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R6 Developer AMA Roundup: Emerald Plains inspiration, designing a balanced operator, new map ban system

Check out our quick roundup of the recent developer Ask Me Anything on the Rainbow6 subreddit.

On Apr. 29, a number of Ubisoft Rainbow Six: Siege developers engaged in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) which gave the community a chance to get answers to their most pressing concerns. 

The AMA can be read in full here and included four total developers across a number of departments:

  • Alexander - Creative Director

  • Yann - Level Design Director

  • Frédéric - Maps Lead

  • Dominic - Game Designer

While we couldn't include every response, we've summarised some of the most interesting bits together into a quick summary.

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The quotes listed below are extracts of the full responses, a full answer can be found linked with the question.

Maps: Emerald Plains inspiration, forgotten Polish map, upcoming TDM map

Starting off with new content, the inspiration of the newest map in the game that launched with Demon Plains was revealed.

u/chaamp33: Curious about emerald plains design and what other maps it incorporates from.

Frédéric and Yann: The comparisons to Bartlett make sense – Emerald Plains DID begin its life as a Bartlett rework. As we proceeded to change more and more of the map during the reworking phase, we quickly found that it was becoming its own map and didn't fit our definition of a rework, so we decided to shift gears and lean into the newness, theme and all.

While there are hints and nods to its old self like the foyer and two front towers, it’s moment-to-moment gameplay flow is entirely different from its humble beginnings as a Bartlett rework.

Additionally, the near-forgotten Polish map that was shelved was brought up by a user.

u/Elevatorisbest: I remember that there were plans on releasing a Polish map around the time when Ela and Zofia were originally supposed to be released together, but Operation Health happened and much more, and the map got indefinitely postponed and never released.

Frédéric and Yann: Now that's a deep cut! Sadly, you're right that this map - a Polish map set in a distillery - was indefinitely postponed. At the point that we moved into Operation Health , there simply wasn't enough of this map made to turn it into something new or wrap it into a different map.

This is another case of "never say never" for whether there will be a future map in Poland, but if it did happen, it wouldn't be tied to the one from before Operation Health.

There was also a question regarding a potential Consulate rework, which was recently removed from competitive play.

u/BenjiBeatzz1: Does ubsoft plan on doing a consulate rework

Alexander, Yann and Frédéric: This is simultaneously the map we want to rework most, but also the one that we know would take the most work. In that sense, it's something we want to do but isn't something we have planned right now.

Finally, there was also talk of the upcoming TDM map and what it meant for the casual side of Siege.

u/Chill084: Next season we are getting a Deathmatch map. What kind of challenges does that present to the Level Design team and is this the start of a more reinforced casual side to Siege as a title given we had Arcade events coming back permanently later in the year

Yann and Alexander: The main challenge is that this is largely new to us in the scope of Siege. We're used to thinking about attack and defense aspects of our maps, but for TDM, we need to make sure no one area is too defensible - you should be able to easily navigate, and orient yourself, and easily identify opponents at a glance. Let's just say that after making this, we have a lot of ideas we didn't get a chance to use, so we have those stored away.

As for the question about Siege's casual side, when we have a community that's as large and diverse as the Siege community, we absolutely want to reinforce our casual playlists just as much as we reinforce the competitive side, so this is something that's always important to us to consider.

Game mechanics: New map ban system, reusing weapons, "unicorn" operators

Rainbow Six content creator Tobias "BikiniBodhi" Emil also joined the AMA with a question regarding the trend of Siege players to ban new maps.

u/BikiniBodhi: We've seen it become a large issue with how players would rather ban Emerald Plains instead of giving it an honest chance, what are your plans to combat this behavior not just for Emerald Plains but for future new maps/reworks?

Alexander: Good question! We have plans to change up the existing map ban system later this year and will be sharing more soon but suffice to say, this new system should lead to a wider range of maps seeing more active play in Ranked!

There were also a question regarding the reuse of weapons in game over new weapons.

u/dynamo1212: Why the shift towards not releasing new weapons and instead reusing weapons?

Dominic: We have a massive roster of weapons and while there's always a chance of introducing new ones in the future, we also want to ensure we use the over 100 guns already in the game to build interesting loadouts that expand on weapons that are fan-favourites or that haven't had the chance to shine. We'd still love to give renewed life to weapons that have been in there from day 1.

In addition, another user was interested in seeing more unique weapon and operator designs.

u/CowardlyMaya_: Are there going to be more unique guns - possibly more than one per year - or operators, like Azami, coming to the game?

Dominic: it's a top priority for us to focus on what we call unicorn Operators - ones who break all the rules and bring brand new ways to play the game like Azami. We're 7 years into Siege and we want to keep things fresh and keep the community guessing with the release of each Operator.

Since we're focusing on one Operator per season, this allows us to focus in on making sure our Operators are still surprising and will continue to be a focus moving forward.

Design: "Loss" of "realistic tone and design", unique melee weapons, designing a balanced operator

The concern of some users regarding a potential shift to what is perceived to be a more fantastical style of design was also raised.

u/TGed: One of the complaints from more old-school or traditional players is that the game has lost its more realistic tone and design, especially so in the gadgets. ... Do you plan on continuing this trend of futuristic and sleek looking gadgets? Or do you plan on mixing in more grounded looking gadgets as well as more futuristic looking ones?

Alexander: Since Siege’s inception, it’s been important to us to ground the concepts behind our gadgets in existing real-life technology with the caveat that fun and balanced gameplay comes first. Sometimes, it’s necessary to stretch the bounds of reality and the real life tech we use as inspiration to fit the gameplay.

...

Looking to the future, we will strive to strike a balance between real life tech inspiration and near-future innovation, all while prioritizing fun-factor. We still apply the same care and thoughtfulness to our gadgetry that we did with our Operators 7 years ago.

Another user expressed support for the unique melee weapons and wondered if there would be more such designs in the future.

u/Sirpigsalot409: Love the unique melee weapons that operators like Zero, Aruni and Azami have. Would there be a chance that existing operators are modified to have unique melee weapons?

Dominic: As it stands, we don't currently have plans to retroactively modify past Ops' melee weapons, but never say never!

It's something that's on our wishlist though, as the team is excited by this. But as for future Ops, this is absolutely something that factors into the creation process.

Additionally, there was a question on how new operators like Azami are designed to be balanced.

u/AirJvon: Hi, how did you collaborate with the game balance team when introducing Azami and her ice walls to make sure it doesn't get too OP since her ability to modify the entire flow of a room is kind of a wildcard?

Dominic and Frédéric: From the prototyping phase, we sit down with Balancing once a week to explain our intentions and get an idea of any concerns they may have. This way, we can look at how best to strike that balance and offer as many possible ways to tweak an Operator in the future.

We also take time to consider how they can affect (and be affected) by older legacy maps, which sometimes leads into considering reworks for the future. In that way, making an Operator isn't JUST about talking with Operator designers - it touches so many other teams.

Balancing: Different scopes on the same gun, pro input on maps, op. speed-armor combination

Coming to balancing decisions, the oft-asked question regarding variation in scopes for the same gun on different operators was also answered.

u/Potofbacon: How do you decide who gets what scope magnification? I'm rather new, but its strange to me that different operators with the same gun have different scope availability. Also, is there a reason some guns get a 1x and a 2x but not a 1.5x?

Dominic: This really comes down to balancing the distance that an Op is viable at. Due to the nature of their gadgets and gameplay, this helps to determine where Ops play, so choosing their scope magnifications is an extension of helping to define where and what range they play from. This is also why different Ops might have different scopes available, tying directly into their unique styles of play.

Also, we ARE investigating adding 1.5x scopes, so that's something we're looking at for the future.

There was also a question regarding the input of esports pros in map design.

u/EtrianDemifiend: How often do you take the advice of pros and top ranked players when designing a new competitive map?

Yann: We have at least two workshops with pros as part of each map's development cycle - one early and one before locking - so they are absolutely consulted as a part of the process. This also extends to reworks, where we talk to them before we even start changing things.

The developers also revealed that they had been looking at a potential "4-speed" operator.

u/jhstormmynx: So far all operators' armor and speed combination only limited to 3 armor 1 speed, 1 armor 3 speed and 2 armor 2 speed. Will we have a special combination of armor and speed in the future? For example, 3 armor 2 speed or 1 armor 2 speed and etc.

Dominic: Good question! This is something we've experimented with, but are still looking at how we can "break" this system with it still being fun and balanced. We've also been toying with a 4-speed Operator, but the world's not ready yet (and maybe we'll never be ready for it).


And so that's a quick summary on the R6 developer AMA, which you can find in full here.

Be sure to check back for further updates as we approach the reveal of the new season in just a few weeks at the Charlotte Major.