Stacey Conley: Where did you get the idea for Fort?
Stuart Fitzsimmons: The initial idea for Fort actually spawned from a discussion I had after an early Blitz play test. A lot of the level design for flag run is based around having larger maps with five minute rounds. At the time, I wanted to try a modification to the game mode which reduced the round time and condensed some of the action into more bite sized chunks. To do this effectively, I needed a smaller map that people could instantly understand but also offered a wide variety of ways to score. That is when I came up with the idea of making Fort. A fort is immediately recognizable as a defensive structure and so players can very quickly know what they need to defend or attack, depending on which team they are on.
SC: Did you do a storyboard first, or did you have the layout in your head?
SF: I actually had the initial idea for the structure of the Fort in my head and just dove into the editor and started building. The rest of the map then came organically as I was building and solving problems around the structure. In the past, I've certainly used sketches for some maps but it always just depends on how strong of an idea I have at the start. Sometimes I like to just jump in and start laying down shapes.
SC: What is your first step when you open the editor and start the map?
SF: My initial focus when starting a map is usually on trying to establish the scale and combat distances of the main focal point of the level I'm building. With DM-Chill, I started out building the main courtyard and establishing the distances between the buildings and connection points. With Fort, I started building up the main defensive wall and figuring out where I wanted the entry points of the structure and how they interacted with their surroundings. I wanted the fort to be a convex type structure so the defense feels like they were gradually getting pinned in and attacked from all sides towards the end of the round.
SC: How do you decide what needs changed?
SF: A lot of the changes to a map usually come from a mix of personal experience as well as play test feedback within the team and from the community. With Blitz also being under development while I came up with the layout for Fort, a lot of the changes have been influenced by the progression of Blitz as a game mode. Gameplay mechanics like "Rally" coming online have definitely dictated some of the flow of the level mixed with general play test feedback within the team.
You can play the work in progress map, "Fort" in Blitz right now! Grab the latest version of Unreal Tournament from the Epic Games Launcher. Don't have the Launcher? Download it at unrealtournament.com!
Stuart Fitzsimmons joined Epic Games in 2003 as a Level Designer for Unreal Tournament 2004. Since then, he has worked on games such as Gears of War, Fortnite and Unreal Tournament 3. Stu's role is now Sr. Gameplay Designer on Unreal Tournament.