Earlier this week the Battlefield V development team released a blog post chock full of information about what they learned from the game’s recent closed alpha. It also contained a couple beautiful heat maps.
Heat maps are ways of visualizing certain kinds of data that are distributed across space. In the screenshot from Battlefield V above, for example, the color of the dots are being used to visualize the popularity of a given place on the map. The closer to red the location is, the more players who were in that particular location during the time of the game’s closed alpha.
Sometimes heat maps are used to show different kinds of data. This one, for example, is taken from kill data for the Torque map in Halo 5: Guardians, and the density of red is being used to demonstrate the frequency of kills:
What makes the Battlefield V maps so much more interesting to me than this 2D Halo map is that they are simply depicting the flow of players across a massive space. For the tight level design of a Halo title, it might be important to see where people are dying; for the massive multiplayer reality of a Battlefield game, it’s just as important to know where people are going. The movement of players is going to tell you as much about how well a map works as actual deaths.
While the description in the blog post isn’t super helpful for this image, the implication is that it is showing us the locations of two teams and giving us a sense of where paratroopers (the red) land and where their grounded enemies (blue) defend from. Up to a point, behavior seems to be strictly codified, but as soon as players can swerve and make their own choices they seem to be doing so.
While the blog post only gave us two heat maps from the alpha, I went looking for other great examples of Battlefield heat maps to see if they were as interesting as those produced from the data gathered in the Battlefield V alpha.
It turns out that an industrious player named hontslager produced several heat maps of various Battlefield 1 maps last year. As they explained in a comment, the process involved streaming a game’s spectator mode footage from their PS4 footage to YouTube, downloading the video, and running “some pretty naive python/OpenCV code which finds red and blue dots (and planes, and trains, and other noise) and sums stuff up.”
Ultimately, they produced some beautiful visualizations of player locations:
I need more heat maps in my life, so here’s hoping that Dice release some more in the lead up to the release of Battlefield V.