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Countdown to BETA – 3 Days To Go

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COUNTDOWN TO BETA – 3 DAYS TO GO

PIZZA:

Let’s talk about pizza! This is undoubtedly one of my fav topics… Recently I have begun creating my own pizzas at home and miraculously I have discovered making pizza is a lot like level design. Good quality ingredients are obviously key to the success of the perfect pizza, but how you knead the dough, the amount of each ingredient and the distribution of these ingredients is important to the clarity of the taste. Slinging in many towers, tons of players, loads of objectives and complicated landscapes might sound indulgent, but that pizza is going to taste like my Gran’s trampled broccoli fritters.


LEVEL DESIGN INGREDIENTS:

So cast your minds back to my last DevJam where I described the process we used to create the NEW Vanguard map: We used a symmetrical design format based on a triangular formation of fastest routes to the key objectives. Then we overlaid a simple wider structure of secondary routes to allow for more sneaky maneuvers. I think I speak for everyone and their Gran when I say this was a total unmitigated success and a proper tasty pizza 🙂

vanguard_rear

Click the image to take a closer look…

Well, we have used that basic design principle and applied it to 5 other maps to create what is being hailed as BATTLE ARENA 2.0 – however it has not been as simple as all that, for we now have new ingredients to engineer into the same space and a little rethink is necessary. Firstly let’s check out the new ingredients to our recipe:

5 tablespoons of Players Per Team:
Team sizes have been reduced to 5v5 in Normal mode (BA). To maintain the familiar density of players and intense combat activity of Normal Mode, we had to scale down all the maps by 15-25%. This resize keeps the maps from feeling so empty.

3 freshly squeezed Capture Points:
The new Capture Points don’t have the original mushroom cover built into them, so greater consideration needs to be given for their placement. You don’t want to be left exposed while capturing nor do you want to capture one without any threat at all.

1 scoop of New Protonite Core equalizer:
Blast [REDACTED] team. [REDACTED] Core [REDACTED] defend.

750ml of ARTIFICATION:
We wanted to take a larger step in visual quality as Robocraft enters Beta, it’s a nod towards the AAA quality Robocraft utopia we are aiming for. To do this we have been “curing” the visuals of these new levels for months now. We have been slowly improving the art by adding significantly more detail into the levels like more trees, rocks, grass, revised textures, implementing our new World Machine erosion process, baking Global Illumination on the levels, adding more environment VFX and introducing some wonderful Skydomes hand painted by our very own Lead Artist Eli.


DESIGN PROCESS:

This is a before and after image of the Tharsis Rift map, with the mushrooms. It is an excellent example of how we have brought those floundering old maps inline with the success of the Vanguard level. Let me take your through the 4 main points of design changes:

devjam_level_design01-1

1 / Symmetry – It’s clear that symmetry is a significant change to this map. You can see that Base B has a real disadvantage in terms of distance to the objectives T1 and T3, and a slight advantage to T2. This is not balanced gameplay and one team could argue that they have an advantage over the other team. All of these asymmetrical variations have been eliminated in the new Beta maps which has made all of them more competitive.

2 / Scale reduction – It seems subtle at first as the bases are a fairly similar distance apart in the old map compared to the new, but if you look closely you’ll see that we have totally removed the lower access road and reduced open spaces generally to compact the level a little for the 5 vs 5  team sizes.

3 / Direct routes – Travelling in the game between objectives was tough in the old map, some of the routes were unnecessarily twisty and would take you wide of your objective, in some cases the fastest route from T2 to the other towers led you down the same path which then became a bottleneck of activity. The newer layout will clean up this situation, but keep a little bit of the old canyon characteristics.

4 / Creating cover – The toughest job of this map design has been creating balanced gameplay for every style of robot in Robocraft. During testing we have been scouring over the levels impersonating snipers, flyers, mechs, walkers etc. We have been positioning ourselves at key points to ensure that there are fewer safe places to camp and rail enemies from across the entire map compared to the old design. There is plenty of cover for ground units against flyers and flyers have enough interesting locations to shelter from flak. I’m sure there are improvements to make to a few locations after the initial Beta release, but this is a great step forwards in encouraging greater viability in robot designs.

mars2bridgesClick the image to take a closer look…


WHAT’S NEXT:

So we are not done yet with the maps, but they won’t change drastically again. We are going to need your feedback on the new maps from the perspective of all play styles, so jump online after the release and share your thoughts on social media and our forums. In the short term we are planning to convert some of the new maps into TDM maps, and in the longer term we are also keen to develop another planet with some more alien environments for you to fight in.

icespitzerClick the image to take a closer look…

There is still a huge amount of work to be done so keep an eye out for more changes to come.


MY GRAN:

I’ve referred to her a lot in the past. She’s 96 years old and loves Pizza & Robocraft (preferably together). Plus she is a Protonium 5 star player, she made me promise not to release her ‘handle’ or she said she would fit her foot in my face. Straight up. No joke!

Tomorrow we’ll have more for you when we reveal everything about the Protonite Core which can change the course of battle in a heartbeat.

Catch me outside!

Richard Turner, Art Director and Co-founder of Freejam