On February 13th, Bruin Gaming hosted a panel on the development process of Valorant with developers from Riot Games. This was part of the Socal Snowdown event.
The panel consisted of Tea Chang, Steve Mack, Sara Dadafshar, Brandon Wang, and Max Grossman. It was hosted by Ryan “peteyb” Puterbaugh, one of the casters for Valorant.
As part of the panel, the developers discussed the development and support process of Valorant. They also discussed the processes of changes in the map design and inspiration for agent design.
The panelist Ryan Puterburgh asked the team about map balancing design changes, both during development and post-launch.
The Valorant maps
Valorant currently consists of five unique maps, each with an identifying design factor. The game launched with the maps Ascent, Bind, and Split. The maps Haven and Icebox were added in post-launch in Episode 1 Act 1 and Act 3.
Since launch, two of the maps have received post-launch design updates, Icebox in patch 1.14 and more recently Split in patch 2.01. The design changes were made to improve the map balance and provide a cohesive experience.
With there already being a gap of one act since the launch of the last map Icebox, fans are hoping for a new map to be added in Valorant Episode 2 Act 2.
How the developers balance maps during development and post-launch in Valorant
During the Socal Snowdown panel on The Development Process of Valorant, panelist Ryan asked about the process of map development.
He drew comparisons to the map design process of Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
One of the biggest things that I have noticed, not only myself but other friends and other club mates and other people that in CS: GO there are perfectly balanced maps. As in what I mean by that is that these maps after they are released nothing has virtually changed, except the maybe exception of Inferno. I’m just curious if you guys at Riot will treat maps like agents with nerfs and buffs, or are you trying to reach that quote-unquote perfectly balanced point of maps and just trying to stop there.
The co-lead of Game Designer Max Grossman picked up the question. He said that they treat the game like a live product. The game is evolving as the team releases new agents and balance the game. Maps are no different than the game it is a part of.
Max Grossman elaborated that they try to keep the rate of change different for different content. It is easier to change a number of an agent compared to changing the whole sightline of a map or a whole area.
Whenever the team makes any changes, the team makes sure that it is beneficial to the overall experience and does not make the game harder.
The changes to a map are made only after people have played it for a long time, as it takes time for the pliers to understand and learn a map.
If changes are made frequently, it prevents players from learning the map. The dev team only makes a change after knowing for certain that the player base has had enough time to play and identify the issues.
It was certainly interesting to learn about the thought process behind the development team regarding maps of Valorant.