I previously discussed the process of making a custom map for Mordhau. Finishing my first map left me with a feeling of dissatisfaction, like there was still work to do. With a more complete understanding of what the uSDK is capable of, I set out with a more ambitious goal of creating a whole new game type. The obvious choice for this was capture the flag, something that i thought would translate well to a game where melee combat and teamwork are at the forefront.
Luckily, someone had already created a very barebones capture the flag mod and publicly released it. Much of the difficult work had been done, so I could really focus on the finer details and figure out what needed changing.
It took several iterations, but i finally managed to massage the CTF mod into something i thought was more appropriate for Mordhau.
The basic CTF mod neglected to implement any sort of stalemate mechanic, which i think is a crucial aspect of capture the flag. The idea is that if the enemy team is in possession of your flag, you cannot capture theirs until the stalemate is broken. This creates a situation where both teams have to simultaneously defend their flag holder while attempting to break through the other team’s defences and kill the enemy flag holder.
A badass flag
I grew up playing CTF in games like Halo and Soldat, and one of the important concepts in both of those games is that the flag runner still has the ability to defend themselves, though it may be in a somewhat limited capacity. In Halo, you could bash people to death with the flag. It’s worth mentioning that the flag also looked really cool. Improving on the appearance of the flag was one of the things I did almost immediately.
Now we’re cooking. Achieving this was easier than i thought. The flag object is derived from the quarterstaff weapon blueprint. The skull, coiled rope segments and flag are all meshes (with all collisions disabled) parented to the quarterstaff with a vector offset to move them closer to the end. Simple but effective.
Since the flag object derives from the quarterstaff, it behaves exactly as the quarterstaff does when you’re holding it. I felt that it was a bit too weak in this state, so I tweaked its damage numbers upward slightly to give it a little more utility in combat. It’s not the strongest weapon, but a flag runner can defend themselves with it in a pinch.
A proper HUD
Capture the flag has its own unique HUD requirements, and thankfully the uSDK makes it possible for modders to create their own. I copied an existing HUD for one of the other official game types and made a few changes. Red and blue scores on the left and right, and a time limit in the middle. That’s all you need.
Both flags also have a HUD widget parented to them that indicates where they are for all players. I made some changes to the widget so that it used color instead of text to denote which team it belongs to.
The original CTF mod had notifications appear on the HUD for when the flag is taken or returned. I added some sound cues for these situations, and also added a celebratory noise for when a team scores.
With my tweaks to the game scripts complete, i could focus on creating a rough level to test in.
I didn’t put as much effort into the visuals on this level, partly because the design was so absurd from an aesthetic standpoint that it didn’t seem to merit a serious approach. The goal was to make a map that was fun to play, not necessarily a realistic depiction of a castle like so many of the other Mordhau maps.
The colored dots indicate spawn positions and the colored X marks indicate the flag positions. It’s not immediately obvious, but the players spawned on top of a raised platform to make it a bit harder for them to be attacked as they spawn.
The general concept of this map was to have 2 symmetrical bases very close together, with a chasm dividing them. There’s an emphasis on lateral movement rather than straight lines. There are 5 bridges at ground level, as well as 2 risky bridges on the outer edges between the higher levels of both bases. In the middle, there’s a large wooden elevated structure only reachable if you jump to it from the upper level of one of the bases.
I thought this was an interesting layout, at least for a simple test map, but I was totally unprepared for the general response from the community.
After releasing this map i had left town for a couple of weeks. Upon returning i found several letters in my inbox discussing the CTF mode. Apparently a tournament had been organized by competitive Mordhau players and the map received a lot of attention.
So much attention, in fact, that I received a message from one of the developers for Mordhau. We set up a small group chat between myself, the developer, the fellow who created the original CTF mod, and a prominent figure in the competitive Mordhau scene. We discussed CTF and how it has the potential to be a game fit for the competitive Mordhau scene. His goal is to iterate on capture the flag further to figure out which aspects of it are fitting for competitive play.
A new version of CTF is now being worked on, with my map being the de-facto test map for it. The rules have become more complex, with players having to plant stolen flags in a specific zone and defend them. Even if this new game does not catch on with the competitive scene, I think that it has potential with the broader community.
My goal now is to finish a few better looking maps that work with CTF. Based on feedback from players, it has become apparent that bigger isn’t always better with CTF maps. This is great news for me since it means i can produce good looking maps faster.
I’ve been able to publish a handful of maps on mod.io and they have been received well so I’ll probably rent a server for a few months and set it to only run CTF maps and see if it becomes popular.