It might not seem like it, but Zeppelin Crash just just such an incredibly challenging design to create, teams are divided diagonally inside a mirroried asymmetrical map!! The core idea of the map came internally from an existing pool of potential map ideas, tho I believe from Justin Zwack. And it was very, very hard to get working correctly, as per previous experience, having maps with different spawn positions, or simply split map positions in competitive environments always results on games producing a poor game experience for the players, as a team can simply “gang up” and 2v1 a one of the split(!) players of the enemy team and just roll out from there with an overwhelming advantage.
Even when aware of that huge design issue from the very start team decided to continue ahead, and to accomplish a happy ending we leveraged as many advantages of Iron Harvest as possible such as the great variety of strategical defensive tools, as well as tactical ones (think of bunkers vs infantry cover options) the relative low speed of the units and engagements alongside just opening the center unpathable treeline a bit to allow for diagonal reinforcements.
Which at the end all combined ended up generating a very flavorful map and environment. The map lacks areas with absurdly high levels of cover and is overall very uniform in the way cover for infantry is spread in order to avoid any issue what so ever when it came to creating strong levels of map asymmetry let alone creating team asymmetry!
The environment of Zeppelin Crash came from a photograph of WWI environments I had dug up years and years ago when reading about air warfare in the Western Front, and when presented with the blank-ish canvas of a map that needed skinning I simply could not pass the chance to drag out some 3D artists with me to make a crashed prop of a Zeppelin as we lacked the models and props to create it, therefore I had to pitch to ArtLeadership for 3D art team to make a prop for the map.
When it comes to the proper environment creation process, it was quite the joy to create a full blown sunset greeny IH map after having worked on the more dark Oil Spill, a very nice and welcome change of pace, and I very much hope you all get to enjoy it too, some absolutely gorgeous vistas there.
As far as the narrative angle goes, Zeppelin Crash tells the story of a team of Saxonian Zeppelins in the very outbreak of the war are charged with the task of doing a sharp long range yet stealthy bombing run on enemy territory in order to disrupt the chain of command and communications line and that way provide an edge to advancing Saxonian forces, only to be caught flying low inside the retreating valley’s fog by enemy anti-aircraft cannons and shot down. Now that the Saxonian front line for which the Zeppelins were supposed to be covering for has reached the crash site, and it is the duty of the Saxonian commanders to recover and refurbish as much of the resources, ammunition and supplies which spilled into the crash landing areas before the enemy can retrieve them and gain a defensive foothold with Saxonian tech!
From the very sketch presented to me Zeppelin Crash was quite the challenge, but I do believe that we made the absolute best of all the tools available at the time and of the team as a whole stressing that feedback/iterations loop a fair bit! But we got through it, and I feel very accomplished to have created such a challenging map design. To me, Zeppelin Crash really carries that “we have been in the trenches of Level Design together” vibe and it is why I very much appreciate all the work and help other team members such as Justin Zwack whom assisted me with playtesting and general feedback provided.