posted on November 28, 2022
As many in the Squad community will know that Harju, the game’s newest map, began as a player created project! Working under the username Wunda Offworld hired its designer Jason Liberty and brought him onboard. With the official release of Harju we sat down to talk with Liberty and asked him to provide us with some of their insight about the conceptualization and evolution of Harju from its first moment as a community map to its latest full integration in Squad.
What was your overall approach to designing the map, what did you want to accomplish with it?
Jason/Wunda: Work on Harju was started shortly after Squad Alpha 12 which added Main Battle Tanks. I wanted to create a map that would be well adapted for Squad’s newest equipment but also future proofed for the helicopters that were to be added later in 2019. This had another future payoff seeing that Harju has become a good fit for the amphibious adaptation we see today.
How do you think the map stands out in contrast to other maps of Squad?
Jason/Wunda: Foliage is what sets Harju apart from Squad’s existing map library. Vehicles and infantry have to play to their strengths in a different way then most other maps. Firefights slow down and teamwork excels when you’re moving with your squad to clear forests on approach to your objective. Logistics vehicles can’t go to any location they want to by just driving offroad. A higher encouragement to utilize road networks may sway a squad leader to try amphibious or helicopter based insertions.
Can you describe the work that was done on Harju to ensure that it could be released as an official map for Squad?
Jason/Wunda: Harju’s last workshop release, while a step forward for the map, still had many gaps that needed to be filled. A large amount of effort was spent refining or completely rebuilding locations to a higher quality standard and more importantly to work well with newly added amphibious gameplay. To put it into perspective I logged 950 hours working on Harju up to its last workshop release and an additional 1,400 hours getting it to the official release. It was a lot of work and in the end I’ve spent more time on just Harju than I have 1,200 hours in-game playing Squad!
What do you think the biggest improvement is on Harju from the Steam Workshop version that you worked on to its latest incarnation now in Squad?
Jason/Wunda: The largest improvement can be seen in the large scale map flow. Rounds play out far better now that the map has been filled with more locations to fight in. Many locations were also changed to fit amphibious attacks opening a massive number of opportunities in layer design for our core game modes.
What made you choose Finland as a location for the map? Any personal attachment to it?
Jason/Wunda: Finland as a setting isn’t far from locations we’ve already featured in Squad. The closest of those being Narva in Estonia and Skorpo in Norway. Since I’m a Level Designer and not a 3D Artist using existing Squad assets was critical. Finland does differ from those locations in its terrain and foliage which is where I focused on making the map unique. I also knew from the start that I wanted to build a map on the water during Autumn. Looking at reference photos from Finland during that time of year really reminded me of where I grew up in the northeastern United States. It felt easy building a place that felt so familiar to me.