So vanguard has been added to the game a year ago. The circumstances have been bizarre to say the least and I've been trying to recollect in my head the series of events that have lead to where we are today. When I see these kinds of posts happening, it kinda leaves me scratching my head. What else could I have done, where did things go wrong.
Vanguard dates way back, probably 2011-2012. From the start I've always tried to be inclusive of the the competitive community. We'd regularly test it in scorpio's good ol' pugs, I've always seeked to get as much competitive feedback as possible and get the discussions going. To be honest tho, I never really got anything substantial out of that. The various forms of nitpicking did get me a long way, those things add up, but at the end of the day, I could never really get straight answers regarding the fundamentals of the map. Maybe it was my fault for never insisting enough but I could feel that people were already getting slightly annoyed at me pushing my dumb map. Maybe it was that there were no answers for vanguard, it is a weird map after all. In the end tho, it's the feeling that I had not completely figured out the map yet that kept me going. My initial goal was to create a good 6s map that would be a little different and would challenge the dominant meta a little, maybe pushing the game forward (may have been the fatal flaw right there). It may have been overly ambitious, I don't know. Ultimately, Vanguard did not get the traction it needed to get and I wasn't sure how I was going to bridge the gap alone. It never stopped me from working on the map tho. To me it had this sense of potential that kept me coming back to it. I was able to keep pushing the map and make it better. That lasted a couple years. It didn't matter how slowly it moved, I knew it was slowly getting better and that kept me going. The goal of making a 6s map had faded away; that was apparently not meant to be. At that point, getting the cold shoulder from the competitive scene no longer mattered to me, if the map didn't resonate with the competitive audience then that's perfectly fine. Of course I remained receptive to what the competitive community had to offer, but it never really materialized and I can't really blame you guys, that's just how it went. It didn't bother me too much, as long as I was still able to keep working toward making a quality map I would do just that. That was enough to keep me happy.
Then everything went crazy.
UGC eventually started getting interested in Vanguard, which came as a surprise at first. Vanguard always felt like a weird fit for highlander because I had built the map around all these 6v6 combat scenarios that were happening in my head. Maybe highlander 5cp just doesn't feel right ever, but I think it was mostly my own preconceptions of the map (difficult to be objective for me on that). Regardless I just rolled with it. Their input has been useful at improving the map overall. after many tests and iterations we eventually placed Vanguard in an actual season, Vanguard development was now faster than it had been in years and I was feeling good, the map had reached a true level of polish of which I was happy.
Then everything went crazier.
The UGC season had just ended and here I was working on the next major changes for the map. Then it happened, Valve had sent an email my way and vanguard was to be part of the next major update. It's quite the rush when valve casually sends you an email to tell you your map needs to be ready in the next two weeks. I reverted a few changes I had not had the time to playtest and shipped the map. I was HAPPY.
Then I had to stop doing crazy.
The map still had some issues and a few bugs which forced me to update the map a couple time. I took the opportunity to implement some of the changes I had been toying with prior to launch. But it was different now, It used to be that I could just try new things and experiment with the map but I had larger responsibilities now, It really puts things in perspective when hundreds of thousands of people are playing your map. So I opted for a couple last minute solutions that I'm not entirely satisfied with. It's difficult for me to be objective about the later changes but I don't feel that they were particularly creative or interesting. I kept it safe for the most part. In the end I felt this pressure to finalize the layout for once and for all and move on to other things, which made me kind of unhappy.
Then the community went crazy
There was this wave of hate around Vanguard. On one front, there was the post-UGC seasonal complaints of 5cp in highlander (shocker), the UGC community still had a sour taste in their mouth and the map did not have the time to show improvements before going in. On the other front, the 6s community was quick to point at Vanguard as a questionable choice by Valve. The timing was definitely weird. Unfortunately, the community was too blind to realize that Sunshine was being saved for the matchmaking update. It was as if Vanguard had illegitimately taken Sunshine's spot in Tough Break and I feel as tho Vanguard got a lot of unwarranted hate for it. Tbh that was a really shitty spot for me to be in. I had a good run tho, that's something to be happy about.
So, I'm not sure where that leaves us, I was considering giving Vanguard an other go and polish it up for 6s play since, let's face it, the matchmaking map pool is all over the place and we could use more viable maps in there. But uh, I don't know if it's worth it? I'm utterly confused regarding the community's feelings toward the map. Could be that the map is just not all that great or that the circumstances have placed it in an unfortunate spot. Could be both, I have no clue. I know it's kind of a polarizing map and that's probably something I can't do anything about since it was kinda meant to be that way. Maybe The map could be fixed, maybe it can't. I have no idea what the community consensus is on that but I'm hopeful that a full year has been enough to digest all of this.
But yeah, I've been working on building a level design portfolio lately to possibly get a job. Revisiting the old maps has been kind of a weird introspective journey and I figured I'd share some of it with you guys. Either way, my days of TF2 are counted so if vanguard is going to be updated, it's going to have to be now or I'm putting it to rest forever. (also if you want a koth_product update that would have to be now too but that is very unlikely unless something substantial comes up (don't worry I'll properly hand that down when the time comes))
Note: you can be blunt in this topic if you want. Better late than never amiright?
also this was too long, I'm sorry