Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Level Design 01 - Dragon Hunter's Camp - Introduction

Apart from the project, classes continue as the second semester progresses and one of them was quite interesting, Level Design. In the first semester we had a level design class but it was mostly theory and quest design basics. It was OK but not as engaging as the new class where we have to design a region in a land we created in small groups. The cool part is that we have to build an map in the UDK that fits into that region. The result is to be a detailed description of the region and some screen-shots that show the level at its best but I also want to build a playable level that we can later combine into a small game spanning the all the levels my team mates and me build. The task was given to us a week ago and we have until the 15th of march to finish our work so we have a little bit over a month in all for the whole task.

The group I worked with consisted of four students and we chose a world one of my fellow students envisioned for a fantasy book he is writing. His story plays in a vast desert area in the south of the continent so we tried to split the hero's journey into four parts so that each of us can design a specific part of that journey. Unfortunately, designing four desert levels and writing about the same region four times was not what the teacher or even we wanted so we just took the world and each of us chose a different region to define and build a level in. I started working on a desert road along an oasis but quickly realized that building a level there would be either boring (a vast empty desert plain with a small green spot around some watering hole) or even impractical as a functional level (because the player would see the end of the level without something blocking his view and what could block the view in a desert plain?!) so I decided to take another region far in the north with mountains and thick forests (a lot of things that can block the view and movement of the player). There is one particular range of mountains that was catching my eye, one with a population of dragons and dragon hunters nearby.

My own goal now is to design a level with mountains, forests, a small village and a dragon hunter's camp inside a crevice or some caves. The village and the camp has to be protected from dragon attacks and there should be dragon traps and defence and scout positions along the mountains.
Since I am no artist I will use as much of the original UDK assets as possible and try to find some free models on the internet to help me out. Maybe I will even try to build some simple assets by myself...

The UDK was a complete mystery to me at the beginning of the last semester and I had only little time on weekends to test out some of the features it provides so it will be quite a challenge to build a whole level by myself and make it look good enough for a descend mark. Working with it for the game design project is a huge help but for example the terrain editor was totally new to me.

All in all I will try to post updates as often as possible...

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