Date: June 2020 - Present
Roles: Level Designer, Environment Artist
Tools: Hammer World Editor, Source Engine
Gigantic is a PASS Time map for Team Fortress 2 set in a dense forest, created as a response to the poor reception to the game mode being added to the game. While most players and level designers wrote off the mode as flawed and uninteresting when it was added to the game in 2015, I believed that with the right level to compliment the mode it could be something fun for a wider audience.
After spending much time carefully analyzing the three existing official PASS Time maps (and a few community made attempts) I compiled my notes and pinpointed what I believed to be the main issue they all suffered from; the maps were too wide and without important choke points, which discouraged teamwork and allowed for individual players to tilt the balance of a match too easily by slipping behind enemies. Gigantic was designed with harder choke points to encourage closer teamwork as a result.
Throughout the map's development many things changed, but a lot of the initial design survived to the end. While the center of the map changed radically, the goal zones at each end remained relatively unchanged, and the jump pads, elements unique to PASS Time as a mode, remained almost untouched.
Speaking of the jump pads, they are one of the most contentious elements of the mode for players; they are essential to the mode functioning, but players often have trouble identifying them in official, Valve-made maps as they have no unique textures or shape save for a yellow arrow. Most of them are random wooden planks or ramps that don't make much sense. I made it a goal to fix this in Gigantic, so I gave them a more distinctive look and a team-colored glow that mimics the existing in-game teleporters. These changes immediately made them much more visible and almost doubled their usage in testing.
Gigantic was also created as part of my Microcontests Project, which are a series of 24 hour level design challenges I run on TF2maps.net roughly monthly, designed to get map makers to make things they'd otherwise not try. Specifically, the challenge for this one was to make a PASS Time map, something that had not been seriously attempted in at least three years at the time I ran the contest. Of the nine entries from different participants, mine was the most well-received and the only one continued through to completion, and it rekindled an interest in PASS Time in the TF2 level design community with several others having been made since Gigantic began development.