Since an initial release of Refresh: Process in Febuary 2020, Refresh maps have found their way into most of the world's map pools. Starting with Process "F5" seeing play in ETF2L Season 37, and the later "F7" version being seen in the ozfortress Summer Cup 2021, and being confirmed for RGL Season 5 and ozfortess 30.
Later in November the project expanded to Gullywash, which saw playtime in the recent ozfortress Summer Cup, and is also confirmed for the next season downunder. This series headed by Roboprod, HOI, and Collaide aims to take staple competitive maps, and add optimizations and fixes. I was able to sit down with their team to talk about the project:
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: What initially drove you to pursue this project?
Roboprod and HOI: We initially worked together on process refresh and decided to make the refresh map group as a way to reach out to people with experience to aid us on these projects. Along the years, issues and complaints with the maps were always present in tftv threads and livestreams from players of all skills, such as clockwork, b4nny, etc. The TF2 development team took action against some of these complaints, such as fixing rocket splash bugs on stairs on badlands and other maps, however this was short lived and poorly done. Thus, we gathered together in an effort to clean up these maps, improving their geometry and overall playability.
Collaide: Personally, I've wanted to do this for a couple of years now. I looked into doing it once before but it was such a daunting task so I just didn't. Ultimately, what drove me is wanting to enjoy playing the map more.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Why Process and Gullywash?
Collaide & Roboprod & HOI: We identified these maps to have the lowest probability of getting patches while having many opportunities for improvement. Chojje (of snake) and Phi (of reckoner & sunshine) have shown interest in updating their maps before and granary have pro versions already (credit to Dagger and Fubar). Comparatively process & gully have been left for dead, and the official gullywash is the least polished 5cp map currently played in our opinion.
Roboprod & HOI: We chose to begin with process because there were fewer major issues, making it a smaller time investment if the project was not received how we hoped it would be. We also thought it would make a bigger impact on the community to perceive us as serious about the work we do.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: How did you initially go about gauging what needed to be changed about the map?
Collaide, Roboprod, & HOI: We made our choices based on our competitive experience and from common complaints in the community. We were also able to find issues such as broken clipping within the hammer editor, since it shows many things which are invisible in-game. We were careful to only make changes that we expected to be received well by the leagues and their players.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Has your approach to these maps differed from your previous projects like prolands?
Collaide: There was a difference with my approach to interacting with the community. Being more transparent with the changes helps to prevent getting into certain arguments as I can address them early on before a release.
Due to the more messy dev cycle of prolands, some people (mostly americans) don't really know anything about it. I remember playing an NA pug on prolands_b2c and they were complaining about things I had already fixed more than a year earlier. I also learned that people have a severe aversion to change, of any kind. It went to the point where some would refer to a miniscule change as map-ruining and evidence of my total incompetence.
In reality, I was willing to listen and caved to many of these opinions in later versions. I actually had way bigger plans originally but they are instead realized in my personal project cp_utopia.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Have there been any tweaks that haven't been received how you expected?
HOI: I did not expect changing the out-of-bounds props on process to be met by any resistance but regardless the community feedback experience was generally very positive.
Collaide: On the whole, no. However we expectedly received complaints from demomen due to sticky trap changes. It's funny because most of them only exist due to developer oversights in the first place. Splash bugs and epic trap spots go hand in hand. There have also been comments made about which hiding spots are gone and still there. The discussions for that are still up though, and we will take overwhelming community opinions into account.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: With the maps being originally made by other people, has the issue of ownership come up at all in the project?
Collaide: Briefly, after a comment was posted on the process tftv thread. We're not breaking any laws or rules. We are NOT selling the map files for profit and we are NOT claiming creative ownership. Additionally, if Valve or the creators of the maps were interested in making new updates they could. Nothing's stopping them. Likewise, nothing is stopping anyone else from making changes to our maps, or maps belonging to anyone else. The vmf files are publicly available on our github.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Do you see any of your changes making its way into an official version at some point?
Collaide: The only chance is for the mappers themselves incorporating the changes and sending them to Valve, and we deem the odds of that happening very low.
The project will continue forward for the time being. Feedback can be left on the maps' threads for Process and Gullywash. The project is also looking for mappers to join the project which you can see here.