We are now at week #3 of the course Level Design For Games on CGMA! For this week, I dived more into blueprints and navigation and I had a lot of fun! Again, if you haven't seen my previous post on Week 1 and Week 2, I invite you to do so, so you have a better idea of my whole journey! 
During the class, we talked about setting goals for the player and also how to give them some communication and feedback with cues (visual, audio, etc.). We also talked a lot about how to use composition, shapes and architecture in the level to indicate things to the player so these will all be things that I will keep in mind during this assignment. Something that was also super important was to reward the curiosity of the player, with something fun!
Here are the requirements for this week's level: 
- Theme: Jungle Temple
- Semi-Open/ Linear level
- The level needs to have an interior space and an exterior space
- Golden path + side path (with reward!)
- Add some environment storytelling

Here's a little recap on things I wanted to improve or learn with this new assignment:
- More consistency in my interactions 
- Play more with the ground and the ceiling to add variety
- More navigation interaction (use more the jump, the crouch etc.)
- Have less empty spaces. Have something to do often so it's not just walking. It can be text, it can be puzzle, whatever keeps the player engaged
- Having a way to get back to the level if you fall away from it in prototyping
- Bring the world to life even more!
- Make a pickable element (either by turning the visibility off or any other way)
- Learn how to trigger something only once (so I don't end up with flickering lights for exemple)

Now it's time to brainstorm and find an idea! 

This is my moodboard for the week that I made in PureRef

While researching, I was inspired to mix some elements from Tomb Raider with Returnal. So I ended up with this idea of an hostile planet where there would have been a civilisation long ago (also inspired a bit by The Expense). 
WHO: An Anthropologist
WHEN: Near Future
WHERE: On a newly discovered planet
WHAT: You need to investigate an old Alien temple and find the source of their annihilation
WHY: To find answers on why this world is now dead
HOW: By exploring, collecting some samples and finding audio logs from a previous explorer (your organisation did not know there was someone there)
Session 1 is always the time where I kind of figure out where I want to go with this level. I started by sketching some stuff, refining my storyline a bit in my head and I found a cool brutalist shape that I decided would be an important shape in my level so I took the time to model it roughly in Unreal. Then I started to blockout the main path. 

A very rough doodle and some notes I made to wrap my hear around what I wanted to do

During Session 2, I had a lot of ideas but I didn't want to lose time doing blueprints as I'm not super fast. Anything that I had in mind, I took a simple Text Rendering Actor and put some notes  here and there in the level. These would be stuff I would integrate later. I also started too think about a way to get back to the level for prototyping purpose. 
During Session 3, I concentrated my efforts on the navigation and the audiologs I wanted the player to be able to find in the level. I did a little outline shader that I could use on my pickable items. I also decided that the color yellow would be my cue to help me build this level. So anything yellow, you can interact with, either in navigation on in blueprint. Also, anything red is dangerous to the player. I also stated to mockup every room that I wanted for this level even if they were not finished, at least I had a good idea of my layout. 
During the final session, I had a bit of fun with audio. I started to try to figure out how to integrate some audio in the level and also in my blueprint actors to help giving some cue to the player. It's not perfect, but it's a first start! I made sure I had variety in the flow of my level and I also wanted to start to think about ennemies. I think in the end, they are not well placed, but it was to at least start to think about those things. I also added a little secret passage where you can find the body of the lost traveler.
Overall, I'm pleased with my level, there's a lot of things that could be better but I learned a ton! I think this level is a little more fun to play as I added more variety to the navigation. 
- Having color cues for the interactions helped me build a level more easily
- The variety in the navigation is fun 
- There's a lot of stuff to keep the player engaged, either by story or navigation
- Pickable objects are cool
- Audio cues are fun (but to be improved)
- Having a way to get back to the level is great!

- The collisions are super weird, especially with the trees and it makes the navigation difficult some times
- I need to think about better placement of my ennemies, give some space for the player to fight, and give some rest when doing a relax action like listening to the audiolog
- Maybe add just a key to break the ennemies' nest to illustrate my thinking
- I think the exploration sections could be bigger
- I had some areas that I did not block well so you could go as the player even though I did not planned it
- Have more interesting composition and think about where the player's camera is going, what they see to use it to my advantage

- Maybe find a way to indicate to the player how many pickable items you can find
- Make stuff move to help sell ideas
- Learn how to destroy things

That's pretty much it for this week! I hope you guys enjoy to see all the ideas and struggles I come up with! So far, it's a great learning experience and it just reminds me everyday how cool it is to make games for a living and why I wanted to work in the game industry in the first place! I'm having a ton of fun getting out of my confort zone with this course! 
As always, I did a little video where I talk about all those things on YouTube if you fancy! 
Thanks! See ya!
- Caro


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