My Portfolio project is the investigation and development of a single-player level using the Skyrim Engine. I will be creating a Dwarven Ruin based on an armory / war factory. This level will focus on my single-player level design skills using a game engine.
I will start by researching single-player level design theory and playtesting vanilla and modded Skyrim Dwarven Ruins.
Secondly, I will produce floor plans, first on paper, then digitally, then with added notes / puzzle walkthroughs.
Thirdly, I will create a blockout for the level to showcase its gameplay and level flow - this won't include enemies, or puzzles.
When the blockout is done I will get the level tested and apply changes accordingly.
Lastly, I will add-in more gameplay elements inc. enemies and puzzles. Followed by post-process actors such as lighting, and more art assets to add life into the level. And finally release the map on steam.
1) GDC VAULT, (2014), ITERATIVE LEVEL DESIGN PROCESS., Burgess, Joel., [Online], Available from: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1020171/Le ... n-in-a-Day, [Accessed 19th November 2015]
2) GAMASUTRA, (1999), Beggining Level Design., Ryan, Tim., [Online] Available from:http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1 ... part_1.php, [Accessed 19th November 2015]
3) World Of Level Design, (2012), How to Have the Best Level Design and Game Environment Year., [Online], Available from: http://www.worldofleveldesign.com/categ ... t-year.php, [Accessed 19th November 2015]
4) GAMASUTRA, (2013), Skyrim's Modular Approach to Level Design., Burgess, Joel., [Online], Available from: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JoelBurg ... Design.php, [Accessed 19th November 2015]
5) GAMASUTRA, Learning From The Masters: Level Design in The Legend Of Zelda., Stout, Mike., [Online], Available from: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6 ... hp?print=1, [Accessed 19th November 2015]
Testing - Wave #1
During the first wave of testing, I had two of my four maps tested by close peers. They each tested one or two maps, and gave written feedback using my original feedback form. The maps tested were ctf-redemption, and ctf-void. I will cover each of the map's feedback and relate them to industry research.
"What you liked:"
1) "As a Rocket Launcher CTF sort of gametype, this map works very well"
2) "Good idea."
At first, this map was not intended to be a rocket launcher focused map, however seeing the recorded gameplay it is obvious that a lot of players would use the rocket launcher due to its instant timer refresh and lock-on function. Albeit it did make the map fun, and the testers enjoyed it this way, yet, it does take the focus away from the other weapon spawns.
One discussion in the Unreal Tournament forums caught my eye, as user '_Lynx' replied to 'jackalox's' post discussion unfriendly weapon placements. His argument discussed that weapon placements / spawns "makes the game unfriendly to new players without much reason". Now, I feel that this makes sense considering - as a rookie to Unreal Tournament - I find it difficult to run into weapons on a few maps due to spawn points. Arguably, most maps require map knowledge to master. Unreal Tournament relies on strategy from the players to understand the maps to utilise the mechanics (wall run, lift jump), and the pickup locations.
I feel like keeping the map as a rocket launcher game mode because it makes it quick, and tying in with the ability to fall off the map easily, dangerous.
"What you didn't like:"
1)It feels quite open for a game that can easily access homing missiles, perhaps look into more obstacles to avoid fire or pathways *Ofcourse this could potentially be solved by removing rockets and more testing*
2)Rocket Launcher Overused
As discussed above, this map was not intended to be a rocket launcher game type. However, I understand the feedback due to the open map - mixed with the rocket launcher's homing mode. The feedback was useful as it detailed that I should consider obstacles to block the launchers path. This could work if I create the map as originally intended as if it was in the middle of a valley in a forest. This would take away the chance to fall off the map, add in much more routes and blocked lines of sights, and a more artistic theme.
"The primary metric that alters difficult is player line of sight" - (McKillan, 2012) 
This sentence by Luke argues the advantage and disadvantages of variations of line of sight. This includes the larger amount of tactical options provided by greater lines of sight - as with ctf-void - giving the player time to plan. Limited lines of sight puts players at a disadvantage, giving them less situational awareness, and less time to act. With an open map like Void, the rocket launcher is given much more power over the other weapons, as the players have longer to react to lock-on to their opponents. If I am to use this map, and keep the rocket launchers, I will have to block certain lines of sight using geometry.
1) "The middle lift thingy, pushed us up too far so it was hard to escape."
This feedback was a little too obvious for me, and is something I was worried about, yet wanted to test anyway. A simple change for this would be to make it larger and reduce the length of the matinee.
Gameplay Score (Average) 3/5
Navigation (Average) 4/5
"What you liked:"
1) "Very nice symmetrical feel, even odds for both teams are good The map itself isn't too big, so the players cant get lost, they know where to defend and where to attack"
2) "Nice CQC map for small teams, teams any larger and it may feel crowded (worth testing)"
Overall, the feedback for Redemption was positive. It seems the map works in itself as a Close Quarter Combat game mode well fit for small teams. Larger teams will be a good idea to test so I can update the map to make it larger if needs be. A larger map will provide more pathways to traverse (or at least longer), and add more movement into the map as UT4 has a lot of emphasis on navigation. With the addition of weapon / pickup placements, size and navigation are important as the player must be able to reach these effectively.
"In the case of a Halo title, designers will ask themselves if a map should be large or small, the size influencing the ideal number of players, the engagement distances and the weapons best suited to them, and the suitability of vehicles." (Holloway, 2013) 
In terms of ctf-redemption, there are two weapons in each base, and a biorifle in the middle, including 3 power ups across the map. Holloway details how designers should consider map size due to the engagement disatances and the weapons best suited to them. This is why the biorifle was selected to be included in the middle of the map, as it is a great defensive short-range weapon. The Link Gun and Rocket launcher are included to add variation and the rocket launcher serves as another defensive weapon as the link gun acts as an offensive weapon when running for the flag.
"What you didn't like:"
1) "Lighting was dark in some areas but I assume its a work in progress, wasn't alot of incentive to use the below pathways"
Setting the lighting aside as it is a WIP project, I will focus on the comment about the below pathways. I noticed that the whole section inside the building, the ground floor isn't needed and adds more places for noone to go. The other section adds a quick navigation to the one side of the map and the middle, so it shall be kept. My idea for this level is to open it up and remove the bridge. In addition, have a ramp go down as a quick but dangerous run where it balances out the speed to the flag and the vulnerabilities.
1) "Feels like you need a third level for possible sniper points, you may want to add side paths in the base incase AI trap you in"
As there is one route out of the base it is possible that the players can be trapped in. I will fix this by adding more routes of of the base, leading to alternate routes to run for the flag. As for a sniper level, this could be included when changing the level to add a choke point in the center of the map. By this I may rotate the bridge and underpass to add in a choke point in the center of the map, this way it will balance the route problem and allow snipers - and perhaps more players per team.
"Each map's choke points should support various playing styles - sniping, close quarter combat or stealth." (World of Level Design, 2013) 
Choke points add in combat engagements between players, most game modes like Search and Destroy use this to balance the attacking team vs the defending team. Where as in ctf it adds a way to defenders of each flag to fight as their runners use alternate routes to grab the flag, utilising the map flow, weapon placements, and strategy. As with any map, when the choke point is compromised, it changes the gameplay drastically. In Redemption I will focus closely on playing styles, as with ctf, there's usually one or two runners, then one or two defenders that preferably stay in mid when engaging the enemy. Adding sniper rifles will apply the incentive to stay back, which might slow the game flow with just two people.
Gameplay Score (Average) 4/5
Navigation (Average) 3/
1)GAMASUTRA., The Metrics of Space: Tactical Level Design., McKillan, Luke., [Online], Available from: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1 ... tical_.php . [Accessed: 25th January 2016]
2) GAMASUTRA., Deathmatch Map Design: The Architecture of Flow., Holloway, James., [Online], Available from: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1 ... n_the_.php . [Accessed: 25th January 2016]
3) WORLD OF LEVEL DESIGN., CS:GO 6 Principles of Choke Point Level Design., [Online]., Available from: http://www.worldofleveldesign.com/categ ... esign.php., [Accessed: 25th January 2016]
This has been a massive debate for many multiplayer games that include a CTF game type; is the map too big, and how does this impact the gameplay? 'Captn Caps' on the Unreal Tournament forums argues that "UT4 maps are too large for 5v5"' and comparing these larger maps to UT99 Close-Quarter maps. User 'Payback' approves this theory by stating that they feel that the latest maps are "a translocator spam fest", arguing that this item is being abused for the sake of vast navigation.
On a personal note, I lean more towards Close-Quarters Combat (CQC) due to my personal experiences with Call of Duty, Doom, Medal of Honor, and Team Fortress 2. Although, I am not alien to open-combat having played Battlefield and copious amounts of Planetside 2, however, I favour an up-close fight. This is why my two CTF maps are close-quarter, to add to the constant action, and response of the gameplay whilst also making it enjoyable and the goals achievable to win.
Other users on the forums argue that it's down to variation and current maps such as ctf-pistola, ctf-quick, and ctf-titan pass are all rather small maps that are still fun. 'HenrikRoyos'a later argues that smaller maps can create a "clusterf**k" due to the current movement of the game, soon after 'Payback' interjects with an argument that although larger maps provide a "chase" for the players as a "battle royale", the translocator is still abusable and too effective in the wrong way. An obvious trend in the comment sections both argue that the maps are varied, and perhaps the translocator should be removed from the current game.
'Captn Caps' later comes in to agree that "large maps make the whole game less dynamic", however, the translocator must not be nerfed due to how essential it is to UT's gameplay. To add insight to current and previous UT titles, user '<<MechikTaj>>' argues that UT4 isn't trying to "reinvent the wheel", but with so much more community support, developers are taking advantage of this to provide a "sweet spot" of how large or small maps can be, and as an Alpha, should provide the community and the game with this level of risk.e wheel', but with so much more community support, developers are taking advantage of this to provide a 'sweet spot' of how large or small maps can be, and as an Alpha, should provide the community and the game with this level of risk.
CTF-Void: Void was designed to mirror the success of Facing Worlds; a critically acclaimed and popular Unreal Tournament map. The design to it is simple and effective, so I wanted to strike a similar design using dangerous terrain with the chance of falling off at any moment.
"Although it may be attractive as an idea, symmetry in maps is usually horrible and can often lead to confusion amongst players. It can work well for Capture the Flag games and you can always colour code the two halves, but for the most part it is better to avoid making your map symmetrical." (ALTERED GAMER, 2012)
This quote by Simon Hill details the exact design methodologies I thought about when designing my maps, especially when drafting Void and Redemption. My Deathmatch maps - which will be talked about later - follow Simon's argument, and as seen in Void, not only are the sides symmetrical, they are also colour coded, and the bases reflect one another perfectly.
CTF-Redemption: Following on from Simon's example, with Redemption I will focus on how to use Symmetry to create multiple paths to the flag, and how lines of sight can affect gameplay.
The first - and most important - use of line of sights is designing and blocking out the spawn points, Bobby Ross details that:
"Spawn points should point players in the direction of where they are to go. With no camp spots behind them." (GAMASUTRA, 2014)
With Redemption (and void, but using Redemption as example) the 'bases' consist of blocked line of sights from multiple directions, it is either the Blocks (1), reducing line of sight from the sides, the flag (2) taking away any exploit to shoot across map, and the doorways (2) and how they are built so the players can run out without getting spawn killed by campers. Utilising these basic design choices can change the gameplay drastically, and with CTF maps a constant flow is needed, and can be broken by exploiting long corridors, etc.
I created multiple ways of gaining access to the flag, the middle bridge (1) provides a risky and quick run to the other side of the ground, even rewarding a weapon, the underground ramp (2) provides an even riskier, and straight run between the flag (a preferred quick route as most maps provide), a high-ground indoor route (3) with multiple elevation, and a long-corridor to snuff out other players, and a low-ground open route (4) with simple elevation, and a power-up.
These routes grant the player multiple possibilities on how to capture the enemy flag, or prevent the enemy from taking your flag. Flanking, and multiple options provide enticing gameplay and especially in UT's case, fast-paced encounters.
DM-Peon: Moving onto my Deathmatch maps, they use different design methodologies that rarely parallel those of the CTF game mode. Their flow preferably aims player’s to certain “battle zones” or choke points so they can get constant combat possibilities. These play-spaces are fitted to create fun, carnage and replayability through the game’s mechanics, and the level the player’s are in. Peon is a large map with multiple levels of play, built for 6-8 players it’s a strategic and fun map to run around in, taking advantage of the many routes and power-ups.
“My first recommendation, and probably the most important, is to put the third dimension to good use. Use and exploit the vertical dimension in your maps and give the players reasons to use the volume of the map and not only its two-dimensional layout.” (Gamasutra)
Unreal Tournament’s gameplay perfectly reflects what Pascal is recommending in his post; using verticality as a means to enrich a gameplay experience. As most game like Call of Duty andBattlefield, they use a somewhat flatter map with some level of verticality, yet do not take a lot of advantage of “Z-Play” like Unreal Tournament does. Later games in Call of Duty series like Advanced Warfare (Activision, 2014) uses Z-Play well, and that’s what I wanted to strike in Peon.
DM- Midnight, however, is a much smaller map, that uses verticality when needed - this map has its player’s in a controlled environment where the routes are more diverse.
“In many ways, flow can be thought of as an absence of frustration on the part of the player, at least so far as geography is concerned” (Gamasutra, 2013)
During my designs I always had this quote in my mind. Holloway is arguing that in anycase when playing a multiplayer map, there should always be discernable routes wherever the player is facing (at least when entering a room), this could be by framing, directing or simply having routes and doors being as obvious as possible, or needed.
As seen above in Midnight each route or direction has a clear route of where to go next, even if it’s by power-ups, door ways, or walkways. Each room should clear a way to another, to another, and so forth. Each path should flow into the next, and therefore the battle zones, preferably into the center. A state of play that allows players to play the game as intended, and most importantly; have fun.
1) ALTERED GAMER., (2012), Game Design Theory: Multiplayer Level Design., Hill, Simon., [Online], Available from: http://www.alteredgamer.com/game-develo ... el-design/. [Accessed: 11th November 2015].
2) GAMASUTRA., (2014), The Visual Guide to Multiplayer Level Design., Bobby Ross., [Online], Available from: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/BobbyRos ... esign.php., [Accessed : 11th November 2015].
3) UDK., Multiplayer Map Theory (Gears of War., [Online], Available from:https://udn.epicgames.com/Three/GearsMu ... eory.html., [Accessed: 11th November 2015].
4) ON GAME DESIGN., (2008), DESIGNING MULTIPLAYER MAPS - PART 1., Dodger., [Online], Available from: http://www.ongamedesign.net/designing-f ... s-part-1/., [Accessed 11th November 2015].
5) GAMASUTRA., Multiplayer Level Design In-Depth, Part 2: The Rules of Map Design., Luba, Pascal., [Online], Available From:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1 ... p?print=1., [Accessed: 11th November 2015].
6) GAMASUTRA., Deathmatch Map Design: The Architecture of Flow., Holloway, James., [Online], Available From: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1 ... _the_.php., [Accessed: 11th November 2015].
De Jong, S., 2008, The hows and whys of level design. 2nd ed., Sjoerd de Jong.
Byrne, E. , 2004, Game level design., Hingham, Mass: Charles River Media.
1) Level Design: Scaling and Best Practices 2014, Unreal Tournament, 9 July, viewed 11th November 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMzQ8YgRGu8>.
2) Unreal Tournament CTF Overview 2015, Unreal Tournament, 18 September, viewed 11th November 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sQgHTzHpc0>.
3) The Making of Titan Pass - Part 1 2015, Unreal Tournament, 15 September, viewed 11th November 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sQgHTzHpc0>.
My project is the investigation and development of production-level multiplayer maps for Unreal Tournament 4. This will include one production-quality Capture The Flag (CTF) map, and a Deathmatch (DM) Map. This will focus entirely on gameplay, testing, logistics, and level flow in a multiplayer environment using the Unreal Tournament 4 Engine.
I will start by researching multiplayer map design and designing various floor plans to develop into maps.
Secondly, I will white-box and test four maps (two CTF & two DM) and choose the best two to further their development.
Lastly, I will further develop these last two maps with the feedback provided by the testing and make them production-level.