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Flooded City - Third Person Adventure

Level Design | Storytelling

Project Summary

With this personal project I wanted to create a level that tells a story through the environment. Something that draws the player in and creates an interest in exploring the environment.

I wanted to have challenging combat encounters where the player can choose how they approach each encounter depending on their preferred style of play.

Project Breakdown

  • 3 weeks 

  • ​Created using Unreal Engine 5

  • Focus on creating narrative experience

  • Scripting Enemy and Player shooting

  • Marketplace assets used

    • Advanced Locomotive System 4​

    • M5VFXVOL2 (VFX)

    • Modular Industrial Area

    • Industry Props Pack 6

Level Sketch & Overview

Level Flowchart

Design Techniques

Design Techniques

Funnel before reveal

Leading the player through a narrow path to limit their view in order for the reveal to have a greater impact.

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Foreshadowing

I wanted to reveal the enemies in the next building so the player can prepare for the encounter.

I also show that they are getting closer to the library to give a sense of progression and help with navigation.

Style of play

The player can approach each combat encounter as they wish, either sneaking up on their enemies behind cover or running in guns blazing.

This is to promote different styles of play and elevate the sense of replayability.

5 second rule

All interactions with obstacles that involve climbing or crouching under geometry will take at maximum 5 seconds before it is finished. This is to ensure that the game flow is maintained.

Cover Shooting

When designing combat encounters,
I ensured the player has sufficient cover to hide behind.

Since players are often outnumbered, this cover provides safety and strategic options for handling each encounter.

CoverShooting4.png

Faster Descent

I wanted the player with a quick way to descend and exit the building once they have completed the main objective.A natural path guides them to a broken staircase, leading them downwards and towards subsequent staircases for a smooth descent.

Sections

Deteriorated Apartment Complex

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Deteriorated Apartment Complex

Former apartment complex that's deteriorated over time, a building with broken down walls together with floors and staircases that has collapsed.

DeterioratedApartmentComplex_Basement.png

Flooded Basement

The player enters the building through a broken hole in the wall that leads them into a flooded basement, they will need to wade through the waist high water.

DeterioratedApartmentComplex_Floor2.png

Floor 2

Coming up the stairs from the first floor the player will find that the next flight of stairs is blocked off so they will have to navigate through apartments to find the way forward.

DeterioratedApartmentComplex_Floor3.png

Floor 3

Once on the third floor the player will see the broken exterior that reveals the enemies located in the building across the street. The burning barrels flickering light indicates that there's something on the other side of the wall.

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Floor 1 - Building Exit

Coming down through the collapsed ceiling from the third floor the player has traversed through the building and will now be back at street level and can exit the building

Ruined Store

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Ruined Store

Broken down four story building where only 2 floors are now accessible from the floor level as a result of stairs collapsing.

This building has been overtaken by marauders that use it as shelter.


 

Floor 1

On this floor the player will face two enemies guarding the floor, there is also some loot that is hinted to the player when they enter the building that they can collect if they explore.

Floor 2

On this floor the player will face two groups of enemies that needs to be dealt with in order to make it out on the other side. 

Overtaken Library

FrontView_PS.png

A 3 story library with a balcony on top and a large courtyard located at the end of the street. The library has been overtaken by marauders and serves as their HQ, one of the few places with electricity still and a large gate that can only be opened from atop the library.
 

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The Courtyard

On this level the player will face two enemies guarding the floor, there is also some loot that is hinted to the player when they enter the building that they can collect if they explore.

Library - Floor 1

TopDown_Floor1.png

The first floor of the library has both patroling and stationary enemies on guard.
The player can navigate this space freely and use it according to their prefered style of play.

TopDown_Floor2.png

Library - Floor 2

The second floor has a lot of rubble and fallen over bookcases, the perfect cover to sneak around or duck behind in a firefight.

TopDown_Floor3.png

Library - Floor 3

The top floor holds a few more enemies strategically placed waiting to ambush the player as they approach the final area.

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Library - Balcony

Final encounter before the player reaches the power switch that opens the gate and allows the player to complete the level.

Library Summary

A three story library that serves as the enemies HQs.
It's one of the few places that still has electricity and it is used to control the large gate in the courtyard that preventing the player from escaping.

This is the final challenge that the player needs to overcome in order to earn their freedom, open up the gate and keep moving towards their final destination.

Encounters Breakdown

  • Present the player with multiple ways to tackle each encounter depending on their style of play.

  • Reward the player for exploring with Loot Crates /Health Pickups after every 3-5 enemies as each encounter can prove fatal to the player.

  • Increasing tension with tighter corners and enemies hiding behind cover waiting to ambush the player the closer they get to the top.

Reflections

This was one of the most fun projects that I've worked on. I'm pleased with the result but if I had more time to work on it then there are some things that I would change.

Burning barrel indicators - I would have liked to teach the players that the placement of burning barrels is an indicator that there are enemies nearby.
The way I would have done this is by having the player pass unlit barrels on their way to an objective and once they've completed it they would have to return the same way but this time the barrels would be burning and enemies would be standing around them.


Improve AI behavior - Given more time I would have worked more on the enemy behavior tree to improve it's detection of the player as well as varieties in behavior once player is detected. I would have liked to have enemies take cover and use the environment to their advantage to force the player to be more strategic during encounters.

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