New blog, new stuff

So I’ve started this new blog as a way to record my thoughts and experiences with the various level design related things I’m working on at present and will be working on in future. I was going to use my old game design blog but I really wanted to start fresh, as a lot of the stuff on that page is old and somewhat different to the kinds of things I’m doing now.

Anyway, on to the meat.

Near the beginning of the year I decided to make some conceptual levels in Valve’s Hammer Editor for a certain game mode called Live Fire for Titanfall 2 by Respawn entertainment. Live Fire is a game mode where two teams of Six have to compete to wipe each out completely before the timer hits 0. Alternatively, they can pick up a flag and win the game by being the team in possession of the flag when the timer hits 0. It was mostly for fun, but also to try my hand at designing the type of stuff I would have personally liked to play in that game mode. I’ve made 5 in total so far, and I’m planning to make more in the next couple of weeks. I received positive feedback on the first four and was personally more or less happy with how most of them turned out, despite their flaws my inability to actually play test them.

The fifth was created a couple of months after the first and was my attempt at creating a more “arena-ish” live fire map with an increased focus on verticality compared to the previous four I had made. Unfortunately close to the completion of the level I had come to realise the map wasn’t exactly appropriate for Titanfall. Only one area in the level really supported wall running, with the other two lacking any real flow to them and mostly forcing the player to remain grounded due to the lack of wall running potential, excluding the surrounding walls. But still I finished the level and posted it to the Titanfall sub-reddit, receiving some useful criticism and feedback.

I didn’t instantly go back and recreate the level due to lack of time caused by end-of-semester work, and so I let it go for a while and have only recently decided to pick it back up. After finding out that the Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Mod Tools were available I decided to attempt to port the level over and continue it as a Black Ops 3 map. The Black Ops 3 level editor is a version of Radiant called Radiant Black Edition. I had previously used GtkRadiant during my first foray into Quake 3 Arena mapping earlier in the year so I was able to transition smoothly enough after a quick refresh in the form of some tutorials. There have been and still are some rocky areas that I’m unfamiliar with, the lack of proper documentation doesn’t help, but I’m slowly but surely getting the hang of it.

Current window layout I copied from a tutorial video, has been working well for me so far.

The level, LF5 now creatively titled “mp_test”, was ported straight from Source to a WaW .map format that Radiant Black was familiar with. I did this to save time, as I only had to clear out all the missing custom textures and replace them with some default Black Ops 3 ones before I could load up the map for the first time and perform a play test with some bots to see how the map played, still completely raw in its first version.

The very first play test was simply me alone in the level, running around and seeing what felt good and how well wall running worked in various areas (BO3 wall running is inferior to Titanfall’s but it’s wall running nonetheless). I then loaded up the map with bots in a Team Deathmatch setting, with four players on each side. The thing I immediately noticed was the complete lack of cover, most notably in Catwalk. It was also an issue in glass, but that area felt a bit too open by default. At Glass and Catwalk we were able to shoot each other in almost any position. Pillars was only used as a spawn area, and bots would immediately leave after spawning and only come back to turn away at the bottomless pits. I’ve tried adding nodes and volumes for wall running based on the provided example map (mp_combine) but it is an ongoing effort.

The next step was bringing in humans for playtesting. First me and my friend Kaeys played FFA both against bots and then against only each other. His feedback led to me splitting Glass up into two smaller areas, via a large wall that you could see still partially see through. This addition made the glass space a lot more interesting and fun to play in.

Afterwards I tested the level with three other people in a 4 player FFA setting. They gave some great feedback on the level as well as suggestions on what to do with Pillars, as it was still the least used area in the level. Each play tester reported that they found the map in general fun to play which is encouraging, especially as this is my second attempt at a multiplayer level after my initial Quake attempt.

This leads us to now, where I’m making further additions and alterations to the level based on the feedback I have received and am attempting to make Pillars an interesting area to play in which people will want to use.

To finish the post, here are some in-editor screenshots of the level in its current state (with majority of tool volumes hidden).

Catwalks with added cover
Glass side A
Glass side B
Ramp at the end of Long
Entrance to Long from Pillars
Recently added tunnel which connects Pillars, Catwalks and Glass

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