Openworld Project

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

Project overview

Introduction

MMORPG open world map based in a high fantasy setting.

Pitch

"Gather power and allys to conquer the fabled tower of Thronas"

Perspective:

  • Third person

Engine:

  • Unreal engine 4

Focus:

  • Level design

  • Worldbuilding

Digital Map Overview

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Process

PRE-PRODUCTION

Gathering references & Putting pen to paper.

I began by gathering reference material for environment and gameplay and brainstorming words and places that would direct the project's trajectory. I looked for references that would inspire locations on the map and references that would help me get a “feeling” of how things would be themed.

After that, I'd start sketching on a general overview and rough doodles of structures that I wanted to be part of the game. Eventually, I'd create a digital overview to put into the engine as a reference for scale

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Getting a sense of scale
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BLOCKOUT

Getting a sense of the scale.

I had some difficulty at first going into the blockout. Getting a sense of scale in a 3D space without actively being down on the ground can be deceiving. I’ve spent a lot of time with larger “brush” strokes on the landscape, I didn't want the landscape to feel flat, but I also didn’t want elevations to be too extreme.
I also spent a lot of time iterating every “Biome” in the level. Trying to make them distinctly different in focus.

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

WHITEBOX

Rough
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Final
Refined 

At this point of the project, I started to blur the line between Whitebox and “Gold”. This was an obvious mistake that I had to make right in the future.

A large reason for this was how I began shying away from blockout shapes and start adding meshes and material from multiple asset packs instead. Using one asset pack for “village” buildings and another for ruins.
I would later return to using more blockout shapes Later on and replace the kit bashed buildings and locations with Blockout shapes.
 

Heavily iterated the main hub in the forest biome.

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Small fortified base connecting the Forest biome and the Ruin biome

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Windmills outside the walls of the main hub.

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The central tower is almost always visible from every biome now. working as an excellent landmark.

GOLD

This is the point where the different biomes and points of interest started to take shape. I focused on iterating the forest biome where the walled town and farmlands surrounding it started to appear. I added a large forest that included a “hunting lounge” and a bandit outpost inside. I added more ruins and a canal outpost with a draw bridge that lead to the 3 biomes.


Much of my focus was on creating multiple areas within the biomes that could work as points of interest for fictional quests.

I spent some time re-designing the central fortress into a blockout tower since the “kitbashed” solution I made during whiteboxing was rather ugly and out of place.
 

World Overview

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Level Biomes
1. Plains Biome: Starting biome within this region. Open areas of grass fields with a boss battle arena. Player will gain XP and a mount in this region to travel with across the land

2. Forest biome: Second biome. Contains the main hub, 3 hostile outposts, mid-level quests and unique shops and vendors.

3. Ruin biome: Third biome. The last biome is relevant to the main questline. Leads to the central tower by a bridge. 

Higher-level enemies, fewer quests, most focuses on approaching the tower

Plains biome Overview

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Level Bioms
1. Plains Biome: Starting biome within this region. Open areas of grass fields with a boss battle arena. Player will gain XP and a mount in this region to travel with across the land

The plains bioms hub. here the player can buy and sell items, get quests and also fast travel

Small travellers outpost at the entrance to the level

Plains biome with "wild" mounts.

Boss battle arena

Boss battle entrance

Boss battle (Plains biome)
 

While i never intended to focus on creating a functional boss battle for every biome, I intended from the start to include some gameplay elements that could be in place of one.

With this, I created a rough boss entrance cutscene that's activated upon clicking an interactive item in the game. The boss battle is intended to be something any player can queue back into, even if the boss battle isn't part of their current quest.

Forest biome Overview

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2. Forest biome: Second biome. Contains the main hub, 3 hostile outposts, mid-level quests and unique shops and vendors.

The bridge camp serves as a story gate between entering the Ruins biome from the forest biome. 
The bridge will open up once you complete a the last quest in the Forest biome

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a larger enemy encampment.

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Windmil farm. Quest location to the towns' west.

Shaded forest hunter lodge. quest location that works as a tiny hub

Deep forest tribal village. It works as a quest location and also a spawn point for a more humanoid type of enemy.

Shaded forest

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Harbor town

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Forest town.

The forest town is the largest hub in the level. You'll find a number of quests and shops in this location.

The town contains a Town Keep, Cathedral, a Inn, a smithy, a marketplace and a mount stables.

Town Keep: Quest location for the main questline.

Smithy

Town Inn

Town Keep

Marketplace

Ruined biome Overview

3. Ruin biom: The third and last biom, the idea of this biom is that it works as a boss rush where the player will travel through quests to each platform until reaching the tower and bridge that leads to the central tower. There is a small outpost for the player to respawn at or use for fast travel nearby. 

Overview of the Ruin Biome. 

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Silent bay. small hub

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Connecting the ruins to the massive tower is a long bridge.

Postmortem

To keep this short, I'm very happy over how much I managed to populate this level, especially after iterations on the forest biome. There was a clear difference between each biome and each biome had interesting areas outside of the main quest areas.

Something I did wrong was clearly that I used way to many kitbashing methods with multiple asset packs at the start instead of simply using blockout shapes. I'm glad I changed it back to more blocky meshes instead of the old buildings that didn't quite fit into the game.