Boarding Party is a level design project I took on as a spec level for Riot's Tactical Shooter Valorant. My goal with the project was to create an interesting level concept that fulfilled a thematic niche, as well as a gameplay niche.
Unreal Engine 4
First Person Tactical Shooter
During the development of this project I would meet bi-weekly with my teacher and mentor to polish the level blockout. The initial goal was to design a tight level within the thematics that I had chosen, meaning that it would contain two bomb site objectives that are relatively equally balanced. Iterations would continue each week, while also bringing up the visual fidelity, the thematic affordances of each area, as well as trying to maintain logic of the space.
Boarding Party was envisioned around the idea of a high-class airship utilized by Kingdom Corporation to butter up political figures, scientists, and any other VIPs that they might need to persuade. I started with a mood board and rough paper ideations, settling on having a unique two floor layout. I researched another famous map that tackled a two floor approach, CS;GO's Vertigo, but ultimately wanted to place one bombsite on each floor, rather than both on one floor. Players would start each round with the attackers repelling down into two breach points on the ship, while the defenders would start from within the ship, and have a limited area in which to set up.
I wanted to hop in blockout as soon as possible, because envisioning and designing what would be a very three dimensional space would be best tackled in engine where I could get a solid grasp of the size and general shapes I had to work with. It didn't take long to have the basic areas and structure I wanted, with the attacker spawn on the north side,
Work then shifted to focusing on each area, as well as the overall thematic of each floor. I really wanted this ship to be a believable space, with each are making sense logically. Initially, the ship's upper deck was mean to host and accommodate their guests -- lavished with a lounge, an observation deck, a bar, and a secondary observation deck (which would later become a gambling area). The lower deck was divided between two main features, off-limits are, initially a space where Kingdom would be running propaganda operations out of, and the arrivals area, a space connected to the VTOL pads meant to put their guests through a security checkpoint. Some of these areas were changed, others were simply refined and polished. The attacker spawn is on the north side of the ship, whereas defenders start on the south side. Bombsite A is on the lower-east section of the ship, while Bombsite B is on the upper-west section of the ship.
As it turns out, designing a Valorant map is not an easy endeavor. We were able to get an unreal package that allowed us to host multiplayer FPS games within our maps, a suitable substitute for Valorant gameplay. We even went a step further, and tried to break down the metrics of Valorant's movement, so that we could approximate it as closely as possible. While earlier on I had envisioned the bottom level as hosting a sort of 'secret base' where Kingdom would be manufacturing propaganda. This turned out to be a bit of a weak thematic, simply because not much else was supporting it. Going forward I pivoted, and instead made the bottom level much more utility and engineering based.
Gameplay was an entirely different beast, and despite my best efforts I think my map ultimately missed the tight metrics and painstakingly measured routes that are such a tentpole of Valorant's level design. While playtests were generally very positive, I certainly heard one piece of feedback a bit more than others: It reminded them of Halo. In iterations, I tried to steer it closer to that Valorant feel, mainly by tightening up the routes to and from bombsites while always maintaining a number of options to traverse vertically as well as horizontally.