A Little Research on Standards

by | January 8th, 2010 | Articles | 8 Comments »

I’ve been doing some research to see what standards Valve stick to regarding playerclipped stairs and the usage of colored patches below pickups.
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll give you an explanation.

In almost all TF2 maps, the pickups are located above colored paint patches. Here are a couple of ways you can place the patches:

However, the color of the patches vary heavily between the official TF2 maps. I will show you a table of the results of my research, right after I’ve explained what playerclipped stairs are!

Playerclipping stairs is something that most mappers do. It means that you create a flat brush, covering every step in stairways, all the way from the top to the bottom.
Here is a comparison between a stairway without clipping and a playerclipped stairway:

Stairs with and without playerclipping

Now that you know what I’m talking about, I’ll give you the table:

This is what I gathered from this research:

  • On Attack/Defend maps, a single color is always used, usually brown or red
  • While the ctf maps, ravine and viaduct all use patch colors based on which side of the map they are on, none of the 5cp push maps use this system
  • Unified patches are used heavily by Valve
  • Playerclipped stairs seems to be the standard, although some mappers at Valve doesn’t seem to use them at all
  • The only set of stairs which are not playerclipped in dustbowl, is the ones at Stage3, Control point 1, that was added after the initial release of dustbowl.

Some notes about playerclipping stairs:

There are a couple of reasons why you should playerclip your stairways. The first reason is that stairways without clipping, makes your view vibrate as you walk on them and the player doesn’t move smoothly.
The second reason is that clipped stairways are fully jumpable. When you jump going upwards in a stairway without playerclips, there’s a pretty big chance that you’ll hit the edge of a step, causing your jump to send you straight up, instead of forward up the stairs.

Some notes regarding paint patches:

Paint patches are very useful for identifying the location at which an item is waiting to be spawned. When you are new to a map, this helps you learn the locations of them easier, as well as giving you a visual aid for it when your health is running low.

A few personal notes:

I never use unified paint patches, no matter how close the pickups are to eachother. I believe it’s important to be aware of how many pickups are about to spawn at the patch you are looking at.
Like I said in the paint patch notes, it’s about making the items identifiable and easily found. This is the reason why I also use a different patch color system than any of Valve’s maps.
I place blue patches under my heathpacks and red patches under the ammo packs. Hopefully players will realize this after having played any of my maps, so that when they are on fire waiting on a medpack to spawn, they know that they should stand on the blue patch, and not the red.

I hope you found this little article useful in one way or another!

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8 Responses to “A Little Research on Standards”

  1. chickenm4n says:

    wow. an amazing information packed tidbit.

    can’t wait for this site to be jam packed with this type of stuff.


  2. Moose says:

    That’s pretty cool, I’d always assumed clipping stairs was done all the time on every official map. Although I have to say, I consider red to be a more suitable patch color for health.

  3. Jake says:

    Nice post, I would be interested in seeing more of these “valve standards” posts in the future – they know the game engine better than anyone, and it is nice to know what they have found to be best practices.

  4. Nerdboy says:

    Very useful information. It’s small things like these that can help a lot with mapping.

  5. nik. says:

    Cool. I never actually thought of ever looking into this stuff.

    I thought clipping stairs was a good practise to get into – but I guess it’s not entirely necessary?

  6. MrTwoVideocards says:

    Great article. For my maps I had never really thought of the tradition of marking items, I just did. Players see that patch, and they immediately know something will likely spawn there. Keeping consistency across all of your maps is important, but I would not venture as far as to say that using them in your map specific design would be a good idea. Players play Valve maps more than they do ours, and therefore those maps set the consistency. Thats what any mapper should do with his, or her current map.

  7. Grup says:

    One disadvantage of player clipped stairs, it seems, is that your footsteps don’t make the proper noise. Not a big deal, just saying.

  8. cuteEevee says:

    Why don’t you use red patches under the healthpacks, since they have a red cross and red insicades ‘blood’ somehow, and blue patches for ammo, since the ammocrades (at least the small ones) are blue too?

    ImhO red is more the color for urgent matters, and running low on health is way more urgent than running low on ammo.

    Also thanks for the grea article.

    So long

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