Level: Airship
Level: Blackwall Yard
Level: Embankment
Level: Catacombs

Chapter 5: Agamemnon Rising

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Crash at The Crystal Palace

When he regains consciousness, Galahad is on the ground. He lifts himself to witness the results of the explosion—the Agamemnon has crashed and the flames of its wreckage have engulfed a national landmark: the (first) Crystal Palace (an actual building which burned down in our history, an event which inspired this moment in the alternate history of The Order: 1886).



Galahad is weak and injured from the crash, but begins to stumble around the crash site looking for Malory. During his search, he spots a dead body that may be his friend, but it turns out not to be him.



As his communicator was broken in the crash, he's suprised to hear Isabeau's voice issuing from a radio somewhere nearby. He follows the sound, locates the communicator (which must be Malory's), but drops it on seeing his friend on the other side of some fallen debris.

He struggles to push it aside, hoping against hope that Malory will still be alive, but when he reaches him, there are no signs of life.




 
Development

This scene is appropriately cataclysmic. Although for much of its existence, this section of the level was grey boxes and a plan for some cinematics.

I remember finding out that my first level for Ready at Dawn was going to culminate in putting an alt-history spin on a real event (the fire that destroys the Crystal Palace)—I was thrilled, and I think it turned out beautifully. The Environment Art, Lighting, and FX teams really pulled off something believably unbelievable here.


Crash Site Flythrough

There's a lot that can be said about it, but I think that as the final slope of the roller-coaster ride of the level, it's best just experienced.

A few of my favorite "small" touches to look out for:

  • At the very beginning, a couple of lifeboats can be seen drifting to the ground behind the Crystal Palace

  • Straight overhead, there's another airship aiding the search for survivors with its spotlight

  • Overhead, there's also a neat effect where a part of the upper skin of the airship burns away in real-time. Definitely worth a look.

  • Through the windows at the far end of the first cabin (past where you turn to progress), there are people running to help

  • As Galahad nears the end of the girder-tunnel which threatens to collapse on him, search parties can be seen in the distance to the right

Gameplay Video




Between This Level and the Next

Malory's death marks a shift in the game towards a darker tone and a more volatile Galahad.

During his funeral, the Rebels stage another attack, again targeting Lord Hastings. This time, they strike on the bridge just outside Westminster Palace, where the knights are gathered to mourn. Galahad leads a charge across the bridge to rescue Hastings, but once he's safely in the care of the other knights, Galahad goes rogue.

He pursues rumors of the Rebel leadership back to Whitechapel, to a brothel he and Lafayette had passed through earlier. There, he is able to confront the Rebel leader, a woman named Lakshmi Bai, who repeats what the bomber said—something more is afoot, and the knight must accompany her to Blackwall Yard if he truly wants answers.


 
Final Analysis

More of my time on this project was spent on the Airship than anywhere else: helping to figure out "the feel" of the game and where this level would fit into that tapestry, working through multiple revisions of each section to find one that shone more brightly than the others, and having to fight for a few things because I could see clearly in my head how they would work when others needed to be convinced.

The level certainly has elements that could be improved.  I had to let go of some of my favorite elements to accomodate the needs of the rest of the game. If the Airship level were to stand alone, there are some things I might have done differently.

But a game is a whole, and many things turned out the way they did out of necessity in service of that whole. The team that worked on the level did the best we could, and I think the result stands as one of the most compelling, most visually striking, most memorable in the game.



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