Senior Multiplayer Designer
May 2012 // Starhawk Multiplayer
Where the Orbital layout winds over and under itself in tight spirals, Apogee relies on long parallel straightaways with crossover points near the bases and midground. To keep the object count down and performance up, the layout is much more porous. This leaves numerous fly-throughs and dangerous gaps while helping to create a much more interesting silhouette.
Early iterations on this layout fell completely flat as I struggled to give the level an identity separate from Orbital; in one of our post-playtest "hate sessions," a QA tester memorably (and aptly!) described the first-pass layout as reminiscent of "Escher's failed apprentice." Shortly after, I returned to the Starhawk single player campaign for a couple months. During that time, I worked on a major layout overhaul of the game's third mission, "Harvest Season." As I pieced together the space station layout for that mission, it clicked that this was the identity Apogee needed.
For each team's base, I reconstructed a large open hangar bay inspired by the one I'd constructed in "Harvest Season." The new base layout was an immediate hit in the next play session, providing a level of cover and defense far beyond our other more open maps. I expanded that structural style to the rest of the level, including a weekend hail-mary on the midground late in development, ensuring a distinct architectural personality on a simple but solid layout.
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