MALIN WONG

UX & Level Designer

Laboratory

Custom Unreal Tournament 3 Map, December 2018

Roles: Level Designer, Lightning Artist

Time: 4 weeks

Team Size: 1 Designer, 1 3D Artist

Tools: Unreal Tournament Editor, Perforce P4V

My contribution: Level Design, Composition, Lightning

Working in pods of 1 3D Artist and 1 Designer, I provided everything from measurements to early white box levels and prototypes to building the final level with modular assets


I also took on the role of a lightning artist to help out my teammate.

About

Laboratory is a 5v5 capture the flag map, which caters to both new and veteran players.


It's set in an underground sci-fi dark-toned lab, where something seems to have gone very wrong.


This map allows for all kinds of playstyles, from sneaky plays to quick-paced combat as well as featuring multiple strategizing opportunities.

Objective & Goals

The main goal of the level design was to create a smooth flow with quick-paced combat, which fit into the game universe as this map was made for an existing game. 


I achieved this by lots of prototyping, researching and playtesting. I made the map smaller with a slight chokepoint around the killing floor to center the action around the focal point (F).


The objective of the map is getting past the killing floor, stealing the enemy flag and safely return it to yours, without getting killed and dropping it. 


Design overview

• Many possible routes    • Anyone can play    • Strategizing opportunities    • Pacing


1. It was important that all paths had multiple options to break off and change direction. Not only so that the players would not feel trapped and become easy targets, but also so that it was unpredictable for the defenders to know what direction the attackers were coming from.


2. The map is simple enough that anyone can play, but for maximum success the player has to strategize and use teamwork. There are multiple different paths across the killing floor, and the design allows the players to cross their own way. I used breadcrumbing with health pots and ammo on the more "creative" paths to communicate them.


3. I designed the map with pacing in mind. Again, by creating a slight chokepoint around the focal point I center the action around the killing floor. I made the side rooms more closed off VS the openness of the killing floor, to give the players a change of pace.


The Flag Room

• Classical comp    • Rewarding for attackers    • Teamwork & Strategy    • Purposeful spacial design

FlagBaseRoomSlider1
FlagBaseRoomSlider2
FlagBaseRoom (2)


More advanced players have the opportunity to strategize in multiple ways here. I made the design choice to have the flag base hard to defend to make it more rewarding for the attackers, adding to the overall high pace that fit the game.


1. Minimizing camping. The way I built the room makes it hard for defenders in the classical team composition (2 attackers, 1 mid laner, 2 defenders) to successfully defend the flagbase without strategy and team work. Everything in this room is placed purposefully, for example the shape of the room has no harsh edges and corners where the player can camp.

With some camping exceptions;


(Unlit mode pictures, the level works in unlit mode too)


2. However, if the player chooses to camp there it won’t help them. For example, standing on the balcony means they would have to listen for the elevators sound que to notice someone approaching from behind. The balcony is very exposed and has no cover.


3.Standing on the balcony, or camping in the other spots, two defenders can never have vision over all the entrances. It was important to have multiple entrances to the flag base to minimize camping and predictability.

Other

Providing cover

All paths, especially the ones that are more closed off, have some sort of cover for the player.


This makes the paths more forgiving and balanced, allowing the players to sustain HP longer and therefore ensuring that they can reach the objective.


To communicate cover to the player I chose assets that clearly broke off the geometrical shapes of the surroundings, making them easy to spot.

Wall shapes and level flow

Consistent throughout the map, the walls in the level guide the player.


Using angled walls I made sure there was a natural flow so that the level seamlessly guides the player forward.


When on the golden path, the player never has to stop and take a sharp turn with the use of their keyboard.


Guiding-Walls
GuidingWalls2


Shape language and contrasts

All doors and entrances share similar shapes, which teaches the player to subconsciously look for them.


I built the light to create a clear contrast by the openings of the entrances to make them more easily spotted.


DoorContrast1
DoorContrast2
DoorContrast-3


I used icons and colors to further help the player navigate, as the map should not have much of a learning curve. Green exit signs meant the path led out to the killing floor.


Red icons meant the path lead to the red flag base, and vice versa.


Leading lines

To guide the player there are always leading lines along with the level structure.


The player notices the lines breaking off or tilting, which helps to communicate the paths. They also show the player where the path continues on the other side, especially around edges.


LeadingLines3border
LeadingLines2border


1. On the killing floor stealth paths, the pipes on the walls are going downwards - indicating that the floor does this as well. This makes it easier to spot from the side if you're not exiting your base from the side path in front of it.
Notice aswell how the lines on the floor follow the golden path.