Recently, Epic Games released a brand new game mode for Unreal Tournament 4: Showdown. If you are unfamiliar with this style of play, Showdown is a no-respawn team deathmatch that allows players to choose where they want to initially spawn at the beginning of each round. Usually there are 3-4 players on each team, but when an entire team is eliminated, the surviving team wins. After experimenting with this game mode for a little while, we in Level Design 1 were tasked with creating a unique Showdown map and were even given the opportunity to submit these maps to an Unreal contest meant to bring more Showdown maps to all players. I was really excited to start this project so I got into it right away.
I wanted this map to be much bigger than the last one I made. My CTF Map felt like it was too small and resulted in very short rounds. For Showdown, it’s important that players get as much action out of each round as possible to keep the excitement going. So I decided to create a map with multiple floors, several paths to take from one point to another, a lot of space, and variety in environments. This top down map shows the layout of all the space and the different ways that every area connects. It also shows where the player spawns are and where the weapons and armor pieces are located. It’s important for weapons to be easily accessible from spawn points because that can sometimes determine the outcome of a round. The idea I ended up going with is an abandoned estate surrounding an open courtyard. The estate itself has two floors, multiple entrances to the courtyard, accessible higher ledges, and several rooms allowing for complex play spaces. Most of the map is interior but the courtyard allows players to cut right across the estate and easily access other parts of the map.
Although the courtyard is convenient it is also one of the most dangerous areas of the
map. After play testing a few showdown matches on this map I noticed that the courtyard was where most of the fighting was occurring, especially right at the beginning of the map. This was to be expected though considering it is a central location during the game. This heat map shows that the courtyard and the second floor of the estate was where most of the fighting was going on. The orange areas indicate medium risk for battle and the yellow areas show low risk. The green areas show where fights rarely ever occurred which I thought was really interesting to compare to the more popular locations. To bring more players into the less dangerous areas I placed health and ammo pickups as an enticement. After several rounds of playtesting with both real players and bots my map was starting to feel really well balanced.
Since I finished building my geometry and plotting out my nav meshes so early I moved on to adding materials to my bsp and putting down some static meshes. This wasn’t a requirement for the class project or for the contest but I decided to take the extra step for fun. I found some really pretty wood materials that I used for most of the floors and a few accent pieces. I used a variety of different stones or brick materials for the walls and ceilings both inside the estate and out in the courtyard. Having the map completely textured made adjusting the lighting a lot easier. I tried to keep the lights a little more dim because I wanted the place to look dark and abandoned but still warm, like the last residents had just recently left. It also complimented the orange sky from the setting sun that can be seen in the courtyard. I also added a few static meshes in the courtyard (that can be seen in the picture above) like railings for the stairs, two fire pits, a hedge, and some grass poking out of the cobblestone. The fire pits let me play around with a few different particle effects which was a lot of fun. I even added a flock of birds that circle above the courtyard to make the map a little spookier. All of the materials, static meshes, and particles I used came directly from the Unreal Tournament Editor but I had a lot of fun playing with these different pieces and making my map look the way I wanted it to.
I had a lot of fun working on this project. Though it was mostly individual work I got a lot of really great feedback from my classmates that I think made my map even better. The contest isn’t over yet so I’m still waiting to work through the summer on my map to make any changes that might be necessary depending on how the contest plays out. If you want to check out the other submissions to the contest just follow this link that will take you to the contest forum page. There’s a lot of cool maps there made by members of the Unreal community as well as maps from some of my classmates.
Until next time!