Pinegrove

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Pinegrove widescreen.png

Located in a coastal forest, Pinegrove is notable in several ways. Aside from being one of the most beautiful maps in the mod and a remake of a map from the original GoldSrc mod, its development cycle is the longest in Pirates, Vikings and Knights II's history, with development started in 2007 and ultimately released in 2014.

Stats

  • Map file: bt_pinegrove
  • Mode: Booty
  • Author: Gaz, YeeHaa.
  • Release Date: Beta 3.0 (October 2014)
  • Theme: Medieval, rural.
  • Number of Chests: 5
  • Timer per Team: | Pirates 240 | Vikings 240 | Knights 240 |
  • Pick-ups: Food (x8), Armor (x7), and Ammo (x6)
  • Stage Hazards: coastal cliffs.

Overview

The layout of Pinegrove is different from more traditional maps like Forgotten and Island. rather than forming a triangle, each class' base is pararel to each other and the chest bases make a perpendicular line in the center. By indicating the ocean as south, the Knights' base locates in the western side of the map, the Pirates' is in the center and the Vikings' base is in the eastern side. Two of the chests are located on the creek while the other two are inside the forest; the fifth chest starts out inside the Pirates' base, smilar to Island.

The Pirates' base has the shortest paths that lead to the chests since they're located right in front of said base. Despite their advantage the base itself is tight and claustrophobic, and it's prone to be easily invaded by enemy players. The other classes' chest areas are in open places and props to cover are plenty.

There are four alternate routes in the map, all of which are tunnels carved in the rocks. The one in the Knights' base starts out with a staircase and it leads to the windmill; another one near the creek starts with a cliff, followed by a tunnel and it ends with a bridge that leads to the Vikings' base. The Vikings have an alternate route for the forest, which starts out with a ladder placed in a rock, followed by a tree that serves as a bridge that leads to the tunnel, which ends in the wooden bridge which has the chest. The one that leads to the Knights' base, while not the most dynamic, it's unique for the inclusion of crystals that illuminate the path.

Presentation

Pinegrove is rich in detail thanks to the amount of variety on tree models designed by Gaz, which gives a more natural look when they're placed both randomly and with harmony. The polished look of the level design is the result of complex displacement brushes that ramps up the level of detail unlike anything seen in the mod.

The map is recognized by its landmark, the windmill. While it's only ornamental, players can climb up a staircase and a rope installed in it for fun.

The water in this map is a special combination of models and particles that achieve the most dynamic effects possible, considering that simulating water is a tough job to do in the Source Engine.

History

A picture showing the variety of pine tree models built by Gaz, which were used for the final release of the map.

The original Pinegrove in Pirates, Vikings and Knights was built by Gaz, who also created the GoldSrc version of Island. Both maps were among the most popular in the GoldSrc mod, which gave Gaz the opportunity to remake the latter for the sequel's first release, in 2007. During development of the mod's original release, YeeHaa, who worked on Desertruin, has shown interest in remaking Pinegrove and Gaz approved the idea. Both mappers started working on the layout but with the delays caused by focus on improvements of the already released maps, YeeHaa lost interest on the project and the map was put on hold.

With the improvements on Island ready for Beta 2.0, Gaz decided to go back to Pinegrove and improve on YeeHaa's layout; with help from then-lead tester Blade, several tweaks regarding spawn location and team balancing were done, as well visual updates. Footage of Pinegrove was first revealed in the ModDB Interview. Despite the good progress on the map, Gaz left once again development on Pinegrove due to his hard work on the video game Stealth Inc., where he worked as a level designer.

After a long absence, he returned into mapping for the mod in 2012; Gaz's sporadic appearances in the PVKII community were solely to improve on the map's lush visuals to coincide with the mod's migration to the latest version of the Source Engine. Its release was kept as a surprise in the shipping of Beta 3.0, concluding seven years of development.

Newspost

Below there's a newspost by Gaz about the development of the map. It is likely to have been written in 2008.

"Going back to pvk1, the third and final map that I created for the mod, was a level called pvk_pinegrove. Like island, and shores, it was made on a whim, me having fun in hammer (the level editor), and releasing the fruits of my labor to the pvk team. They like it, and release it with the next release. 8 years later, and miraculously, it, like pvk_island turned out to be a number of peoples favorite pvk map. Having remade island, Yeehaa, a fellow pvkii team member, asked if he could make a remake of the level. I agreed, with the only request that he keep the same layout as the original. Yeehaa, then set off, decompiled the old pvk1 map, and traced it in hammer until he had a complete layout replica of the map, and proceeded to start texturing it, as well as set some basic displacement terrain (method used in creating the source engines terrain).

Unfortunately, due to other maps needing changes for PVKII 1.1, Yeehaa lost interest in the map, and so it sat in the development folder of the mod.

Original layout & YeeHaa's re-textured version

Fast forward to before the release of PVKII 2.0, and now I've worked on pvk_island for such a long time, I want to set it all on fire, never to see it again. However, to refrain from such actions, I had a poke about the developer map directory, and fell upon Yeehaa's efforts of pvk_pinegrove. A quick IRC conversation later, and Yeehaa doesn't mind if I take up the helm on my old maps remake. We're in business! Ok, so theres a whole load of waffle, and if you have read all the above, I salute you! Sorry about that, a nice history lesson at least

Now that island only needs tweaks here and there, I took Yeehaa's source map, and removed all of the textures it was using. Good textures, but not ones I personally felt fitted pvkii. Once all the textures (bar a small few) were replaced with Valves Orange and Grey development textures, it was time to work on the layout, and focus on making it look pretty later.

Here is what the original layout looks like, followed by another overview, this time of Yeehaa's re-textured version: (left)

Note: The red lines are to show tunnels as they are very dark. Also note, I have made the center area (the pirate spawn) a cave opposed to the old version, where its open. As well as expanding the top area slightly.


In the original map, pirates spawn in the middle of the map, with Knights and Vikings spawning randomly. I tried re-imagining what the level would look like, and from this making some basic adjustments of the overall terrain (making part a cave for example). I also decided, due to the popularity of booty maps, to make pinegrove, from what was originally a team deathmatch map, into a booty map, with a twist. In previous maps, at least one team have started with chests in their zone, this time, however, I'm trying it whereby there a 4 chests, each in a different location outside zones. They must be scouted, and returned to your teams base.

With this in mind, Knights now spawn on the left side of the map, whilst Vikings spawn on the right side. Having had so many issues with Islands balance, I wanted to make sure that this map was going to be balanced from the get go. So my first port of call, was Grogbots! Currently grogbots are development only, as they are still in the process of being made by Akz. Grogbots are essentially bots for PVKII. I ran about the level so far, laying waypoints for the bots, telling them where they could run, and where chests and ladders were located about the map. Unfortunately, the bots are yet to navigate ladders, and so to counter this, I made some very steep stair cases for a temporary fix.

I added 3 bots to each team, and watched them from spectator view for around 5 games, analyzing their movements, and which team was winning. After that, I took it to 4 and then 5 per team. The results were quite satisfactory, however they was one major flaw. The bots couldn't use ranged weapons! Whatever the class of bot was, they resorted to their basic melee weapons.

Given the bot watching, I made some adjustments to the map. (left)

Note I've now removed the buildings, and added the stair/ladders as well as placed booty capture zones (grey squares). There is also the addition on the tower, bottom left. It is important in level design to teach the player where they are in the map, and the tower serves as a key landmark.

A later-stage layout after Blade gave his first suggestions
Adjusting team routes

The next stage was to show it to Blade, our lead tester, having helped me immensely on the refinement and balance on island, I trusted his judgment on this new level. He pointed out a number of flaws in positioning of both spawn areas, and chest zones. Suggesting that I move the spawns a distance away from the chestzones to allow attackers a chance of escaping with a chest.

As with making all changes to level work (mainly displacements (terrain)) its a bit of a pain, but I knew he was right. So with the information he had given me, I moved the location of the chestzone for the pirates, as well as carving out some extra caves for the pirates to spawn in. I also replaced the church building on the left side of the map, and placed knight spawns.

The viking area, the right side of the map was then opened up. There are now cliffs along the bottom of the map down to an ocean, rather than a beach in the previous version. I also opened up the top, and the top left of the map. Allowing for some 3d sky views and more interesting scenery, rather than having the whole level enclosed in cliffs, which is rather boring.

Heres what the level was looking like: (left)

Again, I showed it to Blade, and we had a run about in it. We decided to see what the balance was like layout wise, and timed each other running as the same class, from one chest zone to another. What we found let me make decisions on the layout of the level. Our research told us that Knights could get to the pirates base in 17 seconds going the top route, and 22 seconds going to bottom route. Knowing this showed that the lower route would never get used, as players (and bots) would always take the top route unless getting chests in the lower region. Vikings however, took 20 seconds to reach the pirates, using either the top route, or the bottom. Vikings were balanced, Knights were not. A fix was needed.

Off I went again, and made some changes given our findings. (right)

Here is the result. The major changes were to the bottom left of the map, I have radically shrunk the amount of cliffs and changed the direction of the tunnel out to the tower. The Knights chest zone is now lower down nearer the church, and the other building in the knights area, is now higher up. This offers attacking teams to climb up on the roof and fire down at the knights, or ambush them and run off with a chest.

To counter this for Vikings, the addition of a treehouse was built. Offering opposing teams an alternate route to attack from. The pathway up to the treehouse has since moved closer to the top of that area, so that its harder to chase an enemy going up.

The Pirate spawns have been shifted slightly, with the upper cave now sporting an upper deck to prevent campers dropping kegs into their chestzone, without the enemy reaching them.

Lastly the green path has now been changed, allowing a more interesting route, as well as better optimization map wise.


I hope thats been a somewhat interesting read, sorry if it was a bit long, but I wanted to share it all with you Please let me know if you enjoyed this dev journal and what you thought of it.

Thats the layout covered. Next time, I'll try and show you the progression of the map visually. But for all those of you picture hungry, here are some very WIP (Work in progress (not finished!)) screen shots of the level, old version followed by new version."

Trivia

  • The achievement Seven Years in the Making is a direct reference to the map's development cycle;
  • A small brush in the Knights' spawn area teleports any keg that is thrown there; the keg is instantly teleported to the cliffs behind the buildings of the town so that nobody gets hurt when it explodes;

Gallery

PVK1's Pinegrove

  • The waterfall.
  • One of the pathways.
  • The PVK1 version's beach, which would be replaced by the windmill in the current version.

2008 Screenshots

  • The waterfall in the 2008 build.
  • A pathway of the 2008 build, presumable from the Pirates-Vikings path.
  • The windmill as seen in the 2008 build.
  • A Heavy Knight using the chest special in the ravine.
  • A Berserker carrying a chest.
  • Another screenshot of the windmill.
Official Maps
Booty Forgotten - Island - Pinegrove - Townsquare
Trinket Wars Desertruin - Fort - Frostbite - Temple - Tortuga
Last Team Standing Arena - Cathedral - Gravedanger - Town
Territory Cara - Sandstorm - Tortuga
Deathmatch Fort