Fixing A Hole

Thanks to Zaqueo!
Thanks to Zaqueo!

It’s no secret that some of the senior staff here at SPUF really like Special Delivery and the only map that supports it, Doomsday. However, one common thing that many people I talk to about Doomsday tell me is that the entire map is a horrendously mapped, broken pile of garbage. And they’re absolutely right. As aabicus put it when I spoke with him several nights ago, “It’s like Valve forgets about the Sticky Jumper when they make maps.” The opposite seems to be true as well, in that the folks at Valve forget about maps when they made the Sticky Jumper. Doomsday is not the only map to be horribly broken by the Sticky Jumper.

So what about Doomsday is broken? Well, friends, it’d be a shorter list if I told you what wasn’t. Unfortunately, “It’s neat that you have to ride an elevator to the top of the rocket” isn’t enough material to substantiate an article on this site.

For starters, the map moves either incredibly fast, or is stuck in a stalemate (a feeling no doubt familiar to those of you who love Capture the Flag). That is to say, one team brutally overpowers the other, locks down the other team’s spawn, and ascends to glory. If that doesn’t happen, then both sides incessantly clash in the center staging area, while the poor shmuck with the Australium is murdered repeatedly by mini-sentries and caberpicks. As another friend of mine put it “Games on Doomsday end in minutes, or hours.”

Secondly, and this is a pretty big issue for those of you balance-y folks, there’s too many health and ammo kits. Thanks to the folks at the TF2 Wiki, I don’t need to count them myself. But as I did it anyway, I noticed that there are just too many! Notice how there are three large health kits. That’s more than twice the number of total health kits of maps twice the size of Doomsday. Notice how two of them are within a stickyjump’s distance, and two can be immediately accessed from the Rocket-side spawn exits. A medium-sized healthkit is located a rocket jump or two from the first large kit. Just a few feet away from that are a large ammo kit, and two small health bottles.

The lowdown on Doomsday's Health and Ammo distribution.
The dirty lowdown on Doomsday’s Health and Ammo distribution.

This leads into the third point, which also ties into the first. It’s far too easy for a team to control this map. Futhermore, the teams spawn in the low ground, and the entire map is high ground. For argument’s sake, let’s say that an average RED team on Doomsday consists of one of every class. The Scout will undoubtably have the Australium, and will be on the lift. The Soldier and the Demoman, as well as the Sniper, are camped out above the rocket on the elevated platforms. A Pyro roams the lift area, airblasting any attempts by the other team to escape the horrible position that each team spawns in. A Heavy and Medic accompany the Scout, sure to pick up the intel should the Scout die. An Engineer, mini-sentry placed under the ramp or just outside BLU’s spawn door, builds a dispenser on the upper platforms to resupply the Demo, Solly, and Sniper. Finally, a Spy sneaks about BLU’s battlements, ensuring that no Snipers try to take down his teammates on the lift. With all these pieces in place, rockets and pipebombs raining down from the heavens, mini-sentries around every corner, BLU team’s defeat is ensured. In the time it would take a BLU Medic to build an Über, RED has already won. The fact that any team looking to assault an enemy that controls the lift must overcome the high ground, fight up the ramp, kill the Australium holder, and then wait for the briefcase to respawn at the drop site in order to have a chance at victory should ring foul. Thus is the problem with many neutral-objective games.

Fourth, we have the problem of the Sticky Jumper. Demomen have an unfair advantage of mobility on this map. What sets Doomsday apart from the other maps I listed above are that it takes place almost exclusively outside. The map is sectioned into only two parts with walls Demos can’t jump over, and, since you can’t carry the intel briefcase while using the the Sticky Jumper, you probably won’t be going into the drop zone area much anyway. In the main section of the map, as our friend aabicus demonstrated in the article I linked above, a Demoman with the Sticky Jumper can reach the other team’s spawn just seconds after a round begins. I’ve recently tried reversing the rollout, and have had the same effect. Jumping from the battlements to the large health kits in each pit (the areas where the spawns labelled “Rocket” lead) can put a Demoman right in front of the enemy team. With a Loch and Load, and in such tight corners, and not expecting enemies right out of the gate, anyone can rack up kills with this surprise attack.

Fifth, we have numerous clipping errors and other miscellaneous exploits. Most of the entities in the skybox of Doomsday (which is very high up, for some reason) aren’t entities at all. The large, horizontal  pipe that looks like it would prevent airborne travel between sides of the map in fact does not in fact have a physical presence, allowing Demomen to Sticky Jump right through it. And, just to show that not every spawn is created equally…

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 12.46.35 PM
RED spawn. Stickybombs placed on top of this door won’t have the same kill radius as these…
BLU spawn. Something isn't right here...
BLU spawn. Something isn’t right here…

Did you ever think to look underneath you when you picked up this health kit? You may want to in the future…

Yes, these will kill you.
Yes, these will kill you.

And surely, the Australium is safe too, right?

Oh...
Oh…

So… with all these imbalances, what can be done? Well, after looking at the map for a little while, I’ve drawn up some things that could make Doomsday work. WARNING: the following images include poorly drawn renditions of changes made in MS Paint. Don’t laugh at me…

 

Fix the First.
Fix the First.

So here’s a fix that should help balance out Sticky Jumping. By turning both teams’ battlements into more fortified, easily defensible locations, Demomen and Soldiers will have a harder time mercilessly killing those looking for safe passage to the Australium. This should also help with the relentless spawncamping I’ve seen take place here. A hatch in the roof encourages players inside the bunker to watch their backs, still, making the area not /entirely/ insurmountable. This second fix ties into this one as well.

Fix the Second.
Fix the Second.

Here, we have a staircase that leads from the tunnel to the Australium, to the battlement (which is now a bunker). I would put this in here to not only discourage Engineers and Demomen from locking down the tunnel and sitting in there the whole game (which does happen, trust me), but increases flow between the upper battlements and Australium area. If you are not a Demoman or Soldier, you’ll find it very difficult to go from floor to floor. Furthermore, this adds another route to take the Australium out of the drop zone safely.

Fix the third. Demolition!
Fix the third. Demolition!

Here’s another fix aimed at mobility. Giving players an extra path to move from side to side makes assaulting the  lift (or those Engineer nests that are always up here) easier for teams on the defensive. This fix would also provide more cover from relentless Sniper fire form the bunkers at either spawn.

Screenshot 2014-02-12 10.01.51
Whew, lot going on there. Fix the fourth, fifth, and sixth.

The red ink is suggesting that we widen the barn doors and put a ramp from the upper barn to the Australium. I agree with the red ink here. Like previously stated, Demos and Soldiers have an unfair advantage when it comes to taking the Australium out of the Drop Zone. This ramp at least somewhat levels the playing field for the other seven classes. Orange seems to want the dock extended out so, should red’s changes be implemented, players would still have some room to move around. Finally, green ink wants to take that hard cover and chop it in half. Since red ink’s ramp will likely extend all the way to the back wall, the health and Ammo kits would likely be moved behind the chest-height wall green is suggesting, or just removed. Which takes us into our final fix:

Fix the Seventh: Those health and ammo kits. There’s all together too much on this map. I offer changing every health kit to it’s next lowest size, i.e. Large -> Medium, Medium -> Small, and removing small health kits all together. The ammo kits on this map are slightly better, but should likely receive the same treatment as health kits. Five large ammo boxes is absurd for a map this size. Cut ’em down, and we’ll be all set.

Fix the Eighth: Fix all that stuff I talked about earlier, or don’t. Hidden stickies, asymmetrical spawn points, and iffy pathing/rendering errors should probably be looked at. The biggest offender for me personally is…

Yeah. You. I know where you live.
Yeah. You. I know where you live. If this bit was lowered a little and actually given physical presence in the game, perhaps it could help limit the effectiveness of Sticky Jumping Demomen.

So… whew. That was a lot of stuff, right? Well, there’s a lot of stuff wrong with good ol’ Doomsday. I feel bad for the old girl. Much like in my article about how Valve could fix older MvM Maps, I noted how, when Valve releases new content, older content gets swept under the rug. I feel like Doomsday has already been swept under that rug, stamped into the floor, torn up out of the house, dumped in the garbage, and left to rot in a landfill for eternity. It’s not likely that we’ll see more sd_maps in the future, which is… admittedly, kind of sad. It’s a very nice idea! Neutral objective games are some of my favorites in other video games, and with the right map, it could be a lot of fun! I’ve had good experiences with the community made maps sd_congo and sd_hunted (though, Hunted is a very different experience than either Doomsday or Congo, going for a gametype more akin to Call of Duty’s “Search and Destroy”.), so it’s not impossible to make fun, balanced Special Delivery maps. Let’s see something neat, Valve!

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