Cliff Bleszinski, Rohan Revas and Scott Jordan of Boss Key Productions have taken to Twitch to answer questions from viewers via both Twitter and Twitch while also discussing everything from level designs to map sizes for Lawbreakers.
When making maps, how do you tend to keep ideas fresh, do you often use similar elements from map to map or do you change each map to make them dynamic and completely different from each other?
Scott “They definitely share a lot of elements, usually you’ll have the most success if you work on something and iterate on it to the point where it’s really fun and you sort of break down why it was really fun, you take away a percentage of those elements and put it into your new level, the new level will be that much closer to being finished and from there you just keep changing things so it doesn’t feel like the exact same experience but it feels familiar to the things you do like.”
Cliff “We had this whole conversation here where I was asking Scott and Hunter “hey when we do a new level can you kind of do a fly through” so when we jump in, we have some kind of idea, and their counter point, which is correct was, look, if you can’t figure out where to go in a level the first time then a new user is going to be screwed, so generally speaking there should be a kind of base, maybe a courtyard area and then mirror it, that’s often the archetype we go with. It’s the same thing with the angles of hallways, don’t go more then 45-90 degrees or it gets weird.”
The team were then asked about the average time it takes to design each map,
Scott “If you’re starting out an entirely new game mode and you’re not sure what it is, it can take you 3-4 months to try and figure out what that is. If you’re trying to replicate a game mode that’s solid and you’ve got one map that’s fun, it can vary anywhere from 3 weeks to another 2 months depending on the problems that arise”
Rohan “Would you say the game mode really dictates the level design?”
Scott “Yes absolutely, I think you have to build the flow around where you want the players to be and depending on what sort of mode you have set up, you’ll want players in different areas. For Lawbreakers Overcharge Mode, we need to have the 2 bases, a centre courtyard to have some gravity fluctuations and then a couple side routes, that dictates some high level blueprint for our space.”
Cliff “If we find the trend of everyone’s only ever fighting in one section of the map, that’s a bad thing. If they are only in this one hallway, you want combat to come to different areas because certain roles of certain characters are better in certain environments. Like the Brute, Cronos is better in tight hallways, not in wide areas. Kitsune is great at being sneaky, getting behind people and dropping down from ceilings and Maverick’s great in wide open areas because she can zip around quickly, you need to take the verbs of the characters and kind of think about how each section of the level works and compliments each verb”
Overwatch has recently been criticised for being hard to spectate or watch for E-Sports, due to level design during indoor areas, what have the guys done to make spectating work for Lawbreakers,
Cliff “First off that sounds like a camera problem on their end, I mean there’s plenty of games like Counter Strike that are watchable and has plenty of indoor tight hallways so it sounds like they need to get rid of their camera. In this day and age if you want to make the leap to E-Sports you kind of need a good spectator mode, because people want to watch the game and root for the hero and boo the villains right, it’s basic sports 101. If you look at the broadcast quality of the NFL, when I was a child to now, I mean if I go back and watch a football game from the 70’s or 80’s it’s horrible and now we have drones on the field and eventually we’ll get in helmet cameras, so you can actually look to sports and apply similar things to E-Sports and video games, that’s my opinion.”
Rohan “I mean we’re making a fun game first, we’re not making a spectator mode first, we make the fun game first and then we follow it up with all of those features.”
Cliff “If you do a good job with your game it should be inherently watchable.”
Would Lawbreakers aesthetic follow other games with ruined cities, deserted stations or would the team introduce jungles or a more vivid design,
Cliff “Yeah I mean you could do ruined cities and jungles like Uncharted, but we’re not that game. A lot of us here have worked on a post apocalyptic experience, we’re kind of burnt out on it Fallouts going to crush it, but that’s Fallout, you know what to expect. But when it comes to war games, if I don’t have to see any more rubble for the next 2 years that’ll be a nice thing. In the fiction, the idea is that the worlds rebuilt after this incident so we can have the real world and we can have familiar locations but rebuild whatever architecture on top of it we want to.”
Rohan “I would say that the art style is very vivid, it’s bright..”
Cliff “The thing about jungles are that when you look at doing a jungle or forest type environment, generally speaking you won’t notice this trend in a lot of games right now, alot of games, especially Sci-Fi or Star Wars or whatever, when you play in the forest it’s often the big ass trees, like the Endor jungle. Because the jungle, and I’m not going to get political but there are a million reasons why the Vietnam War sucked, because there are no landmarks, you can’t tell where the enemies are, you can’t tell where cover is, bullets can fly right through that and it’s very visually noisy, which is why camo works so well in the jungle. If you’re going to make the jungle game, make the jungle game, It’s pretty safe to say we won’t be making any jungles in the near future.”
Scott “It’s hard to see characters, it’s not fun fighting something you can’t see.”
Cliff “Unless it’s an Aliens Versus Predator game or the League Of Legends jungle, that’s a different type of jungle.”
Have the team taken measures to prevent spawn camping within Lawbreakers,
Scott “I think we’ve taken measures to reduce it, in any game you’re going to have some amount of it, but you want to push it to the point where it’s not the best strategy to do it. If someone does it, they’re taking themselves away from the objective and they are probably going to lose. Some of the things we’ve done is set up a wide branch from the spawn exit, you can choose to go left and right and there’s a lot of high visibility when looking out of your spawn point.
We’ve also got a one way door where you can shoot up but they can’t shoot in, so there are all these steps to make it really hard to do.”
When asked about how close/far Cliff wanted the engagement in Lawbreakers to be,
Cliff “This goes back to the Gears Of War era, when you look at the Battlefront, Battlefield games, by nature they’re big, if you have vehicles you’re going to have long distance..I get it, I just did not want to do that. I want to have that medium distance where you can see who is coming at you and at a glance tell what type they are and when it comes to the weapons, we didn’t really want to be the sniper rifle game. We have some slightly ranged ones, but whenever we implement a verb or a weapon or an action in a game we do the media of ok, how fun is this to do? versus how fun is it to have happen to you?.
I go back to Resident Evil 4, where the guy with the chainsaw, you could hear him coming, he had a telegraph of sound, so scary but exciting…’oh my god he is going to get me’ and it’s the same thing with Lawbreakers, we call them telegraphs. If you’re going to have a sniper rifle, in Halo 5 they do this with little glowy heads, we implement the glint, it’s the glint of the sniper rifle so at least you feel like you had a chance, when you just get instakilled for no fucking reason, it’s rage quit time.”
Lawbreakers is due to launch for the PC in 2016, though an exact date has not been announced.