Brass Tactics:Level Design Theory Part 3

By Clancy Powell, Senior Designer at Hidden Path Entertainment

Designing for Different Modes

While the game mechanics are core to Brass Tactics’s overall experience, different game modes present the mechanics in different ways. Level design considers this and plays up the strengths of the mode while maintaining consistency of core mechanics.

1v1: Sets the Foundation

1v1 level design brings out the competitive nature of Brass Tactics. The core combat and economy mechanics are put to the test. To maintain competitive integrity, maps are symmetrical in terms of play space. Building the terrain and the AI’s navigation mesh to a grid was critical. These maps also needed to be “scannable”, meaning you can see exactly what is going within a place space when looking at it for only a short time. Art and visuals are important, but how they’re utilized is in a way that’s more functional and less distracting. A battle between you and a friend ought to be decided on skill and skill alone, while you and the maps look awesome while battling it out!

Campaign: Fun with Asymmetry

Campaign maps is where asymmetry shines. You versus the AI is where imbalances in terrain, economy, and squads keeps the situation interesting and engaging. Similar rules for 1v1 apply for pacing and tension, and can be a great start for thinking about how to make a mission. But campaign missions have a layer of context and theme that further define how the gameplay should work and feel. Art and visuals can be significantly more organic as a result to play up the theme and world story. Additionally, campaign maps have educational pacing when you play them sequentially. You learn new concepts, build upon these concepts while you learn others, and eventually master them all. The journey from Denego to Terra Mortem is as action packed as it is enlightening!

Co-op: Win or Lose Together

Similar to campaign maps, co-op maps can play up asymmetry to present a challenge to you and a friend. What’s different in co-op mans is that you share the space with a friend. When people come together to a table, they share space. That feeling exists at the war table as well. Each player has a home region on their side of the table, then come together in a common area. These common areas serve a purpose in that they play up the social nature and teamwork part of co-op, such as staging squads to prep for a push or defend a region. In VR, the social aspect feels that much cooler as you can literally point out what’s happening real time to your friend. Additionally, the maps are tuned and laid out to encourage you and your friend to coordinate on who takes what region, who builds what tower, and who watches and pushes into different areas of the map. Constraints encourage good teamwork!

Only Scratched the Surface

Brass Tactics shipped with 21 maps with the goal of each having its own personality and gameplay, consistent with core mechanics, and works well in VR. As we design a map, we get inspiration for many more based on lessons we’ve learned. And that’s looking at Brass Tactics! Other VR titles with different gameplay mechanics and paradigms provide different takes on map design as well. We’ve only scratched the surface of level design’s potential in VR, and the future looks awesome!

Now it’s your turn to share! Join us on Discord and share stories of your glorious battles on the war table.


This is our final entry in our three part series about Level Design for Brass Tactics. If you missed the previous pieces you can find them here and here.

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