Inside DICE: Creating an arena for fierce competitive gameplay in Aftermath

While all four maps in Battlefield 3: Aftermath are themed around the same concept of a post-earthquake environment, they all play differently. In this map overview, we discuss how Talah Market brings fierce competitive gameplay into focus.

Team play is always at the forefront when designing maps at the DICE studio, and Talah Market – internally nicknamed simply “Rubble” – is no exception. A lot of the designers at the studio are big fans of classic competitive shooters like Counter-Strike, and some even have backgrounds as semi-professional or professional players. For Aftermath, we wanted to bring some of that old-school shooter tradition into the mix. Our goal: To create a fiercely competitive map where it’s kill or get killed. We created this blog-unique behind the scenes flythrough of Talah Market that shows some of its distinguishing features.

Symmetry brings energy
The way we bring competitiveness to the forefront is by carefully designing the map, deciding where to place walls, covers, streets, plazas, and buildings. One very important area for us was to make it as symmetrical as possible – the thought here being that symmetry brings a simplicity and with it a focused kind of energy into the game.

Symmetry brings an aspect to the gameplay that has always been important in competitive gaming: Once you learn the map, you know it by heart no matter where you are positioned on it. There are no real surprises in terms of the ways you can navigate the map – the challenge instead lies in using your skills within the clearly defined confines of the battlefield. It’s not necessarily “better” than the traditional vast and open Battlefield maps like Caspian Border or Operation Firestorm, but it’s a slightly different flavor of Battlefield.

The desired gameplay shaped how we built the map, rather than the other way around. We wanted to cater for the most competitive players out there by building a level with an extremely streamlined flow. So while the map Epicenter (that you could read about in this earlier blog post) is an exciting and sometimes unpredictable battlefield featuring post-quake tremors, Talah Market is free from anything that can bring an element of randomness to the game. The key to designing this map has been to provide exactly the right amount of cover options, and to make sure that the map has great maneuverability at all times.

Symmetry created some challenges that needed solving, though. Like how do you build a level that plays the same on both sides, but still has a varied look and feel to it? The answer in this case is that the level contains multiple art themes to make the different areas feel distinct from one another. The challenge becomes a bit more complicated than that, though. Traditional shooters have players spawn mostly on one side of the map, but Battlefield spawns work more like a grid, making it more unpredictable how the teams rotate in the map. With this in mind, all areas in Talah Market had to be built in such a way that they can function as standalone combat encounters.

Play it your way
The symmetry aspect shouldn’t be misread as an attempt to force everyone into playing the same way. Rather, we are making sure that the map encourages different play styles. If you enjoy sniping, there is a long street with an open area where you can make good use of your long range engagement skills. If you like big standoffs, the market and its courtyards will be great for mid-range encounters. In addition, there are very tight streets that form a maze with fast paced close quarters action.

In a way Talah Market plays more like an “arena” than your typical Rush mode “journey” (like Operation Métro from the base game, for example). This is the map where, more than any other, you play to show off your skills both as an individual and as a tightly knit team. The focus here is not on scanning a lot of areas for potential enemies, instead bringing focus back to the second to second firefight itself, and how to best use the easy to read environment.

We believe this map will be the perfect fit for players who like to be more competitive, where every step gained on the enemy feels like a victory in itself. When play testing the map at the office, there is always that intense tug-of-war between teams where you know that your every move matters.

We hope you will enjoy this map together with the other three we have created for you in Battlefield 3: Aftermath. This themed expansion pack is out this December and is included with Battlefield 3: Premium. You can also purchase it separately.

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  • pb74w 02.27.13 at 12:08

    Very nice. It is really pity that on PS3 we will not get such a nice picture.

  • JayPaul9 02.18.13 at 07:26

    This was made my David Spiniard wasn’t it! And that’s David’s “design” that he had in mind for Strike at Karkand right? The same symmetry in all parts of the map. It’s on Seine Crossing too, and ill bet you David made that map too!

  • Rave-UK 01.29.13 at 15:42

    Keep the dialogue open DICE. It’s now been over two months since the post…

  • WarsawDS 01.26.13 at 02:49

    No matter the efforts to create excellent maps – and really are – the camperboys always will be there to destroy the game’s dynamic.

  • Wojtek42 01.19.13 at 23:01

    The maps are works of art.

  • hichem1987 01.19.13 at 19:20


  • styrvolt 01.02.13 at 11:16

    BF3 premium is worth every buck – and more. Year 2012 has been a blast. Dice, thanks for countless hours of fun!

  • styrvolt 01.02.13 at 11:15

    BF3 premium is worth every buck. Year 2012 has been a blast. Dice, thanks for countless hours of fun!

  • svlym92 12.22.12 at 16:31

    Hope Dice would sell collections of Battlefield 3 for 60 bucks but not the premium edtion. I like boxes.

  • HARDMIX1933 12.21.12 at 18:45

    Please give us non premium member 1 or more maps to play or game modes

  • HARDMIX1933 12.21.12 at 18:42

    Add a new game mode for the next bf3 update or for bf4 for free air fight & naval fight
    For the naval fight we must fight against enemy ship to take control,,
    For air fight only jet fighting

  • gammminghulk 12.19.12 at 17:44

    A breif discussion and tips and triks all kind of games including PC,mobile,Video,wii xbox and gaming accesories here !

    Request to provide some best browser based games,Which video game console would love to buy,Playing with gaming mouse vs normal mouse,Running Windows hidden object games on Linux platform,Good software to create flash games,Requirement of gaming keyboard and gaming mouse,Simulation games are getting important day by day.

  • gammminghulk 12.19.12 at 16:54


  • gammminghulk 12.19.12 at 16:53

    A breif discussion and tips and triks all kind of games including PC,mobile,Video,wii xbox and gaming accesories.

    Request to provide some best browser based games,Which video game console would love to buy,Playing with gaming mouse vs normal mouse,Running Windows hidden object games on Linux platform,Good software to create flash games,Requirement of gaming keyboard and gaming mouse,Simulation games are getting important day by day.

  • gammminghulk 12.19.12 at 16:52


  • ElevatedBuckle 12.18.12 at 22:18

    anyone anyone anyone helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooo

  • ElevatedBuckle 12.17.12 at 23:41

    how can you play normal conquest on this map. Getting tired of only playing 3 new maps in the rotation. Kind of like skipping sharqi penninsula on epic battles server on the regular dice servers. A reply would be great. Don’t DICE or EA play on their own servers.

  • cubeline82 12.15.12 at 12:41

    WHERE is Normal Conquest on Market Talah? no every one want play CQA!

  • Coreyweb 12.14.12 at 15:53

    DICE….no other game even comes close to the quality of BF3. It’s just on a completely different level than any other game I’ve played.

    No other game has so many awesome maps…..and no other game has maps that you feel like you’re “in a world.” Rather than just running around in an arena. Every map I play on Battlefield just feels… I’m running around in an actual environment. Nothing feels forced. I freakin’ love it.

    I can’t even freakin’ wait till you have more power on your hands with the next consol to see what you do. Battlefield 4 will be the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

    Thanks for working so hard and being so awesome.

  • Alkanida 12.13.12 at 21:45

    I joined a Booster Lobby and served them right
    Enjoy the show here:

  • stevieray1011 12.10.12 at 19:56

    i love playing tactically with my clan and squads so when you guys make things like this i love it im able to use high low aroung corners and breach rooms and always love having firefights in things like the arena. keep it up dice and when you come out with the next thing Battlefield four please keep this in mind and keep it tactical and realistic like always.

  • XXXX__RICH__XXXX 12.09.12 at 00:55

    Best Map Pack and server update EVER, the gameplay now feels so smooth and the lagg has been minimized a lot……or at least for my part. :-)
    Other than that, then i just love the new maps….witch is also the best ever…closely followed by the Close Quarter Pack and the BTK Pack.

    Have played this game since day one and this is the best thing that has happened yet. Just goes to show that DICE does whatever they can to make this game better and better….even though its lights years ahead of the other shooters out there. No game feels so smooth, with gun feeling so solid not like toy guns, witch is what you see in 99% of the other shooters.

    SO…if you read this “DICE”, then pad yourself on the shoulder and have a GREAT Christmas…witch lots of holiday fun….:-)

  • patzivota 12.06.12 at 22:33

    the new player models are really cool but without new voices it feels odd and incomplete.

  • CG_recon 12.06.12 at 08:35

    Xbow is very cool gun, but not without problems – as I unlocked BA and HE bolts, I found out that I can’t change bolt from default to BA without first… changing it to HE and only then, I will get my BA bolt ready. It’s like 3-5 seconds lost – and it’s game braking in many situations.

    What? Soldier will charge bolts in same order as he have them on vest or in pocket? Smells like another ”eeehm… but console controller doesnt have much buttons, so we were forced to do so” – guess what? Not interested to know about consoles when I’m playing on PC.

    • des-stevenator 01.22.13 at 01:58

      click the fire rate change button the right amount of times quickly

  • MrpmMxr 12.04.12 at 22:43

    Best DLC yet, DICE!! These are the best maps of BF3 for PS3. Can’t wait for PC. They perfectly combine close quarters urban fighting with vehicles combat in real world urban battlefields. Every flag can be attacked from many flanks, and every flank can be flanked. There is always ground won and lost over the course of a match, and the dynamic of that is always interesting and engaging. It is what makes the gameplay fun and challenging.

  • Champions19 12.04.12 at 12:18


  • Alkanida 12.01.12 at 15:13

    Crossbow Review – Talking about Damage/Range/Infantry&Vehicles:

  • YourMothersPink 12.01.12 at 01:25

    How about the people who have already invested 90$ and been with you for years are they not premium compared to new players spending a one time 60$ fee. This early release propaganda makes me want to play BO zombies in my spare time…

  • cLuTcH-I-NiNjA 11.30.12 at 14:38

    Well, this sounds like fun. However, it being three days after release, being a premium member as well, I still cannot download aftermath.

  • Alkanida 11.30.12 at 08:20

    I made a Crossbow Review going in detal with Damage/Range/Vehicles.
    If you’re interested in that check it out.

  • GriNGoGaTo42o 11.29.12 at 16:17

    abusive cheating admins why are they givin so much power dice ea? they just ruin the game i can report the server but not the admins? sick of getting kicked becouse im better then the admins is that fair and balanced gaming!? i hope somthing is done about it im sure im not the only one that feels this way. i understand you pay for the server “RENTAL” not the ownership and most abusive admins think they own the server and in reallity they dont. go on youtube and look at all the admin abuse and cheating videos its a problem you need to fix asap. if peaple can be banned for boosting why not abuse? it looks to me that if you pay for a server abuse is ok and if you dont you can be kicked from a game the peaple like to play fair please dice ea do somthing about this huge problem thanks for your time by the way aftermath is great : )

  • irishbarFighter 11.28.12 at 19:12

    Sounds awesome

  • killatkillcorp11 11.28.12 at 08:53

    when will it be available here in south africa. I am a premium member ?

  • ToddBegley 11.28.12 at 01:55

    Still downloading can’t wait

  • Jad51 11.26.12 at 06:14

    Looks like a cod map

    • AUTh0rity 11.26.12 at 16:29

      Because thats the target audience of BF3. ;)

    • Coreyweb 12.14.12 at 16:03

      cod uses guns! This game must be cod cause it uses guns also!

  • r3skp 11.26.12 at 02:12

    You speak about competition in the way you design the maps and that great. But is there any future plans about bringing BF3 to be more esport “compliant” I mean with a integrated replay/recording feature or a “TV” to watch machs between teams for instance, like HLTV used to provide. I know there are some BF3 leages on ESL but there aren’t very well covered.

    Imho esport is great way to keep a game alive and even if there is a large community of players on BF3 I think having some esport events with bf3 matches will be the greatest thing this game can have.

    • HollaOjOj 11.26.12 at 10:35

      You mean battlerecorder? DICE will add it in BF4.

      • AUTh0rity 11.26.12 at 16:28

        I belief that as soon as I see it….
        Besides that, DICE must get rid of that ridiculous client side hitreg and the issue that bullets curve around corners.

        Generally speaking, the hitreg is the worst ever seen in a battlefield game. And that after advertising BF3 with a “totally reworked, best netcode ever”.

        In terms of competitive gameplay, the Battlefield franchise did a nosedive when DICE decided to focus on consoles.
        None of the games that were released after BF2142 can be played in a league.

        • des-stevenator 01.22.13 at 01:54

          they need to focus on consoles because that is where their audiance is. they need need to make money to make the fucking game.

    • Coreyweb 12.14.12 at 16:07

      I would love for BF3 to be on MLG. It’d be so fun to watch matches live. Although it is true that it’d be rather hard to commentate a BF3 game and make it exciting.

  • Effn_Red-dot 11.24.12 at 21:31

    I think this map looks amazing. Thank you dice for making a variety of modes, map sizes, and play style focuses. This is why I love BF3. There is a little bit of everything here. The fly through shows a lot of areas that promise a good time!

  • to_colorful 11.24.12 at 20:13

    “Talah Market is free from anything that can bring an element of randomness to the game”
    So this map will be suppression, excessively bright and unrealistically low in-your-face sun, anysquad spawning, “battledust” and such free?

    • des-stevenator 01.22.13 at 01:43

      have you every looked at the sun? its fucking bright dipshit

  • Alkanida 11.24.12 at 11:01

    Scavenger Mode Gameplay here:

  • ArSj68 11.24.12 at 07:38

    “We believe this map will be the perfect fit for players who like to be more competitive” in the other word: please COD players come and play our game. Why not you make a map in BF style that is attractive enough to all people ?! why would many real BF fans should sacrifice that their incoming DLC after 3 months is not designed for them… It’s design for out siders !!! Isn’t that clear enough ?! I’m didn’t enjoy the CQ cuz it was too small and didn’t feel like BF (but i said it’s okay, they’re ambitious) i didn’t enjoy AK because it was too big, so big that it takes minute to reach somewhere/kill some, boring as hell specially for consoles, and after more than 6 months from the last enjoyable DLC (B2k), we are getting another DLC with maps are going be appealing AGAIN to certain people. Why can’t you just make a map that is NOT too BIG and NOT too small, why can’t make it appealing to all ? why can’t you just make a maps that have all sorts of fun in to them?!

    • Kluck-Norris 11.24.12 at 09:20

      …do you see what you are typing …lol , really now, do you not know of the big order your placing there… your asking them to make a map that is appealing to both people who like big maps and to people who like small maps… and i dont think you get the understand of what AK is appose to be, its main spot light is vehicular combat, and sniping if you wish, and how didnt CQ feel like a battlefield map , it had all the destruction and fast pace gameplay as usual, just cause the game is called “battlefield” doesnt mean all maps need be on a battlefield, beside the other map they have shown looks to be your idea of “perfect” map not to small and not to big, and plus it has “earthquakes” (said with an astonished voice) lol … and one other thing whats with the kid saying “Could you guys please don’t use terms like “competitive gameplay” or “esport””, why? are you someone who likes to have an upper hand on people or handy caps to win, competitive maps always be come classics, case and point de_dust2 the most know and played map of all time on online, the reason… BECAUSE ITS FU***** COMPETITIVE! shit, look at its evil half the original dust people dont play that shit much cause its unbalanced. and i thinks i’ve said what i needed here, dont worry DICE not everyone doesn’t see the full picture.

  • Kvorning 11.24.12 at 03:54

    Could you guys please don’t use terms like “competitive gameplay” or “esport”, when you don’t really seem to understand either concept in your releases?

  • Kluck-Norris 11.24.12 at 00:25

    wow … could you guys complain much, and brah how dare you knock counter strike… thats the game that started online competitive shooters.and its nice that there adding more variety, like this dlc is prolly more of a game mode dlc with all that added shit like earthqukaa and that scavenger mode that shit is awesome, thats what all these dlc are, none of that same old shit like some games keep releasing, and you must remember they need to cater to all there clients that means making big maps for pc players aka AK , and small maps for console aka CQ, and i dont know what your doing wrong cause i find 24/7 AK and CQ servers all the time the only thing i hate is that theres too many server with marathon settings ( 500-1750 ) now that shit’s annoying. that would be my biggest complain… well that and the extreme contrast you get when your in a slighty lit area and your looking into a building or shadow and all you see is a area as dark as a black hole where no light can escape, that be my big complain other than that i cant complain, dedicated server out weight every other mistake. thats is the best feature for console. so as long dice/ea keep releasing battlefields with dedicated servers i sure as fukka gona buya da shit braw! lol ( last part is a slight joke… slightly )

  • ArSj68 11.23.12 at 21:35

    After a year and release of 3 DLCS, I can barely find a server that runs CQ or AK maps, or AK mix with vanilla… pretty much every server are running the vanilla maps, any most of the servers that are running DLcs maps are B2K… what does that tell you ?! it means your DLCs except B2k were not enjoyable enough after dozens of gameplay on them! they don’t have that level of experience and fun that the vanilla maps had. In the other word means you might have had add Call of duty in a BF games, or break your record on making the biggest game maps in Bf history or challenge your self with things that are not even important for people, but clearly could not extends the actual Battlefield gameplay, you did not add maps to the routine maps of BF3, you did not give us something to play tens of hours on them just like the vanilla maps. YET Shamelessly you make maps that again close quarter’ish… who gives a damn about counter strike, why would you care so much about counter strike players ?! why would you prioritised counter stikers or COD players and give them each a DLC… so how about us ?!

  • ArSj68 11.23.12 at 21:22

    what is this DICE ?! is this MoH:W which part that game’s failure made you think we want to play a game like that ?!!! You Gave us small CQ maps, we bear with it as it was not worth more than a while, then you gave us maps that more than %60 of the maps are useless for consoles player, map that are so big and boring, we want maps to extend our original Battlefield experience, we don wanna be your lab rat to test your imagination on us… we want normal maps that extends the orignal maps and can mixed up in majority of servers. You guys already know that people love B2k maps more than any other DLcs, what does that tell you ?! we want maps that r not small or too big. we want our maps to have destruction, we wanna be able to have vehicle that can go anywhere. GOD WHICH PART OF IT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ?! why you give us a another close quarter’ish maps ?! why don’t you give a damn about your fans. i don’t understand the mentality of this… I really love BF, but i’m getting disappointed.
    we have to wait until when so you guys give us a maps same size as the vanilla or B2k or BC 2 maps?!

    • Coreyweb 12.14.12 at 16:17

      “I want DICE to make maps just for MEEEEE!!!!” I love all the maps. The reason the DLC’s are hard to find a server in is because not everyone can dish out money for them, not everyone has them, and its a pain in the butt to switch servers every time you want to play a different set of maps. If I could find a server that had ALL the maps from all the sets in the playlist, I’d play that 24/7. I haven’t played CQ or AK much at all simply because I wish I could throw in those maps off and on with all the other maps. It’d be a great mix…but there’s no way of playing all BF3 maps together.

  • eredi_13 11.23.12 at 18:33

    I don’t know, I honestly like the new areas and new strategies that come with a rush mode. I don’t understand the whole being competitive just because this is an arena. I am looking forward to this but i feel like they could have had more imagination on this.

  • HollaOjOj 11.23.12 at 18:15

    No environment destruction this time. This map looks like from new MOH’a or COD. BF:BC2 please come beck with massive destruction.

  • metafa 11.23.12 at 18:08

    first, but not bragging about it