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Future of New Maps & Map Pool Discussion
#1
In competitive TF2, there is this dilemma where players want newer maps, but at the same time are not willing to put forth the necessary effort in providing constructive feedback to further better the maps.

Why New Maps?

For Highlander in particular, it can be often tricky, because it is a fact that there are more competitive map developers that are willing to make 5cp or KotH maps for 6v6 than for this game format. Thus, the pool of "new maps" that we can playtest for the format is very thin and the map developers that we can work with is very small and dwindling, because creating maps for the competitive community can be a very hostile experience for these developers who receive very little constructive feedback regarding their maps. Therefore, we run into this perpetual cycle of "we want new maps" and "these new maps are bad, let's play something else", leading to a very bland map pool. This is where we run into the issue of map politics, where everyone wants a certain map in or out depending on their preferences, class, etc. At the end of the day, new maps allow for the introduction of new strategies to be created and different metas to exist in those maps -- creating a more interesting way to play the game. It's something new and most importantly it is fresh.

Vigil and Cascade

Vigil and Cascade have recently been two maps that have done well in Highlander, also hosting active map developers that are determined to help them work for the format. The question is if people think these maps should replace the older maps (that won't be updated again) like Borneo or Lakeside respectively. Currently in the RGL HL Map pool, we have 7 standard maps: Product, Upward, Ashville, Swiftwater, Lakeside, Borneo, and Steel. These were all maps that were seen in the non-Invite division for S1 of RGL HL and did not receive much criticism. Therefore, they are being seen again in the S2 map pool. We begin to enter the dilemma regarding if we should start cycling maps to reduce the blandness of the same 7-map pool. For example, like stated above, replacing a map like Lakeside with Cascade for a season and then cycling it back the season after.

What to Learn from Invite

In Season 1, Invite did map pick/bans during the regular season. This allowed for a 10-map pool system of Product, Lakeside, Ashville, Cascade, Warmtic, Swiftwater, Vigil, Upward, Borneo, and Steel. The issue with the pick/ban season was that people just banned the new maps that they were unfamiliar with and teams ended up playing the same maps across multiple weeks (e.g. Product). A viable way to counter this (if we do decide to reintroduce pick/bans again) could be:
  •  Preventing teams from banning the same map in consecutive weeks
  •  X new maps must be banned every week
The idea here is that teams would have to start banning the maps that they have picked in previous weeks, which would potentially allow for a more diverse map pool if teams are left with the newer maps in the remaining map pool ban list. It is also important to note that Cascade, Warmtic, and Vigil were all picked at least once in the Invite regular season for S1 with Cascade being picked twice.

Moving Forward

There has already been some issues and complaints regarding the map pool for S2. This is with having koth_product_rc9 be the first week map as well as announcing the map pool too early (would have been 3 weeks before s2, now 4 weeks with the S2 launch delay). This has resulted in teams only scrimming Product for an entire month and refusing to scrim any other maps. As stated above, this introduces a very uninteresting preseason if you scrim the same map over 10 times in the span of a couple of weeks. In the following seasons, Product will likely be moved to a later week and I will likely announce the ordering of the maps several days before the season start to help deal with this. I would be curious to see what you think of this.

If we do not reintroduce map pick/bans during the regular season again, then using a set map for every week to test the new map will have to be the best option. This is unfortunately the best way to get players and teams to look over the map for longer than ten minutes and to play it (leads to actual feedback being made), which consequently should assist the map developer with trying to further improve the map. If we want these new maps to become part of the staple map pool list, then we all need to do our job in playtesting and providing feedback.

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This is just me typing what was on my mind at 3 AM. Curious to see what people have to say regarding this topic.
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#2
some scattered thoughts i've got to follow up:

-cascade deserves a more solid place in the hl map rotation, vigil does not. both are playable maps from a comp standpoint but Cascade is a map that brings something new to the HL scene by means of map geometry and the generally large impact every class is able to have, whereas vigil plays so similarly to upward that I don't think there's anything to gain by replacing swift or borneo.

-I think the map cup, while executed well, was ultimately a failure in terms of helping to develop the maps. ICS didn't make enough changes to millstone to warrant consideration, vanguard has the issue of being 5cp and synthetic, while having potential, needs some work. Overall, feedback was low, with only synthetic getting a post on the map feedback section to which I was one of two people that gave serious feedback and I didn't even play in the cup. I don't want to speak for lower divs but I think the conclusion you can draw from this is that the community isn't as serious about creating new maps as it thinks it is. I hard agree that new maps are needed to continue to add innovation into the meta, but maptesting would probably be better carried out on a smaller scale by the admins with cooperative high-level teams.

-too many players define what maps are 'good' by whatever's already meta when they started playing rather than by any objective criteria. I've talked to tons of lower div players that think borneo's a perfect example of a 'legacy' highlander map, unaware that the amount of sheer, unadulterated hate and pure vitriol you'd get for saying you liked borneo back in s11-12 was mindblowing. this is dangerous and damaging because it creates players with an immediate aversion to anything new or different than what they're used to, and it precludes us from judging older maps as they actually should be judged. newsflash: product is a dogshit map for highlander that heavily minimizes the roles/interaction of at least 5 classes and allows a competent sniper, scout or demo to completely cover the failures of other classes beyond a reasonable amount. maybe i'm just super set on this opinion but i'm almost positive that if cascade and product were swapped (whereas cascade was always played, and product was just getting introduced) the map would be railed as being too small, too sniper dependent, too restrictive and unfit for competitive play. that's not to say product is irredeemable, and the amount of time its been played means that high-level metas have formed, but honestly speaking if you look at product objectively and compare it to the criterias we set for every incoming new map, it fails a lot of them.

-continuing on the hot takes, 5CP is a gamemode with issues but those issues aren't glaring enough to exclude it from HL. it's a radically different gamemode that removes the omni-present clock from HL and stresses more precise, calculated plays rather than fast ones. by being on offense and defense at the same time it forces players to learn how to play the game correctly, judge advantages and disadvantages and work around them and overcome them. people complaining 'its boring' confuse me, because apparently holding swiftwater 2nd for 4 minutes in apartments is the epitome of interaction but failing 3-4 last pushes in a row isn't? just because there is not visible progress on a scoreboard or objective notifications coming up in the logs does not mean there is not gameplay, interaction, or skill happening. and yes, I've played in the gamemaster era, against the dark lord himself. I've played against teams that will turtle with a level 3 on mid even when they're losing. and you know what? as long as we don't play process it's not actually that difficult. it's hard to push into, yes, but it's not impossible, and its something players should learn how to do when necessary. it'll help them improve in more aspects of the game as well.

-if you couldn't glean it from the last point, maps should be vehicles through which players express their own skill. an ideal map rotation, in my eyes, would have maps that function similarly to as they do now, but would also have maps terrible for scout/demo/sniper and might reward spy, heavy and pyro more or something along those lines. how you would do that, i don't know, but I think the current 7 map rotation has playable maps without many major glaring flaws (although all the maps do have major issues), yet lacks diversity in team composition. I'm such a big proponent of cascade because from all of my experience in this game it's the map that best allows the highest number of classes to shine the brightest.

-again, lack of available options is always an issue, because there aren't really that many potential maps out there; the bar is honestly a pretty high one. I'm hoping ICS gets his head out of his ass and starts making meaningful changes to millstone because I think the map can be a breath of fresh air, but currently it's too chokey and not interactive enough. Synthetic's developer seems promising but only time will tell. And I'm obviously biased, but I think 5cp is a viable route to approach since playing vanguard/gully once a season would teach newer players a lot of vital skills about how to play the game and help break the monotony.

-after sufficient testing, rgl shouldn't be afraid to strongarm map candidates into the season, preferably for week 1. it'll get the most organic testing for the map that'll allow for some last minute changes, as it gives underdog teams the opportunity to get good at a map, learn its strengths and weaknesses in an opportunity to upset a stronger opponent who's scrimming product/upward/lakeside for 5 weeks straight before the season.

-map bans were interesting and keeping the invite-exclusive is something not to rule out, but I don't think having set-map weeks is an issue.
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#3
I play in open, and last season was my first season of comp in any format, so my experience is quite limited. While I loved the exp cup and would be happy to play in it again, I agree with Alto in that if you want some serious feedback for a map it should be limited to some of the higher teams. My team pretty much got our feedback boiled down to 'we like this map' and 'sniper sightlines', which I think the latter is just people subconsciously saying something that they hear other teams say and not actually forming opinions of their own based on what they played. It is kind of nice to still host map cups for anyone, as it is really a nice way to help aid newer players into the discussion and get them playing maps that they otherwise would simply ignore. I think if you want a map to be played by lower divisions you would need to put it into a season or a cup, most newer players in lower divisions never bother to go do test pugs or anything like that.

On the topic of 5cp, I love the gamemode. Its one of my favorite in the game, and I honestly didn't think it was that bad when I played vanguard in the cup. I know almost everyone who has played 5cp in older ugc seasons despises 5cp, and I would be willing to accept their opinions on it, but my personal ideal map pool is one that gives us a variety of different gamemodes rather than sticking to PL, KOTH, and a single A/D map. Its one of the reasons I rarely care about 6s, as they only play 5cp with a single KOTH map thrown in. Whereas at least in HL, your playing two different gamemodes. I think every gamemode has their downsides (garbage time in stopwatch, 99% of PL last holds, etc) and I don't think that 5cp would be anywhere near the point of unplayable.

(01-07-2019, 06:35 AM)Alto Wrote: -after sufficient testing, rgl shouldn't be afraid to strongarm map candidates into the season, preferably for week 1. it'll get the most organic testing for the map that'll allow for some last minute changes, as it gives underdog teams the opportunity to get good at a map, learn its strengths and weaknesses in an opportunity to upset a stronger opponent who's scrimming product/upward/lakeside for 5 weeks straight before the season.

I agree, if you look at the maps that ESEA has included in their earlier seasons (Process, gully, metalworks, snakewater, etc) they've all had major work done to them, and have even become official maps. I don't see why RGL can't have the same approach when wanting to get large amounts of feedback on maps that they think might work well, such as cascade. b4nny had a recent video on the topic, granted, its for ESEA and 6s, but I think the principle of including maps into a season is universal.

Map bans are an interesting concept, but I think keeping to a solid schedule of maps is probably better, especially if you are trying out newer maps in the regular season. Otherwise I think the issue you had in invite with people just ignoring non-standard maps would just be amplified.
Whenever Pain Seer becomes untapped, reveal the top card of your library and put that card into your hand. You lose life equal to that card's converted mana cost.

Spy main for the IM team - Snapped-Back Gaming
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#4
product sux
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#5
product stays, alto is right in the fact that vanguard plays 100x better in pugs synthetic<vanguard
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#6
You guys should try to bring back canalzone, muwahaha
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#7
(01-07-2019, 04:10 PM)Nyxi+ Wrote: product stays, alto is right in the fact that vanguard plays 100x better in pugs synthetic<vanguard

To clarify, I don't think product should be removed from the rotation, although I don't think letting it rest for a season for cascade would be a bad idea. That being said, the analogy I'm feeling is that product is a round peg for HL's square hole, but the ridiculous amount of playtime it's gotten is similar to just brute-forcing the peg into the hole so many times that it starts to turn a little square. A high-level meta that rewards good gameplay in HL has developed, but its developed at the cost of turning pyro, heavy, engi, med, and arguably soldier into extremely static classes where the extent of skill expression is just 'not fucking up' rather than actually making smart, proactive plays. The point is less 'we should stop playing product' and more 'start thinking critically about the maps that we consider staples and determine whether they're staples because they're actually good or because ugc played them when there weren't any alternatives.'
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#8
There are no maps in production that are better than the 7 already present. Stop wasting people’s time “testing” maps that have 0 chance of actually being played. The only way the 7 should get replace, if there is a direct upgrade in every other way. This is from someone who’s been playing since season 5 of ugc.
I will always be a pyro main <3
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#9
as a sniper main i agree with this a lot however hl is gonna get stale real fast with this current static ass meta involving most of these maps imo
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#10
(01-07-2019, 05:42 PM)Arzt Hispanian Wrote: There are no maps in production that are better than the 7 already present. Stop wasting people’s time “testing” maps that have 0 chance of actually being played. The only way the 7 should get replace, if there is a direct upgrade in every other way. This is from someone who’s been playing since season 5 of ugc.

going off of this logic there's no reason to ever make a new map ever because the initial skybox you make in hammer won't be better than an existing map so don't even bother??? the point is that there are maps with potential to be better than current maps, and the potential to have a better map down the road is worth trading a week for it now. I'd wager there's a significant number of people that wouldn't rank cascade last on a 1-4 ranking of product/ashville/lakeside/cascade, and that alone makes new maps worth testing. From your perspective, though, it should've never been tested because cascade a3 was 10x bigger (not a joke) than any other koth map played so defcon should've just fucked off. Synthetic does have a chance at being played. Millstone and Vanguard were already played but have the potential to be better than they are now. There are mapmakers out there with talent and drive to make better maps and stubbornly insisting that any of the current 7 maps are so infallible that there's no way they could ever be replaced is idiocy.
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#11
Official map cups to test maps is a waste of time I have no issues with new maps. I have played every version of Borneo and swiftwater and the majority of viaduct, I’m well aware maps can change and improve over time, but the fact is that none of the maps potential (cascade,vigil) are at the stage to replace to the staple maps. Those are the maps that should have been played in the cup instead of millstone and synthetic.
I will always be a pyro main <3
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#12
I honestly really like cascade, I don't know why we didn't try it instead of millstone or synthetic.
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#13
Cascade should have more protection for Medic, I swear to God it's impossible to stay alive on that map.
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#14
(01-07-2019, 09:32 PM)SpotlightR Wrote: Cascade should have more protection for Medic, I swear to God it's impossible to stay alive on that map.

this is the only reason I don't like this map, for every other class though, the map is good
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#15
(01-07-2019, 09:32 PM)SpotlightR Wrote: Cascade should have more protection for Medic, I swear to God it's impossible to stay alive on that map.

it's no worse than product though, i think it's just due to the dominance of sniper on both maps
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#16
(01-07-2019, 11:00 PM)Moose In A Suit Wrote:
(01-07-2019, 09:32 PM)SpotlightR Wrote: Cascade should have more protection for Medic, I swear to God it's impossible to stay alive on that map.

it's no worse than product though, i think it's just due to the dominance of sniper on both maps

Product is far easier for Medic imo. It's much easier to see the other team as Medic to know how to avoid spam, but on Cascade not only does the under section of the point come up right behind the right side which is one of the only two places to stand as Medic when you own the point, but being there also makes you almost entirely blind and super vulnerable to Spies unless you stand backwardsaway from the point. The left isn't much better as it's easy to get shot from the enemy cave and other places on the right side of the enemy's territory. I find myself dying like 3x as much on Cascade when compared to Product.
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#17
that's where you're wrong kiddo
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#18
Thread has been restored.
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#19
Bring back ramjam, remove steel and Borneo. The only people who like steel are 4-4 silver players who like being able to upset better teams. Borneo is not a fun map for either team and last is hell on earth.
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#20
swap cascade under to come up the left side so medic has a haven under right side (still kinda at risk from the tunnel) and change the pack in under to a small pack so soldiers can't just stay down there with a heavy forever
get rid of product that map is too fucking small it's just worse lakeside, at least ashville is a little different
play vanguard
play gully
play process
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