All posts by J

Skadi’s Ice Temple – God of War Exercise

The following is Skadi’s Ice Temple, a level pitch for God of War (2018).

Overview

Atreus has been kidnapped by Skadi the Goddess of Winter in the previous level. With Atreus in tow Skadi has fled to her Temple in the snowy mountains. Kratos, chasing the Goddess, has finally arrived at Skadi’s Temple and now must ascend it to save his son.

Throne Room Reference Image

Beat 1 – Temple Entrance

Kratos storms into Skadi’s Temple. He is awestruck not only by the scale of the Temple, but by the great statue that is carved into the side of the Temples tower. Unfortunately Kratos has no time to dwell on such thoughts as he is not alone.

Dev Note – The view of the statue is foreshadowing Beat 3.

1.1. Skadi was well aware that Kratos was coming, but is overconfident. Standing atop a pyramid of stairs in front of an elevator, Skadi summons a massive ice wall across the room to block Kratos’s way forward. Commanding her minions to attack, Skadi proceeds up the elevator. Kratos’s goal is to reach the elevator.

1.2. Following Skadi’s command a weak group of Temple Priests attack Kratos at the entrance.

Dev Note – The overall theme of the level is desecration. So having Kratos kill the Temple’s Priests feeds into that.

1.3. Kratos notices a huge chandelier above the ice wall with giant chains that hold it in place. Kratos decides to destroy the chains that hold up the chandelier to create a hole in the ice wall.

1.4. On approaching the first chain a stronger group of Temple Priests appear. They are more difficult because they have a height advantage and ranged units.

A partial view of one side of the room

1.5. Once they have been dispensed with Kratos proceeds to destroy the chandelier chain, and collect the nearby loot.

Cinematic Moment – Kratos tears the chain out of the wall. On doing so the chandelier drops violently. Cracks can be heard, the room shakes.

1.6. Noting the chain on the other side of the room Kratos heads towards it.

1.7. After defeating a more difficult group of enemies Kratos destroys the other chain (and again collects loot).

Cinematic Moment – Kratos tears the chain out of the wall causing one side of the massive chandelier to slam into the ice wall which destroys a large section of it, and
causes structural damage to the Temple Entrance.

Dev Note – Foreshadow the major structural collapse of Beat 3.

1.8. Kratos climbs the fallen chandelier, using it to proceed to the elevator.

Continue reading Skadi’s Ice Temple – God of War Exercise

Pocket Circuit Track Design – Yakuza 0

Recently I’ve been playing Yakuza 0. Though there were a couple of things I didn’t like (the occasional unskippable cut scene!), in general I loved it. As well as an absolutely world class story with fantastic voice acting, the game provides a wealth of content. Content that includes making a custom Pocket Circuit Track in a RC car racing mini-game. As a design exercise I thought this would be fun to do!

The track creation tool is fairly straightforward to use, and making tracks was fairly simple. Saying that I failed on my first attempt as I maxed the route length!

Slope City

For my first Pocket Circuit Track I started with an image in my mind which I drew.

First I made the basic shape. Seeing it in 3D I felt a desire to add lots of slopes to emphasize the windy nature of the track.

Continue reading Pocket Circuit Track Design – Yakuza 0

Bretonnia Hills

Using Warhammar 2’s Map Tool Terry I’ve recently published Bretonnia Hills V1, a map for Warhammer Total War 2. I did this to practice my map development skills of using height maps, sculpting terrain, painting textures, and placing meshes. It’s on the Steam Workshop – so check it out here!

Development

The bones of this kind of map is its terrain. To start with a solid foundation I began by finding a height map to apply to the terrain. Ultimately I chose data from a location near Trout River in Vermont.

Next I obtained the height map data, processed, and imported into the map editor tool Terry.

Following this I smoothed out some areas, and did a first pass on painting.

Next I found some areas I thought to be interesting and added some meshes from Warhammer 2’s library to add some points of interest. Meanwhile I playtest the map, and made iterative changes to the configuration of the start point, and geographical features.

After a number of iterations I then posted the map on the Steam Workshop, and presented it to the map makers at the Warhammer Map Makers Discord Channel. The Warhammer Map makers gave me some great feedback, and rightly pointed out the map needs more polish work.

I released the bones of the map, which in itself needs more work having very little work in terms of detailing, and extensive playtesting. The detail work will make some good practice so I intend to do more on that side, and post some updated screenshots!

Sketching Practice – 1

Since about over a month now I’ve started making sketching a common activity. Here are some that I’ve done.

Disclaimer: This is copy pasta art made for personal enjoyment/starting out!

One Piece

Samurai Jack

Misc

Also I’ve begun a course on Udemy to develop my drawing skills! This was the result of my first exercise!

Mavericks Proving Grounds

Introduction: Whilst at Automaton I worked as a Level Designer, where I iterated and developed world content for Mavericks a next-gen Open-World MMO FPS developed in CryEngine using SpatialOS.

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 Time: 2 months |  Role: Level DesignerTeam Size: ~40

Design Goal: Deliver a 1.8km battle royale play space for the alpha release of Automaton Games’s original IP‘Mavericks’, a next-gen Open-World MMO FPS developed in CryEngine using SpatialOS.

Natural World/Minor Points of Interest (POI’s)

Iterated and developed the natural world whilst distributing minor points of interest for further iteration by art. Major tasks for this included:

  • Reference gathering.
  • Terrain sculpting.
  • Texture painting.
  • Foliage placement.
  • Blockout, and iteration of POI’s.

Mid Size POI’s

Blocked out, and iterated a number of mid sized points of interest.

Iterated on flow, and cover of existing mid sized points of interest.

Large POI’s

Enhanced existing major points of interest, as well as blocking out significant areas of the Sawmill, and Biomass POI.

Tutorial Exercise – Warhammer Total War 2

Lately I’ve been itching to practice my level design skills. I’ve found such an opportunity with Total War Warhammer 2 where Creative Assembly has made their battle map editor Terry available for public use.

Therefore to practice my level design skills I’ve decided to take my love of Total War, my design skills, and support from the existing map making community to try my hand at creating maps for Warhammer 2.

Paper Mapping

First I tried some paper mapping for an existing Warhammer map called Atldorf.

Map Remake

Next I thought it would be good to remake a map. The map I chose to copy was a tutorial map from the map community. My intent was to make a bare bones version so I can focus on practicing using the tool. I began with studying the tutorial map.

For me the development process was loosely:

  1. First pass at terrain, textures, and water.
  2. Setup of deployment zones & playable area.
  3. Test.
  4. Second pass at terrain and textures (more detail work).
  5. Test.
  6. Rinse and repeat steps 4-5.

Some In-Editor Shots

Some In-game Shots

Next I plan to practice creating a map, this time with an imported height map!

Some Useful Resources:

Some Tips:

  • Have Warhammer 2: Total War Running in windowless so you easily use it, and Terry together.
  • Have the Go-Region totally eclipse the playable area and close up areas with no-go regions
  • Sample Map Object Hierachy Structure:
  • Buildings (File Layer)
  • Cliffs (File Layer)
  • Default (File Layer)
    • Scale Reference (Object)
  • Logic (File Layer)
    • Deployments (Logic Layer)
      • AI Hints (Objects)
      • Deployment Zones (Object)
    • No-Go Regions (Logic Layer)
      • No-Go Regions (Objects)
    • Playable Area (Object)
    • Go Region (Object)
  • Water (File Layer)
    • Water (Objects)

Last of Us – Bill’s Town Notes

1 – Drawing Attention to a Building

  • Use of light texture.
  • Billboard with red striking sign.
  • Blue awning.
  • Depth of side of building.
Drawing Attention

2 – Affordances

  • We encounter a door that can be opened with a shiv. This in my mind established an accordance that doors that looked like this could be opened.
Openable Door
  • Later on we may encounter another door that looks like that same shiv door from before, but this one doesn’t open (affordance confusion)!
Non-openable Door

3 – Drawing Attention to Areas of Interest

  • Like the contrast on the left side, draws my eye to the area where the safe is located.
    • Sign as well as red car.
  • Like the depth on the right side, draws my eye.
    • Depth and blue police car.
Areas of Interest

4 – Lock Before The Key

In this section the player finds a safer that requires a numerical combination to be opened.

The Lock

Further down the street the player sees the glint of a note against a dark junk wall, and finds the combination to the safe written on the note. I have an issue with this!

The player does need to do backtracking which isn’t ideal, but it isn’t much, my issue relates to getting the combination. When the player gets the combination it would be an additional plus to underscore receiving this important information with a touch of VO that hinted the relationship between the safe and note e.g “hmm wasn’t there a safe back there?”.

The Key
Continue reading Last of Us – Bill’s Town Notes