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Mapping Contest Winners

Here are the results to ThinkingWithPortal's final Portal 1 mapping contest. Congrats to all of the mappers who entered!

1st Place: Afterburn by Amran -- Total 4.63 out of 5
2nd Place: MotanumsTest by Motanum -- Total 4.08 out of 5
3rd Place: Dyad by Mevious -- Total 4.01 out of 5
Kizzycocoa Award: Aperture Rockets by Crabby -- Better luck next time!

The winners have already been contacted about their prizes. Congrats you three! Go ahead and play our new Community Spotlight map, Afterburn, while we wait for Portal 2 to release!

Want to hear what the judges had to say? Continue reading the thread for more! You can view the full contest results here.

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Afterburn

MrTwoVideoCards wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
I somewhat lost sight of the fact I had been playing a Reveal themed submission, solely on the fact the submission had been pretty long, and tough. Eventually as you progress consistency comes back around in the theme and reminds you you're somewhat near the "remake" of the end of Portal.

I think my main problem is just with length alone, and the consistency of that felt somewhat "in the way" of the fact this is a reveal based submission.

Visual and technical design
Visually I felt the map was pretty well constructed. It managed to keep the right amount of portal aesthetics without jumping too far from them or outside of them. Something I absolutely loved about the map and something I've been trying to explore with more of my own designs is the reuse of space. This map is the pinnacle of recycling for Portal based content, and this is a good thing.

Reusing certain puzzles sections worked pretty well in gameplay, but one of the problems with reusing space is that the area has to have a feeling of "reuse". The player has to be able to walk into it and immediately find out "oh I have to do something here again". There wasn't enough direction that leads me to that thought, and therefore I ended up walking back thinking I had missed something. The current way a lot of the routes are connected also can help to only confuse the player.
From a design standpoint it was still done very well once you realize this is the case. Though this leads me to my next two problems I felt were of some concern with the submission:

Direction: There wasn't enough of that. At some times I realized I could actually get myself stuck in a chamber if I did something the wrong way. At other times I had no idea what to do, and Hadn't I used some slick mid-air strafing maneuvers I don't think I would have beat it. Eventually I came across a chamber I saw absolutely no way out of. Sadly after 30 minutes of continually banging my head I noclipped through the chambers doorway.

Level of difficulty: The submission starts off fairly simple. The area at the start made me immediately think of "oh hey this is the reveal". Soon after that it went straight into difficult puzzles. The 2nd puzzle wasn't so tough, but beyond that the level of difficulty made a huge jump. I think at the times the pacing stayed pretty tight, while at other times it felt off. This was only aided by some of the very difficult areas of which I had to evade turrets. Some turrets in the final battle even spawned RIGHT BEHIND YOU. That was a huge problem I had, as it literally introduced a new mechanic right in the midst of a battle, and the only way to understand how it works is to die from it.

Author Appeal
It's a fairly good series of maps. I loved the fact that it was long, but sadly I don't feel that length was appropriate for the theme. I'm a bit sad that it was difficult, but not entirely impossible. I loved the re-use of space, but hated how that mechanic somewhat only made "already completed" areas harder and annoying to deal with.

OVERALL RATING
Theme: 3.8
Design: 4.5
Appeal: 4.3

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MotanumsTest

wstrika wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
Motanum's Test hold a standard for higher skill levels. The first 2 maps were a little frustrating to begin with, but the last map made me want to throw my monitor out the window. Eventually, I got through them all. I guess compared to the last map, the first two do progress up to it...it's more of moderate-to-severe in diffculty, not quite from "easy". For the most part, it sticks to the theme.

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Visual and technical design
The map looks complete, no outstanding errors in compilation. There was like one of the chamber screens that didn't flicker off properly, and showed the wall behind it instead, but that was it. The map uses a variety of textures throughout all 3 areas, and never get's too repetitive. I loved Motanum's choice to custom-record his own "GLaDOS", instead of using stock sounds, even if MS Michelle sounds a little silly. The last map is really interesting and challenging; it also shows minor story elements, like disposing of the portal gun when the test are complete, and actually walking to the dormitory to finish the level. Very different design than what I usually see, and a great concept.

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Judge appeal
This map really made me rage at some points - not that I really minded that much. It was a very fun experience. I've never hated energy ball puzzles so much until now. Very creative construction and execution in the map's design.

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Dyad

wstrika wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
Dyad uses the "Aperture Science" theme, centered around companion cube puzzles. The map's three areas all join to a centralized hub room, where the cubes must be brought and placed on buttons to activate the exit door. The rooms are clearly marked for difficultly with appropriate letters and color codes, and are truthful to the decals, as they progress from easy to hard. A well-composed map that sticks to the theme.

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Visual and technical design
This is a beautiful map. Dyad offers a great variation of texture throughout the map, from the orange/red lighting of industrial areas and piston-elevator platforms, to the standard white concrete and metal. The map, while following a set linear progression, loops back in itself several times, confusing the player and making the gameplay puzzling and dynamic. This map also offers a very intuitive modification to the portal gun: A second pair of portals, that must be toggled via buttons scattered throughout the levels. Learning how to complete your objective using four portals instead of two might sound easy at first, but several emancipation grids divide up areas so you can't freely use four portals wherever you want, which makes you think real hard on how to reach your goal. The addition of the second set of portals, and their flawless implementation to the strategy of this map is worth noting.

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Judge appeal
Dyad is a great map that plays good, looks awesome, and brings new content to the table without trying to remake Portal 2 or any stupid stuff like that. I was thoroughly pleased with this map, and I hope the author makes more maps in a similar fashion.

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MrTwoVideoCards wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
Dyad follows the Aperture Science theme, however in a very complex manner. Dyad has no real indication of what puzzle I should do first, and because there is no sense of progression I ended up just wondering into the puzzles and doing what I felt like.

Visual and technical design
Dyad offers an interesting twist to an already interesting way of delivering that gameplay, but is overall really really held back by the lack of proper teaching, and overall complexity of the learning curve that follows with that.
The map gives you the abilty to use two sets of Portals, which at first sounds really great, but then you actually have to go and solve puzzles with them. I can't remember where I read it from, but at one point in dev Valve played around with the idea of two sets of portals. They quickly found out how complicated it was when only one person manages both sets, but we can see they clearly fixed that in Portal 2 when you add in an extra brain.

Having said that I really suck at thinking with two sets of portals; I found it really, really hard to do certain things, and often I was just entirely lost.
The overall level design really didn't make that easier. I found myself wandering around from area to area until I finally found the room where you obtain the second portal set. I actually found it by accident, I didn't see any indications of a direction I was supposed to take. This mechanic is handled poorly as well. Everytime to press a "portal set button changer" it reminds you that you need to go and find the other set, but never tells you where that is.

Judge Appeal
All of the puzzles to me felt like they were all randomly placed in any order inside a rather large box. Visually however the map was pretty nice. It used a decent amount of color correction to handle the other sets of portals, which I found rather helpful, aided with custom particles to balance out identification issues with new mechanics. Once again though, gameplay here really takes away from that overall visual might.

OVERALL RATINGS 1-5
Theme: 1.5
Design: 3.8
Appeal: 2.8

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Aperture Facility Delta

wstrika wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
AFD uses the "Reveal" theme, and pulls it off well. Instead of having to fight GLaDOS, Chell successfully escapes the facility via a mudskipper at an aquatic dock.
Spoiler
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The map begins with GLaDOS attempting to burn Chell in a pit of fire, and she must traverse through the innards of the facility to escape. Overall, there's nothing that doesn't fit the theme here.

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Visual and technical design
The map is quite similar to the regular canon, and almost seems like a deleted map from Portal. The first area that Chell starts in is a little bare and could use some lights by the steps, but other than that, the rest of the map is spot-on. A wide variety of textures are used, with Chell going from the modern Aperture Labs areas to the rusted back areas. The difficulty is moderate at best, but the execution is creative, with a couple of regular portal puzzles, and some platforming over pistons and stuff. There are some missing brushes underneath the large pit of acid, which enable you to see the skybox during and after death. Additionally, it is possible to fall into the first pit of fire and survive, even though you're stuck there until you re-load. Apart from a few miscellaneous errors that aren't game-breaking, the map performs well.

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Judge appeal
AFD is an interesting alternative ending to the normal Portal canon, and has a great feel to it. It's relatively simple, but fun to play. I really liked the choice of two endings. The mudskipper ending kind of got my hopes up for a cool player-involved retreat by water, but when the credits rolled 10 seconds later I kind of wanted more. I'm not holding that against the rating, since it was really just to supplement how Chell escapes.

P.S: The cake is not a lie if you look hard enough.

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MrTwoVideoCards wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
AFD follows the reveal theme. The map instantly tells you it's revealing the end f the game again, which suffice to say other entries didn't do so well. However you never fight Glados. Now that was a given, but overall the theme felt really short.

Visual and technical design
The player gets dropped into the world via a very long, dark shaft. I'm not sure why the mapper chose to do this, but starting the player in a Aperture elevator would have been perfectly fine. Felt like a really lazy way to start the map off.
From there you progress to essentially the end of the game. There are no real puzzles going on, aside just your more than average intermediate use of proper portal placing. It was a walk in the park. After finishing the main area, which seems to be within a giant box, you quickly end the game using an airboat.
The airboat completely does not fit, and nor do the combine city scanners.

Judge Appeal
My overall problem with this map is how lazily it feels it was thrown together. It really feels like the designer had no motivation at all to create actual gameplay, side just having the player use portals to use portals.

OVERALL RATINGS 1-5
Theme: 2.0
Design: 2.7
Appeal: 1.8

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(No Name)

wstrika wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
spare8ball's map really sticks to the defined Aperture Science theme. The map consists of three chambers that get progressively difficult, and you can clearly tell the difficulties apart. The last chamber was a little tricky! GLaDOS' persistent commentary is present, which helps with the theme.

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Visual and technical design
No overlapping brushes or development discrepancies, as far as I can see. The map has a clear defined progression, and utilizes visual aids to help the player. Props are also used to make rooms not seem quite so empty. Good variation of static and dynamic props, as well. The map is designed with a good number of textures, and nothing looks very repetitive.

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Judge appeal
spare8ball performed the given objectives with very good results. I enjoyed playing his map, the last area really made me think for a minute. I tried to find something wrong with this map, but I couldn't. I give this map a 5/5, great work! It really shows creativity without going over-the-top.

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Temp Rising

wstrika wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
Temp Rising uses the "Aperture Science" theme, but gets it about half correct. While three distinct areas are present, none of them are really much more difficult than their counterparts. The map succeeds in fulfilling part of the theme's requirements.

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Visual and technical design
I like the orange hues of the map, it offers some variation from your typical Portal map. Textures are a little repetitive, and could have been used in greater variety. A lot of this map involves shooting portals through grates; however, at points some grates are broken and will not accept a portal being shot through it. One spot wouldn't work for me, and I had to keep shooting at different angles, despite the fact I was shooting at a portal-capable wall. Another area involved a series of sideways and upward elevators, with the goal of maneuvering the companion cube through them via two buttons. At one point, the cube was pushed through a wall and disappeared, but I was still granted the cube as a reward, which normally drops from a tube behind the player. I also noted that destruction of the cube in this area does not respawn the cube, effectively leaving the map impossible to complete. The lighting of the map does not feel complete, either, as the orange pits of death have the darkest walls closest to the bottom, but if they are to be a light source, should have brighter walls towards the bottom, and darker walls towards the top of rooms.

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Judge appeal
Temp Rising is incredibly easy to complete, and doesn't really pose a challenge or progression of difficulty throughout its three areas. I spent less than 5 minutes playing it. The map is broken in some areas, and visually unappealing in others. Overall, it could use improvement, though it's a good start.

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MrTwoVideoCards wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
This submission went for the Aperture science theme, sadly I never got that idea from any of it's actual design. The map introduced some new mechanics that aren't properly introduced well enough. I guess on one the puzzles and found out a solution by mistake, but otherwise had I not of done that I would of likely no doubt have been stuck. The idea behind being able to do any puzzle at any time you would like is pretty great, but not fitting for the theme. Because of this the puzzles can vary in difficulty, though are all still very easy. The box droper puzzle itself is also extremely easy and requires no input aside the 1 or two portal here and there and a lot of button presses.

Visual and technical design
Visually the map is interesting, I like the difference in lighting choice and consistency, but overall the lack of actual detail in the rooms really brings it all down. The overall design feels pretty square. A lot of the new mechanics are really the only thing that keep it interesting enough to keep the pacing. Lastly the map was quite short; as I was finally getting into it I realized I had already finished it.

OVERALL RATING
Theme: 2.8
Design: 2.5
Appeal: 2.4

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Cyberwurx Web Hosting

Aperture Rockets

wstrika wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
This map kind of sticks to the Aperture Science theme. The first area is incredibly easy, providing no hazard at all. The second area is a little tougher, traversing a long hallway filled with acid by making jumps. The third area is sadistic and completely unfair to the player. It consists of floors above acid, with random, invisible holes that send Chell to her death. You have to trial-and-error this entire third area. There is also a short fourth section that traps you in a room with a rocket turret, and you basically have to push a button, walk out a door, and the map ends. So this map basically goes from incredibly easy, to sadistically unfair, to very easy.

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Visual and technical design
The fist section of the map is very dull, with repetitive textures on the floor, walls, and ceilings. The second area does a bit better, but not by much. The third area is repetitive and has random textures out of place in the corners of rooms. The fourth area is also dull, using the same textures as the prior areas. Some textures throughout the map were noticeably overscaled or otherwise distorted, and some rooms really needed more light. The starting area could have used less - a crashed elevator should have broken lights and circuitry.

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Judge appeal
I don't like having to type console commands to get the map to run, in my opinion. I don't think this map was designed too well, and focuses more on platforming rather than actual puzzle-solving. Overall, it was visually un-appealing, and not particularly challenging, except when it was unfair to the player.

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MrTwoVideoCards wrote:
Adherence to your chosen theme
I couldn't fully tell what theme this entry went after, once again like a huge majority of the contests maps, the indication of theme isn't immediately made known. Overall though from continuing to play the map it seemed to go for a simple Aperture Science Theme. It did very bad.

Visual and technical design
Visually the map was pretty bland, with only minor amounts of contrast in lighting to help break that up. However I refused to continue playing the map for a while, then came back. There is absolutely no reason, no reason at all for needing the player to enter a console command to play a map. However more importantly a command that prevents the map from actually crashing the game.

I went around the map a few times and noticed your lightmaps are completely screwed up. That, or you felt it was fine to have the vast majority of your geometry all have a lightmap scale of 4 and below. Some walls even seemed to be set to 1. Overall from that the gameplay was pretty bland.

Judge Appeal
More proper portal placement and then walk into a puzzle with floor panels that are non-solid, but you can't actually tell. This area made me rage quit the first time. From then the puzzles remain pretty boring and uninventive. The difficulty has a decent curve afterwards, but after the non-solid panel puzzle room I can't help but feel this map didn't really care how much of an asshole it was already being.

OVERALL RATING
Theme: 1.8
Design: 1.2
Appeal: 2.5

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Finally! Been patiently waiting in the shadows for these results for a long time.

Anyways, good work everyone and congrats to those that won. No results from duffers though?

No because Duffers is a dick and still didn't actually review them, even after me yelling at him for months about it.

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