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Level 01 Village Jour

Level 01, Daytime village

As a level designer on the Cold Sun project, my role on the first level was to create:

- Paper layouts to establish the player's course, and the progression  and teaching of mechanics

- Blockings in the game engine to test the readability of the environment and the clarity of the objectives
- Blueprint prototyping of the mechanics and scripted events of the levels

- The level art of the levels thanks to the assets created by our 3D artists

Through these steps, I took care of organizing several playtests in order to iterate on the levels with the player's feedback.

Level design

The first level is the village in which the sister and brother survive, despite the departure of the rest of the population and the death of their parents. The other inhabitants have already left in the direction of the oasis, but they remain hesitant to begin this dangerous journey, given the young age of the brother.

The level design objectives of the level were to present to the players:

1) A vista presenting the points of interest of the level

2) The little brother, who gives the quest to the player

3) Learning the crouch mechanics

4) The main objective by presenting the point of interests to the player

5) An optional cutscene featuring a marauder (foreshadowing the second level)

6) Collectibles, giving context to the environment

7) The progression to the next level

Vistas / contextualization

1) Vistas / contextualization


The establishing shot of the first level aims to present clear objectives to the player without breaking the immersion of the game, through a vista. In this first shot, three points of interest are present: The water tank (main objective of the level), the flower collectible (secondary objective) as well as the Oasis on the horizon (long-term objective of the game, which is also featured in the cutscene).

Obtaining the quest

2) Obtaining the quest

Teaching the crouch mechanic

From the start of the level, the player hears the little brother coughing and asking the player for water. During the first playtests of the game, many players passed without seeing him and did not understand the objective of the level. Several solutions have been integrated in order to attract the player without breaking the immersion:

  • From the start of the game the player can hear the little brother coughing

  • When the player passes nearby, the camera focuses on the little brother

  • A bubble appears above the head of the little brother to show that he needs water

  • A particle effect is present around the camp when the player is nearby

  • A text is displayed above the screen explaining to the player that the little brother need water

3) Teaching the crouch mechanic

In order to make sure the player knows how to use the crouch, we force the player to use the crouch to get out of the first area of ​​the level teaching at the same time the metrics associated to this mechanic.

Highlighting the main objective

4) Highlighting the main objective

In the first playtests of the game, done while the level was in blocking, the majority of playtesters had no problem spotting the water tower as a point of interest. On the other hand, following the integration of level art into the level, several players no longer went to the water tower since it got lost with the rest of the environment. I added a camera focus that slows down the player, as well as a sign showing the resource on the water tower to incite the player to interact with it.

The following playtests allowed us to confirm that these two relatively inexpensive solutions managed to lead the majority of players to interact with the water tower.

Optional cinematic

5) Optional cinematic

Without being present in the first level, players learn about the aggressiveness of marauders through a scripted event. This allows them to be presented gradually to the players, from a safe distance.


6) Collectibles

Water distribution

Two collectibles are used to learn more about the sister and the brother while keeping the players immersed. These collectibles are also used to encourage players who wish to learn more, to explore the environment.

7) Water distribution

When the player brings the water back to the little brother, he is taught the mechanics of water distribution. In order to move on to the next level, the player needs to distribute water to the sister as well as to the little brother in order to be able to continue to the next level. This mechanic unlocks the sprint mechanic for the next level. This way, the player learns the importance of water as a resource, and the fact that he will need it to progress.

Level art

Level art

The village of the first two levels of the game is a poor village, assembled on the walls of a canyon. My main contribution to this environment was the assembly of the houses as well as the level art of the different playable areas, i.e. the player's start area, the dump, the central area of the village, the path on the edge of the cliff as well as the path the end of the level. The objective of this zone was to present the exodus of the majority of the population of the village towards the only viable source of water, the Oasis. For this reason, pipes were used to help guide the player throughout the level and present the appropriation of water from the surrounding areas by the Oasis. In addition to focus on the environmental causes of the apocalyptic state of this universe, a lot of waste was added to a dumping area of the level and integrated around the homes. Moreover, in order to present the very poor aspect of the population of this city, the accent was put on a densification of housing as well as on the patched and jumbled aspect of the houses.

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