The Holy Land - A narrative driven experience
In this project I set out to tell a story of the god of rebirth, sealed away and now reawakened but with no memory of why they where sealed away to begin. A story I wanted to tell through Level Design.
Developed over 6 week
Engine: Unreal engine 4
3D Meshes made with Blender
I wanted this level to feel like a forgotten place in the world.
To do that I made sure to create places that had seen the erosion of time.
I also did this to tell a larger overarching story of how the world was slowly decaying with the god of rebirth having been sealed away.
The level is designed so that the player can take any path and explore at their own pace while clearly highlighting points of interest.
During the blockout phase I tend to experiment a lot with scale and shapes in order to figure out what fits the level or area that I'm working on. In this project the whole world felt too small to really create the sense of desolation and grandness. I try to Iterate and make changes early while trying out different things, going back and forth between blockout and overview. Ultimately I see the early blockout stage as an extension of the creative process where I can experiment and play around with different ideas.
During this phase I also try and get feedback from people around me to get some input and make changes accordingly. Once the blockout feels right I move on to making smaller scripts to get a feeling for the gameplay and changes that might need to get made.
I created a number of smaller scripts to make the experience functional. I am not a technical designer, but having basic understanding and capabilities to prototype basic functionalities is a good thing
This is a simple script which activates later events in order to progress through the story. One of three similiar script placed around the map. All three needs to activate before the player is able to exit the holy land.
Another simple script which moves several meshes and allows the player to exit the temple.
The Different Areas
God of rebirth cloister
The cloister is the starting zone for the player. Situated on a plateu which restricts the player area to explore. As the Holy land is quite a large space it felt like a good idea to restrict the player's initial area to explore giving them a more managable area to get to terms with the controls and the flow of the game. And one thing that I felt was quite important in this experience was to allow the player to explore and piece together the story for themselves by having microstories and enviromental story telling.
A slice of gameplay which indicates what the rest of the experience will be.
places to explore and secrets to find.
One of the first areas that the player might encounter is the mining village. This area is designed to add some "life" or what might have been life a long time ago. Also quite important in order to allow the player to come to their own conclusion to what happened using microstories and and letting the area tell the story on it's own without forcing it on the player. This location also contains a mine which the player would be able to explore.
A story piece to cement the story to the world
A puzzle piece for the story.
The final location for the player to get to. At this point the player need to traverse up the different floors while the guardians explain the consequences of the player actions, how the world will end if they continue. Meant to be a climax after a long journey.
Music builds to accentuate the players triumpf
The player gets a more complete understanding of the consequences.
An old lake turned swamp. This was an area I designed to be a revelation for the player playing as the god of rebirth. Here the player can experience the consequences of being sealed away, how the world is slowly decaying due to their absence.
It is an important story beat in the experience.
Adds an important puzzle piece to the story
Intented to break up visual fatigue.
The Sword Graveyard
An old battlefield meant to further explain the story of how the human population rebelled against the god of rebirth not knowing who they truly are. When the player gets to this point They are met with a fortress on a hill as well as a "graveyard" of weapons. The player learns about a great war and what ultimatly lead to their sealing but not why.
A larger than life vista
Important story beat
The Temple is designed to have more focus on a gameplay experience. Having more traversal moments where the player will have to jump and climb as well as solve a simple puzzle. Moreover it acts as a more linear experience that allows the player to focus on one thing, get to the top, without distraction. I use this as a way to break up the gameplay and prevent gameplay fatigue.
Contains traversal elements
Contains a simple puzzle that need to be solved to progress
Adds a more linear, straight forward experience
The player initally enters a cleansing pool for the devout. This is meant as a staging area where the player encounters a guardian that explains the temples' purpose and what is to come.
After that the player enters the first traversal area where the player needs to find their way up to the second floor and then jump over a broken bridge.
This shortly leads to the puzzle elevator where the player need to align four pillars in order to summon the elevator. I wanted this to give some different gameplay and also slow down the player pace.
Once the player gets to the top they will eventually arrive at the "balcony". This is a small piece of the level designed to show the player how far they've come and also to give them a reavealing vista. Similiar to the one at the start but from a different point of view.
Finally the player gets to the temple itself. Here they will find that the door leading inside has been blocked and they will need to find another way in.
Because of it's age part of the temple has crumbled and the player will be able to climb their way up to the balcony. Here they will get another grand vista before climbing inside the temple through a broken window.
Once inside they will need to jump down and finally activate the power pool to open the Arena doors.
Looking back at this project I learned a lot about how to tackle large open spaces and how to think about points of interest in a non linear fashion. I would have liked to have focused more on areas like the temple with more defined gameplay because it made the level design so much more potent and ultimately more fun and interesting to explore.
But overall I'm quite pleased with how this open world experience turned out and I learned a lot during this project.
Thank you for taking a look at this project.
Wish you all the best, Alexander Holmqvist