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Arachna Towers

PROJECT SUMMARY

Project Summary

Role: Level Designer

Genre: FPS, Multiplayer, Deathmatch

Editor: Unreal Tournament Editor

Platform: PC

Process: Level Design Document, Map Diagram, Whitebox, Gameplay Iterations, Aesthetic Pass, Testing, Iterations, Post Mortem

The Project: (2022)

"Arachna Towers" is a multiplayer, first person, deathmatch map made in the Unreal Tournament Editor. The level takes place high in the clouds, inside and on top of towers, overlooking mountain ranges. Best played with 2 teams of 3, the map can accommodate up to 2 teams of 8. 

Aerial of verticality
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POSTMORTEM

Postmortem

WHAT WENT WELL

  • I built this level almost entirely out of BSP primitives and duplicated/grouped pieces together in order to work more efficiently. I also stayed on the grid for the entire project which eliminated the risk of any wall gaps, z-fighting, and other issues.
     

  • I met all of my design goals for this map. The gameplay is almost entirely what I had initially set out to achieve in my design. Each weapon placement mirrors what my initial design document stated with only minor adjustments after testing.
     

  • I met each deadline and communicated well with my stakeholders. 

EVEN BETTER IF

  • I had a very limited amount of time to focus on this project -- about a third as much time than I usually have. For this reason, I poured all of my focus into the gameplay of the map, and not so much the aesthetics. With more time I would have added more decals and small props to bring the scene alive.
     

  • I learned that my platforms were a bit too narrow and could use a little bit more space overall so that the player was not in a frantic state the entire 15 minutes of gameplay (the gameplay video shows 2 teams of 4); this map was probably better suited for 2 teams of 3.

WHAT I LEARNED

  • This project allowed me to further develop my skills using primitives to blockout a level and reshape primitives using 3D modeling tools. 
     

  • This project allowed me to put theory to practice and build a level designed for multiple player styles in a multiplayer environment.

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DESIGN GOALS

Design Goals

Circular Flow.

Constant Motion.

No Camping.

Fun and

Exciting

Gameplay

Strategic

Weapon

Placment

____Flow & Motion____

Constant Motion

Rough map diagram

My initial design idea started with a quick and rough map diagram consisting of a few towers connected by multiple levels of bridges like a spiderweb. I quickly realized, however, that my scale was way off in this diagram, and the bridges created these long sightlines that were just not going to work for gameplay or performance. To get a better sense of scale and cover, I started to block out some pillars and platforms with BSP. 

After many hours of testing and iterations, I had a a solid whitebox built entirely out of BSP and a couple of rock meshes that felt properly scaled for a fast-moving deathmatch level. I continued to refine this whitebox over several days, adding more layers of verticality, adjusting the size of the pathways, creating and modifying vantage points and cover, and strategically placing weapons. Moving further into gameplay design and testing, I realized that some weapons had more advantages than others, and I needed more safe places to regain health.  I achieved this by expanding the play spaces vertically.

Aerial of whitebox verticality
__Exciting Gameplay__

Exciting Gameplay

This map has a heavy focus on sightlines and constant movement. The player has the ability to jump off of a jumpad into another tower, collect a line of small health tube in the air, and simultaneously shoot enemies below. Shields are tucked away in 3 corners of the map between towers for safety of the player, but also are exposed to windows and platforms above; the player is fairly safe if they keep moving. 

_Weapon Placement__

Weapon Placement

I wanted to create a map that appealed to several player styles while still being balanced. I created a sniper rifle platform with optimal views of heavily contested areas, like the massive health keg in the center of the map. To balance this, the platform is completely exposed leaving the player out in the open. The platform is surrounded by tower walls that protect the other players; the sniper rifle platform is also at a height disadvantage from the rest of the map.

I also wanted to create spaces for rocket launcher users that would look and feel exciting on rocket impact. Like the sniper rifle platform, I added an exposed, overlook area above and offset from the sniper rifle platform. This allowed the player to shoot a rocket down at a group of fighting players or at a sniper on this platform. The rocket launcher platform also hovered over the center of the map where the largest health keg would spawn. I placed the keg there specifically to attract players to the center of the map. Lastly, the player could aim a rocket in the lower, darker tunnels where the sniper rifle resided resulting in a bright explosion and added risk for the player who was looking to score a sniper rifle from the narrow tunnel.

Inside of the towers, I hid health and ammo behind partial-cover walls. A lift takes the player to another floor with similar features. Each tower assists the player in different ways, and the towers are distinguishable by wall and light color; ideally, small props and decals would further distinguish the towers from one another. These half-walls inside the towers, and the tower walls themselves create circular flow in a tighter space which creates the perfect opportunity to bio-rifle traps or use the impact hammer. Each tower has three to five exit paths from the each floor of the tower (doorways, windows with jump-pads, a lift that takes the player to the upper floor, and one tower has a teleportation device). 

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CONTACT ME
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