ROBYN STOTTER

Level Designer / Environment Artist

CP SULFUR

Project Description

Sulfur was the second Japanese-themed map I created, intending to be a bigger and better example of the theme in TF2 and everything that I wasn't able to include in suijin. It was an entry into the TF2Maps.net Dynamic Control Point contest, placing First.
Sulfur features numerous areas centered around a Japanese Bathhouse hiding a modern spytech facility. It features a custom gamemode developed exclusivly for this map, modelled on attack/defense CP but blended with a king of the hill control point, offering attacking players multiple choices in how to approach winning the map and encouraging the defending team to tactically adapt to the changing scenario.

Challenges

Sulfur set out to solve many of the problems that players, and myself, had with the CP Steel gametype. Steel is a unique map in Team Fortress 2 where the central control point is always enabled for the attacking team to capture, with multiple secondary points that change the layout of the map to make the central control point easier to attack. The primary challenge I wanted to overcome is that the nature of the "Steel" gametype is the multiple points around a center can lead to very confusing routes presented to the player - each point needs to be accessable at the right time, and without a good sense of a space a player can easily get lost. I overcame this by building the map around the central bathouse and deliberately designed the areas so that it was visible from every point of the map. This acts as a marker for the players to keep them oriented.
In addition, I designed each control point and it's surrounding area to be visually distinct, with a different colour pallete and visual style from each of the others - this helps the player orient themselves further by making sure they are never confused as to which point they are in.

Another issue I personally had with the Steel gametype was how, while the points are presented to give the players a choice in strategy, almost all games came down to the attacking team capturing all but the last point and then attacking the final central point. While this is entertaining for the player, it doesn't offer the attacking team much agency in when to attack the point, as before capturing the first three points, it is far too hard to realistically attack.
Sulfur solves this by allowing the final point to be easily accessed at all times, but making it so if the attacking team captures it, rather than winning, it reduces the time they have to hold it in the final push. This makes the gamemode always a push and pull between attackers and defenders, with both of them always gaining ground, reducing stalemates and giving more player agency.