Snowthistle is a multiplayer map for Team Fortress 2, set in and around the ruins of a medieval castle and the modern construction efforts to restore it deep within a snowy taiga.
It uses a nonstandard gamemode, Payload Race Circuit, which challenges both teams to escort their cart around a circular track in order to catch up to and ram the back of the enemy team's cart. This gamemode had previously been made for another creator's map, Orbit, but had had issues concerning matches which felt directionless or stalematey since one team's progress could be entirely removed by the other team. I solved these issues for Snowthistle by modifying the gamemode to cause the carts to speed up over the course of the match, ramping up both the risk and reward of the objective and increasing the building tension of each match. It's now considered the most iconic Payload Race Circuit map out there.
Snowthistle is my most popular and well-known project across all my work, and is played semi-regularly by a variety of Team Fortress 2 communities.
(Servers that have recently played it can be viewed here.)
Snowthistle was made for TF2Maps' 15th Major Contest, the Payload Checklist contest, which tasked contestants to bring a new map from a concept to an artpassed state within 4 months, while following 5 or more specific requirements from a checklist. It received 5th place overall out of 24 entries.
The map was made with the intention of creating a space that was fun to deathmatch and move around within, but still encouraged players to play the objective while doing so. I compared it to Hightower, a map made by Valve, which has a reputation for eternal matches where players ignore the objective in favour of deathmatching. By having a much more mobile set of objectives (acting as sources of healing and ammo) which move throughout the primary deathmatch zones and interact much more with eachother across a multi-levelled interlaced path, and give more advantageous positioning when pushed further, players are encouraged to interact constantly with the objective while fighting one another.
The map was developed using an iterative workflow of repeated prototyping and playtesting, and gathered a huge amount of data and feedback over the course of its development. During the initial four-month contest period, it recieved 16 total updates and at least as many individual playtesting sessions, and has continued to receive occasional updates as I've revisited it since, informed by 35+ additional playtests. It has changed a significant amount over that time, including one complete ground-up rebuild of the map in order to solve issues with scaling and flow, which allowed me to apply feedback and my new perspective on the project with absolute freedom.
Snowthistle is not yet finished, and I semi-regularly return to it to develop the gameplay and visuals further in the gradual pursuit of a Release Candidate.