Our first new map in Sky Noon, called ‘Pinnacle,’ will be releasing in a free patch on the 15th this week. This blog will give a bit of insight into its development, starting from the concept stage and progressing to the final result.
What is Pinnacle
Pinnacle is a section of lake and a water source that was raised very, very high into the sky long ago, causing all the water to freeze for easy harvesting.
Before we began, we knew that we wanted to create a map inspired by the ice trade, which involved the mass collection and transport of ice from the 19th to early 20th century. We felt that this theme meshed perfectly with Sky Noon’s backstory of fighting over water. A large mass of ice would be a goldmine for whoever controls it, as they could gradually mine away at it and ship it off to wherever it was being sold or used.
We felt that ice physics would be an interesting addition to Sky Noon. Having ice would allow us to create slippery ramps and surfaces that you could maintain your momentum while sliding across. It would be a unique addition to the game both in appearance and gameplay, striking quite a contrast against the existing maps.
The map started as a bunch of grey boxes piled on top of eachother into the shape of nearly a map, inspired by some concept art which helped to set a general idea of the direction. After a few iterations and varying map styles, we arrived on a rough but functional level to test on. We played it a lot, then moved forward with the internal feedback and new ideas.
From there it was a balance of creating assets and developing the design of the level, which went hand in hand. A new set of rocks was created to act as the base land, with a new look that stood apart from the rest of the maps. The goal with the rocks was to create something that was familiar to Sky Noon and the western theme, but with some layered snow and hard cuts like a quarry.
The ice itself would make up a large portion of the walkable space, standing out against the orange of the rocks and creating a slippery playspace. We believe we have struck a good balance with the ice physics. You retain a great deal of control while walking on the ice but can still feel the slippery effects if you try to stop or are sent flying across it. You can take a break from grappling to slide across the ice with your momentum, but you will quickly slow to normal walking speed. That is unless the ice is sloped, in which case you will slide all the way to the bottom.
Major changes began to take place as we tested the map, finding that some parts worked and some didn’t. For instance, having a map with a single tall mass tends to reduce the potential for creative grappling, devolving into a constant roundabout. Adding extra high points, splitting up parts of the map into separated play areas and cutting out a few unnecessary sections brought it much closer to the final result.
A cozy building was added to act as a base of operations, a workshop for storage and management of the ice trade. Along with it came the barges and ice wagons, used to transport the ice locally or to far away places. We also added a few large ramps of ice to make better and more interesting use of the ice physics.
Now here we are at the final result with some post process changes and new assets. We will leave you with a few screenshots to peek at. We hope you enjoy the new map!