Base Wars’ Level Design, from Concept to Completion

April

13, 2012

by Andrew Haak


Archive

Base Wars Level DesignWe’ve introduced you to ROBLOX Base Wars version 1.0 and explained how Luke Weber created its highly responsive weapons using raycasting techniques. Now, we’re rounding out the trio of Base Wars development stories with a look at the game’s level design.

Loosely inspired by a classic Counter-Strike level (de_Dust2, to be specific), Base Wars’ map is designed to give each team a fair chance to take control of any of the three capture points. That’s not to say it’s perfectly symmetrical; for instance, the blue team’s base is further from the capture points, but they have the advantage of elevation – particularly conducive to the game’s Sniper class. Each capture point is located in a small, open arena, where combat is almost guaranteed, and connected by narrow, winding paths.

Base Wars’ level design was a front-loaded process, so the ROBLOX Content Team focused its initial efforts on implementing the capture-point mechanic through careful layout planning. What started as whiteboard drawings became a balanced, successful map through about 10 iterations – spanning everything from a sketch, to a single-texture layout used to determine the scale, to a version with identifiable bases and paths, to a final build with all the shortcuts, elevation changes and cover objects in place.

[do action=”youtube-iframe” videoid=”QlzHEcKjqHk”/]
This video shows the details we added to the map through four major iterations.

Level designers Deepak Chandrasekaran and Tara Byars approached the map with a few concrete goals.

Balance: There are three capture points, creating an ongoing tug of war between red and blue, with constant opportunities for either team to take control. Deepak and Tara placed all three capture points so that both teams have an equal chance to be the first to arrive – assuming both have at least one person playing the quick Assault class – and tested the distances by timing runs between each team’s base and the capture points.

Flexibility: The Base Wars map uses simple, standard style. Since we nailed the balance, it’s easily adaptable to other skins and looks. That means we can decorate it for special events throughout the year and offer it to ROBLOX builders as an example of a strong first-person-shooter (FPS) level.

Simplicity: If you’ve been following our Base Wars stories, you know that, in FPS games, responsive gameplay is of utmost importance. By focusing on an effective layout and building the map primarily using terrain, Tara and Deepak ensured Base Wars would play well and perform well. Tara took advantage of both ROBLOX Studio and a beta plug-in known as Region Edit to elevate and lower large swaths of terrain, for a total elevation change of 10 cells between the lowest and highest points.

Initial Map Sketch and Finished Product

The ROBLOX Base Wars map is not only well balanced, but, with the addition of character classes in version 1.0, also high on replay value. The right combination of classes is always capable of taking a capture point from the opposition.

“It’s not just about reaching the capture point as soon as possible anymore,” Tara said.

ROBLOX Base Wars’ development made for fascinating stories. As our Content Team releases more games in other genres, we’ll continue to offer insight into how ideas become reality at ROBLOX and help you bring yours to fruition. In the meantime, what are your techniques for creating and balancing levels on ROBLOX? Share them with your fellow developers in our Game Design Forum.