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View Poll Results: Best map?
antre 0 0%
asteroids 5 29.41%
cave 5 29.41%
cliff 1 5.88%
core 3 17.65%
cross 3 17.65%
funnelpark 0 0%
grotto 6 35.29%
hardcourt2 2 11.76%
ice 1 5.88%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-25-2016, 06:52 PM
Oyster Oyster is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: In the ocean.
Posts: 325
Default The map thread

Hey so I wanted to make a thread where people can talk in general about maps.

Most of us have been playing for a good while now and have a lot of experience with the game. Over time, we've slowly become rather entrenched as to what maps we like.

I'd like to start a discussion about what maps are most popular and why in hopes to get a better feel for what "the perfect map" might look like. My greatest experience is with ball game mode, so let's try to focus on that for now.

First off, if you haven't already, vote for your favorite ball map in this poll: ACTUAL POLL LINK HERE Please ignore the poll at the top! Since there are a number of maps out there, I've used a third party website to put as many of them as I could remember in there. I only added the ones that have had at least a few games played on them.
Even still, I understand not every map will make it on the list, so I will do my best to pick the ones I think are played the most. If you'd like to vote for a map not on the list, just write it down in a comment and I'll add it somehow.

Alright, to kick things off, lets talk about what map features might be found in "the perfect map".
What things are important, like size, obstacle shapes, theme, and background?
How important is obstacle layout?
What common arrangements help produce the best games?
What new features would you like to see in a map?

I'll try to be objective as possible during the discussions and often play as devil's advocate to help keep the conversation moving.
Hopefully at the end of all of this, we will have a better understanding of a very crucial part of the game, and I will use the knowledge learned to potentially create "the perfect map".

Thank you all for reading.

Last edited by Oyster; 02-25-2016 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 02-25-2016, 07:19 PM
BrandonL BrandonL is offline
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 32

Where is cutesy?
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Old 02-25-2016, 07:44 PM
Oyster Oyster is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: In the ocean.
Posts: 325

I'm going to create a larger poll on a different website and link it back to here so that more maps can be included


Last edited by Oyster; 02-25-2016 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 02-25-2016, 08:18 PM
JWhatever JWhatever is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Finland, gmt +2
Posts: 560

A good TBD map is very different from a good Ball map. Below is what I think a good Ball map has in it, some of it is applicable for TBD as well.


You should pick team colours that are easily identifiable from each other. You shouldn't have to guess which team a player is on. Red vs blue is ideal.
You should never use azure because of the zebra skin. One of the lines is very similar to the azure team colour so using camo can be really distracting.
Same with green. If you have acid on you, there's a bit of green stuff on your plane.

Try to avoid red vs green since it forces colour blind people to turn colour blind mode on. Since I'm not colour blind myself, can't really comment on how green works with other colours. You shouldn't force people to go with red vs blue if it looks like ass.


Having some parallax layers is fine as long as it doesn't become distracting (so keep the background movement to minimum). If you have too many layers, potato computers start to get fps losses.

Never have stuff in the foreground. Stuff like the middle bit in ball_funnelpark is plain stupid, you shouldn't have to guess what's behind some object. Same goes for stuff like shrubs in ball_canopy or clouds in tbd_hills.

Some players prefer to play with para false due to visuals or fps so keep that in mind. Have the para false background colour as similar to the "standard" background as possible.

Also, don't make the background too bright. Playing original ball_clouds or ball_canopy in dark makes me want to gauge my eyes out. Some players have bright monitors, try to keep that in mind.


Try to keep the amount of powerups to minimum. Good maps have between 3 and 5 pups. 5 pup maps usually have team only hp spawns behind goals (or team locked pup in general).
Having a goal hp pack doesn't make or break the map, it just gives it a different feel. It makes defending easier, having it can be used to balance the goal area if it seems too hard to defend against long attacks or if clearing is hard.

If you have too many powerups, you end up having situations where everyone has a wall. It makes games tedious and annoying imo.


Obstacles and platforms should give reliable bounces when you shoot the ball at them. Having to play roulette every time you hit something is not fun or rewarding. Not everything has to be done with a ruler or a compass but try to at least have some flat (or round) sections in your obstacles. Pointy obstacles are annoying. Sharp edges depend on the overall size of the obstacle, eg the 90 degree edges on labyrinth are not bad. Making a staircase ramp is the worst thing ever.

Try not to have "buckets" in your obstacles, especially in high traffic areas. The middle bit in ball_arrow is a prime example of a bucket. If the ball drops in (and rolls to one of the corners), it's a pain in the ass to try to recover it. Randa is pretty much the only plane that can recover the ball without sacrificing it's life or hp trying to get it and that's not taking in account all of the spam that is going towards the ball.

Killing the ball is a controversial move, in my opinion it can be a valid. Risk vs reward. If you want to make a spot for killing the ball, fine, just don't make it unrecoverable.

Collidable objects should stand out from the background.

I'm not a map maker but afaik you should always draw the collision outlines manually(?).

I like having multiple options when trying to score a goal. Try to keep angles for trickshots in mind when creating the goal area, just don't make the bounces too easy.
As a keyboard player, I don't like maps that have nearly impossible angles for kb users. Scoring from the tunnel below the goal in ball_planepark is infuriating for kb. ball_ice has some tough angles too but at least in there you can hug the obstacle wall --> you have the option to take the wider angle.

Overall you should have enough room between obstacles for passing. Obstacles should be small enough that randas can't warp dance behind them forever. Gaps between obstacles should be big enough that a single whale can't lock down the entire portion of the map. Have some open portions in your map. One big one in middle or two smaller ones on the sides.

Avoid long corridors that don't have holes or escape routes in them. If the corridor is too long, you have to commit to flying through it. Too long linear flight path makes defending and estimating plane possitions too easy. A good way to avoid this is to have 2 parallel corridors or have option to bail out in the middle. I like how the bottom of ball_ice looks like. I like how you don't have to commit to the top route on ball_asteroids or ball_mayhem2. The bottom of ball_antre is pure cancer.

If you want to be able to use the top half of the map, you need to have a safe route to reach the top. ball_mayhem2 again is a good example. You have multiple routes to the top of the map. The top mid bit is not that common but it's used a lot more than, say, ball_arrow. If the lane converges with enemy spawn, it most likely won't be used.

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Old 02-26-2016, 12:59 AM
Kafka Kafka is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Salt Lake City
Posts: 683

In all seriousness, risk is a great map. Being able to play through the "back" of a map adds an entirely new gameplay dynamic.

Also I think ball_tbd should be on your list. Any map that combines the two main game modes is fun to play imo.

ball_vietnam too, just because dropping bombs on the ball carrier's head never gets old.
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Old 04-07-2016, 10:39 PM
Solikos Solikos is offline
Join Date: May 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 35

I agree with the points JWhatever made.

IMO, obstacles are the critical element to any map: number, size and spacing.

Maps with too few (hills) make the game really bland in my opinion - just a spam fest and mad dash to attack, hopefully with a shield or escort. Maps with too many obstacles (pegs) can be frustrating - crashing, less reliable passing, line of attack blocked in 'somewhat open' areas, etc.

I think maps that have really open areas (cross) result in large, multi-plane kill zones where there's not much to dodge around - meaning you have to rely on your team pushing in and passing a lot more than most maps (though that's not necessarily a bad thing).

I think Grotto and Asteroids strike a great balance of open areas in the middle with more obstacles at the goal/base end of things where tactical attacking/defending is key. This seems to result in more interesting and consistent 'goal line defense' moments.
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