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  • Writer's pictureNero

#11 3D Level Design

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

So, it has been a while since I last posted about my 3D level design and I thought it would be best to put it all in a single post since my main priority was the fungus game and I didn’t focus as much on the level. I think this was because I was more interested in the fungus game which drove me to be more productive on that project and the level felt more mundane. Anyway, whatever the reason I am not happy with the final result but will still take you through the steps I took and the key design decisions I took.


My plan up to now was to have a rotating room but I felt like the scope for it was too large. This was because I wanted to be able to make something functional which would aid in my design document. I began by creating a new world in which the level would be set and in order to aid this I broke the world down into 6 areas. Theme and tone, nature, culture, language, mythology, and philosophy.


Theme and Tone:

The tone of my world is chaotic, and the theme is a universe with different rules and the people take advantage of these rules. So, gravity is linked to surface area not mass meaning that the larger the surface area the more gravity it has.


Nature:

The gravity is linked to surface area and not mass so flying machines work by being large rather than light. The world isn’t clumped together but rather a collection of floating bodies that life moves between. Otherwise, the chemistry is similar to that of our world however the biology is very different as many animals have flaps in order to increase the surface area and float between masses.


Culture:

There are multiple species with intelligence and there are cities that are big enough to float by themselves. This means that there are travelling cities which can travel across areas and meet different people. There are also many villages and towns attached to natural surfaces that trade with the large cities while also keeping their own cultures. This means that there is a VERY large number of different diverse cultures.


Language:

Almost every town, village or city has its own language and alphabet but they also all learn the common tongue which is a language spoken by everyone and is the main way to facilitate trade and politics. The main tongue is similar to that of many European languages with the structure of their sentences.


Mythology:

The most common religion is known as Akribanity as it worships the god Akriban. Akriban is known as an evil god who created this universe to toy with people and punish them for fun but over time learnt to love his creation and decided to leave it be as he had already done too much. There are also thousands of other religions but Akribanity is by far the most common.


Philosophy:

The world is based on trade and is more about what goods someone has rather than money or land. Different goods are valuable to different people, so the value of a people is entirely different per person. This means that there are many cultures and different ways of living. The idea of war is almost non existent within the world because what would you gain from it land? what is land?


After creating this world, it became very clear to me that I had once again over-scoped and decided that I needed a really simple world in which the level would be set so I came up with the following world.


The year is 2342 and it has been over 200 years since artificial intelligence took over the world. Now the AI is curious as to how intelligent Humans truly are since that was how the AI was initially created. For this purpose, they created a series of experiments using mazes, obstacles, and enemies as well as food at the end to entice them. This is very similar to a maze that you see a lab rat completing in our world.


I thought this concept was novel enough and had a decent scope since it only required me to create a linear path for the player to follow in order for them to get to their food. It was around this time that Paul had taught us how to use 3D Gamekit Lite as well as progrids. These tools helped me figure out how my design was going to function and create the level inside of unity.


I decided that I wanted a 3rd person view because it allowed the player to peek and look ahead instead of coming up to completely blind corners. I also decided to make use of the interactable objects found in 3D Gamekit Lite in order to make the player have to complete puzzles to open doors and new areas of the map.

Corridor

I began by creating a long narrow corridor with an enemie at the start. This enemy can easily be killed and helps teach the player how to kill enemies while staying relatively safe. The player is then greeted by a corner which is supposed to encourage caution as there is a line of acid just after. This not only teaches the player some key mechanics like killing enemies and avoiding acid but also in a safe area so that they don’t feel overwhelmed.


Then I added my first interactable object, a pressure plate. This pressure plate would open a door to a room with a lift. This lift then raises the player giving them more elevasion, raising them to a second layer.

T-Junction

Here, the player meets a new enemy type that spits acid before coming up to the junction. The junction is made up of extreme 90 degree angles in order to promote caution in the player as they can’t see ahead. At the junction, the player can take alternative routes. If the player chooses to go left, they will discover a closed door and will have to double back in order to go right which isn’t optimal.

Mini Maze

When the player goes right, they encounter a mini maze which has many 180-degree angles with enemies hidden behind them. The player can’t see around 180-degree angles unlike their 90-degree counterpart. These enemies are the spitting type too, so the player has to act cautiously or risk losing health. At the end of the maze there is a switch that triggers the door to the left. This means that the player has to double back and go left.

One Way Valve

Once the player has switched the switch in the mini maze, they can go through the door at the bottom left corner but after going through the door they will step on a pressure plate that closes the door again behind them. This means that they can not go back on themselves and are now stuck in this new area. There is also a checkpoint here so if the player dies, they will respawn in the corridor.


When the player walks down the corridor there is an invisible pressure plate that opens the giant door. The door is giant which in conjunction with the narrow corridor makes the player feel insecure and on edge.


Choke Point

Next, the player then enters this giant room that is filled with enemies. While the action so far has been relatively slow, now the player must fight. This in conjunction with the fact that the player has to work out a way to get the lift working, which is hidden behind the wall on the left, means that they are having to put everything they have learnt into practice.


Once they have activated the lift, the player can either go left or right but they need to go right in order to get to the switch to open the door on the left. This area is littered with enemies that are there to disrupt the player unless they kill them all first.

Parkour

In the next section the player firstly has to jump over a large acid area. This requires the player to get a running start otherwise they will fall in the acid and die. The player then has to do a 180 degree turn which hides a bunch of enemies as well as lines of acid that the player has to jump over. This means that they have to do a parkour element as well as kill some enemies which adds extra difficulty to the area.








End Room

This is the final room. The entrance is extra narrow to hide any potential enemies that could be lurking. The interior is textured and there is a table in the middle. This is meant to be the players food that they get for navigating the level just like giving a mouse some food for navigating a maze. All the torches in this room give off a warm light that is meant to be cosy and warm. This is because this area is safe and the end of the level.


After adding in the ending room, I decided I needed a spawn room where the player learns the basics.


Spawn

Here, the player must first destroy the boxes in order to access the switch. By doing this the player learns that they can use left click in order to destroy things as well as the fact that by walking into a switch it opens things such as doors.


The door has red lights positioned on it which tells the player that the door is locked. When the player switches the switch, the lights change to green which shows the player that they are open. This means that the player can be sure of whether the door is locked or not by looking at the colour of the light. This lighting is replicated across all the doors in the level.


After creating all of these rooms, I decided it would be a good idea to create a narrated video to clarify my thoughts as the level was playable and I wanted to show off how it worked.



Overall, I am not happy with this level design as I didn’t explore any new ideas or create something unique. As you can tell, I was much more interested in making the fungus game and I ended up leaving the level to the last minute. In the future I hope to start work on the level earlier and try to engage more with the design and keep scope in mind. I also should focus more on the level than the world since the assignment is on the level, not the world and I created 3 worlds in the end, 2 of which I didn’t use. I think that next year I should plan out my time better for each assignment and set myself targets for every assignment.

Top Down View Of Entire Level

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