TF2/Basic Map Construction

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Team Fortress 2 levels call for a unique set of map elements, including an intricate system of goal entities that are used to create several different game types. This article attempts to demystify these components, outlining the requirements of each map style.

Common elements

Respawn rooms

Players in TF2 generally respawn in one of their team's designated respawn rooms, somewhat removed from the main combat zones on the map. These areas also serve as a place to heal and re-arm during battle, allow class-switching without a suicide, and are safe havens protected from the enemy team.

If you'd like to build a spawnroom from scratch, see the tutorial TF2/Creating a Spawnroom.

Building a typical respawn room, such as those on ctf_2fort, means putting together a few independent parts:

  1. Most importantly, there is an area that controls the actual player spawning. See respawn areas.
  2. An invisible barrier at the exit, with a big red no-entry sign, blocks the enemy team from entering. See Team-Specific Barriers.
  3. A door that opens only for the friendly team overlaps the barrier, and generally looks a little nicer. See Team-Specific Doors.
  4. One or more supply lockers provide healing and ammo during battle. See resupply areas.

Team-specific doors & barriers

These entities keep members of one team from entering certain areas or moving in certain directions. They are almost always used around respawn areas to keep opponents from spawn camping. They can also be used on attack/defend maps to keep defenders from moving too far forward in certain areas. The grate in the upper left approach on the first segment of cp_dustbowl is an example of this.

They often appear together, overlapping in the same doorway. In this case, the barrier reliably blocks players and grenades, while the Door blocks bullets and rockets.

See the Team-Specific Barriers and Team-Specific Doors articles for more information.

Resupply areas

Resupply areas heal and re-arm players when they approach, and take the form of resupply lockers on all the official maps. They are usually placed in or near respawn areas, but forward or rear defensive resupply areas exist.

See the resupply areas article for more information.

Health & ammo

Health and Ammo pickups are carefully placed on most maps to increase the strategic importance of remote locations, entice players to use less traveled pathways, or provide support for engineers away from resupply areas.

See the Team Fortress 2 Entities Category for more information.

Goal systems

In addition to the common elements, Team Fortress 2 maps have one of a variety of goal systems.

Capture the flag

This is the goal system used in the ubiquitous 2fort map, and is denoted with the map prefix ctf_. One team must pick up the other team's flag and deliver it to their own capture zone. It is the simplest goal system to set up.

A CTF goal system consists of only two item_teamflags and two func_capturezone brush-based entities.

See Flag Based Goal Systems article for more information.

Symmetrical control points

The most straightforward of several Control Point goal systems, this is used on Granary and Well, and is denoted with the map prefix cp_. Teams start on either end of a symmetrical series of Control Points, and must take control of all the Control Points to score.

A Symmetrical Control Point goal system consists of multiple Control Points, each made out of a trigger_capture_area and a team_control_point. A single team_control_point_master determines some of the game logic, including the layout of the control point icons on the HUD.

See Creating a Capture Point article for more information.

Multiple stage control points

This is the goal system used on cp_dustbowl, and is also denoted with the map prefix cp_. This is an Attack/Defend goal system, in which one team defends a series of Control Points while the other team tries to take them. The Multiple Round Goal System tutorial covers this.

Territory control

This a control point goal system that revolves around a larger strategic map, as in tc_hydro. This larger map is broken into sections, each with one control point. During a round, most of the map is closed off, leaving only two control points for the teams to fight over. When a team takes the enemy point, they gain control of the associated section of the map. A new round then starts, with a new pair of control points to fight over. This continues until one team takes the entire strategic map. Territory Control maps are denoted with the prefix tc_.

Payload

This is the other standard Attack/Defend goal system, in which one team has to guide a cart from one end of the map to the other within the allotted time, and the other has to prevent it from reaching its destination. Multiple checkpoints are placed along the way, which add time and prevent the cart from retreating further. Payload maps are denoted with the prefix pl_.

Payload Race

This is a symmetrical version of Payload, in which each team has its own cart to guide to an end point. This takes place in multiple stages; the winner of each round gets bonus distance from the starting point at the beginning of the next one. Payload Race maps are denoted with the prefix plr_.

Arena

This is a straightforward classic deathmatch mode. The map is built around a single neutral control point, which is initially disabled and sometimes behind a barrier, and enabled after a period of time. The goal is to either kill all members of the opposing team, or to capture the control point. As with Sudden Death in other maps, players do not respawn after they die. Arena maps have the prefix arena_.

See Making an Arena Map article for more information.

King of the Hill

This is a control point variant with only one control point, which must be captured and then held for a certain amount of time. Each team has its own timer, which ticks down only when that team is in control of the point and pauses if it is captured by the opposing team. The match ends when one of the timers reaches zero. King of the Hill maps are usually very similar in design to Arena maps and are prefixed with koth_.

Design theory

  • All of these are very basic ways of constructing a map, and most importantly your map should revolve around most of these factors. Namely, the gameplay type is most important while others are side options. Pick your gameplay type, and build off of that, and plan around it.

See also