An Insurgency Sandstorm map:
5. Team Deathmatch
The Prison is an arena type map made around Insurgency Sandstorms many gameplays.
Since Insurgency Sandstorm is a hardcore tactical shooter, the map itself had to have a good level design with many various pathways leaving players to choose which path they take each time they play.
Leading to a different experience every time.
The Prison itself is a made-up place built from various pictures of the world's most notorious prisons. It's a combo of various prisons around the world.
It is set in Mabarak since I took great inspiration from the Insurgency Sandstorms Power Plant map.
I loved the scenery there all those Chernobil vibes and green all around, so I made sure Prison scenery matches the place,
thus Mabarak Prison.
This map is being made for Insurgency Sandstorm 2020 Contest.
I have a habit of watching UE4 live streams, and that is where I first heard about the contest. It made me think if I'm watching this, then many people like me are watching this too. That means a whole world of level designers might be entering the contest.
So what a great way to test your own skills on a global scene!?
I don't think of winning or losing, I just want to give everything I have and see how far it ranks me on a world scale.
A personal test so to speak.
I'm a strong believer that one should never fear or be ashamed of his own skillset.
Test it regularly and where there is a chance to improve, use it, and get better!
So the first thing I wanted to do is what you would normally do for a map that needs to be placed in a real-world location...I googled!
The first week was spend just gathering information about various prisons around the world and what they have in common.
After studying their top view pictures it was evident that all prisons share a unique X shape of the main prison building.
The prison itself is never just that one building but many more small buildings around them, like hospitals, warehouses, workshops, etc.
Cells blocks are another common trait they have and mostly they are very similar.
So now I knew the two things I would need to have on my map to successfully portrait it as a Prison.
By this time I have been playing Insurgency sandstorm and getting familiar with its editor to understand the core of the game...the gameplay! Being new to Insurgency I needed to figure out, around what am I making the map?
I say the editor for gameplay too since in editor you can measure all the distances needed for a particular gameplay to work properly.
The contest time limit was around 4 months,
This may seem a lot but from my experience, big maps like Powerplant are off-limits cause there is no way I would manage to make such a large map with the amount of detail I want in my maps in such a short time.
A team of 2-4 level designers do that in about 6 months.
So I had to find the perfect size and shape that would allow me the use of all gameplay but not limit my time frame or the quality I want in my maps.
With all those things in mind, a rough overview of the map has started to shape in my head.
I don't usually sketch things out since I work mostly alone and I have no need to show it to someone else but the picture on the right is a rough overview of what I was thinking.
I tend to think of optimization early in my projects so using the X shape building in a center was an idea I liked very much.
This design has a few very important advantages!
Optimization wise I can cull the area's player is not in since there is no need to render what is not seen...improving FPS.
The box shape gives me the right amount of distance needed for Insurgencys largest game mode Push, and the building itself can be used for flanking the enemy which is where I want most of the players to be and explore.
Another optimization path I took was exporting all the merged assets from UE4 and importing them to Blender so I can make them as performant as possible plus remake the Uvs so I get an even texture over all my meshes.
As you can see from the first 2 pictures on the left, the first is a standard merged mesh that has 26 Collision primitives... the engine has to render that!
In the 2nd picture, I reduced it to 7...performance gain!
But collision is not the only thing that could be reduced.
The picture below represents the simplest wall geometry before and after my fix.
It reduces triangles from 344 to 178 without losing any quality on the model...that's double and this is just a simple wall!
I achieved this by removing any triangle that will not be seen in-game
It also reduces collision from 18 primitives to 1.
I did this on all 324 merged models in my map...once again, performance gain!
Another important HUGE thing are the custom lightmap Uvs.
Aside from doing the main Uvs to prevent textures not aligning and get that seamless connection, I also did the Lightmap Uvs which are a lifesaver for baked lighting.
It's sort of a tedious job to make them, but now none of my walls have seams or lighting artifacts, increasing lighting quality for a much cheaper lightmap resolution.
Also, significantly lowering the map size.
To complete the Prison theme I needed custom signs that will fit.
Decals are a good way to slap painted signs on walls so I've made a couple of them so that players know how to navigate through the map.
And by altering one existing texture I was able to get all the signs I needed to fill the space.
Made a couple of custom models.
Rearranged a couple from existing models.
All of them use existing texture atlases.
Night lighting has also been set up like in official maps, but when I find the time I would really love to test how much of a performance hit would it be setting destructible night lighting...I think that would make a great addition to the core gameplay! Still to be tested.
The map is in Beta atm.
I wanted to get it to this state and in players' hands as soon as possible.
Testing and tweaking the gameplay can be tedious work but with the help of players, testers, and server owners I believe we can make an awesome fun map!
Nothing else to say atm except get in game and enjoy!