Hydrodam

Feel free to take a look at some of these beauty shots

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Introduction

This project is a linear FPS Map in and late Blockout early white box stage. it sets place in a post-apocalyptic setting, at a dam that has been remade into a harbour and hostile outpost. 
I'll be showcasing the level progression and leveldesign. 

Focus:

  • Level design

Engine:

  • Unreal engine 4

Perspective:

  • First person

Map Digital Overview

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Process

PRE-PRODUCTION

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Sketched overview
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Doing research and gathering references.

My main focus was shifted early, even before I officially began this project when I tasked myself to play Half-life 2 during my free time. I wanted to make a level for a first-person game so playing the game felt relevant.

My ideas shifted towards creating a dam as it felt very interesting and would work well for linear level design in my mind. 

I knew that I wanted to start at the top of the dam before continuing down into a generator area at the side of the dam. However, I wasn't sure how to reach this end at first, something I had to figure out later.

Getting a sense of scale
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BLOCKOUT

Begining of blockout
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The blockout process in this project was a lot easier compared to my open world project. This time I had a lot easier time getting a sense of scale, as well as a much easier time finding good reference images.

During my process, I was recommended by a friend to connect the top part of the dam with the ground at the bottom with a Zipline instead of a distinctive path. It felt more interesting and solved my problem.

Later on, I added a harbor to the level. Doing this helped me figure out how the player would escape the level, by boat. (more on this at the Harbor text)

At the end of the blockout
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Current
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Blockout process
Gifs includes from blockout to gold

WALK-THROUGH

TOP OF THE DAM

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LEVEL INTRODUCTION

Starting of, the player starts at the top of the old dam by car, having to stop because the road ends.
The Players have gotten the objective to sabotage the dam to disrupt an enemy faction.

The player can obviously go back but that seems unlikely considering it's back to a previous level. 

Overview (2)

POI

1: Point of interest, bomb location

To start, the player gets tasked to place a bomb at a platform near the dam.

2: "Playtest, Weapon select.

For testing purposes, there's a set of weapons that the player would have available to them at this point of the game. Will be removed once appropriate gameplay elements are available. 

3: Zipline.

Opening a yellow bag on the ground swiftly builds a zipline that works as a placeholder spawning system for how to get down to the next level.

The height also works well as a vantage point to get a lay of the land ahead.

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Zipline (3) Vantage point

GAMEPLAY

Gameplay

The zipline works perfectly to traverse from the top of the dam to the generator area. 
For this, I simply moved the player character along a spline, which was simple enough with unreal. 

If I were able to improve upon it i'd most likely just add animation for putting up the zipline and animations for going down it with some tool. 

Bomb placement

While mostly for show, i wanted to add this to add a bit of gameplay to the level, to showcase the goal of sabotaging the dam.

If I'd worked more on this object I'd probably either let a friendly NPC place it while the player would set up the zipline.

OVERVIEW of GENERATOR AREA

Introduction

Zipline landing area

AREA INTRODUCTION

Taking the Zipline from the Dam area takes the player to the generator area. The player can choose to either enter through a hole on the ground or through the door.

Soon starting the encounter inside the player will have to place 3 bombs in this area before a door further ahead opens. 

Doing this also disables enemy spawn points in the basement level and on Floor 1. So the player doesn't have to get flanked from behind as they exit the building

Following the rail tracks on floor 1 leads to an exit and into the Harbor and Cargo park area.

Floor1

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POI

1: Arival point and the Hole

Player will arrive in this area and get a choice of approach. Either down into the basement or out on floor 1

2: Bomb location 2

I didn't have an opinion on which bomb the player would place first but this bomb is the second closest to the player no matter where they go.

3: Enemy spawn point

One of two spawn points for reinforcing npcs to spawn at. will be deactivated once the player plants all three bombs.

4. Bomb location 3

Most likely the last bomb location, it's furthest away from the player. (might move this bomb in the future.)

5. Leading lines of tracks

A system of tracks that small wagons with creates and supplies can go on leads towards the next area. working as a way to transport heavy objects from supply ships, it leads straight to the Cargo park.

6. Building exit

Exit into the Container park area. also works as a spawn point for the last wave of enemies going into the building before going out.

Floor 1

The first floor is the largest one and connects the basement and top-level by 6 sets of stairs (2 to the basement and 4 to the top floor). The pathways in the main room are narrow and cramped with objects sometimes blocking the path, forcing the player to go between floors to get past some obstacles. This I tried to keep in mind as an advantage for the AI since it would be much easier for them to defend as they would already be standing at advantageous positions. The player will most likely have to use the different levels and cover to bypass the enemy if they find themself at a bad angle.

Generator room (multiple floors)

Floor 2 towards exit path

Exit path foreshadowing the harbor crane and rails on the ground that leads to it (5)

Floor 2

POI

Bomb location 1:

The closest and most easily accesed bomb location is the one on floor 2. 

FLOOR 2

The second floor gives a good birdseye view for both the player and hostile AI. 

Little cover from the sides can prove fatal but the high ground might just be worthwhile.

Basement

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POI

1. Basement entrance, Armory.

If you chose the secondary path on floor 1 (Zipline arrival) you'd gall down into this area, it being unguarded the player isn't immidietly detected and may find quite a lot of useful items like ammunition here.

2. Stairs

2 sets of stairs take the player to Floor 1. might be a challenge to get up them under fire but the player should be well prepared for this

3. Generator room

Large and bulky machinery section up the room, making it hard to traverse everywhere. This area will have little to no guards at the start of the encounter however which leaves the player with a lot more options of how to start.

4. Enemy spawn point.

As the player begins making noise, a secondary path leading up and into the dam will start spawning enemies that slowly start contesting the basement level. this spawn point will disable if too many enemies are killed or if the player places all bombs.

Basement level, a lot of full covers that obscure the player entirely. 

OVERVIEW of THE HARBOR AREA

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POI

1: Generator Area exit

Upon exiting the player will have a moment of calm with a resuply create to refill ammo. The path move the player away from the view of the crane and the player may follow the rails or the main road to progress

2: Enemy spawn truck

Soon after moving far enough away from the generator area exit, a truck with enemies will roll up and continue the encounter where enemies will begin attacking. the player can stay in cover and fight or run into the container park (3)

3: Container park

Container park is covered heavy and uses verticality and open containers to create shortcuts and interesting routes. you may find more ammo or better weapons inside. Baraks is where most enemies in this area will be activated. more enemies will not spawn in here than the ones already in there.

4. Enemy spawn, blocked the exit.

The main gate along the main path is blocked by roadblocks and enemies that spawn from this location. Seeing this along with some hints from voiceovers will hint for the player to go towards the large crane (6) to await boat extraction.

5. Enemy spawn

Sniper position

6. Cover island

While waiting for the escape boat to arrive the player will take a last stand and defend under the crane while waves of enemies arrive. After a few waves, the player escapes by boat and the bombs explode.

Area introduction.

 

Exiting and having placed the bombs at the generator area, it's time to escape. the player learns that their friends are on their way to pick them up by boat and that they better hurry to the harbour before they are overrun by enemies.

 

following the rail tracks out of the generator area and towards the container park, the large harbour crane is once again highlighted in front of them, they can use it as a hiding place until the boat arrives.

 

Taking their last stand under the big crane by some containers and crates, finally, their extraction arrives, letting the player take a gunner seat to fire upon the pursuing enemy boats. All while the bombs all blow up and start flooding the outpost and dam.

 

(1) (2) enemy truck spawn stops outside of the exit of the generator area

Container park (3)

Postmortem

To keep it short, I'd definitely say that the level has been a success in my eyes. It managed to get the relatively linear but open FPS feeling that I felt when I played Half-life 2 and aesthetically was very pretty for being a blockout. 

The placement of the bomb and that entire objective felt clunky however and I'd definitely want to add working AI before I'd be able to decide on bigger changes. It might be ready for a player but not for an AI.