A level design exercise that includes a narrative element.
Setting: Located in the bustling heart of a metropolis, a church sits atop a hill with an adjoining graveyard. Tonight the church is abuzz with attendants as it is the cult’s former leaders funeral.
Initial 2D Sketches
- The players mission is to investigate the new cult leader, and so has been provided a cult uniform. Given the setup, we would expect player to enter the gate ahead.
- Gate is lit.
- Crowds block both side entrances.
Continue reading Cult Villian – Level Design Exercise
- Arriving at the gate the player is allowed access by the guards as they recognize the uniform.
Steams recent winter sale had Final Fantasy 9 on discount. Since I’ve been meaning to play FF9 for awhile now, that and a good price made for a match made in heaven!
Whilst playing these are ‘designery’ thoughts I had during the first several hours of it:
- FF9 starts you off in a dark room where it easy to focus on your player and understand movement. It then lights up the wider environment.
- Narrative reinforcement – One moment where you have to remember and mention the princess name when they are going over kidnapping plan.
- Level Exploration – In the scene below your character enters the scene from the bottom of the screen. Once you have control of the character the world fulfills the expectation of continuity by providing an area that’s the opposite way the player is encouraged to go (using the crowd who moves forward).
Lots of and easy to find initial pick ups from environment to quickly establish and encourage exploring the environment for rewards.
- Storytelling Moments – Initial area showcases poverty/class differences through characters in the scene.
- Lots of encouragement to explore through cutscenes. For example Steiner locked in room and the cutscene shows you are treasure chest which encourages you to go there.
Continue reading Final Fantasy 9 – Initial Design Impressions
- Love the variation of activities right from the start such as finding the knights of pluto, and a scene of quick time events of sword fighting.
Writing Prompt: Name a game with fictional architecture that is based on real-world architecture. What does the use of that style convey about the in-game builders of that architecture? What mood does it create?
The subject for this prompt is the city of Lindblum from Final Fantasy 9.
After studying a number of architectural styles. I believe a major architectural influence on this cities style is the Gothic style. In particular the Gothic Revival and Gothic Victorian style on its civilian structures.
What does the style convey?
In the world of Final Fantasy 9, Lindblum is regarded as the most technologically advanced nation who is making amazing progress. Their architecture seemingly melds a colorful Victorian Gothic style with sophisticated metal work in a high density of buildings. In addition sections of the city we see in the background are mind defying steep leaving on in wonder of how this is even possible? Additionally:
- Clocks appear several times often embedded into buildings. This could imply a ‘precise society’.
- The Gothic style is popular in the fantasy game genre. Given this is such a game the combination make for an interesting style to create the sense of a technologically advanced fantasy city.
So given the contrast of comparatively less ‘technologically advanced’ architecture styles the player has encountered before. The result I feel creates a mood of ‘wonder’ and ‘buzzing progress’, and leaves an impression that the builders are highly advanced.
The following is a level design exercise where I made a level pitch for a sequence in The Last of Us.
Beat 1 – Linear Narrative
Beat 1 Top Down
Beat 1 – Sequence
Overview: Joel and Ellie traverse through a hotel towards their objective, a bank where Tommy is being held.
- Party drops down from a hole in the wall into the hotel storage room.
- In front of them is a pool of dried blood and something written on the wall which can’t be made out.
- Dev note: Visual storytelling elements to heighten tension.
- Who died?
- Am I in danger?
- Turning the party catches a glimpse of the bank. Their goal.
- Dev note: Use of a weenie.
- Completing their left turn before them is a T-junction.
- Dev note: Option to explore.
- Turning left the party sees the rest of the storeroom and find supplies on the shelves.
- Dev note: Items are 1 duct tape, 1 blade and 1 part.
- Turning 180 degrees the party sees an elevator opposite them.
- Dev note: Blood is continued tension breadcrumb.
- Approaching they see the elevator is tightly sealed leaving them with no option but to take the blood stained path to the right.
Continue reading Tower Trouble – The Last of Us Exercise
- The party proceeds down the partially collapsed hallway.