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TF2 Environments

August 1, 2008 - Jakob Jungels

One of the things we're looking at for the next update is the creation of a new type of environment for our levels to be built in. We're pretty happy with the way our environments have turned out so far, but as we create more and more maps with these achievement packs, we want our level designers to have more to work with in terms of giving their settings a unique look.

The challenging part of this type of design process is in finding types of terrain and structures that provide an understandable, interesting set of visuals and at the same time staying within the constraints of what we want to do with gameplay. In addition to this, we want to be able to stay within the strengths of the engine that TF is built around.


In coming up with these ideas, we have a set of questions we ask about each one, for example:

  • What are the costs in building this compared to the value it creates for the end user?
  • What are the obvious types of new gameplay that we can create with this theme?
  • Is this environment flexible enough that we can leverage it for our other gameplay types?
  • Is this environment flexible enough to be usable for ideas we may come up with in future updates?
  • Is this type of thing recognizable to a larger set of people?
  • Has it been used successfully anywhere else? Has it been used too often?
  • Does it create a unique experience that people will be drawn to?
  • Can we leverage existing art assets to help build the new environment?
Having come up with a set of criteria, the next stage of the process is to brainstorm as many possibilities as we can, building a list that we can chip away at over time. In doing so, we come up with a smaller set of possibilities, some which we may build right away and some which we reserve for a later time.

We find that creating a set of questions like the above actually makes the design process quicker and easier for us - immediately highlighting which ideas simply will not work with the goals we have in mind. Hopefully these examples will help you in taking a look at your own ideas for what types of environments you'd like to see TF take place in.