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
Designer

Comments
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  • alive2009 04.12.12 at 16:15

    so plz fuck you

  • RSGAM34 04.12.12 at 09:00

    im with add 5 flag

  • RecondoLRRP 04.12.12 at 08:08

    PLEASE!! Never say you should replace a Jet, Tank or Chopper with a Jeep..Just add a flag, that’s all you have to say man..

  • DooMsDaYRangeR 04.12.12 at 06:37

    It would be nice if I could play 5 flag on Wake Island. I don’t feel like playing on kiddie rent a boost servers though. Wake me up when the official servers are back like they used to be.

  • MrSTROZZI 04.12.12 at 06:06

    Well i´m not very shore but if 5 flags is simply to much and well there is 32 players, 25 will play ,
    the other 7 dont will play. if you think in that is veter 3 flags.
    In the pc there are 64 players in that case is much better 5 flags.

  • RandyZie 04.12.12 at 05:46

    lol console players

  • yamatan19436 04.12.12 at 03:38

    people who play battlefield on ps3 pls add me as friend!

    • hondalover66 04.12.12 at 04:11

      i do

    • FalseCracMedEvac 04.12.12 at 04:37

      Can send me a friend request if u like PSN ID: FalseCracMedEvac I’m always looking for some cool people to game with. We can get some rounds in for sure

  • drumscarinbr 04.12.12 at 01:41

    The new 5 flag Wake is awesome. It’s way better than the 3 flag, IMO. I think many console players feel the same way, judging by the poll results (89% to 11%, in favor of the 5 flag layout).

    This poll also tells you (DICE), that the game would be so much better if ‘you guys’ increased the number of flags on other maps as well, for the console.

    Noshahr, Bazaar and Damavand are the ones that really stick out as those that need to include more interesting areas to play in.

    1. Kharg Island – Add the 5th flag that is up on the hillside near communications tower (like the PC version). Remove one jet per team and replace it with a jeep (for troop transport) to offset console’s lower player count. If absolutely necessary, you could remove the flag at the ‘construction site’ (C on consoles, D on PC). I think that adding that flag up on the hillside would add more interest to this map. That area up there is cool and this would also spread the flags out a bit more.

    2. Operation Metro – Either add routes or limit it to 8 vs 8 players. Too many players and too few routes = clusterf**k! This map can be fun, but it’s usually when there are fewer players. As it is now, both teams usually just butt heads at the central B flag.

    3. Grand Bazaar – Add the 4th and 5th flags on the edges of the city (as on the PC version). Again, there’s a major choke point at the ‘B’ alley and too many players = clusterf**k! This map is not very big and adding those flags would spread the battle out to the edges of the map more and it would get the log jam out of the central B alley.

    4. Caspian Border – Add the 5th flag that is near the radio tower. Remove one jet per team and replace it with a jeep (for troop transport) to offset the console’s lower player count. If absolutely necessary, you could remove the ‘forest’ flag. The flag near the radio tower is more interesting and would spread the flags out a bit more.

    5. Tehran Highway – Add the 4th (like the PC version). This map is not that big and would be perfect with 24 players and that one extra flag. Right now, this map really lacks interest on consoles.

    6. Operation Firestorm – Add the 4th and 5th flags that are on the northern side of the highway (like the PC version). Remove one tank and one jet per team and replace them with jeeps (for troop transport) to offset console’s lower player count. Right now the map is too linear and there’s so much northern and southern space that is not used at all. By removing those tanks/jets, you’d potentially put 6 players more (total) in the field.

    7. Seine Crossing – Add the 4th and 5th flags that are on the side of the river nearest the US deployment (like the PC version). This map is pretty small and adding these flags would be cool because you’d have to traverse the bridge over the Seine. It feels pretty small right now and I don’t think that it would be too big for 24 players with the 5 flag layout.

    8. Damavand Peak – Add the 4th and 5th flags that are on the Russian and US ends of the map (like the PC version). If that can’t be done, use the same 5 flag PC layout, but remove B and D, leaving 3 flags, with more distance between them. This map is linear and narrow, so it wouldn’t be too big for 24 players. Also you’d get to use the ‘A’ end of the map (with the hillside and large building, etc) and the cool gravel quarry on the ‘C’ end of the map. Right now, those areas don’t see much combat, therefore it seems like the map is just a tunnel (with two small under used end caps).

    9. Noshahr Canals – Add the 4th and 5th flags (like the PC version). Remove one Russian tank and replace it with a jeep (for troop transport) to offset the console’s lower player count and to balance the Russian advantage on this map. I don’t think this map would be too big for 24 players. Adding those flags would be cool because the rugged terrain on the hillside towards the Russian base would be used. Right now, the map feels small and kind of boring.

    • Ry_mann88 04.12.12 at 03:30

      Best post IMO, you gave valid reasons to changing flag positions. I’d love to see the flags spread out a bit more, mainly on the medium/small maps, as to create more play room on the maps. Caspian border I think is fine how it is now, but I would also like to see a Flag by the radio tower.

    • hondalover66 04.12.12 at 04:10

      battlefield should pay this guy to give the players what they want

    • deadkyo 04.12.12 at 05:31

      You make very valid points. I’d really like DICE to look over your post and try to integrate your ideas into the next patch.

    • VendettaLion 04.12.12 at 07:11

      Very Good Suggestions!!!

    • Coppers15 04.12.12 at 12:49

      I like some of the ideas you have there. OpMetro – All it needed waas another locker room alley on the other side of B

    • zanychelly 04.12.12 at 15:33

      I Think that Op Firestom need a 4th flag, , could be near the Bravo flag
      Why i Think That, because that part of the text, that copied bellow, righted by the Designer is wrong:

      QUoting the dices text:
      “”"”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. “”"”

      I found my self fightiing more for the flags in the 5 flags layout, the 3 flgs scheme for huuge map just does not work, the 5 flag layout is an engaging layout.
      What i understando of EPIC is a huge battle, and with the 5 flags scheme, it turnout to be the thing that was missing in this map, and others like Op Firestorm

    • MarxistReform 06.03.12 at 06:50

      You are right on the point! They really should!

  • CitingFrame56 04.11.12 at 23:41

    Which Battlefield 3 layout for Wake Island on console do you prefer?

    the one I played before patch
    I am actually getting pissed off when i kill people now. Hardcore mode does not exist anymore. It tells me im in hardcore and it looks like hardcore but why is it taking shit loads of confirmed hit bullets to kill???

  • delta13dek 04.11.12 at 23:29

    Hey cmd85, I think The 5 flag map will only effectively if you reduce the map size 30%. However, The 5 flap map may have to been necessary. Really what the current 3 flag map needed was more buildings, dug-outs, and towers to run though and around. Especially in and around the air field…

    • Gustav Halling 04.12.12 at 13:08

      The mapsize will not change.
      I made this addition to let the players decide themselves now when it was possible.

      There isnt really a possibility to re-do the map with its buildings etc.

      • marc9600 04.12.12 at 16:40

        Thanks for the interesting blog.

        Have you guys considered adding additional flags to any of the other maps on the consoles ? I am thinking specifically of the radio tower on Caspian, which works great on the PC, and possibly on the other side of the road on Firestorm. Seems a shame to waste all of that space…

      • Woodplank 04.12.12 at 22:50

        Make all console maps have atleast 5 flags!

  • Bluejay1020 04.11.12 at 23:22

    Oh really? What about fixing the current patch? Fixing all the glitches? Pc is already ahead of consoles, with 64 players, so why not get 24 limit for pc as well? Just to be fair?

  • RAMKROM40 04.11.12 at 23:21

    wow… 5 flags!! ideal to be kicked in one minute…
    WHAT ABOUT THE SERVERS? who needs a 5 flags map when anyone can’t play a ‘normal’ round like that before the patch?
    EA/DICE, your silence about this is not an intelligent attitude. the gamers, your consumers, need a server fix that brings back the official servers as an option. rented servers disappoints… and sucks!

  • Edowww 04.11.12 at 21:44

    FYI, every time i try to play B2K maps, my ps3 freezes and have to restart. Freezes during game or even when it’s over. Reinstalled 3 times. Nothing.

    • MeRk-u-HaRd 04.11.12 at 21:56

      Ps3 blows all around

    • dah77-pl 04.11.12 at 22:17

      first check router settings. if all good there then change your router wifi. in my case this second solved problem. unfortunately.

  • Dynite 04.11.12 at 21:02

    All this talk of a “new 5-flag layout” is somewhat jarring for me considering Wake has always been a 5 flag map with the flags exactly in the same places now as they were back in 1942 (a good thing, but not something new!)

    What is a bit shocking though is that you can’t blow the bridge up between bases A and B as you could in Battlefield 2 back in the day!?

  • Norse Injector 04.11.12 at 21:01

    I would like some ifv’s other than the mobile AA, The Mobile AA is a beast but there is only one… Definitely more IFV’s and maybe more elevated sniping positions other than the rock faces.. Do what you do been loving the last updates so, keep it up. One thing the freezing that has happened is killing me. :(

  • Xxxjsrocks22xxX 04.11.12 at 20:58

    Add scout helicopters to this map to make scout helicopters in more maps so I could use them more :)

  • Wonderllama 04.11.12 at 20:54

    Personally, my favorite version of Wake Island was 1943. I miss the sniper towers and the extra houses. I also liked the feeling of storming the beach at the start of every game. That was the best version for consoles. The BF3 version is clearly made for the 64 players on PC

    • ELeIVIeNTz 04.11.12 at 22:41

      True man true words 1943 was beautiful the colours the water everything but yeah 24 players just isnt enough for some big combat maps

  • CitingFrame56 04.11.12 at 20:52

    no… a very popular subject has been the patch

    im sorry but is this the response to the last blog.
    have you read the comments or do you just think we will forget…

    look forget the patch you’re got 5 flags..

    awesome great job guys … cant wait to play a 1000 tickets on this to be kick out in 2 minutes by some shit.. thats if i find a game playing this level.

  • D34DLYrang3R 04.11.12 at 20:39

    you tha man Gustav, i love the 5 flag Wake Isl. How possible would it be to up the player count on console from 24 to 32?

  • Ronin0ni 04.11.12 at 20:29

    Gustav is only 26? bloody hell I need to move up in the world.

    Personally, I find more action in the 5 flag variant than the 3 flag… The fighting still focuses around 2-3 of the flags at any given point in time but having 5 flags gives RU a better starting position, and harder to push off the map. Additionally spawning at a flag is preferable to spawning at the tip “HQ’s” for US, and with 5 flags the US side can almost always hold at least 1…

    On 3 flag it was common for either the RU to simply hold off the US team indefinitely, or for the US to push RU off the map. I’ll never play 3 flag again if I have a choice in the matter.

  • drumscarinbr 04.11.12 at 19:58

    The new 5 flag Wake is awesome. It’s way better than the 3 flag, IMO.

    This game would be so much better if ‘you guys’ increased the number of flags on other maps as well for the console.

    Noshahr, Bazaar and Damavand are the ones that really stick out as those that need to include more interesting areas to play in.

    1. Kharg Island – Add the 5th flag that is up on the hillside near communications tower (like the PC version). Remove one jet per team and replace it with a jeep (for troop transport) to offset console’s lower player count. If absolutely necessary, you could remove the flag at the ‘construction site’ (C on consoles, D on PC). I think that adding that flag up on the hillside would add more interest to this map. That area up there is cool and this would also spread the flags out a bit more.

    2. Operation Metro – Either add routes or limit it to 8 vs 8 players. Too many players and too few routes = clusterf**k! This map can be fun, but it’s usually when there are fewer players. As it is now, both teams usually just butt heads at the central B flag.

    3. Grand Bazaar – Add the 4th and 5th flags on the edges of the city (as on the PC version). Again, there’s a major choke point at the ‘B’ alley and too many players = clusterf**k! This map is not very big and adding those flags would spread the battle out to the edges of the map more and it would get the log jam out of the central B alley.

    4. Caspian Border – Add the 5th flag that is near the radio tower. Remove one jet per team and replace it with a jeep (for troop transport) to offset the console’s lower player count. If absolutely necessary, you could remove the ‘forest’ flag. The flag near the radio tower is more interesting and would spread the flags out a bit more.

    5. Tehran Highway – Add the 4th (like the PC version). This map is not that big and would be perfect with 24 players and that one extra flag. Right now, this map really lacks interest on consoles.

    6. Operation Firestorm – Add the 4th and 5th flags that are on the northern side of the highway (like the PC version). Remove one tank and one jet per team and replace them with jeeps (for troop transport) to offset console’s lower player count. Right now the map is too linear and there’s so much northern and southern space that is not used at all. By removing those tanks/jets, you’d potentially put 6 players more (total) in the field.

    7. Seine Crossing – Add the 4th and 5th flags that are on the side of the river nearest the US deployment (like the PC version). This map is pretty small and adding these flags would be cool because you’d have to traverse the bridge over the Seine. It feels pretty small right now and I don’t think that it would be too big for 24 players with the 5 flag layout.

    8. Damavand Peak – Add the 4th and 5th flags that are on the Russian and US ends of the map (like the PC version). If that can’t be done, use the same 5 flag PC layout, but remove B and D, leaving 3 flags, with more distance between them. This map is linear and narrow, so it wouldn’t be too big for 24 players. Also you’d get to use the ‘A’ end of the map (with the hillside and large building, etc) and the cool gravel quarry on the ‘C’ end of the map. Right now, those areas don’t see much combat, therefore it seems like the map is just a tunnel (with two small under used end caps).

    9. Noshahr Canals – Add the 4th and 5th flags (like the PC version). Remove one Russian tank and replace it with a jeep (for troop transport) to offset the console’s lower player count and to balance the Russian advantage on this map. I don’t think this map would be too big for 24 players. Adding those flags would be cool because the rugged terrain on the hillside towards the Russian base would be used. Right now, the map feels small and kind of boring.

    • SOLIDSNAKE1217 04.11.12 at 20:32

      I would have to agree more flags with the maps it provides more of a challenge to me because of close quarters coming out in june i think you guys at dice should include more flags for the console versions test them out or something if it is possible but it would be great to try and get more flags on maps such as grand bazaar and noshar canals please take our thoughts into consideration

    • RAMBO 1st BL00D 04.11.12 at 21:20

      Hotel on Oman would be good too. We can rent servers but the choices we have are extremely limiting. I expected more than just increasing ticket count & map rotation. Let us play our way, not the Dice way. Let us add, remove, re position flags. Let us switch off vehicle disabling, you want us to continue to pay, give us better options, not the limited guff we have.

    • Bluejay1020 04.11.12 at 23:19

      I think it would be awesome, if you could choose to add the different variants you mentioned, in the server browser, and also increase the player count to 32

    • Squeaky4all 04.16.12 at 07:59

      All i can hear from this post is “I WANT PC” this is why consoles suck, they limit the true potential of proper PC games.

  • ARQKAYAK 04.11.12 at 19:47

    more boats

  • Sgt Edey 04.11.12 at 19:22

    put more vehicles in that map like scout helicopters

  • J_T_O 04.11.12 at 19:20

    The part I hate the most that I have to play the 5 flag version on only private servers, it’s hard to find why dice you can put the wake island 5 flags version on dice servers… Almost no one put the wake island 5 flags or to think they even know about it… I hope to see it soon on a dice server HOORAAH

  • The_Jewel 04.11.12 at 19:15

    Very interesting blog post! Great read!

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