The Map: Design

Designing the Map

In this lesson, you will build your own map for a team versus team game, using the bomb defusal mechanic from the previous lesson. The ideas explored here focus on the particulars of that style of game, but could also be used to build a map with entirely different goals for the player experience.

This first part will focus on designing the space by whiteboxing, building out the walkable space using generic 3D shapes. In the second part, you will design the look and environment for the player.

Goals

The space players have to use fundamentally defines how they play the game. To design the layout, you need to understand what the goals are of your game, and how to give players options and clarity in pursuing them.

Defenders Advantage

In the bomb defusal game, teams have distinct roles as attackers or defenders, and this should change how they play, and the space they have available to them. The most important part is is creating the defenders advantage. Because defenders have to spread out to cover the possible points of attack, and attackers generally group up to push through one of them, the defending team is usually outnumbered at the first encounter.

The Weapons

In the present state, players all have the same weapon, a rifle. A projectile weapon means your players will be thinking about having a clear line to shoot, and objects and walls that shield them. This may sound obvious, but it will affect every part of the map.

As you introduce more weapon options, and abilities, this will introduce new ways that you need to modify the map to give players interesting options on ways to use them.

Play Styles, Strategy, and Teamwork

Allowing players to choose different strategies and playstyles will let your game attract a wider audience and give that audience a reason to play repeatedly and improve. There are many different ways to think about this, but having strategies available to both defensive and aggressive players is a great way to start.

A team game creates even more unique challenges and possibilities, and having a way to reward well coordinated team play, as well as allowing the possibility for glorious solo performances is another way to entice a wide variety of players.

Essential Areas

In this next section, you will create a plan for the physical shape of your map. You can use a pen and paper, any drawing software, or just start building directly in Core. All three of these will be easy to change and edit, so the choice is yours.

The Box / Cloverleaf Model

 

Cloverleaf Intersection

The basic shape of a map for a squad-shooter bomb defusal game is called a cloverleaf. The main walkways wrap in four separate segments on the outside, and intersect at midpoints. This is a common shape that can be seen in games in other genres as well

Summoner’s Rift map from League of Legends

This divides the space into four quadrants, two controlled by the attackers, and two controlled by the defenders. There will be more ways to connect between these paths, but start with defining a cloverleaf shape.

Spawn Points

Each side has a base. This can be built into a part of the map, or sticking on the side, but these points should be the furthest points away from each other in the map. If you intend to have a physical location for the shop, you should leave space for it here, and imagine where the spike can be positioned on the defensive side to make it obvious enough that players do not forget to pick it up.

Lobby Barriers

The Last Team Standing framework and Valorant have barriers that allow teams to move into position to a certain point, but control how far they can go when the round starts. You can use these to calibrate timing, and determine which team should be able to get to different points on the map first.

Collision Points

Collision points are the areas of the map where players on both teams will first encounter each other. These will likely be at the intersection points on the Cloverleaf, but will depend on the time it takes each team to travel to that area, and you can adjust it by adjusting the available routes. It is important that these points be more open to give players different options in deciding how to attack and defend them.

Choke Points

Choke points are defensible areas that will be dangerous for players to pass without a plan. Here you need to think about giving the defenders good vantage points to see incoming players, and giving attackers the ability to get through these points by coordinating with their team.

Controlling Flow

The most central consideration for a map in this style of game, even more important than where you can and can’t shoot, is how players will move from one area to another in the game. This in to consideration timing, as well as the cost and benefits of choosing one route over another.

In this style of game, you can expect the attacking team to choose a single point to focus, and from there to decide whether to push forward to one of the bomb sites, or fall back and move toward a different location.

Defenders will generally spread out to cover all the different areas where attackers could be coming, then have to rotate to the one that the attackers have chosen. In both these cases, you will decide what routes each team has available to achieve their goals.

Timing

How the game is played depends deeply on how long it takes players to travel to different areas. To see how this works in your game, jump in to a preview, and start timing how long it takes you to get from one area to another. The collision points will be in the central areas, where each team reaches them at approximately the same moment, and these should be open. If I team has a shorter route to the larger areas, they will have a significant advantage.

Rotation Options

The moments when players have to coordinate moving from one location to another is sometimes called rotation, and the options and timing for this will determine strategy. Attacking teams usually set up the first collision in one area, and from there, rotate toward a bomb site. Defensive teams set up in different locations, then as they encounter the attacking team, the more distant players rotate to join in the fight.

One-Way Routes

One of the most effective ways to make player decisions more complex is to make routes only available one direction. Using crates, any object that is just about jumping height, and allows players enough of a boost to get over an even higher object, will allow them to get over an obstacle, but not be able to back up the same direction.

Add fall damage also increases the cost-benefit analysis of getting to a high vantage point, where players can not risk jumping into the fray without losing health to get there.

Design for Learning

The fun of a game in this style is learning the map. The more familiar a player is with the good cover spots and vantage points, the sneaky snipe areas, and most commonly used routes by teams, the more easily they will develop strategies and dominate the game.

To give players the best experience, make your map easy to learn and understand.

Clarity of Purpose

The first step to creating a good map for learning is to make sure that the purpose of different objects is clear. If a player can jump up on something, that should be clear and obvious, and look different from an object that is just there for cover. All the elements of your map should look obvious and deliberate, so players have confidence in the design, and that the way they are using it is not just an exploitation of a flaw.

Simplify Choices

Another way to make your map clear and understandable is to simplify the number of choices that players have available. If they can go in many different directions, it can be hard to see why they would make choice here. Limit to just a few options, and it becomes clear that this route is good for a stealth strategy, and this one is better for rushing.

Iterate

You now have quite a few design considerations to make in the design of your map, and it is time to go forth and make it! No matter how thoroughly you design and plan, the best changes you make to your map will come from repeated testing and changing, iteration.

Start with an idea that you like, testing out the timing of different spots on your own, then bring friends, strangers, post on the forums and the discord, to get people to help test, and balance your map.

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