I was working there as an in-house level designer from october 2005 to october 2006 and after that as a freelance level designer till mid 2007. The level design team was responsible for the whole creation of the maps that were shown in the final game.
We always started with a 2D Concept of what we wanted to have in that level. First of all we should decide the size of the map. In this case it can range from 1024×1024 to 2048×2048 pixels, where one pixel is one meter. If we make a large map we will be forced to include less objects and details because it will be harder for the engine to move. This would result in a map that would look like a map of “Rome Total War” and would be more appropiated for a desertic map which is more likely to contain a little amount of objects and therefor, polygons. One the other hand, a smaller map will let us to inlude a large amount of detail but the counterpart will be that the playable zone will be smaller. This would be a map like in “Panzers”
In this example we would like to design a map that could be place in Europe, so we chose the second option. The total size including the margins for the camera limits would be 1024×1024 pixels.
The map will have natural obstacles like the river and a plateau. The gameplay will be enhanced with two bridges to cross the river and two slopes to reach the top of the plateau. To protect them, we will place bunkers, two of them for each army.
The armies will start in points numbered with 1 and 2. One will have the river as a natural defense and the other the plateau. There will be two supply points on each side of the maps, at the same distance from each army, so they have to leave their area if they want to earn the benefits from the supply point.
(This post will continue in part 2)