Its funny to think that I started on this map 4 years ago, 3 years before even joining this Gaming Academy program. Knowing what I do now, its nice to see some things inherently understood in design and its also good to see where I could have, and still can really, go back to improve the design.
Mapping for TF2 was an creative outlet for me. It satisfied me both creatively and analytically. I soon learned it was just about making up some original locale and plopping everything down in Hammer. TF2Maps.net and the VALVe Developer Wiki were great sources of information. I must have printed loads and loads of pages to read at night.
I had a love for a particular map on TF2 called CP_STEEL. It was a 5 control point [CP] map where each CP affected the map somehow. Bridges were extended, doors closed and other passage opened, depending on what CPs your team controlled. I wanted to do something similar, but I also wanted a more impressive change in the environment. Cue, CP_Dam.
That there is my first sketch of CP_Dam. Its older than my son. The basic idea was that each team would start on either end of a dam and would fight for 4 control points within the dam itself before being able to win the round by taking the final point on the enemies’ riverbed.
Taking either CP_A or CP_B would change the water levels on either side: raising them 1 level on your side and lowering them one level on their side. What this would do was decrease your spawn-to-conflict distance while increasing the enemies’. See the figure above and assume you are playing as BLU. Waterline 1 is what happens if you take EITHER A or B. Take BOTH and the difference is further increased, therefore making a greater difference in running/swimming distance between the teams.
At this state, the enemies’ home CP was now exposed and prone to capture for the win. It also pushes the conflict location closer and closer to the enemies’ home CP therefore making it easier to capture said CP.
Whats really cool is that this sketch below is what I would later learn was graphing theory complete with nodes, edges, and an expression of weight/value to them. Here I was trying to abstract what was too complicated me to understand otherwise: how each the value of each CP according to the distances they were from spawn.
There was a little more to the idea even at this early conception stage, such as CP_C extending a bridge from spawn to the dam, which made travel distance even shorter. Although C could be taken any time, the benefit could only be felt if A+B were already taken, therefore compounding the distance reductions.
CP_D was a similar idea except it was a speed tube [read glorified waterslide] that took you from spawn to the enemy river bed. This reduced the distance even further still, but D was at the bottom floor of the dam and furthermore, tubing was useless unless you had brought down the water level on their end to 0. i.e. you drowned.
I would later learn to tamper with capture speeds of each point, spawn rates, and to a lesser extent, geometry, but more on that later. Now, 1 year into my chosen new career path, I’m happy to look back and see where it all began.