Panzer Elite Action: Dunes of War
(2006-2007) – released in April 2007
Role: Level Designer for 4 MP maps (Lost Oasis, First Battle of Tobruk, Second Battle of Tobruk, Operation Crusader), helped with 2 other MP maps
Engine: Xubl proprietary engine
Duration: 10 months, 25 people
Editor: Maya Xubl tools
Scripting: C++ based scripting language
Description: This is a stand alone add-on for Panzer Elite Action. I was in charge for four multiplayer maps and had to finish another two when one of the level designers left in the middle of the project.
I have fond memories of this project because we had very little restrictions regarding the design. Level designers were even free to choose which historical battles the maps will be based on, but even that was just a loose guideline. When we picked our battles, we googled for images of the places during the second world war and made some snapshots on Google Earth. The rest was left to our imagination and creativity.
Since battles mostly take place in desert areas, we had to make sure players won’t get lost and disoriented. Because gameplay mode is Conquest (capturing the control points), maps had to be mostly symmetrical and this made orientation even harder. We put in many landmarks that provide orientation points at any moment.
One of my maps, First Battle of Tobruk, is designed so that one side starts at the foot of the hill and the other side in front of a city wall. The map is also split by a railroad and bordered with hills, but those hills have a distinct silhouette on each side and there’s a bridge across the railroad on one side that can be seen from the other side of the map.
Another map, Second Battle of Tobruk, is placed inside a city. Here we had to make fog closer because of performance issues, so numerous landmarks like mosques and palaces did little to guide players. So I used another trick – I made the whole terrain slightly inclined. It is rising up from the harbor by the coast and is flat at the highest point on the main square. It’s a simple trick but provides good feeling of orientation.
On the map Operation Crusader I made a big hill in the center of the map (inspired by the Citadel from Half Life 2). There are settlements on each side of the hill, but I made one out of brick and mud buildings and the other one is like a Bedouin camp, full of tents and with lots of palm trees.