Designing the new Wake Island 5-flag layout for Xbox 360 and PS3

Since the release of Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand, a very popular subject has been the be or not to be of a 5 flag Wake Island for consoles. Here’s Gameplay Designer Gustav Halling with the inside story on how the new 5-flag layout came into existence.

Hi all. My name is Gustav Halling, 26 years old, also known by my nickname “cmd” or “cmd85” on Battlelog.

I have worked at DICE since 2006 as Gameplay Designer and have been involved in designing Battlefield: Bad Company, Battlefield 1943, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam. My latest project is Battlefield 3, and most of my time is put into the expansion packs such as Back to Karkand, Close Quarters, and now most recently turning Lead Designer for Battlefield 3: Armored Kill that launches this autumn (which I’m very excited about!)

In this “Inside DICE” post, I’ll explain the reasoning behind adding the new 5-flag layout to Wake Island on consoles. I hope you like the new layout and that you find this post interesting.

Why didn’t we have 5 flags from the start?
So why didn’t we have a 5-flag layout for Wake Island Conquest on consoles to begin with? There is no simple straight answer, but it was a mix of design decisions and technical challenges. When we decided to make a remake of the classic Wake Island map, we wanted it to be the same scale as it was back in Battlefield 2, not the 30% smaller variant that I designed for Battlefield 1943. The reason Battlefield 1943 shipped with 5 flags was because the game was a standalone game where all air and land vehicles and distances could be tweaked specifically for those distances.

This time, we wanted to keep the epic scale that Wake Island is on all platforms, and we play tested the map a lot with 24 players and found that the gameplay was suffering by the big spread of players that occurred over 5 flags. It easily turned into us just going around capturing the bases in a circular pattern, without really seeing any enemies – that was not very fun.

That was when I designed the new variant instead, where the US started on the two capes instead of on the carrier — and at the same time focusing the gameplay down to 3 flags. The gameplay based on this flag layout turned out much better with a lot more action and awesome tank battles.

An excellent byproduct of our latest patches is that we found a way to fit even more content into console memory – primarily vehicles — which made it possible to look into the original 5-flag layout again. So we did!

Designing the new 5-flag Wake Island
After the release of Back to Karkand, we received a lot of feedback from you, our community, that you wanted to have a 5-flag variant on Wake Island. The feedback was very much focused on that it wasn’t a true Wake Island without 5 flags and also that it worked in Battlefield 1943 on consoles already. It wasn’t a big surprise for me but I also felt that many players didn’t see the whole picture on why this happened and why it provided a more intense battlefield so I did a big post on reddit about my design decisions behind Wake Island 3 flag and got a good response from that.

I was actually already looking at the possibilities how a 5-flag Wake Island on consoles would work, both from a gameplay perspective and the technical challenges it would present. I knew that we had a big patch coming out at the end of March/beginning of April. This would give  us the time needed to add the new design layout, playtest it on consoles, and make sure it was to quality and get it into the patch before heading into the certification process with first party.

So I set the project up and started to look at it from a technical angle to make sure it was possible to do in the first place. Next step was to playtest the new layout with 24 players and adjust the experience to make sure each base had a valuable asset that the team wanted to own.

After play testing, the in-house feedback at DICE was clearly that the best layout was the same as the one we use on PC. I went with that as a basis, but made some tweaks to both the PC and console layout. Perhaps the most important change being that we moved the mobile anti-air to the Beach capture point instead of having it at Airfield – this makes Beach a more strategic base to own.

Two layouts – two experiences
I personally like both variants of Wake Island on console, and having the two to choose from, you can make sure you get the experience you want for each session:

3-flag Wake Island provides the more action orientated experience for when you want to get into the action fast! It’s less about travelling and more about fighting, with a good mix of infantry and vehicles.

5-flag Wake Island is the more strategic choice and the more vehicle focused experience! It will give you more choices on how to tackle the battlefield – making a head on assault on airfield or slowly working towards it from the bases surrounding it, one flag at a time.

With the Spring game update being live on all platforms, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 players alike can finally enjoy a 5 flag variant of Wake Island. We hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think in the poll below!

Gustav Halling

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  • Masher500 04.11.12 at 19:07

    yeah WTF?!?!?! Lets add more flags for the console players but forget the VOIP for PC players.. nice job

  • ExtremeGamer1995 04.11.12 at 19:06

    I remember that layout from 1942 or was it 43 so glad they bought it back, I knew there was something different about the wake island map but I didn’t realise it was because there was less flags.

  • peanut90382398 04.11.12 at 18:57

    also one more thing if you guys put the airport and helicopters at charley then you gotta move the ship to the other side of the map like if you were at bravo you would be able to the ship out in the water (not in the middle of the map) and one more comment you guys should put air drones in battlefield 3

  • rogersmithbigo 04.11.12 at 18:54

    The highest priority of dice needs to be to implement ingame voice with battlelog for the pc, nothing else should be done untill then.

  • peanut90382398 04.11.12 at 18:54

    what i think the only thing they should change is the airplane launch site at bravo flag, because then when we play and people take bravo we cant spawn on bravo,which makes it hard for us to get our aircarft in the air, i think they should put the airport and helicopters at Charley instead of bravo because the base is at Charley when we start playing.

  • AShakeAndFrys 04.11.12 at 18:38

    The game is awesome. Stop being whiney bitches about such trivial stuff.

  • MaSoNxX 04.11.12 at 18:28

    My friends and I would love to see more objectives, jeeps ect. on lots of maps!! Op Firestorm is a good example. only has 3 when it could easily have 4. Add a 5th on Caspian.

  • Bermbom 04.11.12 at 18:27

    I’d rather see DICE fixing the ridiculous air-ground balance first.
    Air dominates all. BF2 was even better balanced!

  • DRADA 04.11.12 at 18:23

    Just vote. It doesn’t matter which one you pick anyway.

  • Dev1lman38 04.11.12 at 18:12

    OH LOOK more useless ass shit when the crappy ass patch is still screwed up and not one EA/DICE person has answered the community yet. How hard could it be?

    • HomiCider82 04.11.12 at 18:48

      It seems like you have never tried to program anything. As a Computer Science major, the problem can sometimes be hard to find in something that is merely a few thousand lines of code. I can’t imagine how much code is in BF3. So chill out and give the development team time. I’m sure they don’t just eat doughnuts and hang out at the water cooler all day.

  • venom1950 04.11.12 at 18:02

    1943 version is still better,but i’m ok with this

  • Ultimatron 04.11.12 at 17:59

    Least liked map in my favor. This map just doesn’t connect players to engage each other well enough. I find most players uninterested with the actual objective of the match. only players actually enjoying this map is usually the ones who are flying the jets in my opinion

  • Mr_Nobtastic 04.11.12 at 17:58

    WOW. You do realise that all you did was take the PC version and put it on consoles. how this will be any different I have no idea, its the exact same layout and you haven’t changed a thing. Its just going to be as you said: “just going around capturing the bases in a circular pattern” This is a STEP BACKWARDS DICE! Please make a new map rather than posting bullshit articles on how you put in SO MUCH THOUGHT into porting the map from PC to console. Seriously, waste of time.

  • Bremos 04.11.12 at 17:58

    Waait, there were 5 flags in 1942 ? And i’m pretty sure in BF2 too

  • ALDEANMEZ 04.11.12 at 17:56

    There should be an update when you are parachuting out of the chopper/airplane (out of walking zone), the out of zone timer shouldn’t start counting until you land on the ground. It’s really frustrating when you die while parachuting towards the map…

    • Kourosh DK 04.11.12 at 18:03

      Then don’t bail the vehicle outside of the map, dumbass :P

      Regarding the 5-flag Wake Island, it’s pretty cool and the fight are more intense. Just like BF1943.

  • CommandoCoyote 04.11.12 at 17:53

    Is it just me, or is pretty much every map on BF3 nothing but eye pain… shit everywhere? Line of sight is constantly being blocked by shit… crate, bush, tree, rubble, garbage, flying garbage, flashes of light, etc.

    Plus, PS3 Input Lag??!?!?! Where’s the fix DICE?

  • Totally Dubbed 04.11.12 at 17:50

    Nothing new here – I remember playing it in BF1943 and it being epic. When I played it before u introduced the 5flag…i was happened.

  • Masher500 04.11.12 at 17:50

    why dont you redesign Karkand?? You gave us 2/3s of the original map…. Sorry Gustav, but you might want to take a tip from some of the guys who designed the BF2 maps. Those are way better than BC2, BF3 combined….

  • Kill8ox 04.11.12 at 17:49

    Don’t be so proud of yourselfs .
    All you people did is ruined once great series of Battlefield.
    Don’t give yourself a credit because you deserve NONE!

  • maR-Cob3i 04.11.12 at 17:45

    EdelWeiss288: awesome comment is awesome!!! :DDD
    Otherwise both are great. On PC, CW with 5 flags is perfect.

  • Cpl-VonRyan 04.11.12 at 17:44

    How about one with a Russian carrier, with an uncap spawn point. Also for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. This map is by far my least favorite.

  • SoulAssassin808 04.11.12 at 17:42

    lol, you didn’t make anything new and you know it! You just took the PC map and put it on consoles. Don’t make it looks like you did a lot of work….

  • Hitexpert 04.11.12 at 17:41

    Nice :D

  • EdelWeiss288 04.11.12 at 17:41

    fix the game you ruined with your untested patch and then we talk about flags.

  • retruns 04.11.12 at 17:38

    muy bueno, me gusta si.

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