Level Design - Game Systems and Testing

Since my last update and completing the block out of my level quite a bit has been accomplished..

  • Prototype; movement system, camera system, enemy detection and path finding.

  • Play testing and iteration on the blockout.

  • Analysis of feedback and self-critique of work so far.

  • Scouting assets

  • Level Assembly (In Progress)

This post will focus on some of the mechanics I have designed and coded for this case study in level design.

Movement

The player moves a character around via a camera based movement system controlling in the third person. With the player's singular action being able to explore I wanted to devise a simple method to allow nuanced control. The player can alter the way they move by holding one of two buttons, which toggles the player's movement state. Alternating between three modes, standard, running, and sneaking. Gameplay revolves around situational awareness and toggling the right state for the right situation.

Additionally, a player also has a detection state which is not controlled by player input and instead controlled contextually by the environment. To give an example a player in the sneaking movement state in a bush would be camouflaged. Detection states have different properties that allow simple ways for me to design new challenges and areas.

Camera

The camera is a third person camera controller which orients around the player. Since most of my gameplay revolves around stealth, I felt it essential the player be able to accurately asses their surroundings. It is also worth noting that I use the player's movement state and detection state to alter the camera. The effects placed on the camera will replace a more traditional UI. For instance, when running, I tighten the player's field of view and add some wind lines. Sneaking adds a slight vignette to the screen that darkens when fully camouflaged.

The above effects have two purposes one is to communicate to the player, that their movement is enhanced. The second purpose is I want each effect to convey the feeling you would have if partaking in those two actions. Each one obstructs your view in a different way attempting to simulate the real-life counterpart.

Interactions

In addition to movement, the player can also perform interactions with the environment. In the beginning, this will be limited to specific to reinforce concepts of when and how to use the interactions. Interactions are bright yellow sturdy looking geometry in the current version.

From a tools standpoint, I set up each point to take in a series of objects and a marker for a type of interaction, which allows me to design large or small scale interactions in an intuitive manner.

Thematically this mechanic is being used to alter time, decaying objects, or restoring them. Eventually, this mechanic is uncoupled from the points and given to the player to use freely. It is my hope with excellent level design practice players will feel challenged but always manipulate the environment to their advantage.

Enemy Pathing

I designed a simple node-based pathing system. That can take in a trigger event to alter the path if needed. Additionally, the pathing system can create a new node and insert it into the path in the event of an "Enemy" seeing the player or hearing a noise the player generated. These new nodes can interrupt the path at any point and will also send a message back to the animator to yield appropriate animations.

With all of these mechanics implemented in a rough and unpolished form I moved on to play testing the blockout. I started with testing the level myself numerous times to examine my own feelings about the level. Following this session I compiled my own personal notes and begin allowing others who I trust to give honest feedback on the level. I observed each session and added both their feelings and my own personal observation.

My next task will talk a little about my changes to the block out scouting out assets, and discuss my notes on the level. Thanks for reading.