The narrative is the player is trapped in a sci-fi holding prison which can only be solved by completing puzzles in the space which creates an escape-room type feel to the level.
Role: Level Design
Duration: 2 Weeks
Tools Used: Unreal Engine 4
Genre: Action Adventure
This area is what the level was based on.
This is what it developed into.
The initial block-out process came from taking a space relative size to the introduction space for Zelda Breath of The Wild. I knew I wanted 3 focal points that could be viewed from a central point in the level, this gave the opportunity to introduce narrative which could act as a hint to give meaning exploration and flow of the space. I really wanted to establish a hierarchy of locations to visit and even though it was semi-open, in a way where you could visit any area in any order, i crafted it in a way that helped guide it to do so. I used enemy encounters to gate locations that funneled the player to avoid areas until they got better upgrades, I also used environmental noise and space to encourage exploration and solve environmental puzzles.
Area 1: the space I’d consider as area 1 is the main hub room, this level acts as an escape where one key opens another lock which then provides another key to open a previously inaccessible area. I knew I need sight lights that would help reinforce positive feedback so there are lines that light up green in the direction of the exit once a player solves an area. This helps with confusion because former playtesting proved that the space was incredibly difficult to solve without this reinforcement, so I went over the top making sure players knew when they had completed a room.
Area 2: The rooms within the general space act as puzzle gates for the overall solution to the level, In room 1, I gave indicators and subtly hints to help the player complete the goal which was grabbing the block to put on the pressure pad. Room 2 teaches the player they can move blocks that are “blocking” laser connections to bring familiarity to that concept which is played out in room 3. Room 3 is a two puzzle room, one that hints the block can actually reflect the laser off the wall, which is used to hit a laser receiver. The next puzzle in this room combines the puzzle from room 2 and room 3, where you must drag the block to the end of the platform to reflect the laser off the wall while simultaneously allowing the other laser to hit a receiver outside the room in the main hub zone. Between room 3 and room 4 this was the most tricky for the playtesters. What I had to do is double down on environmental cues to help give noticeable spots where blocks must be placed, the solution came from trial and error, which most puzzle games lend themselves to until the player solves the puzzle. Room 5 was a similar environmental puzzle to rooms 3 and 4, with the idea that even though you technically solved the space, you need the materials from that space to solve the next. I wanted to bring the player back to room zero so I connected it which allowed the player to grab a block in the corner which seemed like it was a part of the environment and not the final puzzle piece. The flow of the puzzles created a space where the player was constantly learning and improving on what they learned.