Before 21: Multiplayer Level Design.

Before 21: Multiplayer Level Design.

Document of Intension:

Document Written and Product officially started on 12th August 2006

This exercise is designed to validate and improve my level design skills. The main focus being on level balance, Bot-path placing and to make an overall impressive map for the multiplayer community to use as they like. As a rule I can only use the assets provided in UnrealED and Unreal2004 to make this level. Nothing can be added in the way of textures and meshes. This is to simply ensure that when the map is completed it will be easily uploaded for anyone to play. The advantage of that being that studios that own unreal can play test the levels for themselves.

For my goal of making this fully playable level to come into life I have set a number of objectives for me to accomplish with this map. These objectives are as follows:

?     The Game type is ?Onslaught? where teams must capture the points in order to link them together. Once the link is connected to the other teams base power generator then they attack it and destroy it winning the match.

?     No outside assets can be used. All artistic textures and meshes must be a part of unreal to begin with.

?     The two teams must be equal in chances of winning the match. No team has an advantage level design wise that the other can?t counter

?     Weapons and Vehicle placement must be fair for both teams.

?     The consistency of style in the level must be maintained. [i.e.: no medieval scenery if it's a sci-fi level.]

?     The map must offer more then one direct way to accomplish the goal.

?     The map must contain both inside and outside environments.

There is no set date for the completion of this level but if I am to present myself as professional then obviously I cannot take forever on one level. Anywhere past December 2006 will be considered overtime.

So the process for making this level I have devised as follows.

1.     Get a Vague idea in your head about what you want to make.

2.     Open UnrealED and browse through the texture and static mesh packages to find suitable material to work with.

3.     Write up a document of intention [this] and a brief description of what you want to make.

4.     Draw up designs and ideas for the level. Annotate the drawings to describe what you want done.

5.     Begin to map the level by boxing out the BSB areas and add a flat terrain to the map.

6.     Shell out the shape your looking for in the map.

7.     Add the needed actors and lights to play the level out to test.

8.     Once gameplay testing has passed add in luxury actors and lights.

9.     Finish off my adding in all the decoration work to make the level look awesome.

Finally ? In order to give you a hint of what I?m working towards I will give you a brief description. As it's very early into design there isn?t a lot I can commit to paper. Thank you.

Level Name: Two Miners

Level Type: Capture the points. [Onslaught]

Level background:

In a newly discovered valley a great treasure is found. Power Crystals. These highly compressed rocks are powerful energy conductors. They are used in the construction of interstellar battleships and city generators. For this reason the two largest mining corporations in known human history landed and made mining factories adjacent to each other.

In time a city grew around the small valley. Strangely enough the crystals could be found nowhere else in the area but both companies took equal shares and prospered to their own means. But sadly this would not be forever. With the Crystals depleting and mining deeper heralding no results, coupled with the fact that the entire city around the valley needed the two corporations support to keep the area powered and stable lead both parties to take an offensive on the other. Within moments both mining bases brought in Special Forces to destroy the generator core of the other. For if that alone went down the other power would claim total authority off the scant crystals left in the valley.

Before 21: Multiplayer Level Design.

Initial level design.

Level Name: Two Miners

Before I open up the UnrealED level editor and start crafting away at a level I thought it would be a good idea to do some preplanning and draw up some simple concepts on what I would like the level to look like overall and explain the reasoning behind the design of this level.

What is the game mode Onslaught? :

?Onslaught? Is a game mode in unreal Tournament exclusive to Unreal2004. The players are divided into two teams. At the start of the match both teams begin at their home bases. They must then quickly and effectively fan out to travel to power nodes. Secure the power nodes and making these nodes connect to their own power core and other acquired nodes. When the team has enough nodes to connect form their power core to the enemies then they are able to attack that core. Once the health of the enemies core reaches zero it explodes and the match is won.

Most maps use Vehicles due to the distance between nodes and the firepower needed to take them over or keep them guarded.

What makes a good ?onslaught? map?

On the unreal multiplayer servers the two most played maps is Torlan and Primeval. These two maps are different in many ways but share two similarities. Number one is that they can both be played fast and a team can win in less then 15 minutes. Number two is that no team has a handicap or disadvantage on the other team. Both are equal in power and placement.

Size of map is another thing. While ?Onslaught? mode maps are the biggest out of the entire game. Being too vast and big poses a problem. The max players in unreal are 32 people. To this end if the map is too big no one will be fighting. Just exploring. So while maps can be bigger then usual they must be focused into points of interest, which is in this game mode a power node. And power nodes should have a strategic point to them. A pitfall in this mode is to make a map with 8 nodes where as only 4 are of any value.

With these considerations in mind I started to design my map based off my storyline idea.

Initial Map design:

The overall design is simple yet it has a lot of potential for a lot of fun to be had. Basically the entire map consists of two identical bases inside a mountain; one to the left and one to the right. These bases hold each players power core. Between these two bases is a valley where all the mining operations have taken place. This valley holds three power nodes. One is in the centre down where all the mining equipment is and is directly underneath the bridge. The other two power nodes are to each entrance of the bridge high above the middle power node. Each of these nodes is focus points and this is where the majority of combat is going to me held.

I believe this map will be fun to play because it gives the player more then one option to beat the other team and in the same respect players with different play styles can enjoy what this level has to offer. Weapons are spaced out in the right areas and no team has an initial advantage.

Power and defence are the focus of this map. The main vehicle used is the tank and I?m exited to say that lovers of this kick ass vehicle will have many to play with in his map. It will be interesting to see how players fair up to trying to defend form 4 incoming tanks. But this will not be an imposable task as the map is filled with many defensive positions. As I said; Power and Defence.

Now we will go into further detail about curtain key areas of the map.

The Bridge:

The bridge is the key connection between the two higher power nodes in the outside segment of this map. The two nodes are so high form the middle node below that jumping off from the bridge would be an instant death. This is to prevent players from acquiring the top node and moving down to take the middle one. The Strategic purpose of taking this node is Defence. When this node is taken you do not get any extra vehicles but you do get two sentry turrets in which you can enter into and defend the node and your base form enemy tanks and players. Additional to defence you are also given a sniper rifle at the weapon locker next to the power node. Being this high and the bridge having small openings in the sides a skilled sniper can take out enemies on the ground. However this is risk as the enemy can simply walk into the bridge and kill you without you knowing it.

If your team is able to acquire both sides of this bridge then the path is clear for you to attack the enemies? power core. The bridge is a key way to win a match.

The Mining hole:

The mining hole is located directly underneath the bridge. Here is a single power node with some weapon lockers. While the two higher nodes next to the bridge are defensive based. This single node is an offensive tactical point. As it is in the middle of the level and both teams have equal chance to acquire this node this is where the most fighting will take place. The weapon locker is the only one that has the rocket launcher and when the team acquires this point they are reward with two more tanks. Taking a teams max tank total to 4. When the team takes this node it connects straight to the enemy power core. Thus making this one point extremely important and to that end half the reason why the top two nodes above this one exists.

Storage room:

The Storage room is available to both bases. What this room provides is both a tactically valuable defensive advantage for the bases team and a refill station for players on the offensive trying to take out the power core by hand. Offering a small ammunition increase for the standard weapons but more importantly for the defenders it is the only place where the ?Anvil? anti vehicle weapon is housed. Players who pick up on this will have a means to take out enemy tanks by hand. This room is here to serve as a way for players to better equip themselves if they are currently in defensive positions. Additional to this is the teleporters that instantly take the player to the tank hanger.

Power Core room:

The power core room is a two story high octagonal room with the core at the end side of it. This is where the offensive team is trying to attack. So the empathises for this key room is to allow for strong defence and power. On the defensive side of things the room has two turrets that players can control and keep the opposing players at by. The respawn time for these has been made faster to better help the defenders. Also additional health pick-ups have been placed near the turrets. These turrets are placed at the 2nd floor of the room and have the most coverage. However they don?t cover under them so they are still avoidable. On the Offensive side we have 3 ways the enemy players can enter into the room. 2 of them are the normal enter ways that the player can run into the room on the 2nd floor. But a key option for the offensive team is the ?Tank way? at the ground floor.

The Tank Way:

The Tank way is a long corridor that a tank vehicle can fit through to use its weapons on the power core. It's located underneath the storage room. However there is an obstacle that must be met first. This tank way has three doors that must be destroyed in order for the tank to come from outside the base to the generator room. This tank way is another tactical option given to the players of the map to try and add more options into their game play. And as empathises on tanks is strong in this level it would be a damm shame to not be able to use them on the power cores.

With all this preplanning in place I can now get to work piecing together my map. Starting with the base boxed out with simple BSB brushes and then making and levelling out the terrain. As usual I?ll make it a goal to document as much as I can for you all. There will be an update once every fortnight.

And as always thank you for reading.Caroo2006-09-21 07:52:03

nexx's picture

Have you considered a theme yet? I like the idea of both indoor and outdoor areas & the bridge is cool. To paraphrase the Quakecon ET Quake Wars demonstration: vast maps need choke points!

I understand your choice to use entirely packaged content, but I wouldn't rule out creating a few of your own textures/meshes yet. For example..how will the bridge be constructed? BSP could be a nightmare and a packaged bridge mesh might look less spectacular if users have seen it before...but a custom texture might be enough.

Obviously you dont want to get bogged down creating art assets (and have a large download) but a few specialized textures/shaders/meshes could work in your favour. You can embed custom content inside a .ut2 map file (if you're worried about having users to install/copy multiple files).

Good luck and I look forward to following this project :)

Caroo's picture

quote:Originally posted by nexx

Have you considered a theme yet? I like the idea of both indoor and outdoor areas & the bridge is cool. To paraphrase the Quakecon ET Quake Wars demonstration: vast maps need choke points!

I understand your choice to use entirely packaged content, but I wouldn't rule out creating a few of your own textures/meshes yet. For example..how will the bridge be constructed? BSP could be a nightmare and a packaged bridge mesh might look less spectacular if users have seen it before...but a custom texture might be enough.

Obviously you dont want to get bogged down creating art assets (and have a large download) but a few specialized textures/shaders/meshes could work in your favour. You can embed custom content inside a .ut2 map file (if you're worried about having users to install/copy multiple files).

Good luck and I look forward to following this project :)

The visual theme is sci-fi, as unreal is really. The empathises is less on visuals and more on game play and structure.

If were talking play type theme I?ve already said it's a blend between raw power and defence.

And while the urge to make my very own textures and meshes is always tempting. I must stay within my criteria for this one map. It's about simply using what you have to make what you can.

Getting this project completed is very important as it shows I can finish what I start.