Thursday, 31 January 2013

Wk 3- Blocking out level in UDK

This week i have made some major changes to my level and layout after feedback. The initial level design was far to big and ambitous for the time we have to make this level which 6 weeks (minus two weeks for pre-production) So the level has been cut almost in half, and a few parts changed around to make the gameplay fit together in a smaller time frame. One thing im happy about it still having the player choice in there. Below is the level blocked out so far, next i need to start adding some gameplay to see what works and what possibly wont.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

UDK Block out and top down map

 Here is the level blocked out in UDK, just the floor level that the player is able to walk on in the environment. I was worrying about the level being to long, by doing this i could test how long it would take for me to walk from start to finish, if this was longer than a few minutes then i had a big problem. luckily it took me around 1 minute 20 from start to the end of the level. So maybe its just the fact that my levels core features are puzzles that was worrying me, as it depends on the player how long it takes them to solve a puzzle and move on. I could possibly cut some stuff out but I've planned it so the player has quite a bit of freedom in which way they can go, I've also tried to give the players breaks from puzzles so they can adventure and explore more... again this is up to the player how long they spend at this. But by having these breaks between puzzles it balances the level out much better instead of slow paced puzzles all the time which the player could get quite frustrated with, i want to player to be able to relax as well and take a second to breathe and collect some items to reward the player. 

Below i have drawn a player flow line (In green) over the top of the level design to show where the player would need to go, i wanted to give the player more than one path through sections of the level to make the player feel like they have more freedom in where they want to go, player choice is always nice in games.

Step 8 of 8 professional level design

Focal Points
In this step i wanted to try and visualise how the level would look in 3d, so i began blocking out shapes in 3d, just the core level walkways, although the level will have other surroundings buildings to set the scene where the player cannot actually travel too. This block out is only the floor level but it does raise up towards the end of the level, and at the end there will be large towers so these will be the main focal points to the level and something for the player to aim towards. Next i need to do the same kind of thing in UDK, but so i can walk around the level walkways and see how its starting to look from a players view. Also I'm thinking the level is going to be a little longer than 5 Min's of gameplay so i may need to chop parts out, but i wont be able to find out until i start in UDK.

Step 7 of 8 professional level design

Top down map
After doing step 6 of figuring out what i would like in my level and creating a numbered mind map helped huge amounts when coming to step 7 the top down map. first i created a quick sketch figuring out where i would like rooms and puzzles to take place. I also want the level to take place on an island so drew this in.

After finished a rough sketch containing the elements i wanted i then back and adjusted a few areas before going over everything i doing a more neater version, something that's more clear to see where the player will be going. There is a small key at the bottom so its clear to see what certain parts are. I have also numbered sections as these then refer back to the mind map which can be seen below. 

Next i want to make quick block out rooms in 3ds max to figure out how the puzzles will work in game. This way i clearly show my ideas but also clear things up for myself allowing me to make these puzzles in udk with more ease.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Step 6 of 8 professional level design

Objectives and obstacles
This step was a large section for me, and what has taken the longest so far, because the level i want to make it primarily a puzzle level i had to think carefully about puzzles i wanted to make but also if they are possible with the limitations i have of using kismet in udk. So firstly i went about putting down all my ideas i could think of, weather they were puzzles or something i would like to have in my level such as a gameplay element of a cinematic. 

Below you can see some of the basic idea i jotted down, as you can see there were quite a lot of ideas i explored i wanted to think of. I wanted to do this because i didn't want to start creating the top down map and running out of ideas and just adding in filler to the level which is never good, even if some of these ideas wont be used it still exploring different ideas and concepts to fall back on if something doesn't work out.

-Jigsaw puzzle, where the player has to move pieces around to form a path or maybe the player has to collect jigsaw puzzles to form a map of some sort.
-Writing can glow up, or appear on parts of the environment to inform and guide the player.
-Player comes into the island on small boat, into large boat building, can see the large monuments and focal points on the way into the island.
-Player has to jump or is told to jump of the edge of a platform, if the player takes the leap of faith platforms appear or will rise.
-Endless tunnel, use portals to make it endless
-No other character is seen in the level, half way through could start seeing silhouettes or character in the distance, is the player going mad or are they real. Would the player want to chase and discover what’s going o n. Could make it so the player might not even notice these, but would be interesting if people noticed, have them as translucent shapes moving around
-After the player arrives on boat, they find the fountain for afterlife; they are then taught how to use this power (once player drinks potion HUD could pop up with note to explain what’s going on)
-has to find items that slot into doors to open them, like keys but more interesting. Could be shapes or some sort of key.
-Puzzle to get light to beam into container, then player needs to rotate container to beam the light into gem or something that will flow into door and open (or light beam goes into gem on door). Might have to do 2 containers or more to make it more difficult.
-After player drinks 1st afterlife potion at beginning a warm light will radiate from the player lighting the path on the journey.
-Moving stairs puzzles, rotating platforms puzzle
-Wheel puzzles to rotate into place to fire of a sequence.
-Word riddle, can have a riddle in writing and player has to move letters on wheels, the correct word will open the door. Or beam a light down or fire of an event.
-shape puzzle collect shapes to put into shaped holes, once put into hole they glow to show they are activated.
- Rubik's cube puzzle, rotate cubes so that colours or icon is the same as corresponding cube. (Look at notepad)
-Fake optical illusion room; walk into corridor, room goes dark then could toggle on objects and assets on the ceiling as if the player appears like they’re walking on the ceiling. Can change throughout area.
-Player is forced to jump of ledge with the platform out of jumping distance, could increase jump high and distance when player comes to this area, player has to have faith and jump. Changes back to normal jump distance after this.
-Puzzle to turn taps of some sort to fill beakers to way platforms down to fire of event.  Could have four beaker and you have to move something each time in order to fill them up.  Has to find missing pipes to put into into tap mechanism so water can flow.  So find the correct pipes for the correct taps. Then activate each tap so fill beakers.
-make water flow to activate a water wheel to move a chain to fire of an event.
- Has to collect 3 artefact's in the game to open normal doors, not a puzzle but leads to the end goal where the player has to place the 3 artefact's into the end mechanism to fire off the ending sequence. 

After noting down these ideas i also wanted to do small quick sketches to try and visualise how these elements would work within a level so i create a large image exploring these ideas.
Level Mind Map 

Now i had a good foundation to work on i wanted to create a basic mind map to try and refine down these ideas and piece them together into something that would fit together. this mind map helped organise which puzzles and elements would come first in the level and what would happen after that, also if the player has multiple paths to go down or if the level is just completely linear. 
Here is the mind map i come up with... although this has something to follow it is only the core elements of the level other pieces can be added in between or even parts can be moved around, things can change and they most likely will depending on how the level will play. 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Step 5 of 8 professional level design

Step 5-Story

Story of environment

The Ancient city Bodhi is a once thriving city, large monuments and statues scattered around the isolated island now left untouched by the outside world. The city can only be seen by chosen ones, people who are on the path to enlightenment who have avoided a life of evil and have always had faith in something better. This island is there to challenge those people before they can reach enlightenment.

Story of the player

The player arrives to the island on a small boat with a single light on the front guiding the way into the fog. The player works their way into a small canal which leads into a boat bay; they are met with many other small boats left behind at the entrance, their lights long extinguished. They are first met with a small beam of natural light from a hole in the ceiling funnelling down to a small basin containing a glowing liquid; this liquid allows the player to start their journey to enlightenment preparing their body and spirit. They are then faced with challenges and obstacles before they reach a large monument where they must face a final challenge before they reach enlightenment

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Step 4 of 8 professional level design

Step 4-Photo reference

 Here is a collection of mood boards to try and put the ideas in my head and from what i have wrote already into a visual understanding, it also helps to solidify the ideas into something that's more grounded, it always helps to research things in our world so people can relate to what they are seeing. There are 3 main sections that i have gathered mood boards for that will help with the further sections of pre-production.

Environment and location reference images
When looking for reference's for the level environment and location i researched the old city of Jerusalem, a largely religious city with beautiful and interesting architecture. I really like the unique shapes and arch ways that tie pathways and corridors together and almost creates a maze. This is a great starting point to get ideas flowing for how the level will look.

Lighting and atmosphere references
Lighting is extremely important within a level because lighting can determine the mood the emotions but also help to improve flow and gameplay, it can be used to guide players in directions the level designers want them to so it is very important to look at interesting colour pallet's. Here i have gathered a few different colour pallet's this will then enable me to try different ones out or even combine them to see what works in the level.

Inspirational references
This final mood board is to look for any inspirational images that could help in designing the level. So i looked to see if i could find anymore images to cover any ideas or themes i want to explore so i gathered pictures of islands, statues, architecture and temples as well as focal points and even some atmoshpere images. Covering a more broad area and ideas will help to explore other ideas instead of sticking to the first idea in mind.