Dev Diaries: Map Creating Routine
Welcome to the Dev Diaries! In this issue, we’ll tell you everything about the process of map creation: from setting the vehicle characteristics to peculiarities of working on camouflages. We’ll also discuss some plans for the future and some ideas we decided to give up. We will explain how the matchmaker and some other game mechanics work.
In this first issue, level designer Konstantin Chernyakov shares some principles which we try to observe while working on new game locations and updating the already existing ones.
The battlefield is an irreplaceable part of mobile combat. It should be unique, entertaining, and well-balanced, both for teams and separate vehicles.
Vehicles in the game differ from each other in their characteristics, but all maps should be equally playable for different vehicles. This is a key factor that has to be taken into account. That’s why our maps can be divided into zones that work for some vehicles types more than others.
A Field with Hills
Lightning-fast decisions, firing on the move, the advantage of a high rate of fire—these features make battles in light and medium tanks dynamic. Map zones for these vehicles are slightly detached from other zones. They always have places for safe maneuvers, but no solid shelter. Tank destroyers and heavy tanks often don’t perform well in these areas. At the same time, medium tanks can use hills to compensate for their narrow elevation angles.
Heavy tanks, the slowest vehicles with the thickest armor, never rush into the heart of battle. Their ideal map zones are parts of towns, bridges, solid structures, and folds in the terrain suitable for tanking with a turret or waiting out a long reload time. Heavy tanks attack gradually, by moving from one cover position to another. Their zones are placed close to respawn points and are protected from enemy fire until enemy medium tanks change direction.
Bushes on the Mountain
As a rule, tank destroyers prefer not to rush to the front lines but hide some place far away, so they can support their allies with gunfire. We try to place tank destroyer zones further apart, so that they are vulnerable after being spotted and only cover a certain section of the map. To be effective, tank destroyers have to change their positions and move back or go behind large cover, which, in turn, blocks their own fire.
Though maps are divided by the vehicle type zones, sometimes all players are moving in the same direction. Why? The first reason is psychological: staying together is safe and effective against a smaller group of enemies. Secondly, medium tank zones on some maps are currently rather advantageous for other vehicles or give you an advantage in case of a breach. We’ll try to fix these balancing issues while reworking locations, and will keep them in mind when creating new maps.
One of the ways to win a battle is to destroy all enemy vehicles. Another way is to capture the neutral base. It’s difficult, but you can easily reset enemy capture points. Of course, you can win when your enemy ventures too far out from the base, but its provocative role is more important. Even if there are two vehicles in your team against one fast enemy vehicle, there is a possibility of chasing the enemy until the battle ends with a draw. That’s why you need a base: it can grant you victory or force enemies to confront you head-to-head.
Base capture time is the same for all maps—100 seconds per vehicle.
Some maps turn out a little different from their original plan. Also, our game is being constantly improved, and the regular introduction of new vehicles significantly affects combat conditions. We closely monitor how maps are doing and readjust our choices to improve locations and make battles more dynamic.
Let’s have a look at the following example. Here are two heat maps of Winter Malinovka that include vehicle positions for two battle stages: after the 2nd and 4th minute.
The left map shows vehicle positions after 120 seconds have passed. It seems that the majority of players rush toward the mountain, ignoring other parts of the map. Some vehicles take the hills around the village: all of them are tank destroyers. The fight for the mountain continues until the middle of the battle, and, as you can see on the right map, the village and its surroundings are partly used for maneuvering only after the 4th minute. It can be concluded that Winter Malinovka zoning doesn’t work as planned. This map should be reworked to make all its territories playable, at the very least.
To rework locations, we collect player feedback on different sources, analyze dozens of heat maps with different data, handle hundreds of auto and play tests, and improve visual effects. Only when everything is completed can a map be included and released in an upcoming update.
That’s all we have time for. We’ll tell you about changes to Winter Malinovka in another article. For now, you can compare the previous and current map draft from a bird’s-eye view.