The Devil of Details
Some of you might have heard about the map-contest that was running the last few months. Well, now that it's over and the evaluations by the judges are complete, I'm happy to publicly release the first beta of Stiglitz.
First of all, I would like to extend my thank you to the judges for organizing this wonderful event. Personally, I learned quite a lot during the last couple of months. Having a fixed schedule, which I needed to follow in order to participate, meant finding a balance between an efficient work style as well as achieving a result of which I could be proud in the end. Even though the last weeks in the contest were stressful to say the least, because I also moved to another country during the time, I'm happy with the outcome. I would also like to extend my congratulations to all other mappers and especially Macchute for making first place.
Once again, a huge thank you to 85 Prøductions for filming the trailer.
Local resistance reported a branch of Deathshead’s X-Labs in a small remote village. Stiglitz, an OSA agent, has been sent to infiltrate the facility and gather intel of Deathshead’s activities. Communication went dead some days ago and Stiglitz is suspected to have been spotted and is soon to be executed. The Allies are trying to make their way through the village, free Stiglitz and escort him back to safety, so he can be debriefed at the OSA headquarters.
This first beta has a slightly different setup compared to its original concept. This is simply due to the limited time frame of the contest, which didn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with the personal spare time of both phisherman and me. The original concept, which is still planned for beta 2, has an unique twist compared to other escort missions. The mission for the Allies is to free Stiglitz and escort him back to safety. The concept however allows Stiglitz to be freely escorted in any direction the escorting player wants. So if one route is blocked by the Axis, then another path can freely be chosen. The Axis on the other hand can also escort Stiglitz and try and hide him from the Allies. Obviously, some restrictions need be be applied to avoid having the Axis hide Stiglitz in their spawn, rendering the Allies helpless. For this concept to work, a special LUA script is necessary, which unfortunately was not possible in the given time.
However, the concept will be realized for beta 2, which unfortunately will still have to wait until next year. As many of you know, so far phisherman was responsible for the scripting part in all my maps. For this beta however, it would have been difficult to coordinate both our personal time and still make the deadline. So, this beta is completely created by myself and phisherman will enter for beta 2, so we can properly implement the intended concept.
For now, Stiglitz is escorted along a pre-defined path as any other escort mission.
Since the concept is still on the table, the map needed to follow a certain layout to accommodate for technical limitations. The biggest of them being that the walking animation of Stiglitz would definitely be flawed when having to overcome differences in height. This made it necessary for the map to more or less be completely flat. Obviously, for this concept to really have an impact on gameplay, the map needed several different available routes. When overdone, this on the other hand, has the possibility of turning the map into Swiss-cheese with no real flow direction. So for the Level-Design there were 3 requirements:
Because the map had to be completely flat, I decided to have the primary setting in a village. There it wouldn't be too obvious that everything is happening on one level. Nevertheless, in my opinion, maps with terrain and landscapes always have a better feeling and atmosphere. That's why the village was planned to be situated in a mountain range, so the terrain is simulating a vertical environment. That way the flatness could be hidden even further. Having different routes was pretty straight-forward, simply include several different streets. To not turn the map into a labyrinth, there needed to be common choke-points, which Stiglitz always has to pass. By having choke-points a certain direction of flow could be ensured, which would make navigation for the player easier.
So the decision ended up with a village in a mountain range that has different sectors divided by a river. To cross from one sector into the other you need to pass the river. By passing the river you need to expose yourself to an open area, which lets the enemy team locate you and especially Stiglitz.
This always follows the same principle with 3 options to choose from. First, a semi-fortified flood-gate, a provisional bridge and lastly a main bridge.
To avoid having players take a shortcut, the different crossings have been closed off from each other. One with a floodgate, the other with a toxic waste dump by Deathshead's X-Labs, as seen in the image above.
As mentioned, the map consists of 4 different sectors. To help with differentiating them, each sector has received an individual purpose and title as you can see in the following screenshot from 85 Prøductions's trailer.
The Allied team starts in the Nature and the Axis team in the Noble sector. Both the Industry and the Church sector have a neutral flag. This results in a stronger need of team coordination, because after all, you don't want the enemy sneaking behind you and capturing the spawn behind you, putting you in-between the fronts, do you?
On the central bridge connecting Industry and Church, there is the secondary map objective, a Command Post. However, aside from the usual CP benefits, this one has another small twist to it.
Only the team holding the CP is seeing Stiglitz' location on the command map.
Now, for this beta, this is rather a secondary feature, because Stiglitz is following a specified path. However, if you imagine the enemy being able to run around anywhere with Stiglitz and hiding him in the weirdest places, it is basically a crucial map objective to hold the CP to have that extra bit of information over the enemy.
---- VIS blocking ----
The flat layout of the map allowed for quite an interesting approach to VIS blocking. Because the player would only be on street level, it was possible to let the map play in one giant open space. This makes it easier for the both specators and possibly even shout-casters. All houses have structural brushes inside them, as you can see on this screenshot.
The street level is cutting the world on the ground and on top of the structural building blocks 2 giant HINT brushes cut the world again, sealing off the playable area. Aside from that along the main roads and the rivers there are also vertical HINT brushes cutting the world along the sectors. Below you can find an example screenshot of the Nature sector, looking towards the central river. You can notice the HINT brush cutting perfectly along the structural blocks which makes it impossible for the engine to see too far into the Nature sector.
In this short video you can see the 2 horizontal HINT brushes at work. Generally, all structural brushes close off with the upper HINT, but some of the houses, especially hallways, aren't as tall.
The general idea behind the VIS blocking in this map can be seen in the images below.
---- Infinity Blend ----
In this map I tried a (for me) new technique, which blends the world with 'infinity' or rather 'transparency'.
This is achieved by simply blending with a texture that only has 100% alpha channel. For its shader and setup, please check the .map source files.
The source files are included. I kindly ask, that you contact me before creating any maps based on Stiglitz_b1. Once beta2 is released this map will act as some sort of tutorial map with an extensively documented script and if possible a tutorial video series.
By doing so, we hope that we can spark a new genre of objective maps to bring some fresh wind to ET.
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