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Nixie is a map designed for Team Fortress 2's Attack/Defend mode, where one team attempts to capture a series of control points while the other team tries to stop them.

The map is divided into two stages: The first stage is based on Dixie National Forest, leading through red cliffs and green trees, ending in a visitor's center inspired by mid-century modern architecture. The second stage leads through a supposedly abandoned industrial area, including mining and wood milling operations, and ending in a hydroelectric facility. This variety of locations provides a variety of gameplay situations, such as a capture zone with walls inside that allow defense to block a capture in creative ways, or a moving sawblade that kills players while also providing strong cover to anyone on the point.

The layout is inspired by the chokepoint design from Valve's map 'Gorge'. The attacking team is given aggressive forward spawn placement after capturing each objective, allowing the connecting area into the next point to function as a sort of long chokepoint, where gameplay is a push and pull through a continuous but condensed area, rather than the chokepoint being a tight doorway connecting two open areas.

I was responsible for the full layout and artpass of the map from start to finish. I worked with Nattea for bespoke custom model assets, with Stuffy360 for custom trees, and with Lauren 'Yrrzy' Godfrey for promotional material on the Steam Workshop.

TF2Maps.net page
Steam Workshop page

Taking advantage of "3D Skybox" tech in the Source engine, a low-detail version of each stage is visible in the distance from the other stage.


Nixie was greyboxed and tested as two separate maps and stitched together at the end of layout testing. This made it easier and faster to test and iterate each stage. The main drawback to this approach is that a re-balancing pass may be needed after the map is assembled. The map was originally planned to be three stages long, but the third stage was removed to reduce the overall scope of the project and ensure that the map would fit inside engine limits.

The first point originally had the attacking team spawn much closer to the point. The spawn was moved back to give the defending team more room to push back. Additional room was added in front of the point to allow flanking players more distance from the main battle.

The second point originally had a large outdoor flank, but this proved inflexible and gave the defending team a significant height advantage over any attacking players using the flank. The flank is also very disconnected from the main route, making it a big commitment for attacking players. After a few iterations, this route was replaced with an indoors high ground that was more connected to the main area and provides an advantage for attackers that justifies the longer walk.

The second point of the second stage was always designed around a moving sawblade, but it took a few versions to arrive on the final idea. Initial drafts had the teams approach the point from two angles at a 90 degree angle, which meant the sawblade had trouble performing its job as a sightline blocker in a consequential manner. The final version has both teams approaching the point from the same side, allowing both teams to use the sawblade as cover.