There are many people involved in developing such a big project. As for Valorant, it was no different. We also talked to Valorant map design lead Salvatore Garozzo, game design lead Trevor Romleski, and anti-cheat lead Paul Chamberlain.
The map is bigger compared to original FPS games. Is there a reason?
Salvatore: We wanted to avoid having fights in specific locations. We intentionally made the map bigger to emphasize the strategical aspects. There are agents that use the whole map and it was partially to make their skills look more valuable.
Valorant’s maps are said to be inspired by actual locations. Is there a place that you’re considering for future maps?
Salvatore: I don’t want to limit the maps to specific locations or regions for the motif. There are many beautiful places in the world, so what I do is do my best to create a map that’s really good and awesome.
There are less interactable objects compared to original FPS games. Is that intended?
Salvatore: Yes. There are two reasons. The first is the specs. If there are many objects that can be interacted makes the load heavier on the PC, so it’s to minimize that. The second reason is that we wanted to have the background fit in with the game naturally like a chessboard, so that the players can prioritize playing the game, strategy, and combat. However, we are considering adding something to enjoy while getting ready.
You had said that rather than making many maps, you’ll be presenting a few well-made maps.
Salvatore: As much as Valorant prioritizes strategy and tactics, it’s not easy to create a map with depth. A lot of effort goes into creating a map that would be played thousands of hours. When I said that, my intention was to say that I’d like to make a map that’s worthy enough, even if it’s just one map. At the official launch of Valorant, there will be four maps available. We predict a 6-12 month cycle for additional maps, but it will be changed through users’ feedback after the launch.
Are you planning to add a more casual map for the gamers who want to fight without strategy or tactics and just raw mechanics?
Salvatore: Currently, Valorant’s development goal is a 5v5 competitive mode based on strategy and tactics. Our goal is to raise the satisfaction in this area and if more and more gamers play Valorant and their needs require that, we may be able to develop a new style map.
In the revealed ‘Bind’ and ‘Haven’, the efficiency of sniping isn’t very good. Is there a map in which sniping is important?
Salvatore: We know well about the needs of the FPS gamers have with sniping. So we included decent places for snipers in all maps. Also, one of the four maps at launch will be very good for the snipers.
There are three bases in Haven and Bind has one-way teleports. Do the other two maps at launch have such characteristics?
Salvatore: I can’t tell you the characteristics of the maps yet, but we thought it was important to bring something new for the gamers to play. Other than adding bases or teleports, we’ll be changing the layout so a change of strategy would be necessary for each map.
It’s not very easy to tell if certain structures are penetrable or not.
Salvatore: We made it so that you know it’s a penetrable wall through the effects. Also, the concept of penetration is applied in all maps so if you find what’s penetrable in one map, you’ll easily find what’s penetrable in other maps as well. However, if it’s still too difficult, we’ll be making adjustments.
How often do you plan to add new agents?
Trevor: There would be more impact on the game in Valorant compared to LoL when adding new characters. That being said, the balance is really important, so we’ll be very careful when we introduce a new agent. The cycle isn’t definite yet but it will definitely be longer than LoL champions. At launch, there will be 12 agents available.
Is there an agent that has the best skillset combination?
Trevor: We don’t design agents thinking ‘this is the best combination!’ There are roles or compositions that we might want to force, but each agent’s efficiency is different in doing different things. Also, we’ll be balancing it out more after launch by watching the meta and builds the players make.
Why are there no grenades in Valorant?
Trevor: It wouldn’t make sense for any of the current agents carrying around grenades in the game, right? (Laughs) We wanted to give each agent skills that fit their theme well so we don’t have an agent that uses grenades yet, but it may happen sometime.
There are several skills that break the limit from before such as Phoenix’s ‘Curving Flashbang’. How did you come up with these ideas?
Trevor: While we develop agents, we consider their personality, styles, themes and discuss them thoroughly as we make their skills. For example, Phoenix has a quick temper, is challenging, and is a strong infighter. What kind of ability will be suitable for such a character? We discussed this fully and ended up with an ability to throw a flashbang in nearby areas quickly.
As much as each agent has different skillsets, you won’t be able to avoid balance issues. Which will you be focusing your balance patches, pro-level or average gamers?
Trevor: Regarding balance, we’ll be following LoL’s basis. We will prioritize pro-level balance but will keep it acceptable to general users by considering the reactions in communities and feedback. If an OP agent appears, rather than reacting immediately, we’ll carefully analyze the situation and fix the problem reasonably.
You said that there are four major roles for the agents. Do you plan to add other roles?
Trevor: The reason we said four roles is from our analysis during development. If there are demands for other roles after the official launch, we may add them.
How is the punishment level for using hacks?
Paul: By being caught just once, that account is permanently banned. Additionally, we’re considering a hardware ban where that PC can’t connect for 24 hours. We’re still discussing whether we would block the whole LoL account or not for using hacks in Valorant.
What’s different from other games that have been suffering from dealing with hacks?
Paul: Developing a game is very complex and there’s a lot to beware of. So it’s difficult to concentrate on dealing with hacks or preventing foul play. However, Valorant has prepared to deal with hacks from the very beginning and we have our own anti-hack technology developed. The biggest difference Valorant has would be that many experts were inserted in developing the anti-hack solution.
To prevent the ESP hack, you said that it’s prevented by not giving the opponent computer one’s location information. How does that work?
Paul: Although the server receives all location info, the delivery of the information depends on whether the enemy is visible on one’s own screen. For example, if the enemy is hiding behind a wall and not visible, that player’s information does not get delivered to the other player’s PC.
Are there other hacks that you’re keeping an eye on?
Paul: Obviously, the aimbot which is critical for FPS games. In Valorant, the time to kill is very short and the tempo is really fast so aimbots are especially more threatening. To prevent that, we’re developing the anti-hack program in that direction. Also, through Riot Games’ own technology, we’re developing a system that detects aimbots through big data, AI, and machine learning. For example, if a player’s screen moves excessively fast and their first shot is a headshot, and that situation occurs consecutively, the program detects that it’s a hack.
How much do you think Valorant’s anti-hack system is prepared?
Paul: I’m confident with the current state of Valorant’s anti-cheat system. It’ll be a lot more difficult to benefit through foul play using hacks or cheats compared to other games. However, it’s never enough in the world of preventing hacks. Hacks and hackers always improve so I’ll always be prepared and alert to react to hacks.