few times then we will review how its going.
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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby Xerxes on Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:22 pm

As Unspecified says, we want to help as much as we can and if the maptests are received well we can look into running them more frequently. Currently we are going to be running both WIP maptests and prospective maps for rotation on a monthly basis which is far more regularly than we have been able to do before because of the hard work people have been putting into getting it all sorted. Additionally, as Unspec says, we need to balance what the community would want against the frequency that map authors would like- in an ideal world a separate server for maptesting would be perfect but we simply can't sustain something like that.

We also have several criterion and testing stages (pretests) before maps are actually used in a maptest to ascertain where problems may occur and whether they will crash the server or not (which has been known to happen on alpha and even some beta maps)- this isn't just a case of putting on maps that look good, there is a huge amount of preparation that we conduct to make sure that maps are suitable in the first place.

Monthly maptests should also be a reasonable amount of time for map authors to release a new version, possibly more of their work so that we can constantly show the best they have done- it doesn't make sense to test every iteration if very little has changed and (no offence to you, Flare) not all map makers can pump out multiple new versions of their map in a month. :)
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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby what would jesus do? on Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:34 pm

It's great that you'll conduct more map tests (for server rotation) and I like the effort and Idea behind the WIP tests, but the later, I don't really see its point.

  • since UKCS servers are all modded (32 players and/or instant spawn) the UKCS playerbase cannot judge the balance and geometry of maps since most of them weren't made with us as "audience" [unless ofc you will actually turn the server settings to vanilla]
  • monthly maptests won't help mapmakers, other than "you could change this or that" they won't get constructive criticism. Additionally, they might already shipped one or two alphas by the time the next tests organized
  • a lot of the data mapcretors need isn't input but demos and data (actually seeing people play, seeing what classes do well, what sentry spots etc. [vanilla needed, ofc]
  • tf2maps has two maptests each week (or even more? i'm not sure) and most players there are mapmakers themselves
  • I've seen some good maps being judged too harshly and way too fast on UKCS, it seems like people already have formed their opinion quarter-through ("nextmap pls?"). Also I'm not sure if most players will like maps with alpha textures (grey grids, plain red and blue walls)

I'm not trying to sabotage this, maybe this will work far better than I imagined, we have to see after a few tests how this will turn out, but I have my concerns. What I would prefer would be a system where you would take [one] promising maps and put the into a regular rotation and "foster" it into its way to _final (working on a map myself /selfinterest :wink: ).

p.s. some of the maps from the last maptest were really terrible gameplay and fps-wise, i hope for you all that the next set of maps will be better. :P
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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby Xerxes on Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:03 pm

You raise some interesting points there, wwjd- it may be that this evolves into more of a mentor type system where we take on 4 or 5 maps and see them through to their final release then start again rather than testing different maps each time, however we will be fostering promising maps anyway as there are direct implications for us getting the latest releases onto the servers. End of the day, this is all early days for this new testing regime, and inevitably there will be changes involved. I did say previously we may be able to conduct the tests more frequently based on how well they are received, and any feedback is useful for mapmakers and quite possibly we may be able to provide feedback from another angle not previously considered.

I understand your point about the 32 man servers, however there are also a lot of servers out there that are also modded to be 32 man, not to mention the fact that if a map works on 32 player servers it will easily transpose down to vanilla sized servers. Regarding instant respawn, we will be reverting the spawn timers to their defaults (10 seconds) so that the maps will modify the spawn timers in the way they are intended, so that the map makers can check balancing for their maps. Regarding locations for sentries, choke points and bias towards certain classes should also be far more evident on a 32 player server purely because more players will show these points more clearly.

Again, your point about TF2 maps testing more frequently is true, they are more frequent but often comprised of mostly map makers- we can provide a more realistic approximation of the demographic that will be playing on the maps, with the kinds of skill gaps that we may see on other servers. Yes, this will be impacted by the kinds of players who wish to attend, but it should be closer to a normal environment. This is not meant to replace other testing locations at all, but to supplement and support the map makers, and (hopefully) help them gain a more complete picture. :)

WIP maptesting will be subject to changing to the next when the overseeing admin chooses it to be so, ensuring maps get a decent coverage. Unfortunately, you're right, not all players will wish to attend a WIP maptest but the intention is to allow our members to directly help with the molding of new maps, and we can alter how we run them accordingly. One of the criterion that we have set with Alias' direction is that maps need to be at least alpha textured before being used, so the amount of dev-textures should be minimised. As for your comments about the harshness of some comments, we are not using simply the rating for how we judge rotation maps (WIP maps will not be subject to this in the same way); we use the comments from in game, how the game seems to pan out with more players, etc. The whole point of testing maps for rotation is to gauge a) how well they are liked b) how suitable they are for us to use on #1, #2 and #6 and c) Ensure they don't cause massive issue with the server (ie, crashing or FPS problems).

Regarding the maps we are testing, you are more than welcome to suggest alternatives in the TF2 Maps forum, or even PM'ing myself or another TF2 admin. We're always open to suggestions and we're trying to incorporate the maps you wish to see tested. For example, following many requests we are testing out plr_panic_b2 in the next maptest.

I hope this allieviates some of your concerns at least. :)
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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby Inevitable on Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:11 pm

... why do you need to use "Vanilla" TF2 for map testing?

Surely you want to make the map compatible with the current version of the game as much as the original?
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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby kan on Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:30 pm

what would jesus do? wrote:tf2maps has two maptests each week (or even more? i'm not sure) and most players there are mapmakers themselves


Surely it is better to get your map tested by the actual people who you want to play the map and not fellow mapmakers?

what would jesus do? wrote:p.s. some of the maps from the last maptest were really terrible gameplay and fps-wise, i hope for you all that the next set of maps will be better. :P


The last maptest was for KOTH maps only so we were limited a lot with the maps we could pick for testing. If nothing else it was good to see that players felt the same about the maps as the admins did in pretesting. :D

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Re: UKCS TF2 and how we're going to help out map authors...

Postby alias on Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:43 pm

Note that the diffirence for most mappers is that they aim for competetive as there they have a bigger chance to be succesfull. However, a few mappers aim for public play which is often 10x harder. 1 public test therefor can give you plenty of info.

The reason why people want vanilla is because a map is allmost impossible to balance on instant respawn. Or youll need a 10 second long walk from the spawn which again is basicly making your map larger than needed. Vanilla is also what all maps are based on. The diffirence what matters is if a map suits all player counts and not just 6vs6 (like hoodoo does).

What i noticed when i used to give feedback on maps we tested before is that many mappers dislike the 32 player instant respawn situation and actualy flame on the feedback due to it not being in a situation they made the map for. Ofcourse, that didnt make any sense but they think it disrespects their balancing time. However, there also were mappers that did like the setup just because it gave diffirent results. They for example might have made a map suitable for 6vs6 regular respawn. But it can happen that a map ends up like badwater which suits all situations fine. If they find out their map also has that they ofcourse will aim for publics also. And thats what we mainly want to get. More maps aimed for public play also. Ofcourse, publics dont get priority but minor changes that will balance it for such situations also arent a big issue. 1 map that clearly was affected by it was pl_swiftwater at the area arround the 2nd and 3rd cp. The map was fine for competetive besides its broken score system but for publics the 3rd cp was a hell and basicly required a highly unbalanced enemy team before it became actualy fun.

Also: The first WIP map test topic
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