In my Level Design class we were required to create a Capture the Flag map for Unreal Tournament 4 using the Unreal Tournament Editor. Everyone in the class was supposed to build their own level from scratch with almost no prior experience using the Unreal Engine. We all just kind of helped each other out along the way with the more technical elements required to build these levels. This project was challenging but I also think it was one of the most fun things I’ve gotten to work on.
This assignment started with putting together a level plan that outlined the general layout of the level and where certain items would be located. My original plan was supposed to be a large octagonal arena with a lot of open space for large team battles in the center. The level is completely symmetrical as both team’s bases are on either side of the map and hold the same resources. In the middle of the map is a tall tower that houses a sniper. Lining the walls of the map are raised paths that have jump pads on them that also lead to the top of the tower. Players can choose to head straight through the middle, they can make their way down the paths around either edge, or they can traverse the ground level. This level is supposed to teach the player about long range combat and territorial occupancy by making the sniper tower the central point of combat. It is also meant to encourage the player to dodge and roll because there is so much open space so finding coverage as quickly as possible is important.
What I ended up with was something a little bit different…
This current design is similar to the original but does have a few changes. The arena is no longer octagonal shape but is instead a rectangle. The bases are bigger than they were in the original design and everything has been made more functional and accessible. The map is also relatively small and usually results in quick paced rounds and large battles happening in the middle. This map is best for 4v4 games of Capture the Flag.
Above is a top down view of the finished level. On either side is each team’s base. Within the base is the main spawning area, a link gun pickup, a shock rifle pick up, two jump pads, and the flag. Players can leave their base from any of the 6 different exits – 3 on the ground level and 3 on the second level. In the center of the map are two bridges extending from the opposing bases that lead toward the sniper tower in the middle. On either side of the bridges are stairs that lead down to the ground level where players can find a flak cannon pickup, health pods, and rocket launcher pick ups. Above players on either side of the map are raised catwalks that are only accessible by using the translocater. These paths are useful to players who prefer to be undetected when attempting to get to the other team’s base. Players can also walk around to the back of their bases to find stairs leading to the top of the building. Up here, players will find coverage and a good vantage point for picking off any enemy intruders.
Each base is lit with colored lights that represent their team. The blue base has bright blue lights lining the ceiling and metallic blue walls inside. The red base is set up exactly the same as the blue base, except for it’s lighting and surface materials. The red team has warm red lights in their base and roughly painted red stone walls inside. These details are meant to help players navigate through the map and find their way to the enemy’s flag easily.
Working on this level was actually a lot of fun. Starting from literally nothing and building the level from scratch using Unreal’s BSP, lighting volumes, bot pathing, and static meshes took a lot of time but in the end I am very happy with what I was able to create. It was really interesting planning out paths and making sure that the flow of the level wasn’t interrupted while also making sure both sides were balanced enough for fair gameplay.
I even had to create a graph showing the pacing of the paths on the map to find out what the ideal paths are to get from one base to another. This graph helped me see what the advantages and disadvantages of each path are. My personal favorite is the side paths (in blue) because as long as you can get past that big hill near the beginning the rest is pretty much smooth sailing.
Being able to take the time to perfect my level and mold it into exactly what I wanted it to be was really satisfying. What’s even more satisfying is that I can play on my level now, both online with my friends, or offline using the bots. In fact, if you are interested in checking my level out for yourself just let me know and I will send you the packaged file. My email is in my About page so feel free to contact me.
Until next time!