Ahead of Dome's re-release on the 22nd of August, we're giving you a look at some of the changes to come.
Dome has had a long and colorful history in Dirty Bomb.
The map always felt too big for 5v5 and 6v6 games, but even in larger 8v8 servers there were some issues that meant Dome wasn’t as fun as we would like.
We removed Dome from Quick Match recently to do some work on it and now we want to give you a peek behind the scenes before its re-release later this month. We want to tell you what we’ve changed and, more importantly, why we’ve changed it.
As you can imagine Dirty Bomb has changed a lot since its early inception, and one thing that has changed is the game’s focus. We found that as more and more people became exposed to the game the optimal player count was becoming clear; Dirty Bomb skewed best towards 6v6 and 5v5 matchups. They were tight, intense and competitive and, subsequently, 8v8 became less popular.
Dome has seen several small tweaks over its lifetime, but this is the first large scale rework it has seen. It’s also the first map rework of this scale in Dirty Bomb’s history.
Dome was built with 8v8 in mind and is easily the biggest map the Dirty Bomb team have ever built. This meant, however, that in 5v5 and 6v6 matchups Dome really struggled to be an engaging map, with too many flanking routes, and too many options for the attackers. To give us a greater insight into what we did to improve it, we sat down with Associate Creative Director Exedore and Senior Level Designer Villham:
Exedore: “We wanted to keep a lot of the best things about Dome, but in doing so we also wanted to focus the action and give people clearer ways to go and have it be much less confusing… It was really overwhelming with all of the routes”
Villham: “We found that teams were getting split up too much, that was especially difficult as defenders as we found an issue on Objective One (delivering the Override Cores) where attackers would do a ninja delivery. They would immediately run down one of the less defended routes and win the first objective straight away which absolutely wasn’t our design intention!”
V: “We’re specifically updating the layout for Dome, with some other minor changes to the assets and lighting. For instance, there’s now clouds that pass across the sky casting shadows.”
“The first problem we ran into [for the rework] was working out just what we needed to do. We knew we had to make changes, but we didn’t want to make radical ones. We had to figure out that sweet spot in the middle; improving the layout without ruining the map in the process.”
Objectives One and Three (Destroy the AA Command Center) were under the most scrutiny, with the “ninja deliveries” on Objective One proving a real issue for many players.
V: “On Objective One we hope there will be no more ninja deliveries! It really shouldn’t happen anymore if the defenders are playing well and are observant. The secondary objective on Objective One is still very open; It no longer opens the main door, but rather a window overlooking the plant site, and a flank on the right side of the map”
We’ve blocked off several routes in Dome as well, forcing players, and the action, in certain directions. This was a tough balancing act though:
V: “The right-hand flank route on Objective One is now gone, that was one of the crucial areas we were seeing players split up. The remaining left route wasn’t enough though, so we’ve added in extra little flank routes there, which really focuses the gameplay around the objective”
This was the crux of getting Dome’s rework; we knew that moving the action was key, not a rework of the objectives themselves.
E: “I wouldn’t actually expect the objectives themselves to play that differently. It’s the approaches to the objectives that have seen the most attention. The approaches now force the attackers to go in more as a group. The main difference will be the intensity of the action around these points.”
V: “Exactly. Defenders are now holding closer to the objective, because that’s where you want people to defend – not ahead of the objective, where can people can easily sneak around you. We’re seeing really good results of that location shift in our in-house playtests and on the PTS.”
Objective Three’s rework focus was the same; stopping easy flanks for the attackers while focusing action on the objective itself. There’s a key change to another favorite location on Dome though…
V: “On Objective Two we’ve made some changes to the rooftop between the two sites. It used to be the hold spot; you could see both bomb sites, you had great cover and were protected from fire. We’ve now made it more exposed, the walls have been opened up a lot more so you’ll get hit more, air strikes are much easier to place up there and it’s no longer as strong a position as it used to be.”
These changes are made to improve the map’s flow for players, but as developers we also have pride in the original map and favourite locations that are often hard to say goodbye to.
V: “One of my best spots used to be the secondary objective on Objective One; it had cool and interesting fights around it, and being able to long jump between the two buildings made it really dynamic and fun. Now, though, I really like the arena on Objective One. Combat has been pushed back towards it and its now used as an actual, exciting combat space, that’s where the defenders hold and it’s much, much more interesting now.”
The ultimate goal was to bring Dome in line with our other maps; a tightly packed, violent crescendo between attackers and defenders, not a desperate chase after a rogue Proxy who’s broken the defenders’ lines.
E: “I hope it’ll strike a good balance between people who liked the original map and those who found it daunting. There’s still a lot of freedom of movement and it has some really good space, so I think the soul of the map hasn’t changed and hopefully it’s a little more accessible for people.”
Dome’s rework demonstrates the latest big change to Dirty Bomb, and our commitment to the title. Jump online now to try the new version of Dome and let us know what you think on the Forums, Twitter or Facebook.