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DIVINITY ORIGINAL SIN 2 CUSTOM MAP

TOP DOWN RPG | 2024

A top-down level map made with the Divinity Engine that focuses on xandering techniques and giving meaningful choices to the player.

Time indicator

2 WEEKS

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1 PERSON

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DIVINITY ENGINE

DESIGN TECHNIQUES

ELEVATION AND BRANCHING

To help players stay on the right path, or hopefully, from a design point of view, stray from the path. I used elevation. If the player goes up they progress, if they go down they go into a branching path. This gets introduced in the beginning of the map and becomes more clear for the player in the village area.

To make the branching more meaningful, I reward the player for continuing on that route and letting them start with an advantage in the combat area to avoid a chokepoint and create discontinuous level connections. Halfway I still hint the way back to the main path and player's get the choice to take it or keep faith in the side path. 

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SECRETS

The map starts with a secret in the first side path and the second doesn't have any, this is to make sidetracking more meaningful and rewarding. On the map there are dead ends as well as very hidden and less hidden secrets to make sure the player stays motivated in looking for sidepaths.

DESIGNING COMBAT

The focus for this combat map was player types. By making sure there is elevation and multiple routes to help these different player styles. This would be, creating a direct main path for melee players, a sidepath for flankers, an elevated platform for ranged combat and barrels for opportunists.

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Footage of opportunist/flanker and sniper player type example

BREAKDOWN ITERATIONS

MELAN DIAGRAM

When finishing the first map, I applied the melan diagram as a tool to analyze my map. I removed sidepaths that were irrelvant on the map and decided to add a looping secret and a sidepath that feels more meaningful at the beginning to onboard the player correctly. I also removed a secret to balance it out.

After this, I made a new plan for the map and worked on the iterations. The biggest iteration was the secret on the sidepath being a connection to the main path that feels hidden enough to create an interesting loop. This was first just a cave with a treasure inside but now felt like more purposeful as well as made the map feel bigger than it is.

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ITERATIONS WITH ENVIRONMENT ARTIST

One of the challenges in the map I wanted to create was the village section. I knew I wanted to create two entrances for a main path and a side path on the map but also did not want to confuse the player too much and needed proper guidance towards the main path in an open area. For this, I asked an environment artist for feedback who also has experience with RPG games.

The main feedback he gave is to play around with the elevation, create small rivers, a main landmark in the middle and make the main path not too obvious so the player lingers around. I listened to his feedback points and asked for him for confirmation in the last version.

PLANNING

SKETCHES

For sketching I focused on how many spaces I'd need and their function as well as trying to focus on interconnecting them.

 

When working in-engine I started scoping down the map and redesigning the spaces to make it more feasible in them time I gave myself to finish it.

SHOWCASE

PERSONAL GOALS

LEARNINGS AND TAKE AWAYS

When to start over and when not: Because of the scope and deadlines I wanted to hit I learned how to prioritize what would be worth in starting over and which parts would not be worth it at all even though I thought it would need a remake.

Dynamic combat: Creating multiple entrances to a combat space, already does half the job in creating an interesting playable space as it avoids chokepoints and gives strategy choices for the player.

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