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