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Deathmatch level for Unreal Tournament 3
(Level design)

Page contents

- Summary
- Videos
- Screenshots
- Download links
- Design documents


DM-Courtyard is an Unreal Tournament 3 deathmatch level I created to get some practice using the current-generation version of UnrealEd (I had previous experience with the versions of UnrealEd accompanying Unreal, Deus Ex, Unreal 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004). The UT3 version of UnrealEd has a surprising number of new and changed features: much more than I remember seeing when going from UnrealEd 1 to UnrealEd 2, for example. It was a pleasure learning these new features: they're very useful additions.

This level is intended for 2-6 players, and is set in the courtyard of an abandoned monastery.

The art assets used in the level were included in the base game: none were made by me. This was purely a level design project.

Included on this page (in this order) are some videos of the map, screenshots, download links, some of the design documents for the map, and a design post-mortem on the project.


Gameplay video (YouTube link)

Walkthrough video (Youtube link)


Download Links

Download #1: Mod DB
Download #2: Unreal Tournament Files

Design Documents

[The following text and images date back to July 2008, when I was designing this level.]

Initial layout sketch

Second layout sketch

DM-Courtyard is a deathmatch level intended for 2-6 players. It contains a central area - the courtyard - for arena style combat: plenty of open space, particularly on the hill in the centre; but also adequate cover around the edge. At either end of the level are interior areas whose design enables combat to take place between opponents on lower and upper levels in a relatively dynamic fashion; almost always more interesting than combat taking place on an exclusively flat plane (at least in games like UT3). The interior area at one end is larger than the one at the other, making this level not entirely symmetrical.

Below are some more detailed descriptions of the gameplay created in specific areas of the level. The following image indicates which areas each of these numbered descriptions apply to.

BSP block map, with gameplay flow indicated

1) Courtyard area. This is the central 'arena' type area of the level. It is the largest area in the level, and is dominated by a hill in the centre with a tree on it as a central piece of cover. The hill itself acts as an important piece of cover also; one that feels somewhat dynamic to a player that is moving around, as moving in all directions creates cover (via the hill) from fire originating from widely different positions. When the fire is coming from opponents that are also moving, the hill creates an engaging play mechanic when placed in the centre of this area. The sides of the hills are nevertheless fairly exposed to fire from certain directions, and has the Udamage powerup (the only one in the level) placed at the top to create an obvious risk versus reward situation. This serves to draw players to an area they might otherwise identify as too risky and so avoid. Two jump-pads placed at the top of the hill - each one leading to the respective interior areas at each end of the level - allow a potential quick get-away for players that reach the top of the hill.

2) Courtyard perimeter. Arranged around the hill, close to the courtyard's outer perimeter, are these four platforms reached by dual ramps. (These are intended to be piles of junk and debris with metal fences laid on top of them to create flat surfaces for the platform and ramps). These constructions offer cover in an otherwise wide open area, obviously, but also create more opportunities for combat between raised and lower elevations, and the possibility to evade/outsmart/get around behind/etc an opponent by choosing different paths over, around and under the construction; mostly when locked in fairly close combat with someone in this area, of course.

3) Entrance to larger interior area. Both this entrance area and the one at the other end of the courtyard are similar, in that they have stairs leading up to the second level of the interior with an entrance/egress opening wider than the stairs themselves, and more access points on the ground level than on the second level. Many weapons in UT3 grant the player an advantage when used from an elevated position, so giving players on the ground level more navigational options in this area than players on the second level is intended to provide a kind of balance between high and low ground.

4) Entrance to smaller interior area. The theory behind this area is similar to the other entrance area described in point 3) - the main difference being that there are four access points on the ground level here, rather than two. There are more access points here mainly to break up an otherwise dead straight, narrow corridor in the interior area.

5) Smaller interior area. This interior area is constructed to provide ample cover from above for players on the ground level, and opportunities for acrobatic combat amongst players on the second level. In the leftmost shot just above, players can double-jump from the platform at the bottom of the shot to the platform closer to the top of the shot (and vice-versa) as a shortcut. In this area it is possible - in a number of ways - to jump over sharp drop-offs without sacrificing the advantage of height by ending up on a lower level; and doing so makes the player harder to hit with reflected shots and splash damage while they are in the air. This makes this area an interesting one for players skilled at movement, jumping and evasion - and for players who are skilled at countering these tactics.

6) Larger interior area. The larger interior here allows for potentially more sustained fire-fights than in the smaller interior area described in point 5). The raised walkways on the second and (leading up to the) third level - seen in the leftmost shot just above - allow players a height advantage and viewpoint over the ground level, but the relatively sharp angle they must aim down - and the many entrance/egress points onto these walkways - where opponents may suddenly appear - tends to balance this out. The upper levels - and to a lesser extent the ground level - are divided into two distinct areas with access between the two being channeled through natural choke points that serve to focus the action. In the rightmost shot just above, the weapon spawner seen at the top of the stairs is a sniper rifle spawner. This weapon being potentially dominating (in the right hands of course) in a map like this, I placed it at the mild dead-end here to draw players to this end of the map - and to create another risk-versus-reward scenario: it is a desirable pickup, but players may get cornered here. I am considering swapping the rifle here for a more obviously desirable pickup, though: probably a powerup.

[End of material from July 2008.]

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