A new perspective of level analysis in open world shooting games? learned!

Editor’s note: What kind of peculiar changes will occur when multiplayer PvP shooting games are integrated into open world gameplay? Among the many mature works of the same kind, how should we analyze their map and level design? This article will take the structure of “interval + road + regional POI” as the starting point for in-depth analysis.

Author: Reese
(Tencent Interactive Entertainment Project Management)

*Note: This article is an analysis of open world LD from the perspective of “interval + road + regional POI”, rather than design framework and ideas.

1.1 Why open the world?

When everyone was shouting for Zelda, I was walking in the land of Hailaru, and I still didn’t know where to do the task until September 9th, so I took it as “Halalus Horse Driving Simulation” to complete The mission of an old Oka driver. In fact, the benefits of the PvE open world are obvious, creating a large enough world for players to explore and dominate, providing different scenes to give people a sense of freshness, so time passes quietly.

In the field of shooting, I used to be stunned in Dust2. Facing the huge PUBG, I found the fun of the driver. So, I started to ponder the benefits of the open world of multiplayer PvP gunfighting games.

Compared with traditional mini-map shooting games, the open world gives players more surplus in space and time, thus increasing diversity and freedom.

  • Space: A large container containing a variety of traditional levels.
  • Time: The time limit for completing the goal is more relaxed.

And the extra time and space can incubate more dynamic changes in a single game.

(Eg, a 20-square-meter apartment can’t do much, you can only lie in the switch, and even just dance is too crowded; there is a big wild, the yard, bedroom, living room, kitchen, the experience will be enriched at once, even You can call a hundred people to have a party)

1.2 Main modes of multiplayer PvP open world shooting game

As can be seen from the table below, analogy to traditional FPS, not only has the world opened up, but the goal has also opened up, so can people be more open, right?

1.3 The relationship between the theme of open world shooting games and the Z axis

I just talked about the openness of space. In fact, in addition to the increase in the area of ​​the flat map, there is another very important dimension that is to open the Z axis (houses, valleys, towers, etc.) to bring an extra level of experience to the game. Relatively speaking, the mobility of realism in the Z axis will be lower than that of science fiction and magic. After all, ordinary people can’t fly.

1.4 Look at the map with the structure of “interval + road + regional POI”

For example: if the classic maps of CS are stuffed into a big world, each level is used as an area. When placing it, leave some gaps between these areas, and finally connect them with big roads. One world, N maps, so beautiful.

1.5 Look at PUBG with the structure of “interval + road + regional POI”

2.1 Overall structure

Looking at the map of Battlefield and Fortnite, will you first look along the road at first glance?

2.2 Player memory map sequence

2.3 Area separation

Apex’s map is the most distinctive because it has no road connecting areas. The reason is that the gap between different areas of Apex is small, players can walk between the areas without road guidance, and it uses terrain such as canyons to build many natural roads.

2.4 The relationship between the region and the world

The area is where the main firefight takes place, and is also the main encounter point for players.

2.5 Regional ratings and weights

Not all areas are so valuable, just as cities are divided into downtown and countryside. After brainstorming, the quality of an area can be judged by the following dimensions:

  • Resource quantity: equipment in tactical competitive games, key resources related to rules in other games (eg Hunt: Boss in Showdown).
  • Convenience of traffic: Whether it is located in the throat path (Yifudangguan Wanfumokai), whether it is located in a transportation hub (the center of the map extends in all directions).
  • Encounter probability: In fact, this is a dependent variable, which can also be understood as a risk or restrictive factor. The superiority of resources + traffic determines the degree of risk of encountering enemies in a region.

Example: I remember that when I was young, my friends always took me to jump in the center of the map in tactical competitive games because they couldn’t move me. This area can be understood as “special resources” + “convenient transportation”, but this special resource is of average importance to the competition, so the risk of encountering jumping to that place is not high.

2.6 Key areas/main encounter points


“It is of strategic significance to the outcome of the game; players voluntarily gather here in order to gain an advantage; due to the setting of the game mechanism, players must go here.”

Distribution of key areas

Since regions are divided into high and low, in order to maintain the balance of the whole picture, it is natural to have a reasonable distribution. Otherwise, when people go to higher places and the water flows to lower places, the class gap will become bigger and bigger! Therefore, when resetting key areas, you need to pay attention to:

  • Intricate and orderly, even fat and thin: pay attention to the balance of the community.
  • Don’t forget to place it in a remote place: To ensure that the big map is meaningful, you should try to ensure that there are players in remote areas to activate the map; if the players only gather in a local area of ​​the open world, then it will not be “open”.
  • Fair accessibility of key areas: When formulating the distribution of key areas, it is necessary to consider balancing the difficulty and time for different players to reach the key areas.
  • And this method can become a filter: players who love steel guns/risk preference will gather here; casual players will avoid taking the initiative to go, so as to avoid experience imbalance caused by different styles.

Key area categories

  • Fixed: Each single game will not change, such as a fixed task point, a high probability that there will be rich resources and transportation hubs.
  • It needs to be consciously placed in the design, and the location of the key areas will guide the distribution of players.
  • Need to focus on level design, promote combat diversity, and improve regional replayability.
  • Random triggering of player behaviors in the game: mainly lies in the design and classification of trigger behaviors, with emphasis on randomness.

2.7 Vertical zone-Z axis

2.8 Some other parameters

From: https://www.sportskeeda.com/esports/pubg-map

3.1 Regional spatial characteristics

  • Environment: Regional theme, tone and color, terrain, main materials, architectural style, openness, sight range, lighting (eg vivid example heard in a sharing: different sub-blocks in Disney Park).
  • Structure: overall shape, road distribution, building distribution, indoor complexity.
  • Boundary: Whether there are hard borders at the entrances and exits of the area; open areas are easier to encounter and more difficult to defend; semi-open areas have fewer entrances and are easier to defend; borders can also block the field of view to avoid excessive information interference.

The most important point: to make this area distinguishable and unique, easy to remember and provide a differentiated experience.

3.2 Regional Tactical Features


The internal path of the area is more similar to the level design in traditional shooting games, but due to the openness of the open world, players will be more free to choose the path outdoors, and the tactical effect of the path will be reduced.


  • Level: Openness, openness -> harder to escape, frontal rush; secret, more bunkers -> conducive to escape, more pursuits and micro-tactical options.

Example: the arrangement and density of buildings/bunkers.

  • Vertical: Occupying the commanding heights will bring advantages in vision, and disadvantages in low-lying areas; and using the difference on the z-axis, the shooting requirements of the player are more demanding, making the player’s position more difficult to predict.

Examples: hillsides, roofs, balconies, special tall buildings.


  • Resist damage: solid cover-back slope, trees, stones, walls, vehicles; half cover (penetrable)-wooden box.
  • Obstructing the line of sight: grass.
  • Divide the battlefield: make the player’s behavior unpredictable and increase the variety of battles. (Example: PUBG famous scene, two opponents circled behind each other around a big rock.)

*Man-made shelters: skills/vehicles, fortnite.

The core idea: make the player’s behavior unpredictable, make the tactical choices more diverse, and make the battle more in-depth.

3.3 Regional combat characteristics

  • LD should design different battle areas according to different battle scenes, and make these areas evenly distributed in the world.
  • The characteristics of different battle areas need to serve the overall game battle rhythm/battle style, and related systems such as resources/Loot need to match the battle scene (eg PUBG parachuting is easy to kill with spray CQB in the early stage).
  • During the battle, there are only two roles for players: offensive and defensive / light and dark side.
  • A good level lies in its: how many forms of combat can be supported/how many tactical behaviors can be supported.

3.4 Critical Path / Throat Path

Refers to: the unique path connecting two independent areas, the player’s optimal solution is only these few (<=2); these paths are usually relatively long and narrow, and the fighting method is similar to street fighting. This place is easy to defend and difficult to attack, one man is the gate, and one man is not open, so the difficulty of offensive and defensive needs to be balanced. Attacking tactics: need to use projectiles to advance/multi-point disperse attack

Examples: the bridge between the island and the mainland, the canyon between two mountains.

Need to provide an alternative plan for the attacker, but at a higher time cost

For example: swimming across rivers, crossing mountains and ridges, but occasionally they will give some surprises, such as boats.

3.5 Mission point

There are only two roles at the mission point: the party who completes the mission/the party who waits for the rabbit.

  • Task process abstraction

Reaching the mission point-takes a while to operate (the most vulnerable to attack)-defends for a period of time / carries things to leave; in general, the side will have more advantages (in the dark), so you need to give the attacker more path options = no Let the defender block all the way.

  • Guard against the old 6

There must not be a position of God’s perspective beside the task point; for the position of the squat point beside the task point, there must be a restriction method (eg increase the back road, increase the visual blind zone for the old 6).

  • The task location needs to be emphasized and obvious enough

The mission point is the core combat area, and it needs to have enough signs to attract players to gather; and clearly guide the player to complete the mission instead of getting lost near the mission point.

Example: PUBG’s airdrop with red smoke

  • Distribution of tasks in different stages

On the way to complete the main task, distribute some easy small tasks to find things for the player to do; and the sub-tasks can also be used as a way of guiding.

Example: Zelda interspersed some mini games on the way of the main mission to “open” and guide the player to take a specific path.

4.1 Global vision

Global landmark

Function: Allow players to quickly judge their position without opening the big map, a more natural and quick way of interaction.

  • Tall, visible building from a distance

For example: city landmarks, you know the location of the city when you see the TV tower; Zelda’s tower.

  • Natural objects suspended in the air

Example: Look at the position of the sun to identify the position; APEX two strange dragons.


  • The area is sufficiently symbolic and stylized, and is packaged with things that are generally recognized by the public.
  • Different regions need to have significant differences to facilitate memory; if different regions are too similar, they cannot be quickly remembered.
  • Players can judge their position by the approximate location of the memory area on the map. (Example: PUBG school is at the center of the map; the airport is at the bottom of the map.)

4.2 Indications inside the area

There are more small roads in the area and may be more roundabout. Players are easy to get lost, so some eye-catching things need to be placed as road guidance/marking specific locations; and specific entities can make it more convenient for teammates to report points.

  • Graffiti/Road Signs-CS has obvious A/B indication special items at the fork in the road
  • Special items-use asymmetric items to indicate the direction: the front of the car is north


“Ben’s small bible of realistic multiplayer level design” by Benjamin Bauer 2014
And the supplements and suggestions given by two colleagues, Shane and Charlie, to the article

Source: Tencent GWB Games Unbounded
Original: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/9aNGQVLc7i3gJgGmNtKdBg


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