We enjoy MechWarrior Online enough to declare mechs the greatest targets a shooter could ask for. But one of the other keys of the game's appeal are the design of its wide maps, which will soon accommodate 12--on-12 multiplayer. To detail just how much work goes into creating those new maps, the MWO team wrote an article for PAR to run us through the process.
The process begins with brainstorming and concept art painted by Art Director Dennis de Koning. He explores the look and feel of this new location through a few pictures, then the team fleshes out the idea and settles on a basic outline.
“For the first stage of level design, the designers create a top down sketch of the level; it is at this time where critical gameplay decisions can be made,” writes Lead Designer Paul Inouye. “These decisions include scale, pacing, pathing and zones where certain types of gameplay behavior are to be addressed. Scale is important to make sure maps do not get too big or too small.”
After deciding where most of the heavy combat is going to occur and what that space will look like, the team finalizes the layout of a map. It then moves to the artists to bring the look of the concept art to life while keeping the gameplay decisions intact. Playtests and polish help refine the map until it's ready for release.
The process is incredibly involved, and the team generally has two maps in development at any time. If you're a budding level designer or you'd like to see the full details involved, head over to the full article to check it out.