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"Laboratory" UT3 Map - Level design course

"Laboratory" UT3 Map - Level design course

Malin Wong
by corinneboman and malinwong on 16 Apr 2019

Catch the flag map for Unreal Tournament 3 I and the amazing artist Corinne Boman did in 4 weeks. This was my level design course project, and her environment art one.

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Art Corinne Boman
Level Design and lightning Malin Wong

Link to pak file if you want to play it.

A = Spawn 1
B = Flag
C = Sideroom 2
D = Spawn 2
E = Elevator
F = Elevator up
G = Killingfloor, focal point
H = Upper part of side path
I = Lower, sneaky part of side path
J = Elevator room

- Works for different playstyles

- Killing floor, the focal point

- Work together

This map is designed for both sneaky plays and quick pace combat. The large “killing floor” area is filled with possible cover and there are at least 4 paths to get over the killing floor, but you will probably need to work together with your teammates and form strategies to get there.    

K = Sideroom 1 (downstairs)

L = Elevator room (downstairs)

Topdown view of the map in “Lit” mode, showing the two floors and the possible routes to go over the killing floor.

- Many possible routes.

- Anyone can play…

- Strategizing opportunities.

Anyone can play this map, however, for maximum win rate, it's probably better to form a game plan, meaning that more advanced players have the opportunity to strategize in multiple ways here. For example, the flag base room. 

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Block out


- Classic comp (2 defenders, 1 midlaner & 2 attackers)

- Teamwork & strategy

- Purposeful spacial design

The way it’s built makes it hard for defenders in the classical team composition (2,1,2) to successfully defend the flag base without teamwork and strategy. Everything in this room is placed purposefully, for example, the shape of the room doesn’t have harsh edges and corners in which you can camp. With some exceptions:

However, if you choose to camp there it won’t really do you any good… for example, if you stand on the balcony in the corner above:

- Sound cues

- No full vision

- Strategize

You will need to listen for the elevator that gives a sound cue from behind when someone is approaching from that direction. Standing on the balcony, or camping in the other spots, you are not going to be able to have a view over all the entrances.

- Hard to defend

- Rewarding

- Minimize predictability

The composition of this room also makes it, like I mentioned, hard for 2 people to defend if they’re not working together well or have some sort of strategy since it's built in a way that 2 people can never have full vision over all the entrances at once. This makes it easier for the attackers to, as a reward for successfully bashing or sneaking across the killing floor, grab the flag!

There are 5 entry points to the flag room, which might sound like a lot, but this is to minimize the risk of someone from the defending side just camping entrances and preventing the attackers from even having a chance.

The 5 entries also originate from 3 separate “main” paths, the two on the sides and the one in the middle. The ones on the side then split up in order for the attackers to choose a path and not feel trapped, as well as making the gameplay less predictable for the defenders.

In order for the players to never feel trapped the paths into the flag base are never longer than 2000 units (4 standard walls) in length before providing some sort of way off the path, in case you need an escape route.

- Max 2000 units

- Break off

- Escape!

And of course, not without cover for the player.

Something I’ve tried to use a lot in the level is guiding walls and lines in the level. The way the level is built you never have to stop and take a sharp turn with the use of your keyboard when making it to the flag base, you can just follow the walls and move your mouse. Examples:

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Block out

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I also tried using leading/guiding lines by entrances and doorways, so the player would instantly know where the path continues. These are some examples, showing both sides of the same door.

- Shapes

- The subconsious mind

- Visualizing with light

There is also leading/guiding lines across the level to hint the player where to go, especially around corners where you can’t see the entrance. Notice also how all the entrances have similar shapes. This is for the player to subconsciously remember that this shape resembles somewhere you can go through. The way I built the light also focuses a lot on entrances and doors. There is always contrast in the light to visualize the exits and entrances easier for the player.

- Lines

- Signs

- Arrow formation

- Exit signs

This picture represents how the lines on the wall, as well as the symbols above entrances, show the player to the door entrances or different paths. The lines on the wall suddenly cut off as there’s a door, and the lines help emphasize this.

The lines also bend down into a sort of arrow formation to show, together with the red flag icon, that it’s an entrance to the flag base.

All exit signs lead out to the “killing floor”. This is to prevent players from feeling lost and to not lose their sense of direction, as the map should not have much of a learning curve before being playable.

Leading pipes

The unlit example of the killing floor, showing pipes on the walls going downwards - indicating that the floor does this as well for the sneaky path, making it easier to spot from the side if you're not exiting in front of it.

Experience with heatmaps from one sides perspective, from spawn. This does not show, however, the underlying paths, since it's a topdown with multiple levels. The colors represent the heat (pacing) in colors, and red is where the highest tempo and threat is, while orange is more tension.

This is mostly because of the openness on the killing floor. This picture also shows some routes you can take on the side.

Openness on the killing floor vs the "closed"-ness around spawn, fewer enemies and calmer areas for better pacing.

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