ALKA - Level and Game Design
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ALKA - Level and Game Design

by Milieeeee123456789 on 30 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

Alka is a first-person shooter where 4 players cooperate online against the environment (Co-op PVE). In order to save the remnants of humanity, players will take control of drones to eliminate the tumors and their minions trying to take over the bunker.

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ALKA

AUTOMATED LETHAL KINETIC ASSISTANT

Alka is a first-person shooter where 4 players cooperate online against the environment (Co-op PVE). In order to save the remnants of humanity, players will take control of drones to eliminate the tumors and their minions trying to take over the bunker.

MAIN TASK

Create the layout and great composition

Establish conventions and create document

Create low res meshes

See through the evolution of each levels

Place enemies spawning points and possible path

Supervise playtest sessions and give the results to the team

Design enemies behaviours and necessary accessible parameter

Balance the gameplay

MULTIPLE PATH OPTION, NO MATTER WHERE THE PLAYER IS

I made each blocking with the idea that the player must constantly be thinking about his position to avoid enemies or find tumors to destroy. In order to encourage the player to move as much, The movements are fluid and instinctive due to the multiple possible paths offered to the players at all times. With the double jump, I was able to use the verticality as a great path option. Because I precisely determined the metrics of the game, I was able to create series of movements that connect well with each other.

A DIFFERENT MOOD FOR EVERY ROOM

In order to avoid redundancy across rooms, I created layouts that offer different types of enemy combat and require the player to move differently. For example, Atrium is a very free and open room. The player can almost see the entire level at all times and cross from one section to another without being slowed down. On the other hand, Filtration Area includes a more restricted area where player's movement are constraint by the architecture in order to make it more difficult to kill enemies.

ONE METRIC DOC TO RULE THEM ALL

In order to establish a clear visual language for the players, I made a metric chart. I set up several blocks of different sizes in a gym and then navigated through the blocks to determine which were the most comfortable for each mechanic.

To determine the metrics to avoid, I made test areas with 4 blocks: 1 of the right size and 3 that deviates from the comfortable size. Afterwards, I invited colleagues to tell me visually on which block he could jump, for example. He was then invited to jump on all the blocks and to tell me which one he preferred to jump on. This method allowed me to confirm that the height of the jump that I had chosen was indeed the best option and that the player would not be drawn by unreachable platforms.

In order to provide the team with my results, I created a poster that shows which metrics to use and which dimensions to avoid.

ATRIUM

Being the first room of the game, Atrium's main purpose is to teach the player the core mechanics of the game and to establish the settings. Thus, with a grand and epic architecture that demonstrates the prosperity of the alchemists who occupied the place, Atrium is a very open space that allows the player to test the game mechanics freely.

My first iterations were much smaller, as I was still unsure of the space needed for our type of game. As production progressed, integrating enemies and testing in multiplayer, I found that gameplay space was too small, and I gradually adjusted it accordingly. ​

In the center of the level, 2 clearly visible tumors invite the player to destroy them. Therefore, he understands the main objective. Eventually, tumors placed on the 3rd floor will lead the player to discover the verticality of the level. Then, to complicate the level of difficulty, 2 other tumors are located in more restricted places. Sniper spawns are placed strategically close to a tumor in order to defend them. Usually placed on a high ground, the Snipers sight line can reach the player from afar. This forces the player to stay alert, keep moving and dodge their bullets.

POD AREA

For this piece, the intention is to present the space where humans are cryogenized. With this in mind, I separated the room into 3 parts: the reception, the central room and the server room. With its subdivisions, I wanted to create a more restricted space and obstruct the visibility of the players. ​The central area blocking was inspired by the Tianjin Binhai Library architecture.

Originally, the central room only served as a transition room to access the other areas, but I realized that it would be more interesting if this transition area was an integral part of the gameplay. For this purpose, I added a tumor above and below the central sphere. Also, I moved one of the tumor from the reception room to its border to provide more fights in the central room and make the level less monotonous. ​

In the reception, I realized that this area would quickly become very difficult for players to control, because the enemies have the advantage of the field and there is little cover. To overcome this, I built a corridor with the aim of being able to flank the enemies. To respect Game Design constraint, I couldn't create areas where players would be invulnerable. So I opted for a sufficiently wide corridor that would allow flanking, but where enemies could also spawn.

FILTRATION AREA

Water is an important narrative element in the alchemy world. This element makes it possible to represent the experiments carried out by the alchemists and to justify the propagation of the creep. To go in this direction, this level is inspired by filtration and water treatment systems.

To vary the gameplay and increase the difficulty, I designed this area in a mazelike and restricted way. To break the linearity of this restricted environment, I placed platforms which offer the player the possibility of moving in height. Initially, those high platforms allowed Snipers to be spawned, but I quickly realized that they were obstructing player movement, making the experience too disrupted. So I allowed only the Pufferfish to access those platforms. ​

To create a contrast, the other section of this map is much more open and has a ''floor is lava'' aspect to encourage players to stay on the high ground. In this perspective, the ground is devoid of cover, endangering the player who constantly feels uncovered.

RESEARCH LAB

This piece was to depict the origin of the Creep, show the research laboratory and the tests that were carried out by the alchemist. I wanted the players to feel like they were in an office, so I broke the level up into several rooms that are interrelated to each other to create a sense of continuity. ​

I make sure the metrics work and I imagine interesting combat or cooperation situations according to the layout. Furthermore, I chose to put a lot of glass in the level to allow players to see each other without directly being able to jump into the action to join. Since there is a lot of different room, it was a great way to expand visibility without sacrifice the multiple room layout.

I created a vent to would cross multiple rooms to create another path option where players could work together and attack enemies on multiple front at the same time. Since I still had the Game Design constraint (can't create safe space), I create the vent large enough to fight in it and Sniper and Pufferfish could spawn and reach it.

Due to lack of time, this room was cancelled, so I didn't continue to work on it, and it stays at the blocking phase.

PLACING ENEMIES WHERE THEY NEED TO BE

ALKA includes 2 enemies: Snipers and Pufferfish.

The Sniper move by going into the ground and coming out somewhere else, just like a wack-a-mole. His movement is limited to the areas that I place manually. Sniper has excellent perception and can attack the player from afar. ​

The Pufferfish levitate and moves on a NAV Mesh. I place jumps between NAV zones in order to access certain areas and to reach the player faster. Very lethal, its objective is to prevent players to camp. ​

Click on the images to see a description of my intentions.

BALANCING PARAMETERS AND BEHAVIOUR

I played around multiple parameters to reach a balanced gameplay that feel challenging but also fair. I had to make sure the game as a whole work and feel good.

Parameters I adjust :

- Sniper health, damage, quantity spawning per node, respawn delay, attack speed, projectile, speed, player perception

- Player health, damage, jump/double jump height, dash distance, number of ammo, recharge ammo time

- Tumor health, damage, damage radius, overtime damage, weak point quantity, delay between weak point respawn

- Pufferfish health, damage, quantity spawning, respawn delay

With the programming team, I determined certain enemies behaviours that would help create a nice combat feel in the game. These behaviours help the gameplay feel responsive and challenging.

Behaviour I propose :

- Limit 1 Pufferfish per player

- Spawn Pufferfish when the Tumor is being attacked

- When a Sniper gets attacked, other Snipers get aware and attack the player as well

- When weak, a Sniper will regroup with other Snipers

- Limit number of Snipers that can spawn based on the size of the spawning area

- The Tumor spawns 1 weak point at a time, another one spawns when 1 is destroyed

- The Tumor attacks the player with an area attack when a weak point is destroyed


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