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Role
Level designer

Game Engine

Gameplay type
Narrative experience

Context & Constraints

As a school project, provide a level design experience with an emphasis on navigation and storytelling

The experience has to support a narrative experience with at least two story levels : 

 

○ one easily understood and one requiring more observation

○ Understanding of a past event through the environment

○ Raise two contrasting emotions through the environment and/or space

Deadline : Three weeks

Intentions

  • Show the player a level and a story about war

  • How it can impact a person psychologically

  • Show how hard it can be to go back home and live a normal life
     

For the map :

  • I wanted the physical layout of the map to reflect the mental state of that person 
     

  • Clearly see two contrasting environments clash with each other as the character of the story struggles to stay in the present.

Architecture & Navigation

  • Divided the map in two sections both leading to the same train track blocked by derailed wagons.
     

  • I wanted the story to begin and end on that track but to make the player go around it to fully comprehend the character’s struggle.

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Section 1
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Section 2
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The first section is all about war

  • Give the player a claustrophobic feeling by making them go through tight and dark corridors
     

  • Enter underground bunkers and get a glimpse of what the character went through

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Guidance in the first section :

  • Framing the objective
    was something that I kept in mind throughout the level
     

  • Used lights and props such as debris on the floor or sandbags to guide the player


 

The second section is in the character’s house
 

  • I wanted the space to open up

  • Make the player feel like they can breathe a little bit more

  • Make bigger rooms in the house and create a brighter and more steady environment.

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Staircase to 2nd floor
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Kid's bedroom
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Master bedroom
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  • The player jumps down and loops back to both the dining room and the train track

The second section continues outside the house:

  • I wanted to give the player a vantage point where they could see the area they first started in

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Story Through Environement

In the first section, the player immediately spots war-related props such as sandbags, barricades, and crates.

Debris & Barricades
Crates & War props

The lighting is also poor and flickering.

I used dark and dirty
placeholder materials on the walls and floors to better communicate my first level of storytelling.

Barricades & Sandbags
Flickering lights
  • Used three words that represent the character’s thoughts and feelings
     

  • Show his inner conflict

 

  • I wanted a bright emissive text to make the words clash and stand out in their environment.

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 The bunker
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The graveyard
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The garden
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 The bedroom

The second level of storytelling is about the character’s children.
 

  • Used children’s toys and flowers to create a cute and calm feeling
    for the player

 

  • Create a drastic difference in the placeholder materials to better communicate the time-lapse in the story

The toys
The materials

Lastly, I wanted the two sections to clash with each other to reflect that the character might be physically in an environment but mentally he’s somewhere else.
 

To fulfill my intentions I used multiple props like:

  • the tank in the dining room as a way to force the player around

  • the sandbags in the staircase 

  • the toys in the bunker 

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Improvements

If I had to start over:
 

  • I would give the player more choices
     

  • Make a bigger bunker underground that could’ve led the player to the graveyard or create another path to the house
     

  • Expand the house by building a basement or a backyard, giving it more life while reducing the linearity of this section.

    That would have reinforced the dark, claustrophobic feeling that I wanted while giving the player more freedom in his navigation.

Resources

  • Maya

  • Quixel Bridge

  • Unreal Asset Store

  • Free low-poly FBX models(The car, the tank, the bed)

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