Road to End Game: Creating the perfect dirt bike playground

The dirt bike is one of the fastest and most agile vehicles ever in a Battlefield game. In this blog post, QA Analyst Malin von Matern explains how End Game became the perfect playground for this new and exciting ride.

Taking to the road in the March expansion pack Battlefield 3: End Game.

Hey there, I’m Malin von Matern, QA Analyst at DICE. With the work of End Game in my rearview mirror, the motorcycle is – hands down – my favorite vehicle when it comes to quickly getting to where I want while still having a blast. When I have some time to spare I often boot up a level and see what I can make the motorbike do, just for fun.

When the jumps started to take form on the four different End Game levels I wanted to make sure that they didn’t just feel randomly placed – but rather something that lived naturally within the maps and their gameplay. I wanted every single one of the jumps to feel authentic, fun and just a little bit crazy. Check out the video below where we had some dirt bike fun trying out a few of the jumps in our play test.

The QA (Quality Assurance) Analysts at DICE are specialists that focus primarily on how the game plays and how everything fits together from a consumer’s point of view. In my position, I also help out polishing features and backtracking bugs to make sure we don’t redo old mistakes, along with – of course – helping out to eliminate the present ones. My work on the upcoming expansion End Game focused a lot on polishing and tweaking the motorcycle jumps that can be found across the levels.

 

“I wanted every single one of the jumps to feel

authentic, fun and just a little bit crazy”

 

The first thing you might notice when playing the different levels is that the jumps on each respective level don’t always look the same. On Operation Riverside for example, the jumps are very clear and often made out of metal ramps supported by dirt piles, compared to Kiasar Railroad where the jumps are less obvious, molded with the landscape and often made out of wooden planks laid out on dirt mounds. This encourages players to explore the levels to see if they can find all the jump spots.

Operation Riverside is one of four maps in End Game, and one that features a lot of rollercoaster style jumps tailored for the new and agile dirt bike.

Each and every jump has been molded by hand to exclusively fit the area they are placed in. We worked in the mindset of carefully bringing the jumps into the flow of the map instead of trying to force them in where they don’t belong.

From bump to jump
When we created the jumps I worked very closely with the level artists and designers. The bigger jumps were often placed by one of them, while I later moved in and made sure the jumps were actually doable and just difficult enough to be enjoyable.

Creating a well-designed and successful jump requires more than just making a bump in the ground or adding a random ramp to a prop. To create a jump that works as intended, you need to make sure you work with the physics engine in the right way, almost like when building a jump in real life. If the jump is too long or too steep you will lose speed and possibly fail the jump, or the jump will simply become dull and forgettable. Make the jump too flat and it will likewise lose its edge.

 

“The jumps were carefully molded to keep

that awesome rollercoaster feeling”

 

Something I learned is that you want the jump to have a nice curve in order to simulate the g-forces that take place when pulling off jumps in real life. The curve also helps the motorbike keep its momentum all the way through the jump, giving you those epic “big air” moments. I have always liked watching downhill MTB videos, which is something I used to my advantage when working on the jumps in End Game to make them feel both epic and realistic.

One good example of a jump that was close to impossible to make in the early stages of production was the double-jump formation on Operation Riverside. The jumps and the landing areas were misaligned, causing the player to crash and stop dead upon landing. The river in that area was also unforgivingly deep at the time, which caused players to lose their bikes if they ended up falling short. After a few hours of work though, the jumps were shaped into what they are today – carefully molded to keep that awesome rollercoaster feeling, while still being smooth and possible to pull off.

The smaller jumps were often spawned out of prototypes of some crazy “what if” ideas, where I often discussed with the different level artists about where I thought a jump would be fun to have. Many of them were cut – like one crazy idea where you would jump over one of the helicopter pads in the US base in one early version of a level – but a few of them can still be found in the game.

Quality jumping
One thing that is very easy to forget when building a jump is that it’s more than just the time you spend in the air. It’s a combination of several things: the approach, the jump and the landing.

If you don’t give the player enough information about the jump on the approach, it’s easy to misalign the jump and end up crashing into a rock or a tree. An example of this is the problem we had with the mega jump on Operation Riverside mentioned earlier. When players came up on the second jump while approaching from the Russian side of the river, many ended up crashing straight into the rock wall. The reason this happened was because the jump itself blocked the players’ view, forcing them to guess the correct alignment for the jump. Even those who had taken the same jump several times still made the same mistake, including myself, regardless of the hours I’d spent tweaking it.

Death trap (left) avoided by careful placement of tree as visual marker (right).

Same death trap as above, this time from a 1P view.

The way I solved this was to give the player a subconscious guide away from the rocky mountainside. I placed a tree between the jump and the wall, high enough so that its top branches were visible over the tip of the jump, as a natural indication that there was an obstacle just out of sight. And what I soon noticed was that almost everyone that tried the jump after the change succeeded on their first try.

What I personally love with solutions like this is that whenever I run the jump myself, I rarely actually think about the tree being there. I just automatically steer away from it when approaching the jump. It’s little details like this that often make the difference between failure and success and it’s fascinating to see the effects they have on player behavior.

One thing that’s important to remember is that apart from spending a lot of time having a go at all the jumps yourself, you also need the opinion of others. I often handed control to colleagues or simply walked around in the studio during playtests to see how different players used the bike and what complications they ran into when attempting jumps. Getting feedback from others is the best way to know if the tweaks you are doing are working as intended.

Caution: Mid-air collisions with other dirt bikes can be hazardous to your health.

Defy the sky gods
While the two most jump heavy maps are Operation Riverside and Kiasar Railroad, the other two maps – Nebandan Flats and Sabalan Pipeline – rely more on using the skills you have learned on the constructed jumps on the raw terrain. I have personally had lots of “Battlefield Moments” during playtests on these maps. My knowledge of what I can make the motorbike do has saved my skin more than once. So don’t be fooled if you have a hard time spotting jumps on those maps. They are there, just a bit more hidden.

My personal pro-tip to you guys and gals out there would be this: The way you approach a jump and what you do just before you hit the air can drastically change the way you jump. That’s good to know for those times when you don’t want to over shoot a jump and you need a more controlled landing. The times you just want to do that big jump and spend some quality time with the birds, don’t touch the boost (which lets you do a wheelie on your bike) until you hit the last two to three meter line away from the tip of the jump. This will help give you a nice kick away from the ground and definitely send you flying. ;)

Another thing that’s worth mentioning is that passengers won’t add any weight to your bike, so you and your buddies can freely jump together! Be careful when boosting with a passenger on the back of the bike, though, as you are actually blocking that player’s aim in case you run into any enemies along the way.

I personally hope that when all of you get out there and get your hands on the motorbike for the first time you will have as fun as I had while building the jumps. I also hope that both the jumps and the bikes themselves will help you find new ways to fight all across the Battlefield.

Game on, have fun, and I’ll meet you on the Battlefield!

Malin von Matern (”vonEdfa”)
QA User Experience Analyst

Battlefield 3: End Game is out this March. You can purchase it separately for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 – or get it two weeks early at no extra charge if you become a Battlefield 3: Premium member.

Comments
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  • Indignant Yeti 06.14.13 at 01:48

    Those dirt bikes are ridiculous. How can a dirt bike go full speed, hit a person and not crash or flip?

  • xSKDxHardScopez 03.29.13 at 21:55

    Only if players played like that and quit camping.

  • koonze 03.26.13 at 17:25

    you guys didn’t “create” anything. you moved objects around from maps you’ve already developed…and added a dirtbike. big whoop dee fucking doo. fix the game before you try to make more money. stop using the ragdoll engine on vehicles too. its fucking pathetic. and another thing…. why does my vehicle explode if i walk 20 feet away from it? is there some sort of ambilicle cord attached to my soldier and the vehicle? dice needs to go play socom 1 & 2 amd learn something. then try again.

  • edegen 03.20.13 at 21:30

    gaaf

  • DarkMatterGaming 03.20.13 at 18:28

    ive found a spaceship Easter egg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LQzPBi594s

  • DarkMatterGaming 03.20.13 at 18:27

    ive found the spaceship Easter egg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LQzPBi594s

  • polis58 03.07.13 at 14:27

    I can’t wait to play it!!!

  • xViscousKillerx 03.04.13 at 19:22

    Dices’ ultimate achievement. Awesome work Dice!

  • Robot501 03.04.13 at 17:17

    I forsee a lot of X-Game wannabes dying to strategically placed mines. Go ahead, run that little dirtbike up that ramp. Be careful where you land!

  • SGT_payback716 03.02.13 at 08:05

    DICE YOUR JUST A FINE WINE GETTING BETTER WITH AGE

  • SGT_payback716 03.02.13 at 08:04

    LET’S ROCK-AND-ROLL GUY’S

  • PRESIDENTIAL GK 03.01.13 at 09:21

    I’m waiting its march 1 hooray now where’s my bike I can’t take it the feeling is eating away at the lining of my stomach anxiety like like a bomb aaaah I’m gonna blow

  • alphaeagle97 02.27.13 at 13:35

    DICE is the best!

  • Jefe Thunder IV 02.23.13 at 00:07

    i live BF3 & Rallisport Challenge
    insane work DICE
    thanks

  • XTREEM93 02.22.13 at 10:01

    Keep Doing what ur Doing Dice, haters gona hate.

    Peace

    • SGT_payback716 03.02.13 at 08:13

      do what your doing only going to get better

  • XTREEM93 02.22.13 at 09:56

    And all u guys hating on BF and comparing to CoD , Keep your Bitching to yourselves. Theres no need for you to compare the 2.

  • freakondrums 02.21.13 at 04:54

    I thought BF3 was an awesome game when it first came out because you could do more than MW3, then they started doing all these crazy updates to try to make the game better. Then the glitches came and all the cheating became more intense.
    I think now there are a lot of hardcore gamers/fans out there that have been following the BF series from the start are so turned off by what has become of BF3 and the money spent on “Premium” are turning away from it and not wanting to spend money on BF4, no matter how much hype they put into it as their selling point, it may just be the same crap as BF3.

    • XTREEM93 02.22.13 at 09:53

      Really Feakondrums, you really talk shit about playing BF, you complain cause of glitches and all and cheaters, i say so what? so what there are cheaters, so what there are glitches its all nothing its just a game, u cant win all the time but seeing that your complaining about the makers spoiling the game i wanna see you make a game as good as BF3 or the whole BF franchise. I also tell you this do not doubt the power of the PS4, PS3 hardware has restricted game developers form making wat they want, u will be proven wrong.

    • Jefe Thunder IV 02.23.13 at 00:05

      please go back to COD,
      we dont need you

  • freakondrums 02.21.13 at 04:35

    Just waiting to see what kinda Glitches and cheating is gonna be happening with all the “new” stuff.
    And what it takes to get the programmers to fix things and how many times they’re gonna change things like they always do. As much as this kinda stuff has been going on, I hope that when BF4 comes out, they already have made the game the way it’s sopose to be played fairly and get rid of the “rent a server” and have a lot more of their own servers to play on.

    • YourMothersPink 02.22.13 at 02:57

      try playing on console if you have problems with cheaters..

    • Buckstabu 02.22.13 at 22:59

      You’re… You’re seriously bitching about new content. Of course it’s not going to be perfect on release. They see what the problems are after millions of people try it, and then fix them. You whiny prick.
      You’re getting new content. (OPTIONAL NEW CONTENT, MIGHT I ADD.) and bitching the entire time. I wish I could hate you to death.

  • TT__StormMaker 02.15.13 at 18:32

    Battlefield was known for its maps due to the size of them .. now its known as a COD replacement for when they get bored of killing zombies in space!

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