top of page


First Person Shooter Multiplayer Arena

Level Design, Environment Design, Level Scripting, Existing Project

  • Icon-Unreal
  • Icon-Blender
  • Icon-AfDesigner


DM-Artemis is a deathmatch arena map created for the unfortunately now discontinued Unreal Tournament 4 (UT), a multiplayer arena first-person shooter game.


A tried and true gamemode, the goal of deathmatch is to kill your opponents, whether in free for all or on teams. This means a map has to offer lots of interweaving routes for combat, powerups and weapons placed in key locations for risk-reward decision making, and distinct artistic-mechanical direction for visual clarity and navigation.

This project took about 2 months to complete, not including some down time between greybox and production for external playtesting. It was built inside a preexisting game but is a unique layout entirely designed by me.

Part of that timeline is also a learning process where I dove into programming with the Unreal Blueprints visual scripting system, particle effects system, and learnt a lot about lighting optimization for baked results.


Layout & Design

Above: ~7 minute design breakdown going into more detail

This map actually started from a single hallway design I wanted to incorporate - this would turn into the hall between the rocket atrium and the link atrium.


From there I just massaged a layout out, continuously testing the space by running around it for 15-30 minutes, noting any positions that felt like they conflicted with the flow. Finally, after a day or two of experimenting with layouts, I ended up with something relatively close to what is in the final map.

A general U shaped map with a large canal from one end to the other, and high ground positions on either side of it. In the middle of the U is a set of halls up top, teleporters connecting the sides, and some vertical elements. These allow the player to use advanced movement mechanics like wall running or dodging to cross the canal and execute high speed murder, the most satisfying kind. There is also a few lifts and jump pads that can grant the player additional height in the space, albeit through a chokepoint. But, if the player is skilled enough, these can grant even further momentum advantage, such as in the case of lift jumping. The next step was to add a small amount of rough atmosphere to denote the overall tone of the map, and release it for other UT players to playtest.

After a few weeks of alpha status publicly for other players to test, I got some valuable playtesting feedback which made it's way back into the map itself. Firstly was that the grenade hall route was very punishing to those in the bottom. I adjusted it to have additional crates for unidirectional cover, still keeping some risk, and to allow skilled players to use movement mechanics to move up to the higher levels to meet their enemies. The second was that exiting the bio hall trenches was more annoying that it should be, to which end I adjusted the corners to allow the player to walk out of them, rather than requiring jumping or dodging. Finally, there were some concerns with sight lines and visibility, which were addressed with the art pass' improved lighting and variance in levels of detail.

The video above goes into much more granular detail about specific places on the map, and I encourage you to watch it if you want to see the decision making process for each part of the map with demonstrations.


Technical Execution

Above: ~7 minute breakdown of the Unreal engine techniques used to streamline and art pass the map.

This was an absolutely pivotal project for me in my career as a level design and level artist, as well as an Unreal engine developer. I honed a number of key techniques I've used in every project since to great success.

  • Entirely separate collision passes: For this map I created the greybox using Unreal's BSP system, an old-school relatively simple geometry editing tool that is great for layout design. However, once it is time to art pass, BSP is not the most useful as it comes with a number of performance and error prone problems. But one thing that it excels at is being turned into blocking volumes. This allows me to greybox the map for smooth pathing, and once the layout is ready, I just convert the BSP into invisible collision and place meshes without collision inside them. This significantly reduces the collision checks the engine does at run time, makes the pathing smoother for the player and means I don't have to check for collision issues with every bumpy, snaggy mesh I add to the map!

  • Static Mesh Blueprints (SMBPs): The relatively simple art of combining a bunch of meshes, lights and other elements together into a prefab blueprint that is reused all over the map. This makes it easier to grab and adjust the element in the editor since I don't have to grab every single component, and means if I change the parent SMBP, all the instances of it across the map will update as well.

  • Procedural animation: I also learned to use timelines and procedural animation to add motion to things like spinning fans, moving doors, blinking lights, the large ammo belt, and other moving background elements like the fly-by jets and the large artemis gun in the skybox. These give the world so much more life and believability, but don't require bespoke skeletons or rigs to animate.

  • World Aligned Textures: A texture that is spread across the world space, rather than the UV of the mesh itself, allowing it to effectively tile indefinitely. Perfect for things like tiling wall or floor materials.


Gameplay & Release

Above: ~10 minute FFA match against bots

On release the map was well received by players, and was adopted into a few community servers. Some sticking points did come up later, namely the use of strong red lighting being an issue for team games where the red team has a distinct advantage. While I didn't notice the issue myself, the oversight was clear in hindsight, and given the chance I'd adjust it to be more muted.

I would also adjust the level of detail on the map, as performance wise it is very heavy for lower spec systems. By the time my art pass was through I was riding high on all the amazing new things I'd learned about Unreal that I kind of kitchen sink'd it. Reducing the real-time lighting, managing the sound memory better, and adjusting some of the detailed meshes to have lower LODs would have helped.

If you have Unreal Tournament 4, and want to check out the map yourself, you can do so from the link below. But please note that sadly, Epic Games has entirely discontinued the product, making getting the game itself now very challenging. Additional gameplay videos are present on my YouTube channel in lieu.

bottom of page