After the release of Suspects: Mystery Mansion, we examined our priorities. Initially, we were focused on new roles — but after listening to our community, we realised that players were really excited about the prospect of a new location. That’s when we changed our plans and started prioritizing a new map!
Firstly, we thought about where the next map could be, and our initial thought was actually another mansion. In fact, for a while, we thought that all maps could be different mansions with different themes… But what would they do inside these mansions that’s different and new?
Eventually, we decided that while we wanted the next map to feel close to the Mansion, we wanted to deliver something fresh and achievable before the release of the next season. Some ideas were tossed around — which you might see in future releases — but eventually we settled on the Hotel.
When designing the map, we thought about how it would fit into our game’s core mechanics and themes. Using some key wisdom from our previous testing, we realised that two of the most important features were:
- Players should be able to understand their location within the map
- Players should be able to understand where others are coming from
We then thought about what unique qualities a hotel would have in our game. First and foremost, we wanted floors. Secondly, we wanted two main zones of travel, in this case the left and right of the map, as this would make it easier to understand where certain players were coming from. Last but not least, we wanted a fun method of travel that made the Hotel extra unique… And that’s how we came up with the elevator!
With our core goals for the map in mind, I set about designing the layout! The initial design attempt looked like this:
As you can see above, this is actually a very close representation of what the final map came to look like. We played on this version of the map in testing, and while it was very fun, there were some issues. The first floor didn’t really resemble a hotel reception, which was very important for us. Additionally, the stairs were too punishing to climb. It was taking a long time to get from floor to floor which made completing tasks or killing players too punishing.
On the second attempt we changed the number of rooms, the stairs and added more space in the first floor to make it feel more akin to something you’d find in a real hotel.
But this wasn’t enough! And we made one more version, further increasing the size of the reception area, extending the bar and joining rooms at the top of the map. This version resembles the one you’re able to play in-game today, so it might look familiar.
Many players have made comments about the Hotel being our largest map, but while it might feel like that — it’s actually smaller than the mansion.
Here’s the two maps’ real size compared side by side.
On the task side, we wanted to create at least one flagship minigame, similar to the log cutter in the Mansion. We were thinking about some fun games that could utilize the hotel theme, which is when the piano, luggage arranger and the bag organizer minigames came to be. The piano was an idea for the first map, but we didn’t manage time to work on it — but it actually fits even better in the Hotel.
I believe that the task where you organize the bags at the reception is likely to be everyone’s favorite task, mostly because it’s fun and has a higher level of difficulty than most of our tasks.
We wanted to work on more new tasks for this release, but time was running out and we had a timeline to deliver the hotel… But maybe you will see more tasks appearing in the hotel in the future, like we did with the Mansion where we introduced the killing ants task. We might even make some new changes in the level design.
While we’re glad players are enjoying the Hotel, we still think that the map needs some fixes. The team is already looking at how players are playing the game, and are creating some modifications to attack some pain points from the community.
I know that for some players, it’ll take some time before you get used to the new map and it will feel hard to play at the start — but we are sure that you will like it just like we did when we were playtesting it! Seeing how everybody liked the Elevator, we are excited to bring even more new mechanics with each map and make sure every map brings something new and exciting!
Blog by Senior Game Designer Flavio Massami