Knock knock, who's there?! Freya ressurected.
Started messing again with this baby, some time passed and after series of playtesting and iterations I can very happily say that the layout got stabilized. Thought it might be cool if I just summerize here the process of layout refinement (WARNING, lots of reading ahead!).
Main versions of the past (radars in relation to 1. - 3. phases described below)
The layout journey
The map started out with its key idea that I fortunately managed to prevail until the end of layout process, that is.. providing a higher amount of routes for Ts, while having a large plantzone area and CTs spawning on the site. The aim with this was to address an issue often found in a lot of defusal wingman maps - maps becoming sth like simple simulators of pure elimination rounds due to its lack of plant & retake scenarios resulting in a pretty bland gameplay and repetitive plays with a small amount of actual options.
1. Into the unknown
First off the map had 5 routes to the site (2 top, 2 bot, 1 mid). This showed itself too much in the early playtest. Even though the mid route was not really being used that much by the offensive team, it still forced the CTs to just stay camping on the site because Ts had way too much map control for free right away and their enemies would just find themselves dead pretty much every time once they chose to move out of the site. Another issue was the bombsite itself, it was overpowered but in a bad way. It had way too much weirdly placed full body cover causing it to generate a bunch of weird angles and making it for the Ts almost impossible to take the site. Lastly, the upper part of the map was way too disconnected from the rest of the map, taking it too long for both teams to justify the commitment there. Despite all of this the gameplay was not terrible, but not great either.
Now, the second + third main version was pretty much the heaviest change for the map. Taking seriously the feedback from previous testings I moved the whole upper part of the map closer to the rest of the map and its objective (except T-spawn and their staging area). I also adjusted the bottom part of the map, the site area to be exact. So now there is no overpowered line of sight all the way from bombsite to the spot where the bottom T main route branches out into 2 subroutes. This forced CTs to make a choice to either stay more passive and deal with more entrances, or push out to hold an earlier chokepoint before Ts can branch out. In the feedback from the first version people repeatedly suggested to remove the mid-route due to its lack of usage. Here I have to say that Im happy that I kind of went halfway against that and changed the route into a connector instead. This connector got improved in 3rd version to not have such a cheap U-turn and being less quick. The reason for this is that by removing the thing completely it would just destroy the maps flow making upper and lower map halfs way too disconnected forcing overcommitment upon Ts each round. Cover on the site was redone and reduced. Lastly, I added some elevated positions around the site to add a little more depth. These positions are there to generate high-risk high-reward scenarios, but the way they are built into the map they dont force you to use them neccesarilly. With these changes the gameplay significantly improved, though it was still not sufficiently great to settle down for - yes the flow improved greatly and the map was much more dynamic, but now the site went from overpowered to too weak (this was actually a good sign though). This caused the map to be sort of a lurk and retake map. The cool thing though was that the plant scenarios started to occur pretty often now and it got to a fun experience on a regular basis.
3. Land ahead!
I think the most accurate word for this phase is "depth". Because the site got too weak and the map changed to be way too mobile inviting CTs to be very offensive too easily, I spent days and weeks of just flying & dancing around on the map thinking, brainstorming possible solutions that could be simple enough to be justified without having to change too much or becoming too powerful. This came down pretty much to an addition of several essential cubbies across the map and on the site + some angle adjustments & cleanups + expanding plantzone area further. I started to have a really good feel about the map and the playtests started to show this. Once there started to appear a certain balance between the sites regained defensive strength, maps mobility and flow, the gradual progression of areas and routes, the gameplay shifted to another level. Residing now in the domain of very pleasurable experience you could really tell the players started to truly enjoy the level pushing themselves to be more and more competitive. The site gained an interesting dynamic, where because of its size and angles, you do not neccesarrily have to take over the whole site as a T, but can work with locking down its subareas. Some areas though were still a bit unfinished, namely the droproute being still kinda too hard for Ts each time they chose it, backsite being too opened up to the site producing some unnecessary angles and too quick timings for CTs if going from spawn to the upper part of the map on the lower route. The teams balance was around 60:40 (CT:T, this is without considering a good utility usage that can get really strong on the map and can end up mixing cards for both teams).
4. The Arrival
As the phase name says it all, this is the point where the layout got finally stabilized and where the map is at right now. In this phase I adressed the remaining opportunities for improvement from the 3rd phase. To address the timing suggestion on one part of the map I have moved around a bit the spawnpoints for both teams, fortunately this didnt negatively impact any other timings on the rest of the map. The backsite area received more depth, now it is divided into 2 subareas - the inner stairs part and the entrance to site part. This isolated a lot of angles from the inner part to site, where you still have a line of sight to site and droproute entrance, but its more tight and you have to walk into the backsite-entrance part to get more view. The droproute and the area just before it also received its depth and dynamic. Now Ts have a staging room with window for utility usage before the actual drop and the drop is made so that Ts do not have to neccesarilly commit dropping down, they can be peeking and open up more angles but can still reroute or split before actually droping down. This change also removed a very powerful camping spot in the area that CTs had before. Last thing to note here is that the bottom edge shape of droproute changed into a sort of flipped "V" making the box on entrance to the site free stading - this gives options for both holding and taking the site.
People were having a blast on the latests version, the matches showed themselves in a wide variety of scenarios, rounds for early chokepoint controls, plenty of plant & retake rounds, rounds with split tactics, quick rounds, slow rounds, mindgames with utility usage and elevated positions. The balance ended up on pretty much around 55:45 - 50:50 scenarios. Though, it was really hard to tell if the map has a true ideal of 50:50 perfect balancing, because it became pretty much round-dependent based on the executed strats and utility. You could say that CTs will still have a very very slight advantage on this type of the map no matter what, given the fact that they spawn on the site having plenty of options and freedom to go for and Ts being the ones that have to push every time, but that is something that I cannot change unless I totally rebuild the level into a different map. Because of this I do not see any point of endlessly pursuing the cosistent 50:50 ideal and so I called it a day with this process.
Just a few pics showing some edited areas
If you have been going up until here I congratulate you lol. Guess now it's about right time for me to start biting the nail and jump into a new world, that is.. the creation of custom assets from scratch (not just editing stock stuff). This might take me while but I hope that one day I'll reach the finish line eventually. Wish me luck and persistence!