I did this level as part of my Advanced Level Design course at Futuregames.
For this project, we were tasked with creating a level that would fit in a game where the player has to take photos of different areas of the map. This motivated us to make a level with interesting and beautiful compositions.
The player starts the level by looking out over the entire map. This way the player gets an overview of the map, but also a beautiful vista.
The player will have to investigate and photograph different illegal activities on a dock without getting caught by the guards.
As the player reaches the entrance of the dock, they will spot the guards they have to avoid. The player will also be presented with the option to chose which part of the level to explore first.
I focused on drawing the players attention to certain areas of interest with framing and lighting.
Each time the player reaches a new area they are presented with a new path to explore. For example, after walking towards a flickering light, they will find a way leading to a backalley.
It was important to me that whenever the player stops and looks at their surroundings they get a visually stunning view, as the focus of the level was photography.
From each area of interest (where the required photos have to be taken) the player is rewarded either with an overview of the area they just played or a clue to where they are suppose to go next.
I wanted the level to make it clear where the intended path was leading the player without making the player feel like they had no choice.
I planned each area to draw the player towards the intended path from multiple angles.
Example: If the player approaches the scaffolding from either of the two paths leading them there, their eye is drawn towards the light that shows the boxes allowing them to climb up on the roof.
I wanted the player to be rewarded when they find the areas that they were suppose to photograph, so that they instantly knew to take a picture, but also get a feeling of accomplishment for finding something new.
I spent more time making these areas distinct and visually different from the rest of the map.
If the player explores the map further, they can find new angles of previously photographed areas.
This also helps to add detail to the environmental storytelling.
Here is a first draft of the map compared to a topdown view of the final version in engine.
This project gave me a lot of insight into the importance of composition and player behaviour when working on level design.
It helped me understand how lighting and visual cues can steal the players attention, and also how to reward the player visually.