Conduit is a Capture the Flag map for Team Fortress 2 that I made over the summer of 2015. I was a Junior-going-on-Senior in high school at the time and this was my main creative focus for the summer, along with my first dedicated effort at making a playable map. [Download Link Pending].

My oldest records of the project are version Alpha4 of the map, when I started Saving As separately from each other. It dates to May 5, 2015, and the last compiled version was done on August 15, 2015.

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The concept of the map from the get-go was a mirrored, CTF map based around TF2’s typical flavor – both teams are situated right across from each other, yet maintain facades to hide their intelligence hidden away. This time, they were situated on a water conduit travelling through some farmland, which would have been similar to 2fort’s environment outside of the playable area. The map utilized this feature to provide a path straight down the middle of the map that could only be used to escape the enemy intelligence room rather than infiltrate it.

As a post-mortem on design, I’m not so much a fan of it. The middle area was something I kept putting of designing until everything else was done, and by that point, there was little I could work with to spice up a flat arena with a line of water through it. I tried a few variations of bridges and buildings in the middle – one of them was a huge box sat right on the conduit without a care and another was an octagon split by the water – in the end I just settled with some basic huts and an ammo/health drop on a bridge. Another point of design I’m not very fond of is the conduit itself. To the right and left, it dips below the ground, allowing the player to swim into a room with an ammo drop in it; I put it in to give spies a way to escape, but it essentially serves no other purpose and isn’t very elegant.

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A fair amount of time went into this, possibly upwards of 60 hours. I’d been competent enough in hammer prior to making it, but I think I really went from intermediate to advanced through this project. I remember starting out and having a tough time with scaling the environment proportionate to the characters, but plenty of models, dev textures, and drawings of what I was trying to make (along with tons and tons of screenshots of official maps for reference) smoothed out the workflow from cobbling together what was in my head to an actual process of design and implementation.

Each iteration of the map would have a goal in mind. After it was playable, I would playtest it with friends, note down some changes that needed to be made, and get in the editor to clean those up before working on the next part of the map and repeating the process. After doing this for several versions, the current state of the map is nearly complete – I could probably revise it and reshape it into something much better, but it’s just about the final product of what I imagined when I set out to make it.

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It’s currently at Alpha7/Beta1, and all that needs to be added is the detail. It’s wanting of plenty, but whether or not I’ll pick it up to just polish it out remains to be seen. I probably stopped working on it because of school starting again, and despite it being such a long time since I worked on it, I could see myself loading it up again and detailing it out as an exercise in aesthetic and environmental creation.

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