Learning Objective: I wanted to challenge myself by designing a game that is very different from the games I have previously worked on, and the big elements to focus on are:
- Combat: Designing spaces that facilitate stealth & CQC
- Movement: Encourage players to utilize SpiderMan’s unique movement ability
- Believability: Making sure that it feels like a construction area, that there is a purpose to why props are placed in that area.
Game Engine: UE4 Plug-Ins: Spider-Man Controller
Level Design: Max Pears Art: Synty Studios
I first started by breaking down what it is that I was trying to create with the Fisk Hideout, originally I thought about placing it in a more unique location such as a Bus Station or on the Docks.
Yet as I went through all of the possible locations, I started to see that I did not fully grasp the core principles of the Fisk Hideouts. With that how could I make changes if I did not fully grasp it.
After thinking more on the level, I decided to gain a better understanding of this style of event. I looked at different construction sites and found the ‘Hearst’ Building in NYC and I loved how it was set up with the construction process.
Knowing this was my key inspiration I made sure to gather plenty of references.
Once I was happy with my reference and design choices I had created, I started to work on the 2d map for the level.
Before moving on to the best part of Level Design which is the blockout phase I needed to have strong Visual Language for my level as no artist will be coming across to make it pretty, nor do I have all of the mechanics from the actual game. With this in mind, I had to make sure my intention for the level was clear to all those who viewed it.
Gameplay Objects = Purple
Civ/Hostage NPCs = Green
Enemies = Red
Closet Spawners = Red+ White
Now with the foundation set, I started to blockout my level.
As progress was being made with the layout, I noticed that the level was overall symmetrical and it was lacking the height variation that these locations are known for. I started to go through and started to give each area its own distinct feel as well as breaking up for those players who want to approach with a more stealthful playstyle.
As you can see by the images above, I tried to make sure that I gave a distinct feeling to each area, this would help players be orientated with the location as well as creating a more believable space with how construction workers would use the space.
Yet this here only helps so much with the symmetric layout I had for the space so I to combat this I worked on the east and west side of the building.
On the East side sticking to that of my 2d map I wanted to add these beams on the floor making it feel unfinished and also building in with that of a unique trap. Enemies could walk across the bridge, but players could destroy it when enemies are walking across and would be knocked out by the fall underneath.
While over on the Westside I added a lower floor with more enemies, giving the player an extra section to consider and a new route of approach with the 360 design that these Fisk Hideouts follow.
I was very lucky as partway through my design process I was able to receive help & advice from Shane Canning & Shane McCloskey both level designers who work on the Spider-Man game.
One of Shane McCloskey’s tips was about making sure that enemy snipers had a clear ‘Line of Sight’ of the player so that once the combat is triggered by the player, it can alert others but as well studying enemies movement to time takedown while enemies are on their patrol routes.
It is not only that of how enemies will flow through the space but also how the players will with Spider-Man’s web slinging ability. I made sure I have plenty of spaces to encourage the player to swing in and out of the action, from cranes, pillars and A-frames I had seen from my research.
Overall I am very happy and proud of the level I have made as it was such a style of design for myself, so learning about this style of movement and how it affects the level, as well combat being more close-quarter combat which needs more space so not to hinder the player.
In terms of learning objectives:
Combat: I do not have the mechanics at my disposal to honestly say I did or did not complete this. I took advice from both Shanes on recommended metrics and made sure that there were gameplay objects at the player’s disposal. But due to lack of mechanics, I can not honestly say it was completed, but I can admit that I still learned a lot about this even in just my blockout.
Movement: Luckily with the controller I am using I can say that I could experiment with my movement and overall feels very good, plenty of spots for players to zip to and frow from, I think an element I need to think about still is the stealth abilities it brings, I have a few of these beams above enemies but I think I could have pushed this further.
Believability: Thanks to my research and my area pass I believe I did a good job on this location. Maybe one or two things are not realistic, but they are believable and that helps to give creative freedom but not give a jarring feeling. Basing this on the Hearst building and seeing images of how it was constructed with the crane in the middle was great to place in the level and inspire some gameplay.
Again overall very happy with the level and had an incredible amount of fun making it.