Developer Log 5 - Maps
Welcome back to the SHADOW WAR development log. This time we'd like to discuss a critical gameplay element - maps. If a PvP game is a three layered cake, then maps constitute the base foundation of the final product. It's a core component of our cake construction that the rest of the elements rely upon in order to achieve their maximum potential.
A well done map can grow to define entire genres. When we look back at history, we even see maps that have transcended the games in which they originated. Take a look at dust2 for example - here's a map that became so popular, it's been emulated in tons of games since inception. Here's a few of the examples:
Western Crossfire has had Black Widow and Black Widow 2.0. Chinese Crossfire has additionally had Desert, Desert 2.0 and Nano Desert.
WARMODE has one
Sudden Attack (published by Nexon, publisher of Counter-Strike: Online) has one
The list goes on, but you get the point. A well designed map enables fun gameplay, gives tons of strategic options, is simple enough for new players to understand, and has that iconic memorable element that will give gamers nostalgia for years to come. Of course, synthesizing the perfect map isn't something you can just cook up your first try. Still, we have a few useful recipes that we hope can get us close to the perfect mix.
Location, Location, Location
First up is diversity of location. A good location sets itself apart from the crowd by having unique elements that it can inedibly embed in the minds of players as "that one cool map." An easy way to get there is by making a very unique environment. In SHADOW WAR, the maps range from high-rises in New York City, to deep underwater levels that induce a sense of claustrophobic closeness. If you're looking for your typical PvP environment, an open field or a senseless maze, you won't find it here.
Next up are our game modes. We will dedicate a full blog post to this later as it develops, but we have a few ideas on modes and how we want the game to be played. Deathmatch is fun, but doesn't last very long - to that end, we are making most of the maps oriented around objectives, with various strategic options for players that take their role and team into account. Do you have a strong team that can beat others in a 5v5? Take the middle objective and go for the big point score. Do you have a team that prefers to outmanuever the enemy with speed and mobility? Go for a sub-objective oriented approach and avoid the big team fights. Do you have a team that excels in skirmishes? Go for a combination strategy - in SHADOW WAR, the choice is yours.
One of our launch maps is also the map we are using to test much of the game on - it's called Factory, and takes place deep within the mountains of the Kresanica, a mountain in Poland. Inside the heart of the mountain lies a factory built to produce next-generation machines that are capable of combatting extraplanetary threats. There's a lot of flavor to the place (and even a rude german Roomba of sorts that yells at you if you get in the way of its cleaning!), and also a lot of options for strategic play built into its design. Here's what it currently looks like:
We have a lot of interesting takes on what we can do, both with map design as well as objective mechanisms that we will extrapolate on as we further develop these systems. Maps are an integral part of what makes a game, well, a game - and it's a key focus for production as we move through development. Look forward to more posts in the future as we delve further into this topic, discussing in finer detail and even revealing a few newer maps.