THE MISSION

In this project, I set out to create a 1st person action/stealth adventure inspired by Dishonored, set in an Italian setting, therefore, names Isola (Island). The focus was to create a white box experience focusing on branching paths and assassinations. The project mainly includes level design.

PROJECT DETAILS

  • Developed over 9 weeks half time

  • Engine: Unreal Engine 4

  • Level Design

  • Whitebox

  • Epic Marketplace Assets Used: Advanced Locomotion System, First Person Melee

PRE - PRODUCTION

PureRef Moodboard

REFERENCE AND MATERIAL

After a deciding project, I began my production by gathering inspirational images of both environments and settings that could help my creativity. At this point, anything that could further develop my vision was used as reference material.

 

During this project was my reference library largely filled with images of the southern islands of Italy, tropical islands, dystopic environments and old forgotten forts.

Trello Board

STAYING ON TRACK

In early development, I set up a Trello board to both keep myself on track and set up an agile workflow using scrum. I wrote down my main tasks for the project and easily got a good overview of what had to be done and what was left on the project, which further helped me control the scope of the product.

Re visiting the scrum board now at the end of the project made me realize how little added detail there was since pre-prod. Thats one of the main lessons i learned from this project was to constantly update my trello board and fill it with more but smaller tasks. 

BEFORE AND AFTER OVERVIEW

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BLOCKOUT PROCESS

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BLOCKOUT PROCESS

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GAMEPLAY

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APPROACH

Since the main gameplay was aimed towards stealth did Move like a ghost, become a part of the shadows or break stealth end your foes by leaving a path of death and destruction wherever you go.

 

Your approach is your own and determines your own play style  

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PLATFORMING

I wanted to break the normal platforming / sneak gameplay that the player has gotten used to by giving the player a teleport ability after clearing the first arc. The teleport ability allows the player to reach further heights and change their approach throughout the level to come.

The ability to platform around with a teleport ability was a task on its own especially controlling where the player is so they cant break out of the level but at the same time not making the player feel locked in a box.

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ASSASSINATION

By equipping the player with an assassin’s blade utilizing stealth, and platforming to take out your foes, the blade also makes the fear of breaking stealth a separate option and its own playstyle.

The main playstyle is aimed at stealth and in early iterations I thought about making the player weaponless or ranged. Weaponless would take away a major game element since I wanted a takedown somehow and going ranged would just let the player take out targets from a far or become more of a dare devil.

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KEYS & DOORS

I wanted to make it rewarding for the player to e xplore  the level by placing out keys that are used to unlock shortcuts throughout the level. Some of these keys are placed in high-security areas which makes it more of a high-risk high reward situation. 

The principle of the keys is that they allow the player to gain access to areas that otherwise would be locked or require an alternative root.

When implementing this system I was worried that players wouldn’t understand that certain doors require certain keys, therefore I color coded the keys with their respective doors.

DESIGN TECHNIQUES

Breakdown

HARD GATE

In the early stages of my level did I want to in a way lock in the player so I subconsciously built a large wall of buildings that would act as a Hard Gate which the player cant get past until they have climbed the clockwork.

I also did the same thing at the end of the level by Hard Gating the exit until the target has been killed since he's in the power room for the final gate.

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LEADING THE PLAYER

Since the level design is semi linear I wanted to set up a formula aimed toward findability/discoverability by rewarding the player with a small glimpse of progress.

I wanted to guide the player somehow more than just guiding lines so I went with an alternative root of guiding the player with lights 

I choose a vibrant yellow light as a guiding type which looks similar to the clocktowers dial which is one of my main leading instruments. This is noticeable throughout the level since all the main objectives have a yellowish light or color to subconsciously guide the player towards it.

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VISTA / VANTAGEPOINT

I wanted to highlight the importance of the main goal with a hard reveal so I used a vista at the top of the clocktower to focus the player's attention towards the main target's area.

I chose to cage in the player to make sure the player get enough time to take in all the information from the view such as the main target, alternative paths, guard positions and so on.

The vista was one of my main struggles since it was on top one of my main buildings

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MOVING TARGETS

I chose to place moving patrols framed in during sightlines to further point out the enemy targets for the player, I realized early on that it would be easier for the player to notice enemies if they actually acted like moving guards than standing statues.

After a little bit of playtesting did I choose to minimize the amount of moving targets but use them to highlight the other standing guards.

It was its task of its own to give the AI its own patrol path but looking back it was the right decision that gave the world more life.

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FRAMING

I wanted to highlight the importance of the bridge so I used framing to draw the player's attention toward the area.

I also placed two guards in this area to slow down the player's speed allowing the player to further take in the view.

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ENVIRONMENTAL STORYTELLING

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LOCKDOWN

I wanted to make it rewarding for the player to e xplore  the level by placing out keys that are used to unlock shortcuts throughout the level. Some of these keys are placed in high-security areas which makes it more of a high-risk high reward situation. 

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THE PLAGUE SHIP

I wanted to make it rewarding for the player to e xplore  the level by placing out keys that are used to unlock shortcuts throughout the level. Some of these keys are placed in high-security areas which makes it more of a high-risk high reward situation. 

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THE UNLUCKY SOLDIER

I wanted to make it rewarding for the player to e xplore  the level by placing out keys that are used to unlock shortcuts throughout the level. Some of these keys are placed in high-security areas which makes it more of a high-risk high reward situation. 

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I have learned a lot during this project, creating a whitebox with stealth gameplay and utilization of the surrounding objects and environment was unfamiliar to me and very fun to explore. However, it was difficult to design the combat encounters and areas when constantly trying to think of fun ways to use your surroundings and place enemies, sometimes patrolling, accordingly. With that said, if I were to spend more time on this project I would revisit some of the combat encounters and refine them. Another thing I would improve given more time is to add more verticality to the different levels of the encampment, as of now it feels more like a plateau.