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Dissecting The Doc — Movement & Map Design

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How is Deadrop going to bring the speed?

Hold up! Don’t like reading? Watch instead…

Deadrop has A LOT on its shoulders.

Trying to create a brand new genre of online competitive first-person shooters by fusing battle royales and extraction shooters is a very tall order. Especially when you talk as much sh*t as Dr Disrespect.

In the last post, we tackled Deadrop’s shooting mechanics and figured out how it’ll feel to set your sights on an enemy target and pull the trigger.

In this post, we’re going to talk about two game design principles that go together like peanut butter and jelly — movement and map design.

Let’s go.

Movement

I’m telling you right now, Deadrop won’t revolutionize player movement.

Unique twists on traversal mechanics in addition to everything else on Midnight Society’s plate is too much to ask for from a first attempt — so don’t expect Titanfall wall running.

Here’s how Deadrop is going to move: Like Warzone. The perfect balance between arcade and realism.

So look forward to mantling, sliding, and very limited stamina punishment.

Parroting anything else — Apex, Counter-Strike, Tarkov, etc. — would lead to disaster.

Too fast and the player feels disconnected from the world and “floaty.”

Too slow and players don’t have the necessary speed and agility they need to traverse vertical map design. And that’s one of the most interesting parts of Deadrop.

How is Midnight Society going to design maps that are limited horizontally but still work under the battle royale framework?

Let’s talk about it.

Map Design

Deadrop is promoting itself as a “Vertical Extraction Shooter.”

And that means the obvious: a lot of high-ground, low-ground skirmishes.

So let’s make one thing clear before we move on:

The high-ground, or defenders, will always have the advantage — we don’t need to worry about making their day any better.

In this post, we’re going to focus on the low-ground, or attackers, and what those players can do to overcome their positions.

And in doing so, we’ll answer one of gaming’s hardest questions:

How do you design maps that deal with high-ground campers?

Insights gleaned from these four games will lead the way.

1. Battlefield 3 (The Metro Shit Show)

If you know, you know.

Screw Battlefield 2042, the urban map design crown belongs to Battlefield 3.

There are so many micro skirmishes in one round of BF3 that it’s hard to choose which one and on which map gives us the best use case for Deadrop.

But we’re definitely going with Operation Metro.

Deadrop’s main objective is always going to be, “up.” So if we can figure out what works in the tight spaces of the subway, we can start piecing together good vertical map design.

Specifically, let’s focus on the side corridor leading to capture point B.

So what worked with Operation Metro?

Well, stairs can be difficult puzzle pieces to fit into maps, especially in quasi-realistic games. Take a look at these stairs from a real life Paris metro station under Île de la Cité.

How many people side by side do you think could fit? Probably 6?

That’s fine for IRL. But in a shooter, it’s a kill funnel.

Now let’s take a look at side corridor stairs to B. I’ve photoshopped a player model across the span of the stairs from side corridor B.

That right there is TEN men across.

Operation Metro’s stairs are purposely widened to encourage great gameplay. It gives the attacking team access to a few tools that help them defeat the defenders.

Firstly, wide stairs give attackers enough room to move out and shoot which forces defenders to worry about a wider angle of attack.

Secondly, the stairs are also wide enough to let attackers dodge grenade spam without having to move down the stairs. That keeps attackers “in the fight” and keeps pressure on defenders.

Finally, it’s no accident that the stairs are “L-shaped” with a platform in between. That gives attackers a corner for peaking as well as intermediary territory they can use to recover and force pressure on defenders.

What can Deadrop do to their stairs and ramps?

Widen them obviously. That will give attackers room to breathe, regroup, and stay alive.

There is one big problem with that solution though. Wider stairs purposely slow down gameplay.

How will that feel in a “Vertical Extraction Shooter” when you have another enemy team directly behind you as you’re trying to eliminate the threat above? Time will tell.

2. Fortnite (Utility Belt)

I know Fortnite is primarily a third-person shooter, but hear me out.

Fornite has probably, to date, the most creative takes on vertical map design and gameplay.

If we can crack its code, Deadrop can learn a thing or two about what it needs to give players to help them overcome vertical campers.

So, what does Fortnite get right?

Summed up: tools, tools, and more tools — both aggressive and passive.

In Fortnite, vertically entrenched defenders (or flee-ers) can deploy dynamic geometry to block, trap, or even set up angles on their attackers.

But it goes both ways. Attackers can easily build and destroy geometry to conquer their positions on-the-fly.

A lack of static cover in Fortnite means high-grounders rarely feel safe for long.

Fornite also offers huge passive mechanics that eliminate high-ground tactical advantage — user-generated as well as environmental items and structures that mix up vertical movement speed.

Launch or bounce pads are great for ascending quickly…

And giving players quick gadgets or abilities that let them ascend and cover ground is great for getting in and out of tough firefights.

As I said, Fortnite has some of the most creative solutions to movement and map design in the business right now.

What can Deadrop steal?

Obviously being able to destroy defender cover is big, but what about using a teammate as a launch pad to give you a boost? 

Or maybe dynamic ziplines to cover a lot of ground? 

We’ll see what creative solutions Deadrop comes up with.

3. Counter-Strike (Risk Management)

Counter-Strike has vertical gameplay?

Not quite, but its most popular map is all about putting pressure on defenders.

My first and only love, Counter-Strike, and the iconic de_dust2, produces the tensest moments in gaming.

And even though Deadrop isn’t going to take shooting tips from Counter-Strike as I explained in one of my last posts, go check it out, Deadrop can learn a lot about guiding the flow of battle from the most popular online competitive FPS in the world.

Picture the two scenarios:

Counter-Terrorists are defending both bomb sites and the Terrorists want to take bombsite A. How do they do it?

Or even worse, Terrorists have taken bomb site A but haven’t planted the bomb yet. How do the CTs stop them?

Counter-Strike solves those setups beautifully by implementing two mechanics that have nothing to do with killing the opposing team.

Firstly, an objective that forces high-grounders off of their position.

Secondly, a timer that punishes only one team.

In the first scenario where the Counter-Terrorists are defending both bomb sites, a winning strategy could be to fake push B. CTs have to be in two places at once while the Terrorists can devote 99% of their manpower to one bomb site.

In the second scenario, the Terrorists on bomb site A can’t engage the CTs forever. Do they plant the bomb and briefly take one man out of the fight? Or do they keep engaging CTs? Either way, time isn’t on their side.

So how can Deadrop force defenders off of their positions?

Well, Deadrop is going to be a battle royale — there will be a “closing circle” mechanic. But that punishes all teams equally.

What about giving defenders objectives they need to meet in order to access higher floors? They would have to continue up the map or face some sort of penalty.

It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how Midnight Society solves the vertical map camping problem.

4. Warzone (Straight to the Tippity Top)

Before I finish the post, honorable mention to the game that’s probably going to inspire Deadrop the most, Warzone.

Warzone had a lot of problems with teams camping on rooftops in Verdansk. It was so bad that there were many times when Dr Disrespect and Z Laner (another video game streamer) would actively avoid roof campers.

Warzone solved this by attaching ziplines to certain buildings.

That one addition alone created another pathway up to the roof and also mixed up player speed in the process. Now roof campers had to time two flanks — foot traffic on stairs and the almost instantaneous speed of ziplines.

Deadrop will most likely integrate shortcuts to higher levels in their map design as well.

Deadrop (???)

Midnight Society has to keep track of two gameplay modes when designing their vertical maps.

One, battle royales use a constant external threat to force player movement.

Two, extraction zones use some sort of timer that also forces all or some teams to move.

It’ll be cool to see how Midnight Society tweaks these two mechanics to manipulate player movement successfully. Because if they don’t, the majority of players will feel “sandwiched” and out of control too often.

In current battle royales, large horizontal maps give teams time to scavenge, choose their targets, and retreat if they need to.

How will Deadrop give similar freedoms?

Whatever solutions they come up with, thank god they’re trying something new. The online competitive first-person shooter genre needs a huge injection of innovation.

Conclusion

That’s going to be my look into Deadrop’s movement and map design.

Yes, Midnight Society has huge challenges ahead of them, but they also have a large catalog of games to draw inspiration from.

Stay tuned for the next post on Dissecting the Doc and Deadrop where I take a look at ‘specialization’ and ‘meta’.

What tactical advantages will Deadrop give us to help eliminate the enemy outside of guns and ammo? And what are we going to be doing when we’re not shooting each other?

Subscribe so you don’t miss that thought experiment when it drops.

And as always, stay cool, gentlemen.

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