Level Design - Level Update

Temple of Life

My temple of life level project has now been through several iterations. The goal of this project is to practice and develop my skill set as a level designer. My previous blog post covers the design process that I’ve worked out that keeps me focused on my goals and allows for consistent progress.

In tonight’s post I would like to show off some a few captures o the level’s current iteration and go into a few brief details about what i’m hoping to accomplish. It is also worth nothing that I’m making this post before moving into my test play iteration phase. I believe a lot of elements may change significantly at that point and documenting will provide interesting talking points.

Core Pillars

  1. Stealth

    1. Power thru patience

    2. Observe and Evade or Observe and Strike

    3. Situational Awareness

    4. Cover Afforadance.

  2. Exploration

    • Reward player with narrative

    • Encourage player with short cuts interconnecting pathways.

    • Multiple ways to solve a problem

  3. Narrative

    • Wolf Spirit Guarding the forest

    • Environmental Storytelling.

Here is a quick glance at an early flow node map I made to help establish pacing and plotting my initial layout.

Color

  • Green - Exploration low intensity

  • Red - Stealth high intensity

  • Yellow - Interaction mental challenge

  • Blue - Narrative space or collectible

  • Pink - Streaming Gate

Enemy Key

  • Eg - Low number of enemies guarding not very mobile.

  • Er - Low number of enemies patrolling

  • Ef - High number of enemies mixed guards and patrols.

Interaction

  • Br - Extend into a bridge to reach new location

  • Ct - Close a circuit by linking objects

  • Ga - A gate sealing off an area

  • Gw - Cause foliage and cover to grow in the area.

I used the above information to plot out what encounters and challenges I wanted to place around the level. I focused on trying to keep connected areas varied so pacing would allow for moments of intensity to be followed by a short break. Traversal areas are also designed to allow the player to take as much of a break as they need or observe the next challenge before moving forward. In addition I wanted to have strong variety in the interaction mechanics which serve as the foundation of our puzzle.

Example the center area labeled temple is designed to be a large enemy fortification at it’s core, with the upper levels providing valuable vantage points and light enemy presence for the player to apply basic sneaking concepts at practice.

Flow node map severed as the blueprint for my blockout in 3D space. The following images are without final lighting and I have several more elements I Intended to add. Such as bread-crumbing with flowers or tree roots. Leading lines are placed but may need to be refined thru the testing phase.

Intro - Landmark

The Player exits a narrow canyon unveiling a massive tree surrounded by a temple. The tree has a distinct color from the rest of the environment. The tree serves as a major landmark providing orientation for the player. No matter where the player is in the level they can always look up and orientate themselves.

Temple Entrance - Structure & Flow

Once inside the temple I’m presenting the player with choice which allows the player to scale their difficulty. Moving directly down to the lower level presents a greater challenge requiring more intricate stealth and timing. Staying up above presents opportunities to scout and get more comfortable with stealth.

This is just a brief glimpse of the level in progress, it has been quite a large undertaking but incrediably rewarding. I’m currently wrapping up the blockout and will be moving onto implementation and test playing soon and can’t wait to share the results.

Software: Maya, Illustrator, Photoshop