Life Skillz: Build a Warp Gate with CCP Starbug

by CCP Games
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OK, we confess. This article won’t help you to build an ‘actual’ warp gate, but it will give you some intriguing insights into CCP Newcastle’s thinking when they designed EVE: Valkyrie’s cool new Gateway map. We managed to corner level designer Emily Knox (aka CCP Starbug) and extract some information from her.

It’s important to understand that EVE: Valkyrie’s Gateway map signals a markedly different approach to level design, distinct from the environments that have gone before. The ‘iceteroid’ field in itself is pretty unusual (and unusually pretty) and it’s the perfect playground for cat and mouse dogfighting.

But the star of the show is the central structure, a massive warp gate that remains under construction. Players of MMORPG EVE Online will already be familiar with warp gates. They are a fundamental piece in the complex jigsaw of EVE lore. Given that fact, it seems almost inevitable that one of these super-structures should appear in Valkyrie.

And as CCP Starbug points out, there’s more than one reason to introduce the warp gates to the Valkyrie mix. “When building this map there were two main features that piqued my interest. One was being able to fly up to (and inside) a warp gate from EVE Online, as to me these are some of the most interesting and awe-inspiring structures around, and also very visually identifiable to each race.”

In this instance the faction involved is the Gallente Federation. When it came down to choosing a structure, it was felt that the Gallente gate held certain advantages over others.

Knox explains. “I think adapting one of the Gallente gates, being quite an open structure and made of a set of rings, gave more flexibility to ‘fill in’ in the empty gaps, rather than having to hack up the structure too much.”

The second consideration when creating the Gateway map was to shake up the actual format of the map. One only has to take a look at the diagram here to see that - in terms of the map’s control points - it differs greatly from previous levels.

Gateway Emily Diagram

“We wanted to try a more radically different layout to what we’ve already got. Players might notice a similar layout between Crossroads and Necropolis for example, while Cathedral and Shipyard are also a little similar to each other – primarily in terms of where we place our three control points.”

“The geometry,” Knox continues, “reflects this layout with the warp gate, it’s a massive structure placed vertically and immediately appears very different. We also added warp gates so you can travel quickly from top to bottom - for fun, but also to keep player’s options open. For example, if you were at point A (top), you can fly down to point B (middle) or you can use a warp gate to travel quickly to point C (bottom). Hopefully the effect is that if you fly to one extremity of this map, you don’t feel trapped there or unable to get back into the action.”

Of course featuring such a massive structure in a map could potentially cause all sorts of problems in terms of it becoming an obstruction and a limit to freedom of movement, but this too factored into the designers’ approach.

“Large, solid structures present navigation problems – like being stuck on one side of a large wall and having to travel some distance before you can cross to the other side. Hopefully the openness of this structure has eliminated those issues.”

And indeed for anyone who has already played the map, this is plain to see. As well as being able to fly through the central space, the unfinished walls and girders provide plenty of opportunities to zip from the inside to the outside of the warp gate and vice versa, leading to some elaborate and dizzying dogfighting action.

The pilots we’ve spoken to certainly seem to be enjoying the new environment. If you want to get ace pilot Nydwen’s take on how to best use heavy class ships on the Gateway Map, take a look at his excellent guide.

Thanks for some fascinating insights into your process, CCP Starbug. Maps EmilyKnox