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First Person Shooter Multiplayer Arena

Level Design, Environment Design, Existing Project

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What Is Archer?

DM-Archer is a deathmatch arena map design I've carried through several entries in the Unreal Tournament franchise. Unreal Tournament is a first-person arena shooter game. First released back in Unreal Tournament (1999), an unreleased version for Unreal Tournament 2004, and finally a released version for Unreal Tournament 4 (2015), which I later optimized and remastered.

As a deathmatch map, the flow of the arena has to be on point. Allowing for constant movement and flow, risk-reward pickup and weapon placement, and visual design clarity for the fast paced gameplay.


Layout & Design

Archer, in it's final form, is composed of 3 large atriums, each with several levels of circular flow, connected by an ring of halls that interconnect the spaces.


A core pillar of the map's design is the inability to get direct verticality. In order to get high ground, you have to pass through different atriums or halls. This produces a constant climb-and-pounce flow effect, where a player will run from the center of the map to high ground, to use it as an ambush on players below. However, that exact flow can be intercepted by a keen player, since the rounds to gain height pass through one or two points a piece.

Some areas of interest in the map are:

  • The U-Damage Tunnel: a short dead end tunnel with a damage amplifying powerup in it. Easily visible, another player can trap you in there when you dive in to get it.

  • Wall Dodge Mega-Health: a large health pickup positioned on a platform only accessible by using UT4's wall dodge movement mechanic, jump boots, or a rocket jump.

  • Highly Technical Berserk Climb: a strong powerup is located at the top of a tall pillar, which can be reached by a long route from the other end of the map, or by advanced movement and climbing skills from below.


Iterations Over Time

Archer has been a project that has come with me through my entire career. It wasn't the first map I ever made, but it was the first I released. At the time, circa-2005 (I was 10) or so, it was shockingly well reviewed, and people to this day comment they enjoy the small map. It was created for a community contest to create a UT99 map that was at most, 300 KB in size, in 30 days. I have to give credit to the interest in the map at that impressionable time in my life, as part of the reason I continued to evolve the layout into future titles.

Next would come an ill-fated rendition of the map for UT2004, in 2006-2007. I worked on the map on and off at the time but couldn't nail down time to get the visuals looking good. Ultimately, it wouldn't see the light of day for 2K4.

Finally, when UT4 was released into pre-alpha in 2015, I jumped at the chance to use Unreal Engine 4 for the first time, and needed a project kickstart my learning. Surprising no one that knew my career in UT mapping, I started with Archer. Over 2 or 3 months I learned how the engine worked to the best I could, and released a first iteration in 2015-2016. Including both a greybox layout for testing, and eventually a final design.

Later in 2017 I would remaster the map, improving its performance and visual clarity, at the cost of some of it's aggressive lighting style. Interestingly enough, community team members from Epic had reached out to acquire the map in house for inclusion in the full game. Unfortunate timing lined up that process with the release and success of Fortnite, which consumed their resources and eventually lead to the cancellation of the game. So close!

If you want to check out the map for yourself, for either version, you can do so in the links below:

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