What would the ideal Roleplay map look like?

Let me start off by saying this:

I remember the good old days, even back in HL2 DM where roleplay servers were near-iconic. Everyday I’m filled with nostalgia when me and my friend pick up memories about the good old times in hometown 1999 and others. Everyday I pray someone is somehow working on a mass project to create a new serious rp server or gamemode where little kids are instantly removed from the server. Far away dreams I think. But if there’s anyone out there, I wish you luck.

Now, while collecting memories from good old non-evocity days, I asked myself what made most Rp maps attractive.

So here’s my question: What were your favorite RP maps, and why. If there would be a Utopian (ideal) RP map, what would it absolutely need to have? What would it look like?

any of the old city 45 maps were p. good

I really like to see agglomeration, a certain area where lots of activity happens, just makes the server look alive imo.

How exactly? Like I picture a little “town square”, if you will, where there’s a few residential buildings, a couple stores and cafe’s or restaurants (depending on RP settings).

[editline]12th February 2014[/editline]

Mind explaining why exactly? A friend once said he liked an RP map for the “many secret passages”, but I think it was some c18 industrial map.

there were some really old City 45 maps that nailed the feel of HL2, I can’t remember the exact name off the top of my head because it was something stupid like rp_city45_vd_v22sa_tnb-r1 or something crazy like that

The thing I hate about maps with areas designed to have high activity is the rest of the map is generally empty of players.

Although it was small, I really liked rp_OvisCity

rp_tb_city45_v02 was a really good map imo. The size and stuff that is.

What about Evocity? In my opinion it’s a large map, that’s ok, but its quite unfinished and a bit half-assed, no offense to author. It just had a lot of unnecessary buildings like industrial zones and a research center, but it doesn’t even have something like a hospital or more important buildings. I just don’t understand why a lot of servers still run it.

Evocity is nice but everything is so far apart and they’re just parts where space isn’t used.

I actually enjoy rp_paralake_city, big map with bridges intersection’s and housing.

I saw it, very good map but the author shouldn’t have used a large skybox, because now you can only see 2000 units far and it still has low fps, the stuff like the moving crane etc is pretty but useless.

He should’ve made the skybox fit to the roofs, flying isn’t really needed anyway

But without a doubt very cool map, if only you could see a little further without massive fps-loss

I’ll be sure to check that out

I concur, I actually do enjoy the skybox but the fog is a bit of an issue honestly. The crane is nice, but I’d prefer if it was like evocity’s where you can control it yourself. All in all though I’ve never noticed any fps drops.

I’m making this post as a critique of HL2RP maps, not any other kind of RP map.

  • Similarity to HL2

It’s a HL2RP map, it shouldn’t look like ~the future~ with lasers and rainbow projection screens (City 8 is a good example). Butchered canon doesn’t do well in a map.

Similarly, some map elements - City 11 had some great features in this regard - are missing. For example, Combine don’t create entire big metal buildings apart from the Citadel, they modify (to the bare minimum) existing buildings. The Nexus in HL2 wasn’t just Combine sheet metal, it was still a parliament building/bank/etc with a couple shields up.

In addition, in too many maps you’ll see trees and green grass and flowers, for example - the currently-in-beta map that’s ported from HL2, can’t remember the name right now, has replaced the dead plaza with green trees. It’s HL2. It’s post-apocalyptic in a controlled sci-fi setting. There are no green trees in HL2 - why are they there??

One good exception, though, is Venetian Redux. It used green grass and trees and what have you, but simply because it was literally on the sea and was well-complimented with decaying holes in houses and broken brick walls. I can’t say its perfect though - the draining of the oceans should have made the sea level lower.

  • Usage of space

If you go on City 18, there’s one bit that messed this up - the hospital. There’s a huge entire street that connects to a bottom entrance of the Nexus. The other entrance is a ways down the road. Since nobody uses the hospital, and the Nexus is restricted, nobody uses that road - it’s a waste of space and entdata.

That being said, City 18 isn’t iconic for no reason. The rest of the space is used well. It feels - well, feels similar to - HL2’s style, if a bit darker and with less of my first point. It’s got rooms and buildings for any size of server.

  • Open atmosphere

When you leave the trainstation in HL2, it doesn’t feel like a self-contained map. It feels like a living, breathing world. Even if you subtract the NPCs and music and what have you that most RP gamemodes today don’t have, it still feels like you’re not closed in. You can’t go past those barriers, sure, but you can try and you would try the first time you play. You can see the Citadel far in the distance and see clouds of dust here and there. There’s an actual 3d skybox instead of just skybox apartment props everywhere, and there’s detail spent on that too.

  • Stylistic consistency

The biggest offenders for this are City 17 Industrial and City 8. There are colors all over the place, weird choices of props, mixes of HL2 beta and retail, etc.

In C8 you’ll see blue, green, grey, bits of red, etc. which don’t really give it an artful style of its own, other than ‘its the FUTURE just LOOK AT IT’.In C17I, you’ll see a ridiculously orange skybox and green monitors everywhere, with the occasional blue light.

In HL2, you’ll see the Citadel and Combine Nexus levels lit with blue, the intro/trainstation levels off-white, the Ravenholm levels orange/blue, etc. They feel right for the setting. Dark is used in areas to put you on edge, and light is used in areas to make them look bleaker.

In addition, what’s with the HL2RP community’s obsession with beta props/textures? They’re ugly and were cut for a reason. I see "the law-abiding citizen conserves oxygen’ poster or whatever it is in C17I - why?? Oxygen isn’t a concern in retail or in any roleplay these days.

  • Use of non-custom textures

A lot of mappers seem to think custom textures adds taste to maps. Go play HL2, climb out on the roof after the apartment raid, and tell me that’s not beautiful. It was done 10 years ago. I’ll see custom decals, like Dave Brown’s fanservice characters in City 8, and just think how good a simple decal straight from HL2 looks. You don’t need a map to be 180mb to look nice.

  • Versatility

Large skyboxes, nodes, big areas, breenscreens, admin rooms - all of these are nice because they have the potential to be used. I’m working on a gamemode that has flying NPCs in it. If the skybox covers the roof of some apartments, I just can’t use it, because flying NPCs will have issues with navigation. Future-proofing maps is for the best, because you can’t possibly see what new gamemodes will exist in a year or two. This means naming doors and props, adding convenience logic_relays, and what have you.

This also means a lack of hard-mapped stuff. One thing that irks me about C45 2013 is the ration centre. It’s completely button- and door-based. There’s no space for customizing. Back in the days of TacoScript we had to build our own ration lines and distribution systems, but now, it’s just punch a button, which removes originality and creativity from the roleplayer. It’s cool, but it’s too faint-hearted.

  • Good sizing

If your map is designed for a 20-slot server, don’t give it three plazas and two slums. If it’s designed to be the next Map Anthem 2014 don’t make it 500x500 units and think there’s enough apartments to go around. If you want versatility in your map, separate areas and make every bit count (C18 and C45 do good jobs on this).

Just some thoughts.

Glad that you know exactly what you want from RP maps. I can also recognize many of these problems in non-HL2RP maps. I explored rp_downtown’s underground today. The creator did an incredible job on that, but nobody uses said underground. It must be at least as large as the surface, and has many possibilities, but nobody sees them. As for custom textures I see your point of view, and in HL2RP maps they are of no use. But making a regular DarkRP map that actually looks good will take some custom content (i.e. I can’t make good looking skyscrapers using HL2 textures). Too much custom content can lead to useless spaces and waste of space, evocity v2d is a perfect example. I mean what’s the point of that “biolab” filled with custom props and with absolutely no use in RP. In general evocity is quite unfinished: looking from the top of the nexus reveals NoDraw rooftops, nearly every building is missing windows (just four walls and a door), there are too many useless buildings like hardware stores and what not, too few regular shops where players can get creative and decorate their own shop and too few recommended buildings, like hospitals.

What also seems to be a big problem, which you can clearly seen in downtown, is that players tend to stick around the spawn zone, any distant zones are unpopulated, while the center is overpopulated. Versatility, like you said. I think splitting the districts into specific functions could do the trick (center for government services and residence, a district with enough shops, …)

Yeah, I agree for the most part, but take cs_assault. It’s a pretty nice-looking map and only uses CS:S content. Loads of mappers think custom content is an OK substitute for detail, but when I play the maps, I can see loads of issues.

Even then, stuff like the biolab is fine, but if you look at Kleiner’s lab, there are loads of props that could be used. Is it not-quite-Apple-clean? Yeah, but it does the trick, and for 2mb less, I’d be happy to use them.

Let me open up some maps and show what I mean with my style criticisms.

City 8: Orange skybox, greenish lighting, red and blue signs. An entire building made out of Combine metal (why would the Combine do this if there are thousands of other buildings in this city that they can just adapt?). The orange skybox doesn’t seem to cast any orange light on the city, at all. The screens are weird hexagons with super-futuristic-sci-fi billboards. It feels like the mapper was imitating an anime rendition of Japan (even though it bears no similarity: compare the screenshot above and the actual photo below) rather than actual Japan if it were invaded.
The requirement of similarity to HL2 makes a HL2RP map because it reflects the Combine themselves. Minimal but brutal modification, a military stretched thin but in control, not a sci-fi juggernaut empire with free access between Earth and the Combine dimension.

A good example for this category are the older C45 maps.
C45_v2 doesn’t have many blue metal buildings. In fact, the only actual building made out of Combine… stuff is the Nexus. The rest of them have barely any modification, maybe a billboard erected in one place or another, but for the most part the city was just adapted and not modified. Even if it is an ugly map by today’s standards, it’s the most HL2-like. Bonus: It’s nonlinear (the subway trains actually go from one end of the map to the other) and separated (the slums vs. the plaza area, and the area behind the trainstation).

C17I is probably the worst map in here. There’s red, blue, green, yellow, orange (lots of orange), beta props and materials (C17MP sign ripped directly from the beta mappack), that weird looking TV screen orb (why wouldn’t the Combine just build breenscreens…???), custom and beta decals (“The true citizen knows to keep their identiband visible at all times” and pictures of the consul???), though the elevated trains give it a nice Detroit feel. The beach has a weird barrier which could have been solved in a non-ugly way by just putting player clips and leeches there.

The redeeming factor, though, is the Nexus. It’s verticality harkens back to HL2 and it’s well designed. Unfortunately, the fact that it’s not a Citadel and thus should just be a modification of an existing building and not a vertical metal behemoth draws away from it - but honestly it’s a cool enough building that that can be overlooked. The buildings in the map are also non-fully-Combine and just have adaptations which gives it brownie points. It’s a massive map but not well-cordoned and it’s tough to find people when the population is low on servers.

All in all I haven’t seen a 10/10 HL2RP map yet. The above ones are just OK but could be much better.

Every HL2RP map I have decompiled for research has been nothing short of a clusterfuck. The only breed of mappers which top HL2RP mappers in terribad optimization, are surf mappers.

Evocity. I’d like to have map like Evocity and something like Hl2 maps, there is lot of underground places and alley’s which Evocity for sure doesn’t have. Everytime i play RP or Perp, i feel like i live in cage. There isn’t really much alleys or underground places these days in Downtown maps, it’s like players are forced to go into house or to the street.

Now I’m not sure you’re praising or loathing Evocity. I honestly don’t like Evocity at all, but I used to though. I like the nice traffic lights, but most of the map is poorly optimized (Building roofs missing, an elevator without doors. Parts of the city that nobody uses…). That map did make me feel like I’m in a cage. Downtown also gives you that feeling, and I think this is partly because of both maps having tunnels between districts and no 3d skybox giving you an idea of the greater beyond.

[editline]19th February 2014[/editline]

Have any of you seen an RP map with multi-level elevators? By that I mean that you can choose what floor to go to instead of having to go through every single floor until you’re there.