28th April 2021 – 12:06pm
Patch 2.08 is now deployed and Breeze is available! Members of the Valorant creative team spoke to the Washington Post about the process of creating this new map. What's behind the scenes of Breeze's development?
FPS maps such as Valorant are usually very polished and have many details that can be exploited by the discerning gamer. Breeze, the first map developed entirely after the game's release, is no exception to the rule. It was designed from the start using rudimentary 3D models (so-called greyboxing) instead of the paper drawings sometimes preferred by other designers. This way of working makes it possible to be aware from the beginning of the footsteps on the map and to decide on the permeability of certain objects in the scenery. In this way, a maximum of elements can be tested and added early in the development process, in addition to spaces and sight lines.
During this greyboxing phase, Breeze underwent many changes before becoming what it is today. Initially, it was even more open, with longer and wider corridors and bottlenecks. The defenders had an advantage because of the position of the pre-round barriers. These were eventually moved back and the attackers' barrier was moved forward, to balance the two sides. One of the difficulties was also to find a compromise between the single-player and team experience. Breeze was initially less enjoyable to play for people not working together. Salvatore Garozzo, lead game designer at Riot Games, tells us that the mid lane was initially more complex, making the margin for error very thin and coordination very difficult.
Garozzo also explains that Breeze is an experimental map for Riot Games. It will be used to better understand how far you can go, especially in terms of widen spaces and lines of sight. The Valorant team may eventually want to create more open maps with fewer corridors like on Bind for example.
After conceptualising the spaces and areas of confrontation via greyboxing, the atmosphere of the map had to be determined. In what kind of place would the players confront each other?
The artists apparently wanted a chance of scenery and a holiday in the sun. Breeze thus represents sunny beaches, unlike its big sister, Icebox. This theme was chosen after the greyboxing phase. This method allowed the artists to give free rein to their creativity with simplistic shapes, unlike Icebox, which was designed from the outset by its stacked containers.They could thus develop the chosen theme to the maximum, without worrying at first about technical constraints and legibility. After some back and forth between artists and game designers to refine the details in terms of gameplay, Breeze could finally come to life. Farewell to the shades of grey and make way for coloured textures. The lore can now come into play.
As said earlier by David Nottingham, Valorant's creative director, maps are key elements to the lore of Riot's FPS and Breeze is no exception. In his interview, Nottingham said he didn't want to reveal too much about the story of Breeze, to let the curious dig in and find out for themselves. However, he does ask us about some of the elements of the map. "Breeze takes place on an island, and it's an Island with a story. [...] For example, there's a mansion in the distance. Who lived in this mansion?" he says. This building, which is not normally reachable, therefore reserves a part of the lore of Valorant.
Nottingham also indicates that they don't think of a map as a static, frozen-in-time element. Even after their release, Valorant's map should still have new elements of lore or newsworthy elements. This avoids a feeling of weariness of the map.
The creation of Breeze was therefore different from the other maps. Its design method and end result are a showcase of what Riot's FPS will be like in the future. It remains to be seen how well the map will be received by players, what it has in store for the Valorant lore.