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//STATION MU (2017)


PERSONAL PROJECT

UNREAL ENGINE 4

  • The level was intended to be the introduction and part of a vertical slice for a team project
  • Initial playthrough was estimated at around 20-25 minutes of gameplay
  • The level was built entirely by me, including art tasks like dressing and lighting
  • The AI behavior itself was prototyped by a teammate, however all mission related elements, including NPCs, patrols and level scripting, were placed/written by me


Please check the video for a walkthrough of the level. Following the video are some key considerations I made while constructing the level.


Asset attribution can be found at the bottom of this page..



//COMPOSITION & VISUAL LANGUAGE


  • To give the level a strong identity, I used a unique tower as a central landmark in the level.
  • This was both to help players navigate, but also to keep them curious and wanting to explore the world/narrative.
  • I used some degree of color coding to help players navigate, e.g. the color red is used to guide players to entrances, objectives or points of interest.
  • I used night time/underground lighting to contrast gameplay spaces (lit) with spaces that created ambiance (unlit). This also helped guide the players away from spaces that were only there for artistic reasons.


Station Mu Title Card
Second Reveal
At the Gate
From Above
Overridden


//LAYOUT, ONION PRINCIPLE & ROUTING


The plant was to have combat in later levels. However, the first level always intended to focus on the core stealth gameplay, as well exploration and player choice. 


To this end, I employed a design technique known as the Onion Principle. The Onion forms consecutive barriers around a central objective, with each of these barriers being penetrable in different places or by employing different playstyles. Finding new openings is driven by player exploration.


For a more in-depth perspective on the barriers and paths, including design tradeoffs, please take a look at the gallery below. For the barriers, a rating has been giving from trivial (requiring no player effort) to difficult (requiring careful timing or risky plays).


//TUTORIAL WITHOUT WORDS


  • As shown in the video, the initial section of the level needed to teach the player about camera movement, player character movement, crouch/stealth mode.
  • This resulted in a small safe space before the main part of the level opened up, where players could familiarize themselves with the mechanics without threat of failure.


In addition to the mechanics, I also attempted to teach the player the concept of understanding gameplay cues in the environment. The bridge is an example of this:


  • The bridge is shown to players as being rickety and unstable.
  • If players understand the visual and audible cues, they can cross the bridge by crouch-walking over it.
  • If players fail to understand the cues, the bridge collapses without causing a threat to the player, showing players that the environmental cues foreshadow situations of interest. 
  • Following the bridge collapse, the pipe section forces players to crouch to pass through, ensuring that players will have learned the crouch mechanic regardless of path.

The clip below showcases both of these examples:


Bridge Example


//TOOLS CREATION


I spent time using UE4's blueprints to create functional placeholders for different assets. These included anything from buttons, doors and lifts that would interact with both AI and players. In the images below, example logic of some of these blueprints are shown. 


Additionally, I created a suite of "tech art" tools, such as a spline mesh to extend pipes and a tool to scale fences appropriately. These had no in game functionality, but made it easier to create large parts of the game world.


Below are some examples of types of UE4 Blueprints that I have created:



ASSET ATTRIBUTION

  • Assets used and not otherwise listed were created by me.
  • Animation Pack & Engine Content by Epic Games
  • Sculpted Rock Pack by Danny Kauer
  • Sounds used for the bridge were are attributed to "bolkmar" and "beerbelly38", respectively, from freesound.org
  • Tower Startup and Shutdown sounds were attributed to "archos" and "bevibeldesign", respectively, from freesound.org
  • Objective Appearing sound were attributed to "lipsumdolor", from freesound.org
  • VOs for the announcers were made using TTSMP3.com
  • Fonts used: Urban Jungle by KCFonts (kcfonts.com), Forgotten Futurist by Typodermic Fonts (typodermicfonts.com), Plane Crash by The Wondermaker (wmkart.com)

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