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How Marcus Saved Mercenary Day

This map was created for the third Headhunter DLC. The previous two HeadHunter DLC maps were released around Halloween and Thanksgiving, the third was released mid-December. Since this was a holiday-themed map, pushing the release date back was not an option. The map was created in roughly two and a half months.

The overall layout for this map went through several iterations. The above image shows the final layout, as well as each story beat. The numbers below correspond with the image above:


1. Marcus's shop: A hot, dry desert gun shop serves as the backdrop for the beginning of the mission where players learn that a gun shipment to Frost Bottom never arrived, and it's their job to investigate. Players exit this area through a magical wardrobe. The transition between a warm and cold color scheme helps to sell this effect.



2. The lamp post: Once outside, players are introduced to the snowy mountainside with a small area built for exploration. Wild Yeti's can be seen scurrying down the cliff side to serve as foreshadowing for the upcoming combat sequence which takes place along the path to the town.



3. Frozen town: After the Yeti combat, players arrive at a frozen gum drop village called Frost Bottom. Later in the level, players melt the snow piles in the town, revealing a Christmas tree surrounded with presents. How players enter the town and the composition of the town were reiterated on several times, as I experimented with presenting both of these moments.



4. Leaving town: Once players are instructed to check the town furnace, they take this path toward the Frost Bottom Station. The angle and slope of this path ensures that players see the train bridge in the background, foreshadowing a major upcoming story beat.



5. Frost Bottom Station: Here, players learn that the town furnace has gone out because the coal has been stolen. This serves as a landmark that the players know they must return to, and serves as an overlook to watch the town melt once they return with the train.



6. The tracks: Players are instructed to follow the tracks to find the coal train. Along the way, they are ambushed by evil snowmen, and are introduced to the maps boss, the Abominable Mister Tinder Snowflake, through their echo device.



7. The train: Since the bridge is frozen in a raised position, players must cross an icy creek to arrive at the train. This area of the map had the most revision. It was important for players to arrive on this scene as close as possible so they could clearly understand the bandits were taking advantage of the stalled train by looting its carts.


After players lower the bridge, they must defend the train while it returns to Frost Bottom Station. Area 6 went through several iterations to make sure it could support a major combat sequence on the return trip.


Once the coal train is back at the station, players ignite the furnace and finally witness the town melting. I originally set up the scripting for this sequence, which was later handed off to Game Designers to be finished and tied into the mission scripting.



8. The frozen lake: After back tracking through town, and speaking to the Smaller-than-average-Timothy, players must rescue the town by facing off with the Abominable Mister Tinder Snowflake. Boss fights in Borderlands often have to be relatively flat to accommodate boss behavior. In this instance I decided to take advantage of this by creating a frozen lake overlooking the mountain skybox where the boss emerges. 



Once the boss is defeated, the train pulls into the brightly lit Frost Bottom and comes to a stop wrapped around the Christmas tree. A train cart opens like a giant present and reveals the missing gun shipment.

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