Gears of war 2
Gears of war 2(2007-2008)
Onsite mapping at Epic games
Pavilion was designed with a couple things in mind. While going through all the gears concept art, I always loved the grey destroyed house / pavilion with this very pink blossom tree in it. I liked the balance between the ugly and the pretty. While playing through Gears1 the part that impressed me most was the stranded area. I really love it when a world has more life in it than just you ... when it shows places where others lived. I tried to combine all this into the visual side of the map.
The gameplay flow got changed quite a bit. Initially you had the choice to come out of the doors in the side of the spawn points, or run down and come out of the building further down. There was no connection hallway where the shield was, so all players ended up in the courtyard with the pavilion. The battles were just too fast so the flow was changed through a couple iterations. In the end there are multiple gates / doors that will open or close depending on the gametype. This way the map changes to its optimum state for that specific gametype.
I build the layout and implemented all the feedback, and later set out to mesh it. I stole a lot of buildings and mesh configurations from the Sinkhole map, and also its lighting and post processing. Than I added the statues and waterfalls and expanded on the stranded theme more.
Security was a totally different map at first. And I was asked to do a pass on the gameplay on it. I started off slightly tweaking it, but in the end Dave Ewing told me to redo it. He also handed me a paper sketch of a possible alternative layout. I set out and converted his sketch into bsp and the result is the layout that is there now.
The trap did go through several iterations. Initially there were guns that would pan across the area above the mulcher. They caused some problems though, since it wasn't a hard enough gate, you would try and run between the laser sweeps and get caught. It wasn't fun to die because of that, so they were removed.
Besides working on the layout I did a lot of polish and bug fixing in this map of gameplay and performance.
Ruins was my third layout for Gears2. It replaced another map that had the pop up cover in it. The layout did not change really but a lot of the cover placement was fine tuned and tweaks. There was also a lot of iteration on how the pop up cover would work.
The layout is definitely not standard. I think it still works well though. There is more choice in where to go and the pop up cover still has a bit of impact on the gameplay. Since it now stays up after activation it isn't as big an impact as when it would go back down after you left the cover.
River was my last layout / map. It also didn't have an assigned theme or gameplay variants. It was up to me to think it up. The week before I started it I had seen Stu's meshing work in the Assault single player level, and really loved the high mountains and thick forests. So I pictured this river going through the valley where the Derricks drive through the forest.
One of the first things I did was copy over the lighting, skybox and mountains from Assault to set the theme, than made a layout sketch based on a river as barrier between the two sides of battle. The bridge would be the primary fighting ground, and underneath the bridge were the flanks.
I had more flanks build initially, but it made the fight too confusing, so in the end there is only one entrance into the river on each side. The bridge was made bigger to make that the mean fighting grounds and the sniper towers were opened up more to make it harder to snipe from.
I used a lot of the prefab houses from Landown to get an initial feel for the map, and went from there with the other meshing. I tried to add a bit more stranded stuff in the little grenade houses, but a lot of it had to be removed due to memory constrains. No more hot chocolate and cookies near the fire ;)
I had a lot of fun making this map, and am very happy to see that so many people are enjoying it.
The other maps
I was the last level designer to be taken off of multiplayer to help out single player, and that was only briefly. So I did a lot of work on the other MP maps. From optimizing to bug fixing, and a lot of playing and testing. I tried to work closely with the original layout level designer to make sure their ideas would be in there. And got to add an Easter egg or two... :) I had a ton of fun working on Gears of war 2 and am very proud of the end product. The team did such an amazing job with it!
Now it is time to stop writing and to get playing!
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