Dev Blog - Back to Ubersreik: Map Conversion
Back to Ubersreik
In December we are releasing a new DLC called Back to Ubersreik. In this Dev Blog the Lead Level Designer at Fatshark Studios explains how a map from Vermintide 1 was converted to function in Vermintide 2.
You can read more about the Back to Ubersreik DLC here.
Hi, my name is Daniel Platt and I’m a part of the Level Design team here at Fatshark. I’ve written a few dev blogs before, and it’s nice to get the opportunity to do so again! After announcing our Back To Ubersreik DLC a short while ago I’d like to walk you through the process of how we get a map from Vermintide 1 to 2.
So how did this all come about? First of all, the idea for it came from you guys, we’ve been seeing a lot of requests to be able to play levels from the first game in Vermintide 2, which we thought was a great idea, but quite a lot has happened during Vermintide 2’s development that outdated the Vermintide 1 levels, so we weren’t really sure how much was missing and how long porting a level would take. We started out with just “Horn of Magnus”, to get a measurement of how long things would take and what kind of resources would be needed to accomplish it, so our process went a little bit like this:
First of all lots of “archeology” work, going back amongst our archived and deleted files, first recovering the level and then digging up all the units and art assets it requires. Then we add in the new game logic so the level runs, which requires us to put in some of our newer features for Vermintide 2: new pickups, new bosses, patrol route variations, spawners for chaos enemies etc.
A lot had to be done
What was mentioned above were the things needed just to get the level to start and to be basically playable from start to finish. So we played a few playtests and instantly really loved going back to Ubersreik! It was very rough around the edges and looked a bit worse than we remembered from back in 2015(reality doesn’t always match up to nostalgia!). We realized the levels would require quite a bit of work to get them up to scratch but we all agreed there were definitely a few gems in there that we wanted to bring back to you fans for this DLC. We decided it would be worth the time and effort to port them over.
After some playtests and discussions we felt like we’d need to add a little extra dimension to them and some replayability even for the players who played the first game to the death, so that lead to lots of discussions and ideas on how we could make this more than just a “port” of the Vermintide 1 levels. I wouldn’t want to give too much away, but we think you’ll enjoy those bits a whole lot!
Here’s a screenshot taken from Horn of Magnus once we got it into the engine. As you can see there are some things missing. First of all, there’s no skybox, and everything that’s marked red are recovered models missing their textures. There was quite a lot that needed fixing besides that.
After the first playtests we took several steps to fix and improve the Vermintide 1 levels, to make sure they lived up to the consistent quality of Vermintide 2, among them were things like:
Redid all the lighting, fog, post effects and made sure we used all the features of our Vermintide 2 engine rendering improvements. Quite a lot has happened here.
Went over and tweaked assets that aren’t up to scratch, upping the resolution and fixing errors. Often replaced some parts of our outdated looking scenes with our more recent assets that fit the same theme.
Redecorated many level areas and rebuilt backdrops to have a higher graphical fidelity and look better.
Went through the level and switched out outdated visual effects, and in some cases remade them to be up to our higher standards.
Switched out the skyboxes to use our new and improved Vermintide 2 ones.
Updated and redesigned the pacing of end events to feature all the pactsworn, also using some of the new design experience we learnt since Vermintide 1 to make them more fun.
Many systems have been changed and updated, like our occlusion and collisions, so we needed to locate and fix all the bugs that appear in the levels from these system updates.
Went over difficulty in spawning, pickup amounts etc. and made sure it matched the difficulty level of other VT2 levels. A lot of the enemies from VT1 have been retweaked and have different roles in the game now, so we need to consider that.
A balancing pass for all the new Vermintide 2 features, like patrols, pickups and dark pact bosses, so they don’t make the level too easy or hard.
Find and fix bugs and exploits caused by the new career player abilities, like the Slayer’s leap and Handmaiden dash.
Came up with and implement Okri’s Challenges for the levels.
New secrets and mysteries!
Wrote new challenges
Added a new narrative angle with brand new briefings and narrator VO for the levels.
Dug up all the old voice-over recordings, music and subtitles from our archives and re-implemented them into the game.
Recorded new VO for the briefings and our added content to fit with the new Back to Ubersreik storyline.
Went over the sound design in the levels and made sure it was up to our higher standards of Vermintide 2.
Make new map selection screens, level icons
Draw new loading screens to fit with the new Vermintide 2 style
Um, that turned into almost a changelog I guess. There’s a lot in there! Basically, this was all a lot more work than we thought it would be, haha! Mainly, I wanted to show you how much went into getting a level from the first game into the second, so you guys didn’t just think it was the matter of pushing a button and then releasing it.
Also, something else that we wanted to do was to deliver something new for the people who have already played the levels in Vermintide 1, while making sure to be fully faithful to the legacy of the original. I feel we’ve come up with some really ingenious secrets that add a lot once you dig deeper, together with Vermintide 2’s enemies and features they really make the experience feel new and fresh. I was so scared the first time I heard a Blightstormer start chanting while I was running over the rooftops on Horn of Magnus! Or being hunted through Oliver’s Inn by an angry Rot-helm swinging for my head. We hope you’ll have lots of new memorable moments in old familiar places and we really want to hear about what untold mysteries you might uncover.
All the best,
Daniel Platt - Lead Level Designer, Fatshark Studios