Gravel Pit developer commentary

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This article contains the developer commentary found on cp_gravelpit


(Order of commentary)

Welcome to Team Fortress 2
[Gabe Newell] Welcome to Team Fortress 2. After nine years in development, hopefully it will have been worth the wait. To listen to a commentary node, put your crosshair over the floating commentary symbol and press your use key. To stop a commentary node, put your crosshair over the rotating node and press the use key again. Some commentary nodes may take control of the game in order to show something to you. In these cases, simply press your use key again to stop the commentary. Please let me know what you think after you have had a chance to play. I can be reached at, and my favorite class is the spy. Thanks, and have fun!

Scout Map Design
[Dave Riller] To accommodate the scout class, maps need open spaces that allow scouts to double jump along paths that the other classes can't navigate. This area features a variety of rooftops and rocks that a scout can traverse while staying above any non-scout opponents. Scouts often use their speed advantage to retreat and collect health, so here we force them to adopt some risk by placing the health inside a small, enclosed area, where they sacrifice some freedom of movement.

Soldier Map Design
[Jake Nicholson] For Soldiers, we design spaces with specific attention to height. Soldiers generally want to be shooting down at opponents to maximize the effect of their rockets' splash damage. The rooftop here gives them that advantage. It can also only be reached with the soldier's rocket jump, making it generally inaccessible to the other classes. Because of the splash damage from a rocket jump, soldiers have to trade health for the height advantage. This tradeoff, coupled with the lack of health on the roof, lets usmake the rooftop a powerful advantage without unbalancing the map, since soldiers will need to rely on medics down below to keep them healthy.

Combat Spaces
[Jim Hughes] When designing areas for high levels of combat, we try to avoid complexity and chaos. Complex geometry confuses players, making it hard for them to track enemies, and interfering with their movement and aiming during combat. The most chaotic combat tends to occur when the size of the room fails to support the number of players fighting in it. In this final area of the map, we wanted a freeform battle to rage for some time before anyone could achieve a decisive victory. To achieve this, we built a wide open area with several entrances, and gave players a variety of attack and defense options at various heights. Rather than depend on elevators and ladders, we relied on ramps, since these allow freedom of movement at all times instead of confining players. Through playtesting we made many changes to the dimensions of the room, the size of cover elements, and the size of the entrances, thus ensuring the area could accommodate a battle of many players.

Defensible Buildings
[John Cook] Height is a useful feature when designing defensible buildings. For instance, the Cap B building needs to be defended from all directions. The height, and windows on all sides, give defenders in this building an advantage, when launching rockets & grenades from within. Bulletproof glass in some windows lets them safely view approaching enemies.

Bulletproof Glass
[Matt Boone] Bulletproof glass is a useful design tool in strongly defended areas, such as around control points. It gives the offensive team a chance to see enemy defenders and sentrygun positions, while affording the defensive team a good view of the gathering attackers. This is often crucial for the defense if the offense is waiting for a Medic's invulnerability charge.

The Sniper
[Charlie Brown] The sniper rifle was another tricky design problem. To meet players' expectations, a sniper rifle has to be able to kill an opponent with a single shot to the head. On the flip side, we need to ensure it can't be snap fired from the hip with the same effect, because then, in the hands of an experienced player, it also becomes the game's most lethal short range weapon, negating the Sniper's primary weakness. To solve this, we implemented a charging damage meter that only appears when the sniper is zoomed. This solution has several beneficial side effects:
The low damage both while un-zoomed and at the initial zoom ensures that Snipers can't kill opponents with impromptu snap fire. The charge time means Snipers can deal out low damage shots quickly or highly damaging shots at slow intervals, which allows opponents to overwhelm them with a coordinated rush. The high damage at the end of the charge rewards Sniper-esque behaviors, such as locating a decent vantage point and taking very deliberate shots.

Particle System
[Chris Green] We intended Team Fortress 2 to feature many special particle effects to enhance the wide variety of weapons and class abilities. In previous versions of the Source engine, all particle effects required that custom code be written by the programmers. For Team Fortress 2, we created a system where designers can rapidly create new particle systems and iteratively refine existing ones, without programmer involvement. An in-game editor allows designers to edit the definitions of particle systems and immediately preview effects in the game itself. The editor also allows artists to connect modular effect 'building blocks' to create complex visual effects. As for the particle system itself, we have offloaded many of the system calculations to the graphics accelerator, which allows us to increase the number of particles onscreen without reducing the framerate.

The Heavy
[Keith Huggins] With its wide field of fire, the Heavy's minigun lets players who don't have great twitch-aiming skills still wade into the thick of combat. To make up for this reduction in the value of the player's aiming skill, we amplified the importance of other skills. For instance, the wind-up time before firing and the heavy's reduced speed while firing force players to learn to anticipate both the start of combat and incoming enemy attacks.

Particle Effects
[Dhabih Eng] The challenge of the particle system was to create effects that were fun and visually exciting, without being so 'over the top' that no one could read their meaning in the game. In a typical match, there are so many effects onscreen at the same time, that the biggest danger is visual clutter. Therefore, the effects were refined to be cleaner and simpler. Those that were most important for gameplay were made easier to see, while those that were mainly eye-candy were allowed to fall into the background.

The Invulnerability Charge
[Jakob Jungels] Invulnerability adds an element of pacing to the multiplayer experience, which otherwise tends to have fewer emotional highs and lows than a well-crafted single player game. When an invulnerable Medic & his friend come running in, it's an extreme high point for them. It's also a rush for the defenders, who know they've just got to hold on for 10 seconds until invulnerability fades. Invulnerability also sharpens pacing by helping a team push through a defensive stalemate, when the enemy team turtles up and refuses to come out of their base. Without a lack of defensive skirmishers, it's easier for the offense to build up the invulnerability charge without interruption. In addition, invulnerability is a great goal for the Medic and rewards him for being an effective healer. We encourage the behavior by adding more charge when the Medic is healing injured teammates than when he's healing ones who are already at full health.

The FreezeCam and Nemesis Systems
[Jeremy Stone] In multiplayer games, the content players consume is largely generated by other players. To enhance this, we added features designed to promote relationships between players.
For example, the freeze-cam shot of a player's killer helps the player remember specific, troublesome opponents. The nemesis feature adds an additional reminder that certain enemies are more significant than others. It creates a small negative reinforcement loop by giving players an opportunity to score extra points with a revenge kill.

What Took So Long?
[Robin Walker] We first showed TF2 at E3 in 1999, and here we are in 2007. So what took us so long? The short answer is that it took us this long to make something we were happy with. The long answer requires a look at our development process. At its core is the assumption that we don't really know ahead of time what will be fun. We know what has been fun in the past. But if we've got 3 ideas on the table, we can't say for sure which one will be the most fun. So, we've focused on developing a repeatable process that will find out. It's based on a cycle of constant iteration, where evaluation is done by watching as many people play the game as possible. In developing TF2, we tried out many, many features-a few of which made it to the final product, but most of which were cut. For example, our initial versions of TF2 were focused on trying to build a game around the concept of a commander, a single player who had a real-time-strategy view of the battlefield. He was responsible for building structures and providing a unifying strategy for the team. But there were significant design challenges involved. For instance, how do we design the game such that the commander can have fun, and at same time ensure that the players down on the ground can have fun? How do we ensure that the players & the commander value the output of the other? How do we ensure that the game is still fun if you have a terrible commander, or conversely, if you're a great commander with a terrible team? We spent many months working on these and other issues, and never reached a point where we were satisfied. In addition, our game had become overly complex, due to our attempts to add a strategy layer deep enough to warrant the addition of the commander in the first place. In the end, we made the hard decision to remove him from the game and moved on.

Critical Hits
[Kelly Thornton] Critical hits are one of the features that resulted from our focus on pacing. The critical hit system attempts to slightly influence the highs and lows of the game, by increasing the chance of a critical hit based upon the player's recent performance. In summary, the better you're doing, the more likely you'll continue to do well. This helps create those rare high moments, where a single player goes on a rampage and gets 3 or 4 kills in rapid succession.

The Demoman
[Wade Schin] The Demoman is the most versatile combat class, capable of rapidly switching from strong offensive pushes to defensive area denial. He has the only indirect fire capability in the game, allowing him to take out sentryguns around the corner, and his sticky bombs give him a grenade jumping ability similar to that of the Soldier's rocket jumps. His sticky bombs can also prevent enemies from moving through doorways, cover a retreat, and defend control points even when the Demoman is somewhere else.

The Medic
[John Morello] The Medic is the main support class. Previous support classes we've designed had a variety of problems. They didn't require much skill, because they stayed back in defended areas, which also kept them out of the funnest parts of the game. Worst of all, this meant they weren't even terribly useful because they generally weren't near the players who most needed to be healed. We designed the Team Fortress 2 Medic to solve these problems, primarily by focusing on keeping them right in the thick of battle. Additionally, we designed the medigun to be as easy to use as possible, so that Medics can focus on survival while healing teammates. Virtually no aiming is required, which lets Medics concentrate on following their heal target, who has a huge incentive to keep his Medic benefactor safe.

Unused content