This time around, I had five entrants. Yeah, just five. Kind of disappointing, but maybe February is not the mapping season. The previous winter contest had a smaller turnout than any of the summer contests as well.
Nevertheless, that doesn't mean there were no good maps. It was still a decent turnout. Because there are so few maps this time, all five of them will find their way into the (aptly named) Victory Dance V. VD5 will be on Simplici7y within the next couple days.
Congratulations go to treellama for his second first place victory and fourth top-three entry, as well as irons' third top-three entry.
THE FINAL SCORES
1st : treellama [1st in VD2, 2nd in VD3, 2nd in VD4]
2nd : irons [2nd in VD2, 3rd in VD3, 5th in VD4]
3rd : $lave [Newcomer]
4th : W'rkncacnter [3rd in VD2, 4th in VD3]
5th : eXe [Newcomer]
Map Name: Zora's Domain
TOTAL SCORE: 66/70
Comments: An interesting map, to be sure. Visually, this is probably treellama's most impressive work: while the architecture itself is generally fairly simple, great detail is put into the lighting, sprucing up the entire map with an appealing touch without being too gaudy. Good usage of split polygons and liquids to help add detail complete the aesthetic experience. It goes to show: one does not need a shapes patch to make the map look good. The flow was generally decent, but my biggest problem is the ubiquitous presence of long stairwells. While this is mitigated somewhat by the many openings back into the main arena, and the lifts here and there, this does not entirely fix the problem of many choke points and predictable movement patterns of players going up and down the many floors of the map. A little too much time is spent going through these corridors, which isn't a lot of fun to fight in (thus the ding in the fun category). The vertical element is done fairly well, but the stairways are too long. However, plenty of ammo keeps the map fairly exciting anyway. A solid map.
Map Name: SchleiÃ?felter 120
TOTAL SCORE: 61/70
Comments: I have to say, in testing this map, I had a lot of fun. The core gimmick of this map is in a three-way water cannon tower in the center of an arena. "Great," you might say, "water cannons." It's actually a lot of fun. The transition from being shot out of a cannon at high speed back into fighting normally is nearly seamless; at no point are you pinned against the wall from momentum. The problem is not in the execution of the water cannon, but in the application: if you fall into the central pit of the map, you are forced to take one of the water cannons, essentially funneling all flow into one of three very predictable paths. Since there are no other lifts or teleporters out of there, there's no comfortable escape. Other teleporters around the outer rim of the map make it difficult to track people, which gets a little annoying after a while but is tolerable. The weapon selection on this map is fairly poor: the SMG is difficult to use given the people flying about at high speeds, and the large distances make the rocket launcher tough to use. Texture choices are not especially good -- while it is nice that each map wing is visually rather different, the contrast is tough to handle with and the central pit is a tacky mish-mash. Over all, this map falls more into the "novelty" category than a straight up carnage fest, but despite these problems, it really is a blast (har har har). Not a top pick, but definitely fun and very unique.
Map Name: November Rain
TOTAL SCORE: 58/70
Comments: November Rain is not an especially unique map. It does the "large battleground" sort of quasi-arena style fairly well, but without bringing anything special to the table. Nevertheless, this is not a bad type of map by any means, and the variety of architectural styles present throughout spice it up a bit. Visually, the map is decent but unimpressive: above-average architecture is weakened by extremely mild texturing and lighting choices on the whole. Very little stands out for me. Flow-wise, the map isn't bad. Most of the map is made up of the massive battlefield in the middle, which is almost entirely flat and empty. This is tough to mess up, but the auxiliary corridors going along the outside of the map are excessive. A lot of the corridors don't really seem to go anywhere important, so passing through them is a waste of time. The same can be said of the teleporters: they do little except shuttle you across the battlefield, but they are predictable (some of them share the same destination), and there are a bunch of them. There's not enough focus on the combat in the middle, but who would want to be in the middle anyway? There's no cover. This map is also lacking in ammo to a substantial degree. It needs to have at least twice as much. It's a large map; it needs more guns and bullets, period. It's a tough map style to bungle up, but it also needs some care to really do well, and this one misses the mark with a bit too much extra fluff on the outside and a boring central arena.
Map Name: Procrastination is Key
TOTAL SCORE: 50/70
Comments: This is a frustrating dueling map. Bad weapon balance issues and poor architectural choices, as well as unnecessary flow inhibitors, do this map in. The key problem is the presence of SPNKRs -- it's a tiny map, with lots of extra walls. Suicide counts are through the roof. The central "corridor" running through the main part of the map is kind of neat; there are windows on each side, so players can shoot at each other through the windows, which is kind of neat, as a clever person can use them as cover. However, a door awkwardly placed at the end of it can trap players not paying attention (and it shouldn't), and it's tough getting from one of the outer sectors to the other. The presence of teleporters is a little unnecessary, especially when one of them puts the player about 10 feet away. Moving through the level is just hard, and it shouldn't be. Visually, the level is ugly -- but it's the Pfhor set, so that's an inevitability, and the problems of the set are actually mitigated somewhat by keeping the lighting dim (but not dark) and using fairly neutral texture choices. My problems are primarily with the flow, not the aesthetic.
Map Name: The Lunchbox Effect
TOTAL SCORE: 49/70
Comments: There's like no lighting on this map. Actually, scratch that -- the mapper did apply lighting, but it's the same light for about 95% of the map, and Light 0 for the rest of it. The architecture is keen, the texture choices are good, but the lack of attention to lighting kills the visual appeal. The other key problem is the lack of weapon balance. There's very little ammo on this map. It's a small map, but it has a broad variety of guns, just not enough ammo for any of them. The SPNKR rules with the limited space. The lack of guns really kills the balance for me.