Level Design‎ > ‎

Paths To Power

Elevation produces power positions on your map. The power position must not be so strong that a player cannot be dislodged from it – there should be several Paths to the power position, and each from a significantly different angle to permit flanking. So long as the players in the power position can be dislodged, camping in that position shouldn’t be a significant problem. However, it would be better to give them incentives to abandon the power position.

One form of incentive is a Pickup. If the Pickup is at the power position, then the incentive shifts significantly to remaining at and controlling the power position. But if the Pickup is down below, then there is the incentive to abandon the high ground. However, if the Pickup does not pose a serious threat to the player holding the high ground, then he might remain and use the Pickup as bait.

Another motivation to jump down is the thrill of the kill – that is, not allowing an adversary to escape; while the motivations to remain above are either to maintain the safety that the position offers, or the unwillingness to endure the effort to return to the top again.

To offer incentives to abandon the power position, the map must offer Paths (generally beginning with jumping down to the lower level) that allow for a quick engagement while his adversary is still vulnerable. This implies that once engaged, the player below can quickly find cover from above, but that the cover serves as a trap and doesn’t allow the player to go any further. The player above can then come down and finish off his adversary.
Not knowing if other enemies are nearby, the decision to jump down could be the wrong decision. This means that it would help your map to make it where he cannot determine on his own how close the other adversaries may be. This promotes team work by forcing the player above to rely upon team communication to make a more informed decision

Maintain Value

Power positions are valuable, so you don’t want to make them cheap. A player must earn the position and must continue to earn it to keep it. If a player jumps down, then they had to have had a good reason – there was some incentive drawing them down. It doesn’t matter what that incentive was, it had to be more valuable than the high ground because he chose it over the high ground. So there needs to be a cost involved – a penalty to pay.

To make the return back to the top instant via a teleport or a grav lift, the player loses nothing but is merely inconvenienced that he had to jump down at all. But by making the trek back to the top somewhat cumbersome or time consuming you make him weigh his risks and penalties to return first.[1]

This is not to say that a grav lift or teleport cannot be used to move up to the high ground, but that it cannot be just a few steps from where the player jumps down. If using grav lifts or teleport to the high ground, make it time consuming to reach once down below.

On the one hand if you intentionally create a power position on your map, you want to make it effective over a significant portion of your map. You want it to provide sight lines to a substantial, if still a minority aggregate of your map. Since we are talking about forging for the playlists, it is unlikely that you want any one power position to be able to influence most of the map. Power positions that dominate most of the map are more descriptive of tournament style Arena maps than most of the playlist maps.

When I say you want it to be effective, I mean you want a player at the power position to influence movement at more than just a couple of locations here and there. You want the player to be able to impact overall Game Play by significantly retarding the movements of the other team.


Elevated positions typically are powerful and you generally want several opposing ingress Paths to it so that it cannot be too powerful where the player cannot be dislodged from it.

Offering incentives to come down from an elevated position can make a map more interesting, because the player holding the position can be torn in deciding what to do.

Don’t make power positions cheap, but make a player work to return to the power position if they abandon it.

While a power position should never dominate the entire map, it should have a greater than average influence over the movement of adversaries.

[1] Katastrophe @ Team Beyond Forum Discussion