My story was fairly simple:
Twos greed driven pioneers go behind each other’s backs over land contracts. Setting each other up, previous colleagues make anything besides peace.
To backtrack a bit, just before I chose my geographical and architectural references, I had to decide whether the map would be symmetrical or asymmetrical. The differences between the two reach far beyond location, and dictate the type of game it will be. After spending a week brainstorming, I moved from making a Portal mod to taking another go at TF2, and making my map symmetrical. There were two quick choices with this in mind: either I make a twist on the CTF style, or one based around the new Arena Mode.
Personally, I found CTF more appealing at first because 1. I wanted to do something different with such a well-known gamemode that was tailored for TF2’s class-system, and 2. the flag had some inherent potential for narrative. While I started laying out the map in Hammer, I was lead to believe that it was my spawning points that’d need a ton of attention. This was a response to the initial flag pickups (note the sketch below) being within the middle zone, and not at the opposite ends of the map, which proved confusing and turned the map into more of a race – the opposite of what I wanted.
Retreating to the spawn buildings, I tried rennovating the half of the them that housed the flag when I used it as a developer room. Larger than it might seem, my new problem was a poor floor plan. It worked, sure. You could get around, but the flag seemed arbitrary, while navigation felt awkward to me and, more importantly, my studiomates (generously playtesting). It did not help that my main area for combat was also underutilized and open. Snipers had a target from anywhere, Scouts could disregard almost all the architecture without compromise, and any class with a speed detriment had no advantages to compensate with. All of this was readable with only six players.
My story was simple. Solving my problems were anything besides that.