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Lvl 2 Village nuit

Level 02, Nighttime village

As a level designer on the Cold Sun project, my role on the second 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

In the second level, the sister and her brother are forced to begin their journey to the oasis following the invasion of their village by marauders in search of water.

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

1) An introductory cinematic of the level, and the invasion of their village

2) The Marauder Detection System
3) An intuitive path without breaking the immersion

4) The sprint mechanics

6) The stealth system

7) Collectibles that contextualise the environment

8) A vista on the oasis (the long term objective)

Introductory cinematic

1) Introductory cinematic

During production, several playtests showed us that players did not fully understand where the Marauders came from. To address this issue, and keep the players immersed, we opted for a short introductory cutscene, done at low cost by reusing the gameplay animations of the Marauders. This allowed players to be introduced to the enemy in a safe way (especially for players who had not found the scripted event of the first level).

Detection of marauder

2) Detection of marauders

The second step in learning the mechanics of the Marauders, after introducing them from a safe distance, was to show players under what circumstances they became aggressive. I decided to place a stuck Marauder, who becomes aggressive when he spots the player, showing both how his detection gauge works and how he becomes aggressives afterwards. This solution also made it possible to block the passage of the player, forcing him to take a different path than the first level.

Fireflies to guide the players

Fireflies to guide the playes

In order to help guide the player, fireflies are placed at strategic places of the planned course. The mix of light source and movement allowed to attract the gaze of players and guide them without breaking immersion. Playtests showed us that players had no problem following the intended path, without receiving any indications.

Teaching the sprint mechanic

4) Teaching the sprint mechanic

The sprint mechanic is taught to players in two stages. The first prompt tells the player to sprint in order to cross a location that is safe, is a a way to incite the player to test the mechanic. The second place prompts the player to sprint to avoid a marauder who could catch him. This way we teach players that he can use sprint to escape from marauders.

Stealth mechanic

4) Stealth mechanic

For the first time that the player has to use the stealth mechanics, we chose to gradually present a first action block. The first patrol can be observed from afar by the players, in order to be observed at first. Next, in order to teach players to crouch in stealth areas (to be hidden), an obstacle where the player must crouch must be cleared before entering the stealth area. Directly after this obstacle, covers where the player can hide were placed between the players and the first marauder. This way the players' first approach is safer and teaches how to approach stealth areas without formally explaining it to the player.


6) Collectibles

Collectibles are used to learn more about the environment through short descriptions, in order to encourage exploration for players who wish to. At the very end of the level, the journal of a former inhabitant of the village is present allowing the player's objective to reach the Oasis to be reinforced, the Oasis which is visible from the same point.

Oasis vista

7) Oasis vista

The second level ends with a vista on the Oasis, the long-term objective of the game. A point of view on the Oasis is present in each level in order to show the players their progress towards their final objective.

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 at 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 present the appropriation of water from the surrounding areas by the Oasis. In addition to emphasize the environmental causes of the apocalyptic state of this universe, a lot of waste was added to a dump area of the level and integrated around the homes. In addition, 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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