MMOFPS & Open World Level Design
Quartz Ridge Camp
A smaller scale (16sqkm) tutorial continent was my first major task running World development. Koltyr was super fun and a challenging feature to work on, and I'm very happy to have been given the level of control I had on it. The small download size, lower player cap, simple lattice, and separating new players from vets were all intended to create a better new player experience and smooth out the difficulty curve without requiring a ton of resources.
We chose a lightweight, nine-outpost lattice to ensure the feature would be delivered in time for the PS4 launch, as well as recognizing the diminishing returns on effort spent on level-locked content. The extreme limbs on the lattice were bent inwards to hide both the warpgate and much of the upper plateau behind mountains for performance reasons.
The central valley of Koltyr is where the vast majority of fighting is intended to take place, due to the push and pull nature of a 3-way fight where both opposing territories are attackable. Occasional shifts of power due to underpopulation or better players will lead to a fight up to the major facility, but getting pushed to the warpgate should be temporary and rare; any empire that owns four or five territories will be taking on the other two empires at the same time.
Koltyr had more time allocated for battlefields, the empty space between outposts, than other continents due to its size and task breakdown. The negative space between dots on a map in Planetside 2 serves an important part of the combat aesthetic in the form of marching into towards your mission and the chaotic skirmishes that occur when two forces clash. While defending a base, resecuring points and fighting off a siege has a structure to it, the comparatively freeform battlefield fight coalesces dynamically based on a number of factors. Since battlefields have no objectives and players control spawns, it's up to the designer or artist to support expected player behaviors and fun fights via object placement.
When designing Koltyr, my choices heavily based on intuitiveness and broad appeal. Here's some of the decisions that were made and why:
- The warpgates were using a design that hadn't been updated since launch and suffered from flow problems, To remedy this, I whiteboxed a new warpgate to get distributed on Koltyr. This is covered more in-depth on the Warpgates page.
- Some of the iconic major facilities (Tech Plant, Biolab, Amp Station) received adjustments to make their Koltyr instances easier to navigate. While the Amp Station only had its entrance positions changed, the biolab lost its legs and was placed directly on the ground, as well as receiving a fortified bunker for attackers to keep the fight alive longer.
- I chose the tower as the spawn for all three of the outposts since they're popular with players, support large fights, promote combined arms siege combat due to its ramparts, and are difficult to get camped inside. Additionally, this helped me quickly iterate on all three central outposts, as they had no raised platform structure that required tweaking.
- All of the central outposts contain three capture points for both popularity and the ability to support big fights, as well as their tendency to mitigate spawn camping by merely having more real estate that needs to be watched.
- Central outposts have little verticality other than bridges and the tower. Additionally, fences and platforms have plenty of gaps and stairs to make getting around simple when trying to get from Point A to Point B.
- Many of our outposts feature one road per lattice link to roll into an outpost. On Koltyr, the organic web of roads was a choice made to promote depth in vehicle combat through flanks and alternate routes, as well as to help reinforce the Point A to B simplicity above.