I figured out what gave me long compile times and buggy shadows. Do not use light_directional. I had it in from some of my old maps, back when the SDK just released. I thought it was still needed, but it seems sometime ago, Valve did some changes and that entity is no longer needed. Now my compile time was of about 6 hours and 30 mins. Now I can compile in a day and do work based on the map. Great!
The map will release this week! Or so I hope, unless something makes me push it a bit further away. The deadline for the operation is July 20th. I am leaving for holidays on July 16th. So if I have to do any changes those must be made by July 15th. I have to make sure the map is at a stable and good release. That's why I release early, so I can see if anything needs to be fixed, so I can rest and relax during holidays knowing the map can handle the players. I can do tweaks when I come back though.
Next, I will go through the layout changes to the map based on the play test from week 23 and the information from week 24. I started these back on week 24, but I felt it was better to show them all together here. Overall, nerf to terrorist, and boosted defenses for CTs at Gift shop and Bombsite B.
Finally I will do the usual closure of the map. What I expect to do this week and what is yet to be done. As always, I will show you the top view at the end of this week.
I raised up a huge wall. It's height is the same as the gift shop. This wall allowed me to completely eliminate the need for the engine to draw props that are behind that can't be seen. This means the whole map is essentially divided in half, and when looking from one end of the map to the other, only what is needed gets drawn. I thought because it's tall, the part that can be more easily be seen from the guests area, should have the proper theme. While on the back, where the HVAC machines are you can see that it's just a normal brick wall. I also decided to cover the walls from bombsite B on the cliff texture, so there is not just one big brick building all of a sudden. I like the change, it provides a functional element, while keeping the theme very close.
In the end, I went from 37138 triangles down to 27630 triangles. That's a total of 9508 triangles saved! A decrease of 25.6%! Very significant!
Notice on the pictures, how the roller coaster tracks look fine from the playable area (The gap in the terrain is the playable area on the skybox), but when I go behind them, then they look ore ghostly and with many faces missing. I thought that it might be possible to position my camera in 3DS Max from a playable boundary (a position where the player is the diagram above) and have a max script to select all the faces that I can see without any back-face cull, then invert the selection and delete the faces. However, I figured that I would probably spend out more time doing the script than just going by hand and remove the faces manually. It could still be a cool and useful project, I think. Maybe later I will tackle that.
I also fixed a spelling mistake on the gate. It used to read "Pharoh", I can't believe I missed that for so long!
I also reduce the poly-count of the bottles on the shelves, as well as removing a exploit where you could see ts and shoot them through it. Now You can shoot through it, and you might be able to see a tiny bit, but your body should be visible to those pushing into gift.
I also removed many plushies, so there are less props there. The plushies on the counter also got moved out of the way, so misidentifying them for enemies is now more difficult.
Main Gift Hall
I also reduce the bomb plant area to only the metal area of the train station. While watching replays I found that pretty much everyone plants the bomb on the grating. I think I subconsciously highlighted that area as the bomb site, due to the hazard strip. I talked with some guys, and they confirmed this. They thought that you could only plant on the metal area, highlighted by the hazard strip. After telling them they could in fact plant a bit more outside, they said it's irrelevant. AS you'd want to hug the roller coaster car box (The cover) while planting. Thus I made everything more consistent. The new radar image will reflect this change also.
And finally, I removed the corner from front line queue. It was too many corners to check when taking over the site from tomb. You already were pushed very hard as that entry could be smoked or put on fire. This change should boost Ts while taking the site, while also CTs while trying to defuse.
Imagine a player named John over at Tomb watching Night Stairs. He only focuses on that angle. One teammate has control of Fastpass, Another watching lockers at B and another at B connector watching adwall. Finally the last one watching middle. Suddenly, they guy at gift shop dies. Terrorists can now take over of gift shop and use elbow to break into Tomb. John has to decide what to look at now. Will John stay guarding night stairs or switch over to elbow? Maybe he alternates. John doesn't have the cover from the top of Tomb. He has to make a decision. It's small changes like this that add a mind game element to the game. It also highlights the importance of gift shop, as it can break all of a sudden the defense of the CTs. I look forward to how the strategies will evolve over time.
The scaffold at B connector is boostable. It requires a player to get up there, and won't provide much help at all. Maybe a surprise element, so I don't expect players to use it too much. It's an occasional spot. It also leaves your second teammate at a disadvantage as to get you up there, he had to leave out his position. I could be wrong, and if I see that it's too advantageous for one side, I might take it away in a later patch.
Another change was the texture of the gates. I changed them to a texture from de_nuke. It's light grey, so enemies pop up much more against it. I replaced all instance of the old gate texture. So now for example, when you are on Bombsite B and look towards the forklift, it creates a better silhouette.
Lockers and Supplies
I originally intended for a CT to guard down trash all the way to Dig site. My thought was that those at Dig would push out carefully as the CT could take them out one by one. However, the head-peak was a problem ,where Ts could fight back quite easily, so the CT at trash was not too scary for Ts. And also, the CTs must put someone at trash every single round. Pushing into supplies was not a viable option. If CTs did not have someone at trash they were at a disadvantage. This means that Terrorist know how CTs are playing every round, which grants them a huge advantage.
I also added a box to the generator at the truck on supplies. Now that generator was being installed before the terrorist tried their scheme. I like this change. It provides a visual backstory to the map, but it also has some huge benefits gameplay wise. First players will not try to climb over the truck anymore. It's much more even, without any clues that can be climbed. Second, it is easier to bounce of grenades from the truck, as it's an even surface. Third, if a CT is holding behind the truck, that corner, he won't have a clue of when the terrorist are pushing. He can't see their steps or shadows because of the sun angle or the plank lying next to the truck. He can't climb above and peak over the generator model. It's even for both teams. The terrorist can flash over the truck, can smoke out that position or throw a molotov over at that position. There are ways to counter it, and the CTs have more options.
I really think this will even out the playing field for both teams.
For this week, I will get the map ready for a full release. I will post a new workshop submission, so it gets fresh comments, ratings and exposure. It's scary, I wonder how it will be received. This map has been a ton of work, full time, from 9 to 6. I hope it will be fun to play and that the community will enjoy it. I would love to be able to join in some matches in the future and just enjoy the map and play with everyone.
I have to take screenshots of the map for the workshop. Decide which ones are pretty. Update the text, update my site with the new images. Tweak out the radar image. Make sure soundscapes are good. Compile the cubemaps. Make sure the map was packed properly. Make sure the map uploaded is not broken. Then I can finally upload it to the workshop.
Once the new submission is up, it will be time to spread the word. I will also make the old workshop version private. Finally, I want to compile a video of the changes the map went through. Maybe I could do a voice commentary, could be fun and interesting. I kept all the map versions, as well as the top images at the end of each blog post. No idea when that will happen, as my trip is just in 2 weeks. No idea also when I will finish this blog, we'll see what the future holds and how everything progresses.
For now, the top view at the end of week 25!