Encounter Design in PVE
A linear gameplay mode, Checkpoint is a PVE combat experience where players push north or south across a map depending on their faction. This mid intensity game mode focuses on careful movement, preset defensive AI, and careful AI spawning positions.
For both Citadel and Bab I created all 4 of the Checkpoint layouts and hand placed the AI encounter points.
To see an overview of the flow, please see the diagrams attached!
The most important part for designing for this mode was to not only ramp up difficulty as players progressed, but also to pick locations with narrative meaning.
Moment to moment gameplay is critical! In a linear mode players must experience an ebb and flow as they progress through the layout. Creating this was done by placement of key AI cover actor positions that highlighted when the AI should be defensive and when they should be scattered.
For example, in Checkpoint my focus was always to create special "moments". This could range from a carefully placed sniper to a mounted gun rushing in on the final defence point.
These planned highlights were specifically scripted with player excitement in mind.
An incredibly frenetic and chaotic mode, Survival was all about movement through the level, completely counter to all other game modes in Sandstorm. The key to this encounter design was the space used for the layouts. The buildings had to be defensible, accessible, and identifiable.
In this mode AI came from all angles, so it was important that all points would be defensible and challenging. The only constant in a match of Survival is the end point of extraction.
For each map I made sure to highlight the most iconic/difficult locations and additionally made sure that the game mode could select a multitude of interesting points around it as a precursor to the final two encounter points.
Additionally, Survivals penultimate ending was set in stone. It was critical to create a final run that thrilled and challenged players.
Survival also featured a vehicle extraction and it was a delight to factor in the high stakes and metric of the helicopter
This game mode was a sort of tower defense mode. Players would attempt to hold buildings against waves of enemies coming from set locations with a limited loadout. The longer they survived, the greater the loadout would become and the harder the challenge.
Outpost was an interesting mix of AI placement and building selection. Locations had to be incredibly thoughtful in terms of their viability for varied AI spawning and to be defensible, but not too defensible. Enemy compositions would change as the wave count would increase, and so it became a careful balancing act of understanding what sorts of enemies would have a better chance at each building.
It was important that the final point presented a fair and varied challenge to a player team, and that the location never felt rigged against them.
It was also important to determine when to group two points together, and also when to cut a mapès layout. Bab, for example, was a sniper focused map. The Outpost layout on it was difficult to the point of frustration because each point had large views and multiple approaches