One of Natural Selection’s key strengths lies within its active modding scene. You can subscribe to a plethora mods and maps on the Steam Workshop.. Today is the second article of our long series that should introduce some of the most interesting and thrilling (in our opinion) mods and maps made by community players. As the saying goes: “to each his own, there’s no accounting for taste” so any personal remarks here are, obviously, individual and belong to the author(s). Each article will be cut out into different parts.
Let me introduce, firstly Flaterectomy (or Flate): mapper, maptester, playtester, Community developer. Doing the whole list of what Flate has done on NS2 those last years might take a while so let’s stick with those sole titles. ns2_caged has been in development since, basically the official release of the game and for the old players like me, it seems Caged has always been around, although it is not part of the official map rotation.
I. How did this idea to make a map come about?
“I had originally started on a map of my own design called ns2_entropy, which was basically going to be Summit’s layout but with a double res node location in the center instead of a tech point. Around this time I was getting a lot of help getting started with mapping from Janos, who was working on Hera together with Alibi at the time. I started considering that maybe a remake of an old NS1 map, like they were doing, would make for an easier task than doing an entirely new map. Of course, looking back, I now know I was very wrong. But I stuck with it anyway, and now it’s not that far from being done.”
II. What is Caged exactly? What does it look like?
Originally created on NS1, Caged is now part of the huge list of NS2 custom maps but unlike most of them, a lot of people know Caged. I’m saying it again but it seems like it has always been there. Flate has been very cautious to upload many videos showing the evolution of the map time after time. Note how different the layout used to be and how it is now.
This is exactly what a brand new map in development looks like…grey textures everywhere! Don’t hesitate to watch the other videos on this Youtube playlist. I am not going to post all those videos on this article, would be way too long but some of them show how patient and motivated you need to be to work on a such tricky and lengthy project, BUT the final outcome is more than worth it.
III. Where to try it out? Is there any other custom maps out there?
Many public and competitive servers (including NSL gathers) run this map. Also: “We of course run it at the Spark Crafter Collective server for SCC testing every sunday, and I’ve seen it pop up on a variety of other servers.” There are so many maps on the Workshop that most tend to fall in oblivion unfortunately. A couple of months ago, I updated the NS2 Map Index, although it’s a bit outdated now, you can notice there’s a fair amount of custom maps, all available on the Workshop but the Map Index page gives all the information and links. SCC runs public maptests every sunday, it includes custom maps only but I advise you to join those sessions, they’re damn fun and playing those ‘new’ maps kind of make it really enjoyable, even more so if you’re tired and bored of playing the same Summit, Tram, Veil over and over again.
IV. Personal Review
I really love this map how my review is going to be quite short since I must admit, I don’t really have a lot to say. This map is great, original, different from what we’re used with the official map rotation. As you can notice on the above picture, four Tech Points with Marines always starting at Main Hold (previously called Marines Start) and Aliens the other three TP. Caged has deeply changed these couple of last months and to be perfectly honest and clear, if you ever played one of the former versions of the map, you may have a different experience altogether.
As in, the south side of the map, mainly has ‘evolved’ to become what it is now. Rest assured however, despite those, let’s call it, huge changes the map is getting close, if not already of its final shape. It plays quite well. Players need to get used to it as with any other new maps but I must say the global feeling when playing on this map is positive. Only a few people actually care about ventilations, in this map, I find them really beautiful (I let you figure out why) and useful.
Don’t mean to spoil it for you all but let’s play a game, who is able to find all the Gorge plushies on the map?
All in all, never played it in your whole NS2 life? It’s about time to get on that. And again, if you’ve never tested one of the latest iterations, you should also have a new look. I expect this map to get played more in the future anyway.
V. Some advice for new mappers?
“My advice for new mappers is mostly just to be active on the mapping forums. Ton of mappers gather around there, lots of knowledge. I did a few tutorials on the NS2SCC youtube channels as well. Partaking in the Spark Detailing Exercise that I host every now and again can be pretty helpful. I am always available on Steam, through the forums, or on Discord to help out.”
Flate regularly updates Caged and consequently, his UWE forum thread. He’s often on Steam and is always open to answer any questions. If you got a Twitter account, I highly recommend you to follow him, you’d get some overview of what’s being done on Caged.
I mentioned a couple of times, NS1 on my article, so here’s some screenshots of the NS1 version of Caged. Some nostalgia for prior NS1 players? Thanks Flaterectomy for providing this full album.