World Building: Map Layout

10 June 2021

Hi Explorers,

Welcome to our Dev Insights blog series where we share with you some of the behind-the-scenes thinking and planning that goes into the making of Scavengers.

Our latest Dev Insights blog delves into the thinking and workings behind building the map layout. We take a high level look at the layout and flow of the map in Scavengers.

Read on and learn more from Justin L., Game Designer at Midwinter.



Welcome to Cascade Springs! My name is Justin and I'm a designer on Scavengers.

Cascade Spring is a diverse area of frozen beauty, mystery and danger and it’s where the Explorers are first dropped into the Scavengers universe. While there are many elements that go into the creation of a space as expansive and populated as Cascade Springs, today I’ll chat a bit about our approach in creating the high level layout and flow of the map.

Primarily, we wanted to support our evolving game modes while offering Explorers a broad and varied space, such that they could encounter unique adventures from session to session. We did this by embracing the board game elements at the core of the game mode and splitting the “game board” into a series of 9 zones. From there, we built out a hierarchy of static and dynamic Points of Interest or POI that could be plugged into each zone and shifted around through development as needed.


Static Points of Interest

Each static POI is a permanent landmark on the map that doesn’t change geographically from session to session and consists of scavenge sites, outposts and caches. These layouts can be learned and mastered, allowing experienced Explorers to orient themselves and leverage their knowledge of Cascade Springs to their advantage.

We start our distribution of static POIs with the resource rich scavenge sites, where Mother initially deploys her Explorers. Branching out from each scavenge site, we then populate a series of outposts, ensuring that every team has several viable first objectives. We want to give teams a number of different choices, including the potential to directly encounter and challenge one another early in the match. At this point the map is fairly dense but we do a final pass through to place supply caches. These locations remain persistent on the map throughout sessions but the content changes, offering different opportunities with each playthrough. By distributing points of interest layer by layer, we are able to have varied topography and environments while maintaining a range of equitable opportunities based on your team’s landing point.


Dynamic Points of Interest

Dynamic POIs help each session feel unique and are not always active or used by the game mode in the same way session to session. “Growths” and “High Value Target” objectives have relatively small footprints and are placed in even quantities for each zone. While we try to maintain a minimum distance between POIs, the distribution of these is a bit more freeform. This allows for multiple systems to interact, creating awesome moments and encouraging Explorers to visit interesting areas they typically would not see.

The Dropship extraction site is our cornerstone dynamic POI, and its location helps define the traversal flow of every match. These sites are relatively large, so their locations are a bit limited once the static POI’s are all placed. We reserve two POIs per zone for extraction to ensure that sites offer as much variety as possible. Our goal in creating this variability is to force players to shake things up, even near the end of a session. Different sites encourage different playstyles and tactics, some leaning more toward long range vs. close quarter combat or positioning around or inside the Dropship.


Routes

Slide and vehicle routes are the connective tissue between POIs, and while vehicle routes are primarily represented by roads, players are also able to choose their own path. Roads and vehicle routes are pretty straight forward in Cascade Springs, and should help you find your way. Some of the more recent improvements to our map design have been made to better support our slide traversal mechanic. Sliding came online at a point where much of the map layout for Cascade Springs was already established and had undergone substantial playtesting. As such, we were able to study player traversal data, and feedback from our playtest community. This was then used to inform the incorporation of slide routes into the map.

We want Cascade Springs to feel like a living world and that goes deeper than the Outlanders, Scourge and wildlife running around, it morphs with each playthrough and offers new possibilities as Explorers progress. From its original 2 zone playspace to its current iteration of 9 zones at 3 km2, the Scavengers community has helped shape both the geography, and the narrative of Cascade Springs. Please keep sharing your adventures and feedback with us, and remember: watch out for bears!





Got some thoughts you like to share about the map layout? Join in the discussion on our Discord and let us know what you think.

Stay tuned for more Dev Insights blogs to come and learn more about the making of Scavengers!

Keep Warm,

Midwinter

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