CTF-Atmos | Unreal Tournament 4
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CTF-Atmos | a blockout in space
CTF-Atmos is set on an abandoned space station orbiting an unknown planet, and is designed for supporting various forms of playstyles for both newcomers and veterans of the Unreal Tournament franchise.
Goals and process
For Atmos, I wanted to create a level that had a lot to offer for new players as well as veterans of the twitch-shooter genre. I started with drawing out a basic floor plan with no specific theme in mind to ensure that I had a good outlook of the gameplay that I wanted before all else.
As you can see in the floor plan (figure 1) the level has a great deal of smaller, interconnected rooms that allow for close quarter combat that is familiar to those who play twitch-shooters, as well as it gives less experienced players an easy way to use area-of-effect (AOE) weapons more efficiently, or in if they feel overwhelmed, there are a lot of ways they can escape through
My consideration of the players’ variations in skill will be a recurring theme throughout this document when I get into more detail.
Production time :
Windows / MacOS / Linux
Unreal Engine 4
Later in development, when I was trying to come up with a setting for the level, I realized that I wanted to make the center area extra dangerous by having it be in low gravity. This way I could balance the danger of being exposed for longer amounts of time when in low gravity with incentives for the players to want to hold the center area for your team despite these dangers.
And because of this center area, I now have a level with both a special feature that sets this level apart from a multitude of other levels, and it offered a setting I knew Unreal Tournament supported in terms of basic art assets.
Key rooms and areas
At the center of importance in a CTF-level is of course the flag room. As you can see in the screenshot (figure 3), the room has a lot of different entry points for attackers to flank if the defenders are not paying attention as well as a high ground from which to defend more easily from attackers. The top left entry has two approach methods. You can either go through the middle passage seen in the flag room and continue past the doors leading into the flag room itself and slide into a room with an elevator that brings you up to the top.
The other approach is through the basement, where you can do the same slide into another room with a one-way teleport that takes you to the elevator room entrance. This allows for multiple attack strategies through the same entrance, which means that the defenders will need to keep an eye out on multiple floors if they want to be certain of when the attackers are coming through that entrance. But the fact that they come in through that same room balances out that extra advantage the attackers have, as no matter what approach they choose, if the player who’s holding the base’s defense is observant enough, they will only have to keep a look out for the entrance itself, and will possibly kill the attacker on their way in to take the flag.
The flag room allows for a few different exit strategies as well. If you’re a new player, there is the choice to go for the route that offers more cover by quickly darting down from the flag base and into the middle hallway, escaping through the exit to the right in that room. More experienced players may want to be more efficient, and confident in their own skills of avoiding damage, they choose a trickier route. This can be done by staying on the floor of the flag base, but running in the direction of their base and sliding through a wall (figure 2) and into the same hallway that the safer route ends up in. It is faster, but possibly leaves you in the enemy’s line of sight for longer as it is less covered and has a further stretch of moving in a straight line.
Low-Gravity Arena | Center
The low gravity arena (figure 4) is where the two bases meet, holding a plethora of valuable items that either exist only in this area, or that otherwise require a bit of risk or use of time to get. The catwalk holds some armor, health and basic weapons, as well as one of the most power pickups in the game: the UDamage.
It is, however in very open terrain, exposing whoever is going for it for an extended period to enemies that may be on the same level of height. It also requires some extra time or exposure to get up and down from the catwalk, whether you’re using the jump-pads or the walkway to get up or if you slide/jump or take the walkway down.
This will leave the player in the sights of any combatants on the lower level as well as snipers possibly holding up in the outposts on each side of the base.
The lower levels have some better weaponry and larger health packs in the middle, as well as the shield belt in the passage through the heightened platform in the middle. Even the pickup itself is more covered than the UDamage, it still requires some exposure to get to it, as well as the enclosed passage leaves you vulnerable to weapons like the flak cannon and rocket launcher, both found on the same floor in this area. If all you want is to quickly get through the center and approach the other base, you can use the pillars for cover as a safer route, as well as pick up a weapon on your way there to be better prepared for the close quarters of the base interior.
The low gravity of this area heightens the danger of being exposed to other players to a drastic degree, challenging veteran players who think they have the movement of Unreal Tournament down to a science, perhaps making them have to adjust. But it also lets a player clear the entire area in two dashes and a second of light jogging, getting a weapon
Cargo bay | the forward defending area (FDA)
The FDA (figure 5) in this level is closely connected to the low-gravity arena, and lets the defenders show up from any path they choose while making their way out from the flag room.
It provides some items like medium health pickups and multiple small armor pickups, as well as a rocket launcher with extra ammo to help deal a solid amount AOE damage as the area has many walls and obstacles to use as target point.
Being a cargo bay, there are obviously crates strewn about, which must beconsidered as a double-edged blade. They provide cover from conventional firearms, but if you’re careless, the rocket launcher can easily be your own undoing as well as your opponents.
Two rooms directly connected to the FDA without being a part of the area, are the two outposts in the base. If needed, any players currently holding positing in these areas can turn on a dime and to a quick slide to get back into the FDA and help fend off any attackers that slipped into their base. These two outposts hold weapons less suited for close-quarters, but still usable in a pinch. The sniper rifle still has a non-iron-sights reticle for precise hip shots, and the shock rifle’s alternate fire mode is incredibly dangerous if handled by a veteran.
Predicted activity & heatmap
For the heatmap (figure 6), I have made some predictions of where I believe players will most likely congregate for the longest amount of playtime based on pickups, quick paths and importance to the objective.
The flag room, as it is significant to the main objective, and will either be constantly guarded by defenders or assaulted by attackers.
The FDA, as this is where the defending team should rally in order to push back attackers that have made it through the center arena.
The center arena, as it is both the midpoint that most likely causes a clash between the two teams, as well as it is filled with a few unique and powerful pickups.
The leftmost outpost containing the sniper rifle. I suspect certain players will want to at the very least get there for the rifle and for ammo respawns as often as they can, or they might choose to stay there and keep attackers from approaching from the other side of the arena.
Certain paths that either provide a fast attack route or gain of weapons, armor and health.
Certain parts of the center area, as they offer less of a reward in terms of pickups, but still can provide some health, weapons/ammo and cover while moving across the arena.
Then there are the shock rifle placements, The shock rifle is a popular weapon for experienced players, and I suspect those who are comfortable with the weapon will choose to go for a route leading to this weapon when they get a chance, possibly staying there for a bit to attack towards the middle from a flanking position.
In the basement floor underneath the FDA there is a good amount of armor and health pickups good for flag carriers who either need to buff up on the way out of an enemy base, or to recuperate as they approach their own base having sustained damage while carrying the flag.
Varied or unpredictable activity
The otherwise unmarked area I believe can have a variation in how much activity it sees. This is of course true for all areas, but I believe that these areas in particular are more based on the player’s personal preference than the others.
They have no 100 percent clear superiority in terms of speed or pickups, but may serve players depending on the situation they’re in while attacking, defending, or getting away from a conflict, as there are a lot of interconnecting hallways to choose from when making your way through the base.