Overview

Basic level stats

Build time - 3 days
Tools - Unreal Engine 5
Gamemode - Team deathmatch
Player count - 8v8

Brief

This map is my first attempt at working to an employer issued specification and a tight deadline. The target setting is a sci-fi dockyard with a canopy of cranes and multitude of shipping containers of 3 different types. Secondary goals were to include 3 levels of elevation, 2 scripts driving interactive elements, and place a multitude of weapon and armor pickups.

Joshua Ellis

Dock walls

Overview

I started by designing the main walls around the central space. This was to determine scale, map boundaries, and to build out the top floor.

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Level 3

The top floor was designed as a cargo intake hallway. It provides broad vision across the map, but is limited by sightline blockers in the form of a cargo rail.

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Access routes

To limit the power of the high elevation, I provided routes of access in the form of a ramp at either end and a cargo lift in the center. You can also access the left-hand ramp via an alternate route through the center of the wall.

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Sightline blockers

To support the brief and the map setting, I built four overhead cranes that could also act as adjustable sightline blockers, and were ideal for making the top floor cover more complex. The crane heads also acted as usable platforms.

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Cargo storage

The central cargo area is all about interesting forms of vertical traversal and small dueling spots. I deliberately made each cargo "block" serve a specific purpose. Having hexagonal containers not only looks sci-fi, but also allows players to jump up them and go through holes left by missing containers. It opens up many more options vs the traditional cuboids in other games.

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Engineering deck

Overview

The engineering level was quite straight forward, acting as a power position on the map and providing access to almost every other location with a bit more safety compared to the ground-floor routes. You can get up to it via a central staircase, and from there it offers direct access to level 3 of the map via flanking routes.

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Cover

Due to the increased exposure while on this floor (overlooked by sniping positions), I added several container storage lots around the center. Each lot is slightly different, and designed with that particular map quadrant's in mind. More player cover and choice is presented on the side overlooking the warehouses, due to the proportionally increased cover on the warehouse rooftops and surrounding dueling spots.

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Risk V Reward

For those who brave the more exposed catwalks, they can find armor drops to assist with the journey. If successful moving to the outer sections of level 2, the player/s are rewarded with a power weapon in addition to the increased side access to level 3.

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Warehouses

Overview

In a strange way, the warehouses are some of what I am most proud of. They work not only thematically but provide two levels of gameplay opportunity for mid to close range combat. There is also an upper floor, which can be used to pin down attackers coming from other locations, such as the engineering deck.

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Cover examples

There's a good amount of container cover in and around this area, particularly nearby where the access route is to level 3 is. Hidden inside one of the crate areas is also a power weapon.

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Traversal

One of the things I am most happy with in this area is the thematic consistency when paired with player movement options. Shutters act as cover and map boundaries, and shipping containers provide access up the sides of the buildings both to the ground and upper floor.

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Out-of-bounds

Despite this being a simple demo and time being a constraint, I still wanted to provide some sense of what the immediate out of bounds areas could be. The main features are the cargo ship and adjacent far wall, the observation point, and the sea itself.

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Had I had more time I would have added more decorative areas such as a beach and some sense of what was on the other side of some of the walls. This could be achieved by some rocks or trees sat atop the rear wall.

Interactivity

Choosing what to have for my interactive components was relatively simple, as I knew that one had to be a lift to the upper floor. The other I wanted to be a shipping container that fell when stepped on, removing a sightline blocker at the cost of having to descend with it.

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Full transparency here, I had both scripts working throughout development but the current version is missing the blueprints for said set-pieces, otherwise I would show them in action. I still wanted to demonstrate the thought behind these components.

Future work

I had some intuition for potential issues prior to demoing to potential employers, but I got useful feedback non-the-less.

Scale

The most prominent point of feedback was that the elevation of the top floor appears too tall, and could prove problematic for map ballance. Snipers could dominate this space from a single position.

This however speaks to a broader issue. I opted to err on the side of larger scale with all map areas and geometry, but this has led to the map feeling too large in places and tedious to navigate in others. It would be relatively easy to reduce the size of the map while maintaining almost all the core ideas and elements that make it unique.

My initial assumption was that scale wouldn't be an issue if using "modern" movement mechanics, however I haven't made space for unique opportunities to use such mechanics and only employed scale. Knowing the exact gameplay mechanics upfront would help me more carefully consider navigation beyond WASD and jump. It's clear regardless that scale needs reducing to remove dead-space.

Equipment

One thing that bothers me is that weapon and armor placement is somewhat sparse and uninspired. The map is designed to support 8v8 gameplay and yet only has a fraction of the weapons required to sustain it. In future I would be more liberal with my low and mid-tier weapons placement, furthering the idea that power weapons should be placed near where they are best used to drive movement and power-position struggles.

Interactivity

Lastly, if I was to take this map to full production I would almost certainly make every element of this map interactive in some way. The entire space is designed such that the shipping containers have a clear practical flow through the environment, and I would love for that to actually happen. Pre-determined routes for containers would be a fantastic way to implement dynamic cover, changed navigation routes and to provide mobile objectives for modes such as capture the flag.

Closing remarks

I'm very proud of this environment as it's a simple but well thought out, and demonstrates several level design skills succinctly. I'm also proud of myself for completing this while learning a new toolset (UE5 level design tools), in such a short space of time.

I am hopeful that it is work like this that I can continue to do professionally, as it is a good demonstration of my skills and thematic interests with sci-fi.