Sunday, 19 February 2012

Level Design Summary

To summarize the level is mainly stealth based and should provide players with their first glimpse within the mysterious compound. The movements of guards and vehicles within put pressure on the player to stay out of sight and increase the pace. In contrast the photo ops the player can complete slow the pace down and encourage them to explore more of the area. Clever placement of guards and structures can keep the player confined while giving the impression of a much larger play area. Many of the places you can't reach will be accessible in later levels as well. 

Link to the actual level design doc: Hidden Skies - Level Design.pdf

Focal points

The main focal point for the level and in fact the game has to be the huge steam tower inspired by Beetham tower. It wont be a playable part of this level or many other parts of the game but will always be there looming above. Along with the tower there is the large hanger and airship that rises above it.


 At the beginning of the level when the player has to get into the compound the overhead wire that they will use will act as another focal point of sorts.

 The steam tower will appear between the buildings at various intervals where the line of sight is correct.

 The scale of the hanger building will make it another focal point, the front entrance especially due to the activity there.

Top down map


- Find a way into the Steam Citadel
- Find a way into the Hanger
- Gather Photo Intelligence (12 available Photo Op Locations)

-Patrolling guards
The player must avoid all contact with the guards guarding the exterior and interior of the compound. If found the level will need to be restarted.

-High perimeter wall
The player must find a way into the compound, this means getting over a very high perimeter wall.

-Moving trucks within compound
If the player is spotted by the driver of a moving truck the guards will be alerted.

- Guards at hanger entrance
The player cannot enter the hanger directly and must find a alternative route in.

-Ladders/Pipes/Overhead wires
At various points the player will need to navigate ladders and pipes between buildings and rooftops, falling from high up can result in death.


The game is set in a re imagined version of modern day Manchester, but with a steam­punk twist. In this reality electricity is never discovered and steam power grows and de­velops to become the main source of power for the world. Along with the dominance of steam power came the rise in use of coal and other fossil fuels to power the engines. Over the years the pollution from vast numbers of dirty furnaces and engines has shrouded the world in a low lying blanket of smog. In order to survive this darkened world, now devoid of plants and trees communities grew around the cities taller structures. The height of these buildings allowed them to reach through the layer of smog to the clear skies above. From here fresh breathable air is fed down to the houses and factories below.
The area around the Beetham Steam tower became one such location, over the year de­veloping into one of the larger inhabitable areas of the country. Now with large perimeter walls to protect its citizens from the lawless inhabitants who roam the barren wastelands. Those who live around the tower, surviving on the air provided by it, are not allowed to leave - for their own safety.
Stories about the smog having gone from areas of the country and talk of plants and trees leads to many conspiracy theories. Many believe that the towers owners are keeping the citizens trapped there for their own means, making money from the clean air they supply, whilst heavily polluting the air in the area to keep the citizens in the dark.
A small group of citizens band together determined to find out the truth, the Shroud Re­sistance.

Photo Reference

Lots of the images I previously blogged cover the sort of warehouse/factory structures I'm after, heres a few that stood out.

Another shot of the main inspiration and focal point, beetham tower.

 This would be the sort of lighting around the streets, probably the main light source.

 The GMEX would be converted to use as a hanger for airships, it's certainly big enough.
There's also quite a bit of nice detail on the front.

A shot I took a few years ago, it sort of captures the blanket of smog ideas.

More smog related images.

 This kinda shows how i imagined the world above the smog layer, 
open skies and the occasional building reaching through.

The airship shape is very easily recognizable, even from a basic sillouhette. This could work in a dark smoggy world where just its outline describes it so well.

Location & Environment

I think I covered a lot of this in my previous posts but just cover again. I've pretty much settled on having Beetham tower re-imagined as a steam tower and focal point with the game taking place in the area nearby. Lots of warehouses and factory buildings will sit within a walled compound at its base, with the Gmex building included as a memorable Manchester structure, but acting as a airship hanger/rail station.
The compound around the tower and the tower itself will be the main focus of the game.
The close proximity of these warehouse building and factories within the compound should create a bunch of alley ways, great for atmosphere as well as forcing the player along in a set direction. There should also be a selection of roads where trucks can move around the compound with goods and supplies. Loading areas around the hanger and other warehouse create open spaces to counter the confined alleyways. They will also give a purpose to areas and create a more believable scene.
The environment in general should be pretty gloomy, what with the skies clouded over with thick smog. It could be daytime but it's hard to tell, street lamps would be the main source of illumination.  As a result of the smog I imagine everywhere would be covered in thick layer of soot and grime too, casting everything in a similar tone. To tie with the setting and theme there needs to be numerous chimneys and vents spewing more pollution into the air, lots of pipes too.