Emil Andersson

Level Designer

DM-Skydrill for Unreal Tournament

About


DM-Skydrill takes place on a giant space drill that's stationed on a planet filled with water and rare space minerals, The contestants in the Unreal Tournament is facing off in a fast paced battle on top of the drill but they have to be careful or else they fall of.


It's a small Deathmatch map made for four players,  the gameplay is fastpaced and keeps players on edge.

The map is built like a cake with a big bottom but get's smaller the further the playesr gets to the top. At the top lies a Big Keg (big health pack in UT) and Armor. The player has to make quick choices  on which they want to pick up since they can only get there by elevator jumping(jumping while on an elevator gives the player a boostjump).

     

All assets are from the current build of Unreal Tournament but most of them has been edited to fit the style of the map better.      

Water fall in the distance 

Armor and Big Keg pickup

Map shown from a distance

Middle area where the rocket launcher spawns

Design inspiration


During my time playing Call of Duty 4 there was always one map that stood out in the server browser, a map called Shipment.

Shipment is one of the smallest maps in the COD games and is often played with the Free for All (DM) gamemode. I was inspired by the small scale and the quick gameplay that it provided for players.


I wanted to create something similar but in Unreal Tournament with more verticality and features like sliding and elevator boostjump as these were mechanics used in UT. The style of the map was inspired by a bigger deathmatch map in Unreal called Outpost 23 which has a future sci-fi mining setting to it.         

Outpost 23 and Shipment

Very early block out of a old area

Trying different layouts


This was one of the first time where I started blocking without a layout in mind, I had been inspired by other maps had an idea of it being simple and small but that was it. 


Most of the first blockouts included a long hallway which transformed into a small bridge in the middle of the map but it took to much space and was just in the way and the player was moving around it most of the time. 


After a few tries I created a platform with 3 floors that didn't have any walls on the sides so that the players could fall of and die this added a challenge to the map. I tested it out with bots and it was quite fun. I placed some of the bigger props on the level, packaged the level and posted it on some forums and sent it to some friends for feedback.

Challenges


At first I centered the map in the middle of an ocean with mountains and rock surrounding it, this looked great but the reflection from the sun made the fog look weird on the water. I tried different water textures but none of them fit the surroundings. Eventually I removed the water under the level and made the fog thicker and had hints of water being a big part of the enviorment by having waterfalls and small lakes back in the distance.      











I often fall into the problem of mirroring maps, while this makes the map balanced it also makes the map boring and can easily confuse the players. At first I tried to color code the walls and floor with decals but it didn't look good so I redesigned the areas to instead of having a ramps you could take a elevators or jump on to  rails to the second floor.

The main idea was still there but remade to look and play more interesting since it now has more way's up instead of just one ramp.



Old ramp to the second floor 

New ramp with an elevator and more fog

An early version of the map

Areas have two ways to one location like here where you can slide under the pipe

Using the elevator to boost up can give you access to either more health

or Armor

Red lights indicates that there is an elevator

Conclusion


I experimented with different blockouts styles for the map while also gathering reference pictures, drawing layout and posting it to forums to get feedback. I spent more time posting pictures and download links for the map on the official Unreal Tournament forum and Mapcore forum this was time consuming but also a great source for feedback.



Overall Im happy with the map on both a design and artistic perspective. I had players testing it on UT servers, we had a blast playing it and hopefully I'll do more UT maps in the future.