Map Design & Implementation

Red 5 Studios

Accord Remnant Map Diagram El Dorado Canyon Map Diagram

As a former lead and level designer on various amateur game modifications (MODs), I utilized the skills I had acquired from years of teaching myself game-flow and player-channeling on BSP-editors to create fun and engaging play spaces in Firefall.

As part of the process of developing levels and missions, our lead producer on Firefall scheduled several playtests throughout every department. This facilitated us in our "iterative design" approach and like the posters, it kept all design features highly visible to the rest of the company.

Playtests occurred every day with a cycling roster of participants. They consisted of briefings held before the actual test that covered the goals we were seeking to accomplish with the new mission/map and an anonymous forum was supplied to testers to post their feedback after each session. The next morning, a feedback meeting with all designers (and concerned members of any department) was held.

During the briefings, an illustrative diagram of the map was projected onto a large screen for the testers to observe. Because we used a lot of placeholder assets (via Google Sketchup and 3D Studio Max), explanations were often warranted.

My role as a Level Designer encompassed everything from blocking out levels to placing encounters (missions/quests), creating the diagrams for the briefings and even a small amount of encounter scripting work using Forge's proprietary node-based modules.

After several weeks (sometimes months) of testing a map, it would be handed over to the Environmental Artists who would replace the blocked-out map with an artistic rendering to match the geography of the play space. The process was collaborative and consisted of cooperative efforts between the Level Designers and Environmental Artists working closely throughout all stages of map creation.

One of the maps I created that was a favorite around the office was based on a game type called "Power Cell." This game type was very similar to a single-flag capture match in which the "flag" (Power Cell) would spawn in the center of the map and either team would carry it to a receptacle found within a Bunker on opposing sides of the map. The objective was to capture the Bunkers (using the Power Cell) and each captured Bunker yielded points every few seconds. The team that reaches the point cap first, wins.

Frostbite Chasm Map Diagram

Despite not being an Environmental Artist, I utilized a lot of textures/materials to create a visual language in the Power Cell map I designed. Known as "Frostbite Chasm", the snow-covered map displayed many material-cues: anything white can be stood upon, a faction-colored column of light juts from a faction-captured Bunker and out-of-place flora guides players directly to the Power Cell spawn site. I also placed props from our art team to further refine the playspaces. Again, this map is still in a rough "blocked out" state and the video below displays an early, unscripted play-test session I recorded to study how new players reacted to it.

Arkfalls - Special Map Considerations

Trion Worlds

Arkfalls were developed with the open world zones in mind and required special terrain considerations to support their dynamic nature. I maintained a catalgue of all Arkfall Socket locations throughout the open world zones by creating a large world map with each socket's name, coordinates and types while working closely with the environment artists. This helped maintain an imperative organization as the number of sockets continued to grow. I even compiled a short video that resides on the internal wiki outlining the special constraints all environment artists must adhere to when building terrain/flora around Arkfall Socket locations (shown below).