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

Chapter 9: An Uneasy Alliance

Section  1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |  9  | 10 | 11


Timeline of the level
  • Galahad and Lakshmi arrive via tunnel

  • They use scaffolding to reach street level

  • Lakshmi climbs over a gate; they get separated

  • Galahad takes out the sniper threatening Lakshmi

  • Galahad protects and reunites with Lakshmi

  • They cross through a ship under construction

  • They finally reach the shipping warehouse

  • Lakshmi reveals the vampires in UIC crates

  • They set fire to the warehouse

  • The warehouse burns; they battle UIC and Lycans


 
The umbrella of design work

Some projects only require a designer to focus on a few types of tasks. Others really ask the designers to apply their knowledge and skills to a wide variety of problems.

I've listed many types of challenges on the preceding pages, though I could never list them all.



(As a refresher,) some Level Design tasks that are particular to The Order:  achieving a satisfying blend of types of cinematic and gameplay elements, planning for sequences that use custom movement in several different ways, Quick Time Events, buddy interations, puzzles, traversal / climbing sections, basic core-mechanics combat, boss encounters...

In addition, a Designer needs to understand how to analyze each element they may be asked to work on and find ways to improve and polish it.



Though I haven't touched on it much here, each of these images is from a different traversal / climbing section.  We used these as pace-breakers between the narrative and combat elements of the level, and to make it feel like Galahad gets around in more interesting ways than just walking.

The way we used traversal on this project had to be figured out over time.  Different Level Designers used them differently than each other.  But we were all expected to push the boundaries of what could be done with them in combination with the other elements at play.





Timeline of the level
  • Galahad and Lakshmi arrive via tunnel

  • They use scaffolding to reach street level

  • Lakshmi climbs over a gate; they get separated

  • Galahad takes out the sniper threatening Lakshmi

  • Galahad protects and reunites with Lakshmi

  • They cross through a ship under construction

  • They finally reach the shipping warehouse

  • Lakshmi reveals the vampires in UIC crates

  • They set fire to the warehouse

  • The warehouse burns; they battle UIC and Lycans


 
Designing something completely new

One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to tackle the problem of designing a completely unfamiliar sequence:  something unlike any mechanic or level or system you've ever encountered.

A designer approaches that case like any other:  by applying his knowledge of "design best practices;" considering what the player knows, doesn't know, and may be thinking about at any given moment, and using visual and audio cues (in addition to direct objectives) to help the player to process how a sequence may be intended to play out.



For me, an example of this was helping to finish the implementation of the sequence that happens right when Galahad and Lakshmi enter the shipping warehouse.

Here, they search for (what will be revealed as) crates filled with dormant vampires.  However, the player doesn't know that's what he's looking for—Lakshmi hides that surprise for the big reveal.

The mechanic is unfamiliar.  (Zooming in on things in non-combat sequences is a mechanic in the game, but it's nearly always an optional one.)  The target of the search is unfamiliar, and players who miss the first line of dialogue ("a red stamp") may get lost, unsure what to do.

How do you approach a design like that?



Just like any other, really.

The player will almost certainly watch Lakshmi, since she's the only thing in the scene moving.  If she moves near a group of boxes, the player is likely to look there first.

Light is also casting more on certain boxes than on others.  As I figured out which collections of boxes should have the red stamp, I kept in mind that the well-lit boxes would stand out more for the player.

Lakshmi's dialogue helps if the player is unsure what to do.  She says things like "we need to look closely" and "have you found any of the right crates yet?"  She gradually moves more toward the back (where the crate they can reach is), though she never goes close enough that she would spoil the player being the one to find the proper crate.

The crate they pull down has a small difference from all the others that will draw the player's eye:  an empty pallet in front of it.  (This is where they end up putting the crate down, but it serves dual duty—the anomaly attracts the player's attention.



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