VALORANT: Riot Developers Explain The Process Behind Fracture Map Creation

VALORANT Episode 3 Act 2 is scheduled to end in 25 days according to the battle pass timer. Fans got to see the new map Fracture in this Act, and now the map has been added to competitive matchmaking.

Riot developers took the initiative of explaining their creative process for Fracture in a recent blog post. They highlighted some of the salient features of the map and described why Fracture is unique in the map pool.

At the same time, the devs hinted that map 8 will be coming to VALORANT soon. They mentioned that fans will have to follow up on all the content drops in Fracture to piece together all the clues about Map 8 in VALORANT.

Episode 3 Act 2 will wrap up in no time, and if you are interested to know more about what's coming, then we have you covered. Here's what the developers had to say about Fracture.

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VALORANT: Fracture Was Designed To Be Unique

Joe Lansford, VALORANT's level designer, explained how the idea for every map is to push it in a specific direction. He said, "We build each map with a different hook that presents unique scenarios for you to problem-solve."

The map design started with one simple question: "what if attackers could pinch defenders from both sides of the map?"

Joe Lansford: This exploration led to the “H-Shape” layout, ziplines, the four orbs, quadrants, and just about everything else that makes Fracture what it is.
With the novel strategic layer, we didn’t want to do anything too far out there for the moment-to-moment gunplay though, so hopefully, you’ve found all that feeling fairly familiar.

This image features the initial design for VALORANT's Fracture Map
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Credit: Riot Games
VALORANT Fracture early design

It took us a while to get there though. We weren’t really sure what the H-shape was going to do and it required a lengthy iteration period to really lock it down. In this iteration, defenders only had a single rotation path through their spawn. There’s a very complex approach here through A Halls/Door area with an under-over (drop into A was also on this side), sites are completely different, there’s a path alongside zip lines, a wider map, etc. Lots of differences—I think the tunnel under B is about the only thing that didn’t change!

But the “footprint” was there. The team was sold on the core promise of the map, enough to work through the problems. This led us to our next big breakthrough: a safer rotation for defenders through their spawn (it seems so simple in hindsight). This was critical for giving defenders more options in how they could set up and move.

This image features an early design of the Satellite side in VALORANT's Fracture map
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Credit: Riot Games
VALORANT Fracture Satellite side early designs

The previous version often ended in situations where post-plant attackers would have enough utility left to completely choke out defenders in their spawn. With the next few iterations, we wanted to make these areas a little more paced and desirable for defenders to take and hold—giving them an option to either push through and flank or use as a retake position.

One of those areas, the Dish, was actually an idea that came from some concept references I was looking at after we decided on the desert direction for A side. A radar dish broken down in the desert was such a striking image, I felt I had to try to make the gameplay work (it was originally a good bit more complex and open).

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Fracture's Visual Development Converges On Extreme Contrasts

Brian Yam, VALORANT's art lead, described the creative process for Fracture's visual development.

Brian Yam: When Fracture’s theme was first conceived during the pitch phase, we wanted to push the idea that this map was visually split from it’s lore aspect, but also from a visual perspective. Since most of you generally identify a map through art visuals, the concept team wanted to capitalize on this.

For art, the big question was this: “How can we create a visually compelling map that prompts players to question what happened here? What caused the split on both sides?” This was also an opportunity to help hint at the presence of Kingdom Omega into the narrative."

In the initial concepts, our goal was to establish a visual direction of what this place is and why it exists in this space.

This image features the initial designs and artwork for VALORANT's Fracture Map
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Credit: Riot Games
VALORANT Fracture attacker spawn early artworks

A compelling idea to us was to have a science facility sit atop a canyon, partially hidden. To address the visual lore, we established two extreme contrasts that resulted from an experiment gone wrong. We went with a desert biome for Omega Sector and overgrown foliage with Alpha Sector, with the rift dividing both sides.

Artistically, this created a visual contrast in a colour palette of warm versus cool, and desertification against forestation. We thought you would also appreciate this contrast for callouts and memorizing each side distinctively.

One of the most important concepts we typically establish early on at the end of “blue sky” development (where anything goes) is to create what we call a dollhouse. The next image is of a dollhouse for Fracture created by our senior concept artist, Theo Aretos. This high-level concept helped establish the shape language, colour palette, and general direction of the mood we wanted.

This image features the initial designs and artwork for VALORANT's Fracture Map
click to enlarge
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Credit: Riot Games
VALORANT Fracture attackers spawn initial concept design

From there, the concept team starts to focus on more specific concepts within the grey box locations. The art team works closely with level designers to iterate on specific concepts within those locations.

At this point, we also want to get a clear concept of how the layout of the map will be from a top-down view, which shows the overview of the map along with callouts noted with rough thumbnail concepts of where key locations are.

For some background, the concept team initially completes the first stage concepts prior to the initial “art blockout”. Typically, we establish roughly 70-75% completion of concepts in each area that are adequate for art blockout.

Art blockout is where we start building a rough 3D shell that represents the shapes of the architecture, landscape, and environment composition from the concept art which is tied closely to grey box parameters.

Art Production

This is the fun part! Now that we have all the nuances for gameplay and initial art block out pretty much locked down, this is where we go into production to finish up the final 3D art. The final art typically represents the concepts, but they can change along the way if we discover improvements.

It’s fun to watch players discover the lore and develop interpretations just through the art. In VALORANT tradition, how many tacti-bears can they find throughout this map?

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