In Defense of Turbine

by | December 27th, 2010 | Articles | 3 Comments »


To the Team Fortress 2 mapping community, Turbine has become an icon of hatred. Everything mappers don’t like about Valve’s selection of maps, summarized in one single BSP file. It’s “too simple”. It isn’t “well-detailed”. The complaints against it are numerous. This is unfortunate, because Turbine is a map that should be carefully looked at and analyzed. It’s obviously a successful map, Valve picked it up because of its popularity. And what makes it a popular map? That is what I’d like to dive into.

Turbine is Simple

The simplicity of the map is one of the most frequently voiced complains against it (by mappers), but it’s also the reason players love it. It’s easy to learn, easy to understand, and easy to play, which great for a casual player not looking to explore the strategic depth of a map like Badlands, and is it just as good for a skilled player looking to do some fragging without the tedious work that is winning a more complex map.

Turbine has the Right Elements

Despite its simple layout, the map has everything necessary for good TF2 gameplay. I wrote about what elements make a layout good in What Your Map is Missing, so I’m going to look at the same points using Turbine.

  • Height variation: the containers and battlements at mid, the raised platform in the one hallway and stairs in the other, the tiered flag room
  • Scout routes: the containers and battlements at mid, and the raised platform in the one hallway offer different options for scout (and other class) movement
  • Skill jumps: again, the containers at mid can be reached by most classes offering a high-ground alternative to those who use it
  • Reasonable pickup placement: small health and ammo in the flag room, larger in the hallways and in the alcoves tucked away from the fighting at mid

You’ll notice that the same layout features make up most of the gameplay elements. The map is simple, but everything is there, just condensed. Furthermore, Turbine offers other basic elements such as alternate routes.

Turbine is not 2Fort

The map avoids one of the well-recognized problems with CTF in the mapping community: the 2Fort effect. With the flag placed in such a way that requires going past the enemy spawn to retrieve it, camping becomes intolerable and the game slowly degrades to a death match in the area between the bases. Turbine, however, has a left hallway which leads to the intelligence, while the right hallway leads to the spawn. In addition, it allows for the positive element of 2fort, which is direct access from spawn to the battlements or mid. So again, Turbine has the right elements for a good map, and a well designed layout for capture the flag.

It’s Detailed (Just) Enough

While simplistic in detailing, Turbine is actually a well-detailed map. It achieves everything it needs to:

  • It uses team colors to differentiate each side of the map
  • The center of the map is “plain” while inside of the bases there is spytech
  • While nothing special, Turbine is not an ugly eyesore

The reserved amount of detailing can even be considered a good thing. With a neutral color palette and a lack of visual clutter, the map lets you focus on what is important: other players.

Am I saying that every map should follow in the footsteps of Turbine? Not at all. But is Turbine the terrible piece of disastrous mapping failure that people make it out to be? Not at all.

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3 Responses to “In Defense of Turbine”

  1. strangemodule says:

    I was one of the people who felt that Turbine was a strange pick of Valve’s to put into the game. However, you bring up many good points about how Turbine follows good general mapping guidelines; I never really thought that the simplicity was one of the things that people liked the map for.

  2. Nerdboy says:

    Though these are excellent points, my complaint with Turbine has always been its slow pace. Snipers on the battlements cover the entire middle and the flag room is as difficult as (if not more) than 2fort because of all the corners a sentry can be tucked into. Perhaps it’s just that I haven’t played enough of it, but when I’ve played there have either been too few players to push or too many defenders to break. That’s without mentioning what the Wrangler and other weapons do to it.

  3. Ninjilla says:

    Every time I have played Turbine, I either play for a little bit or just leave immediately. I think the problem rises from the simplistic design, while some players find it easy to learn and fun to frag on, I quickly grow bored of it. I’m not saying Turbine is a bad map per se, but just a map that I think many dislike because it cant hold their attention.

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