Aurora Estates was created around the Extraction game mode during Contagion's beta stage.
The map was also featured at our booth at PAX Prime in 2010. It has evolved greatly during that time in terms of gameplay and overall aesthetics.
Aurora Estates is set in a typical American suburban area and takes place within the game lore's fictional Roanoke County.
Optimization on this map was incredibly tough due to the nature of the original map layout that was given to me coupled with the Source engine limitations. Inspite of all that the map is fully optimized and runs without any problems.
Development of the map also presented us with a number of problems regarding our zombie A.I. and I had to modify the map according to the changes made in the code while being in close contact with the Lead Programmer.
I was also in charge of coming up with a dynamic pathing system that changes during every play through. I also kept a detailed documentation of this system to help other level designers.
All in all to this day Aurora Estates is one of the hardest maps to beat in Extraction while remaining highly enjoyable.
Aurora Estates went over several lighting passes before I found one that was perfect. I played around with a different set of TOD's (Time of Day) until I finally perfected it.
I started out where the TOD was leaning towards morning which stuck for a great while. Once we neared the polishing phase it was time to finalize the overall lighting and mood of the map. I attempted several more iterations where it went from evening to early morning but none felt right. I then scrapped everything and went back to start over.
This time I went with early morning around 6 AM where it was dark enough to fit the zombie theme and yet use some sunlight to create a very unique and appealing lighting condition. As shown below you can see several iterations of the map in a particular area.
Dynamic Pathing System
I created and documented a unique pathign system for Contagion. I Explained the entity set up and broke down the whole system in a visual manner. I started with a simple layout which was designed to contain two possible routes.
After that I requested the neccesary props and then set them up accordingly. Below you can see the two routes where one was always open and the other always closed or vice versa.
In the last two images I break down the entity set up, what they trigger and how they trigger it. This system ended up in the game and is still in use today.