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Raptor29aa

Project MoutainTop Skirmish

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Hey Guys, this is my second attempt at making a map for A Path Beyond. My first attempt ended sadly when my first computer (JC9000) bit the bucket, that computer ran faithfully from 2002 till a few years ago, oh well. I am getting back on the bike and trying again. This time with a more power computer, and many many back up saves.

So like all good maps, I needed some concept art.

Concept%20Art.jpg

Anyways, then after drawing inspiration hit me! Allies and Soviets fighting over a gem site.

RAmountainTop_rough1.jpg

Its a start, but then I realized this map would be a worse sniper disaster since the least liked map of all time of APB Camos Crossing (not made by Raap by the way) Lastly Camos Crossing was so bad it never made it past version .9935

RAmountainTop_rough2.jpg

So then I thought... add more space, more rocks, some platforms and this could be doable. Yet I felt the straight line fighting might get boring/tawdry. So back to formula on ways to avoid this.

RAmountainTop_rough4.jpg

Then Inspiration hit me... why not bend it into a Y-shape. Keep one bridge, and add some lower elevation/ledge spots. Then to prevent more sniper abuse add rocks and a cave.

RAmountainTop_rough3.jpg

This^ is a more cleaned up version. I figure I should add a cave, and sniper towers, and crates, and have one of the lower ledges a lot lower with a cave entrance. The lime green is the "kill zone" / falling to death area. Anything outside the lime green could be flat trees or just more grass not sure.

The above is all I have at the moment to show. I will soon fire up 3ds max 8 again and make this map. But before I do, any thoughts or input into the design? Lastly this will be an on going development so don't expect anything before Christmas.

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1 hour ago, Raptor29aa said:

Camos Crossing was so bad it never made it past version .9935

That would be 1.2.0 Beta sir :v And FYI I liked this map. Call me strange, it wouldn't be the first time.

Interesting map concept. It does remind me of Camos Canyon and Hourglass though.... Meh, only so many shapes that can exist right? ?

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I don't really think we can have any more infantry-only maps than we already do. Had a big server clearout yesterday because 2 infantry maps got played in a row. The more infantry maps we have, the more likely that becomes. So don't expect this to be a permanent rotation map. Even with vehicles, don't think people will appreciate having any more "only 1 vehicle route" maps either. Looks like something like this would be a challenge to bring up to Delta's aesthetic standards while also having a playable framerate, when it comes to the out-of-bounds area. :/

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1 hour ago, Pushwall said:

Looks like something like this would be a challenge to bring up to Delta's aesthetic standards while also having a playable framerate, when it comes to the out-of-bounds area. ?

I am curious about the frame rate issues. I could axe the trees and make it all snow.  I am not sure what the issue would be, my guess maybe the endless expanse all around off the mountain area? I was thinking that if the problem is looking into nothingness, I could put the map in a “sky” box. Could you elaborate?

Secondly My understanding of infantry only maps are that the maps are repeatitive because they are tiny, but I do see that there is one large infantry only map with vehicles and yes wasteland doesn’t get many glowing reviews. I might have to try something different before I reinvent the wheel with this map, but not until I hear about the engine issues

Edited by Raptor29aa

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12 hours ago, Raptor29aa said:

Camos Crossing (not made by Raap by the way)

WHY YOU SO RUDE MATE nobody deserves "credit" for that map, NOBODY. It made itself.

... as for your map, I mostly have to echo Pushwall's sentiments. 

You should expand the bases with at the very least a War Factory, and then add a second attack lane through the caves (single lane doesn't work with the current playerbase, see Siege).

But the main issue comes from your backdrop design. Forests or trees are very taxing, and while you could do it, it would need to be set up in a way that players cannot reach it, so you can fake a forest with a lot of manual LoD reductions with each tree line.

I would certainly only do that for just one side of the map while covering the rest in different ways, such as a snowy mountain.

 

Edit: Big backdrops work! I'm not saying they cannot work, Dread Plateau even shows you how you can make a 360 backdrop work. Problem is the trees! And only the trees.

Edited by Raap

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My biggest concern about vehicles would be about players getting rammed off the edge of the moutain. I could place blockers, but that would seem artificial. Also the design might not work with V2’s and artillery (I might have to go with a radar dome instead of a War Factory).

I might have to come up with a new design for a map. And I have another idea for a map, but It’s not ready yet as a design so I will just have to let it cook. 

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So I can't really help you much beyond this point, but here is an idea for you as this is what I personally do. Instead of designing a level game flow on paper as your first step, design a setting first, a theme and associated aesthetics. It could be a simple unplayable scene, but it can end up giving you a lot of ideas based on how you mess with a simple environment.

It's how my last three notable levels evolved. Siege was just a castle initially as I toyed with the idea of how a man-made structure could be a level's centerpiece where the specific requirement was a large open outdoor space for airplanes. Hostile Water's icebergs started as just a test to get neat looking ice effects in W3D, none of the gameplay got added until after that. And my current project was literally born from taking an environment into the W3D engine, even now some of the gameplay components are not set in stone.

You could say, Raap, maybe this is why u maps iz bad, but I return to you; My bad mapz are certainly quite unique in many good ways as well.

It might not work for you but, you know, maybe it does!

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@Raap, you maps aren't bad visually, they just get complicated when it comes to game play, and that is ok. It's one thing to make art, its another to live in it. But I do get where you are coming from, you want something pleasing to the eye not just planned out. I take it as a difference of personality. Its possibly why it is hard for me to design a map, I plan 30x before even starting. I even made an alternate design for this map and decided to call it gem madness. (That and I think you are saying maybe I should create a level before posting the idea)

Anyways my final rought draft is below. I went full camos canyon on this sucker. 4 Neutral Gem silos (2 underground), everything expensive because no war factory, and threw in a refinery -because of the ore truck you can buy at the radar dome. But no there will be no starting ore truck. 

RAmountainTop_rough5.jpg

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On 8/16/2018 at 12:18 AM, Pushwall said:

I don't really think we can have any more infantry-only maps than we already do. Had a big server clearout yesterday because 2 infantry maps got played in a row. The more infantry maps we have, the more likely that becomes.

I don't get what some people's problem is with infantry-only and nonstandard-gameplay maps. Personally I find only ever playing one game-mode to be very repetitive and draining, and it's nice to mix it up with other gameplay styles where you're not just constantly trying to destroy the enemy base again and again.

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Honestly, I think it may have been a case of a few bad experiences poisoning the well (Hostile Waters Advanced naval buildings being nearly unkillable after the first few minutes, along with it taking FOREVER to get from one base to the other, Siege's grindy nature combined with huge bases that result in it rarely ending in base destruction.) Though I may be wrong, as getting feedback beyond "it sucks" from most people who play seems to be like pulling teeth, judging by the difficulty of getting it for HW/Siege and shotguns.

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Well, part of it is that people are scared of giving things a second try, including the folks who set up the map rotation. Despite my best input and attempts to solve problems as they got brought up with actual feedback, the feedback slowed down a lot more when these maps got pulled out of rotation after just one time where they emptied a server (see level play history and check the dates).

It's a bit of knee jerk empowered by a lingering stigma. 

I bet a 100 euros more than half of the current weekly population hasn't even tried HW in a live environment since the last revamp, what, 6 months ago? Mainly because it was pulled out for a majority of that time, or came up in rotation very late so following a crash or reboot of the server the maps rarely got a chance to play to begin with.

Yeap, I sound a bit salty, this is because I am somewhat entitled to some saltiness, given that ultimately my only released Delta contributions did not get received well by the most vocal players and mostly without giving any god damn reasoning. So, fair warning @Raptor29aa, prepare to get your arse torn apart if you somehow fail to deliver on expectations! No pressure!

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4 minutes ago, Raap said:

Well, part of it is that people are scared of giving things a second try, including the folks who set up the map rotation

HW has had enough tries in the rotation that I don't think you can call a potential future one "second" anymore.

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6 hours ago, Ice said:

I don't get what some people's problem is with infantry-only and nonstandard-gameplay maps. Personally I find only ever playing one game-mode to be very repetitive and draining, and it's nice to mix it up with other gameplay styles where you're not just constantly trying to destroy the enemy base again and again.

I think the problem is more infantry only maps have been added, or made more complex then they needed to be.

I see people complaining about maps like FoI and Fissure, but those maps never got players to 'empty the server' back in the day. They were fun and quick games with only 1-2 paths to take. It was also a great way to help players get better at infantry fights. Classic Fissure was 80% about taking the middle of the map, while a few lucky players might sneak to the side path and wipe half a team not paying attention to the radar. Classic FoI was about the same, but the fog and not knowing what you'll find made the map great. The ghost soldier were added later on, and while pretty neat at the time, were slightly annoying (I actually remember testing the map before release, and they could actually deal damage :v).

The Ant map is pretty cool also, but I'd honestly like to see them on a map with bases. Possibly as a harassment that attacks both bases randomly. The current infantry only map just doesn't rub me right. I don't really enjoy maps where you can get spawn camped, and has so much cover that most times it's impossible to actually hit people. Just my opinion, of course.

Geez, we really do enjoy hijacking topics and talking about anything that comes to mind :sweatdrop:

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12 hours ago, Pushwall said:

HW has had enough tries in the rotation that I don't think you can call a potential future one "second" anymore.

Please check the match dates, often days went by before it was logged, same with Siege. Following the last round of changes the map barely got played, despite all of said changes having been based on the few bits of feedback I actually received (and despite me bringing those maps to Delta based on requests rather than my own desires).

I get that the few times that it did come up, people did not like it, but since the last revamp the quantity of players to say so has been low given that it ran very rarely. I respected your decision to axe something that wasn't working for the vocal speakers here, but that doesn't mean I personally agree with the rationale behind it - or rather the lack of it since people are really awful at explaining WHY they do not like something, forcing me to make broad assumptions like "people do not enjoy core gameplay deviation".

Anyhow, in short, it is very tricky to create content for such an audience, so I am following this topic closely as it develops. I'd like to see how a level, in which players had the opportunity to speak their mind very early in development, ends up when it is actually being played. :)

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I have an Idea of what I can do. I can create a template aka heightmap (obviously not including bridge or objects or cave) and then I can use that to make an infantry version or a vehicle version. (And this just hit me... I can revisit my old project because I think I uploaded the heightmap, but that I would be for a different time)

As for Core Gameplay deviation, I will test and submit for testing any finished product.

Lastly I learned an interesting technique from youtube to make a level aesthetically pleasing, its called a speed run. I would move through the level at the fastest ground speed... aka infantry sprint... to see if map distances/travel time seem fair, do the items seem spaced in an appealing matter, and does it look right when I pass by things. (Speed and appearance is a topic for another thread, but I feel it is often overlooked, especially since infantry sprinting cut travel time almost in half. Most of the large sized maps where more favorable and even improved by the shorter travel time and better infantry field play dynamic... but the small maps seemed to fall out of favor and interest. Size does play an important role to the feel of a map).

Edit: Already firing up in 3ds max 8

Edited by Raptor29aa

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Linear pacing works well in games in which players are expected to interact with the environment on a predetermined path. 

APB does not always work like this and it really comes down to your level gameplay flow. I often refer to "attack lanes" when speaking of maps that very clearly have them, such as Coastal Influence, but a majority of APB levels are often not just "a set of lanes", and instead they are mostly one open map with a bunch of zig-zagging passable terrain, and the bigger that these maps are, the more complicated they become to work on (in many ways).

So, say your design settles on using two predetermined attack lanes that may or may not intersect in select areas, doing so you can already calculate the amount of space you have to fill... But how? By making priorities. 

Lets say you have a tunnel, or a cave, whatever. You know that this tunnel is traversed from two directions only, no one comes digging through a wall into the tunnel right? So where can you maximize your time and performance-demanding aesthetics? Here be paint skills:

howtofill.thumb.png.2b3b35867c4883acdb45070b80386a1e.png

Any surface that can come in direct view of a player should have your primary attention, and then from those points you gradually lower the detail, sort of like manually LoD-ifying your terrain. It does not just serve for performance or development time however, by making not every area 100% equally detailed, you help highlight areas that are intended to look nice, while also breaking up the pace in the scenery. No two hills look identical, after all.

Edited by Raap

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I had a few hours today to get this thing started. Real Life has been crazy lately, sales are up 15% and I am dealing with occasional shortages and grumpy customers (not the worst problem to have since customers complain about anything). while all this is keeping me busy, the extra money in overtime helps pay for the wedding 12 months from now (planning a wedding is one third logistics, one third comforting the bride, and one third dealing with in-laws). Anyways besides that and my Grandma very recently went to the hospital emergency room... yep, time has flown by since my last post (my grandma is not too far from 100 so health issues aren't unexpected, but it still sucks. I always figured my grandpa would be the on in the emergency room since... well... he is a medical mystery. He has no teeth from very bad diabeties, heart issues, dementia, and pushing 100 as well... somehow he seems to be fairly healthy and strong). APB and ECW have been a temporary escape for me recently, a good stress relief.

Anyways here's what I got...

RAcliff1.jpg

P.S. I don't know why I am feeling so autobiographic. If you didn't like it... whatever deal with it... if you did like it... I have one more.

When I was 10 I remember hearing my great grandmother died from complications of a broken hip, because she slipped on her front porch after she finished shoveling the three feet of snow off of her driveway. She was 96 and I remember my mom saying that my great grandma was so stubborn that death wouldn't dare take her. (she wouldn't let anyone touch her driveway or clean her home)

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Just a small suggestion, lay out your basic shapes with a much less dense vertex count. Going epic highy polycount for shaping the basics will only make it harder.

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Working on these things can indeed be a great escape as you are mentally quite involved in the work! Sometimes too much and you forget to do silly things, like eating and sleeping.

But as Moonsense said, you are going to make it extremely hard on yourself if you use a mesh such as what you created as your baseline.

I suggest an alternative approach;

  1. Create a plane mesh that represents the total scale of your level, including backdrop space.
  2. Place your base building proxies in the spot where you want those to exist (not exactly, just in the area based on your on-paper design). Optional: If you have a concept art, place it in the viewport background and place your building proxy meshes based on the design location using top-down viewport mode.
  3. Based on the length and width of your level and plane mesh, increase the plane mesh polygon count. At this stage, a good measure is about 1 polygon per 10 meters. So if a plane mesh has a 600m width, 60 polygons wide is a good starting point.
  4. If your level uses additional key props, place a temporarily object that represents those in the scene, to help you maintain your sense of scale.
  5. Convert your plane mesh to editable poly. Editable mesh is not ideal for terrain tasks as the tool set differs. Further more if you are using 3DS Max8, the Polyboost plugin only works with editable poly mode.
  6. Based on your design, expand editable poly on the right side menu and use polygon selection, then select all polygons that represent low hills or mountains, then use the extrude tool to raise these by 10m. Next, while keeping the polygons selected in polygon selection mode, switch to edge selection mode and select the outer edges of this new elevated platform, one side at the time (north, east, south, west), and move these edges inward by approx 3m. This is important to avoid 90 degree cliffs later on.
  7. Return to the polygon selection mode, un-select the polygons that are already representing your intended lower hills, and now only select the polygons intended for your higher hills. Repeat the prior steps for this next elevation and for any additional elevators you require. Likewise, if you need a lake, do reverse extrude but just use more angled edges.
  8. Your level will be very flat at this stage and we do not like that. So now, go to vertex selection mode (the blue dots), and on the right side menu expand soft selection, enable it, and set the selection range to approx 40m (this can differ per level, you will need to experiment with what looks best for yours). In the viewport, rotate your view to 45 degrees on your plane mesh, so that you can see the rows of vertices line up. Then, selecting entire rows at once (one row at a time), apply a gentle wave effect in your entire level, the amount can varry based on your level location. Rolling grasslands can be quite uneven, where as urban levels are mostly flat.
  9. At this point you will have a very rough shape of a map consisting of what looks like a bunch of boxes with some ramp-like surfaces on sides and some basic un-flattening waves, with key assets like buildings in the area you want them to eventually be. Before proceeding, we need to clean up a little. On the outward edges on your initial plane mesh, you will see polygons where you extruded up or down, facing away from the level. Find and select all of these for removal as these will only complicate the mesh work there and add unwanted polygons. It is important that you save this level and make a backup at this very specific stage as in the next few steps we will be altering this mesh dramatically with a few simple actions, and it is possible that those actions result in a mesh you do not like (for example, ramps could turn out not the way you envisioned), and having a backup means you can always go back to this point and make edits to the rough mesh shape to make the following steps apply differently to them.
  10. Next, select all polygons that will represent your cliffs, with the exception of the polygons that touch the mesh outer border, and on the right side menu, look for the Mesh Smooth button (also shortened to M.Smooth on some resolutions). This will make your cliffs or hills smooth by adding additional polygons to your selection. It is important that you do not select your entire level and apply this to your entire level, doing so would add polygons in places where there is no need for it. Effectively what you're doing here is manually LoD-ing your terrain mesh by adding detail where it is needed and seen, and nowhere else.
  11. Repeat the mesh smoothing in all areas you previously extruded. Note that with some experience you can use these steps to help mesh out things like roads as well. This is why you made that backup, you can always revisit your layout in a re-do, since updating your level layout is much easier when dealing with just 1 polygon per 10 meters, as opposed to 10 polygons per 10 meters.
  12. Assuming that at this point you are satisfied with your overal terrain mesh shape, and knowing that this is the geometry (untextured) people will walk around on in-game, save and proceed to the next parts.
  13. Now comes the part where we divide your terrain mesh into various segments based on a logical set of choices for alpha blending. Alpha blending and texturing in W3D is done using the Max8 W3D material plugin, but for this quick guide I am going to assume you know how to do this. I will note however that you should always aim to set up your material editor list in a clean and logical way, with a good naming convention and logical flow, unless you like to stab yourself a lot while working with this moving forward. For example, if your Main_Grass material is your primary grassy field material, consider what will surround this specific material - yes, a transitional material that goes from grass, to not-so-grassy-terrain like rough ground, so your second material will be Main_Grass_Transition. What comes after that? Whatever connects to that transition on the other side, so your Not-So-Grassy-Terrain_Transition is next, which leads up to yet another material that could be your Main_Cliffs, and then those cliffs have a top surface, so you will want a Main_Cliffs_Transition next where that funnels into a different type of uplands grassy material... and so on, and so on. This is how you create very diverse terrain in a very work-friendly way.
  14. Having cut up your mesh in logic based on my above example, you will end up with something looking like this; wires.thumb.png.68ecc3a6c1aaa74d583bf711fa39d66f.png
  15. Next, assuming you applied your materials to the appropriate meshes, select the borders of your meshes. A quick way of doing this is using the border selection mode, select your mesh border, and then holding left Ctrl and switching to vertex selection mode, this will then select all your border vertices, and allows you to quickly change the RGB value of your selection to black for alpha blending to work. If having trouble seeing your results, select all terrain meshes, right click in viewport, go to object properties and enable "vertex channel display" near the bottom-left.
  16. Fast-forward, and you will have your mesh textured. I have skipped how to actually do material texturing with alpha blending efficiently because that in itself is a long topic as well, but at least this is a good way to begin creating levels with, and you got to start somewhere! :)

Edit: If curious the above example image when textured ended up looking like this;

 endresultmesh.thumb.png.aa2342ee9d33619afe6e1ee37e42e56d.png

Unfortunately and as is the nature of development, the level was not used due to the design it was based on being... not fun to play. So take this as a bonus lesson, make sure your design is sound before committing time into bringing it to life!

 

Also note I am on Discord a lot, feel free to poke me with questions, we can grab a voice channel and talk about whatever you need to know!

Edited by Raap

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Thank you moonsense715 and Raap. Also Raap, I feel you are talking about five levels above my current skill set, but I am a quick learn. Considering All the tips and tricks I have been picking up. Lastly I too have a few "never to see the light of day" meshes... like RA_mordor (a flat plane with ton of cones and hills... a nightmare to drive a tank across, lol)

(Also my Grandma has made a good recovery and hopefully will leave the hospital)

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On 9/10/2018 at 4:49 AM, Raptor29aa said:

Thank you moonsense715 and Raap. Also Raap, I feel you are talking about five levels above my current skill set, but I am a quick learn. Considering All the tips and tricks I have been picking up. Lastly I too have a few "never to see the light of day" meshes... like RA_mordor (a flat plane with ton of cones and hills... a nightmare to drive a tank across, lol)

(Also my Grandma has made a good recovery and hopefully will leave the hospital)

Over the years of on-and-off working on W3D art (which is also the bulk of my 3D work since on other projects I mostly did other tasks), I learned something shockingly simple; The primary limiting factor in what you can create, is merely your own imagination.

Step back a moment and consider what it means to acknowledge that whatever you create is defined purely by you. For starters, you can drop the notion that you are to follow arbitrary limitations imposed upon you by the engine you are working with or some vague design restrictions. Once you focus purely on what you can create, you will easily change your way of thinking away from seeing limitations as "not allowed" impassable barriers, but towards simply challenges to overcome.

So my advice to you now, is to get an idea in your head, ignore everything else that concerns you in regards to pulling it off. Just start working on it. As your mastery of the tools improves so will your results. And when you have a segment of your idea that you are not sure how to handle, just google it using terminology you think is appropriate, you'd be surprised by what you can find out there. And every time you learn a new method, that is knowledge gained which makes repeating that process easy in the future.

I know I am sounding very cliché here! Some of you probably read this while rolling yours eyes in real life thinking "Sure Raap, whatever!", but believe me sometimes cliché's exist for a reason, there is often some truth to them. So stop being worried about what you cannot do, and start learning how to bring your ideas to life, one step at a time.

On a personal note, I did not learn everything I know from trying myself or looking at W3D projects. Even when I wasn't actively modelling anything for years I was still "learning" how to do things by always looking at what other people (other games) created. 

Edited by Raap

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