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Lvl 03 - Riverside

Level 03, Riverside

As a level designer on the Cold Sun project, my role on the third 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 third level the sister and her brother are forced to cross the desert separating them from the oasis. Across their path is an old dried riverbed turned into an open dump.

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

1) Hints on the level with to the collectibles

2) Optional scripted events presenting the fate of migrants attempting to reach the Oasis

3) The Oasis checkpoints

4) Observation point before choosing their path

5) Route 1: The occupied village (high risk / high reward)

6) Route 2: The dry river (low risk / low reward)

7) An optional route: the pipe

8) The last camp

Collectibles to guide players

1) Collectibles to guide players


Collectibles, in addition to rewarding players for exploration, are used to introduce the context of the environment and give tips without breaking the player's immersion. In this level, the first collectible (a migrant's diary) is used to inform players that it is possible to donate water to cross a checkpoint. This allows the players to be introduced to the guard checkpoints mechanic before facing them.

Optional scripted events

2) Optional scripted events

Scripted events are present in the level to reinforce the aggressive behavior of the marauders by showing them looting the migrant encampment.

Guard checkpoints

3) Oasis guard checkpoints

The oasis guards checkpoints charge a water tax in order to cross them. Its mechanic is gradually taught to the players:
- They are visible to players from a good distance, in order to be observed before being approached (the player can then see their sign showing their price)
- A collectible explains to the player that he can give them water to pass
- When the player approaches it, the camera focuses on the guard and a bubble appears above him, showing the number of water he is charging to pass. He then extends his hand to show that he is ready to accept the price. An icon is then displayed on his hand to teach the player how give him the water.

Observation point

4) Observation point

After passing the checkpoint, players find themselves facing the first open area of the game. This prospecting area offers players two routes, a first through the village (high risk / high reward) and a second at bottom of the riverbed (low risk / low reward).


Following the playtests we chose to highlight the water sources in both ways so that the rewards are clear to the players. This point of view allows the player to see how many marauders are on each path, so the danger of each path is clearer to players.


It also helps locating the exit of the level (where the Oasis is on the horizon) as well as the dumping ground, two landmarks visible at all times in this zone.

Route 1: Occupied village

5) Route 1 : Occupied village (high risk/high reward)

This high risk / high reward route offers an endless source of water at the water tower, at the risk of being captured by the marauders. This route has more obstacles, more buildings, and is generally more dense, making it more difficult to avoid marauder patrols.

Route 2: Dried riverbed

6) Route 2: Dried riverbed

This low risk / low reward route offers less water sources, and offers a much more open space with many crawl space, making it easier to avoid marauder patrols.

Optional route: The canal

7) Optional route: The canal

Before reaching the end of the level, the players face a second checkpoint that can be avoided. By exploring the level, the players can find an optional route allowing them to avoid the checkpoint. This way the player is rewarded for his exploration by not having to spend water at the checkpoint.

The last camp

8) The last camp

Level art

Before finishing the level a final vista of the Oasis is present to show the player's progress towards his long-term goal.

Level art

In this level the sister and her brother are forced to cross the desert separating them from the oasis. Across their road is an old dry riverbed turned into an open dump. The sister and her brother will be forced through this obstacle filled with marauder in order to reach their goal. This level aimed to represent the danger of migrants' journeys to the oasis as well as the devastation of this polluted universe, filled with waste.

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