The Temple of Doom

Genre:

Time Frame:

Role:

Team Size:

Status:

Downloads:

Unreal Tournament Deathmatch Map

8 weeks

Level Designer and Balancer

1

Finished, Playable vs. Humans or AI

Download Game Engine
Download Level Design Documentation
Download Windows Executable

About the Project

The goal of this project was to learn how to create a multiplayer shooter level in the Unreal Development Kit. The level had to be suitable for  a 4 player death match against real players or AI.

 

Special attention was paid to balancing the gameplay areas, the distribution and placement of pickups and the flow of the level.

The Automatician
Bubbling Bog Brewery
Inspiration for the Level
Inspiration for the Level

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Finished Whitebox
Finished Whitebox

Overview of the whiteboxed 'combat' area

Mood Board #3
Mood Board #3

Inspiration for the level theme and art application

Inspiration for the Level
Inspiration for the Level

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

1/14

My Role and Responsibilities

Art Application #2 of the Level (best version)

- No Sound -

Art Application #1 of the Level

- No Sound -

 

My role as a level designer and balancer was to first decide what type of gameplay I wanted to encourage through the level's design.

Keeping Unreal Tournament's Arena shooting mechanics in mind, I realised how I wanted to design my level around an epic and intense battle area. This area would be the centre of all the action, accessible from various heights and directions, where players meet and fight to the death.

To allow for enough mobility and encourage players to stay on the move, the 'combat area' had to be spacious and open.

I designed various intersecting 'tunnels' around the centre, in order to give players a chance to spawn safely, or retreat from the hazardous area to heal or buff up, before getting back in action.

I drew my first designs on paper. Having decided on the idea of a 'hazardous action centre', surrounded by 'safe tunnels,' It struck me to have the level be set inside an active volcano.

The introduction of lava in the level gave way to a lot of interesting risk-reward opportunities I designed for the players to enjoy. For instance, the most helpful healing package in the level can be reached by successfully jumping the pit of lava. Failing the jump means instant death most of the time.

After having finished and submitted my level, it was selected as one of the best levels out of all (50+) entries by a team of (4) industry professional guests at the academy. Because of this, my level was one of the (6) levels to be enhanced by NHTV's finest art students. Please see the results of the Art Application on my level on both showcase videos on this page.

Key Lessons Learned

 

Of course, after having created the level in UDK, my job was to test the level thoroughly and iterate on the placement of walls, hazards, pickups, upgrades and pathways. The key things to keep in mind with every iteration were improving the flow of the level, managing risk-reward choices for the players and clearly signposting the gameplay areas. For more details about the level design and iteration process, please see my Level Design Document.

The most valuable lesson I have learned from this continuous iteration process is that the smallest adjustments can have a major impact on gameplay situations, especially when designing levels for highly competitive gameplay. There's always something left to improve and thorough playtesting sessions (preferrably by multiple people) are the best way to discover which areas need improvement the most. There is no golden rule to get all settings, variables, distances and placements of items just right from the start, but there are guidelines to reach that point more efficiently. Experience in game balancing proves invaluable yet again, which is why I am looking to delve more into it in the future.

The Automatician
Bubbling Bog Brewery
Click to go to the top of this page