Third person, Sneak 'em up adventure level made in Unreal Engine
inspired by the Hitman series.
My goals with this project:
focus on player choice
explore in-game problem solving
learn from the Hitman series that inspires me
work with third person design
ideation and iteration
Researching and gathering information. The apartment images are of my own apartment building, under construction. It was great to have a real life reference that I could go to, it gave me a lot of ideas.
I have to apologize for the mix of english and swedish in the image, but this was my first sketch of how I envisioned the level. Of course quite a bit changed but the main essence remained.
I had a lot of ideas when it came to the AI behavior, few of which I had time to do but I always had them in mind during production.
I used a free pack called Advanced Locomotion v4 for the third person movement and AI.
Day 3 of pre production, a quick blockout using brushes.
The start area
I believe that the starting area of all levels should grab the player's attention straight away. I also wanted to give the player a sense of where they came from before, hence the car parked next to the player.
ideation and iteration
Patrol paths and meshes
The AI that came with the locomotion pack did not have patrolling behavior so that was something I had to create.
During the first few days of alpha I also placed props specific to guiding the player.
I placed colorful planes in the construction site to represent the different grades of clearance I wanted, the player would have to get disguises to move freely in these areas without being trespassing.
NPCs had been placed but they needed paths, and I wanted these paths to make sense and behave a bit like a moving puzzle.
I also listed the possible entry ways the player had in order to predict their path and adjust the NPCs paths accordingly.
Base material and lights
In every project where I have blocked with brushes I always apply a grey material to them, it allows me to see the color of the lights and guiding props I place more clearly.
changing things up
Video: marking an npc
This video shows my little feature that allows the player to mark a specific NPC. This was important because through playtesting I saw that players lost the targets almost immediately, but with this it was easier for them to plan ahead better.
The disguise system was pretty simple. I could adjust each NPC's "clearance grade" seperately, a number the player got when taking their clothes. The locomotion pack also made it easy to visually change the player's colors to what the NPC had.
Redesigning the floors
During beta the whole Covid-19 action happened and from this time onward I worked from home.
I felt like something was missing from my level and I realized that the flow of the inside of the apartment building was off, so I went back to paperdesigning and remade it.
The ground floor did not undergo any major redesigning, but from the first floor and up I changed more or less everything.
While playtesting before I had noticed that people had a hard time knowing what floor they were on and did not quite know where to go, something I really wanted to change.
The ground and first floor are pretty similar in construction stage, but the second floor and up are not as finished. The openness of the top three floors did a lot in orienting the player.
I wanted there to be something special on the top floor but it did not quite make sense for there to be anything realistically, so I left it empty - but I still think about it now after the fact and don't quite know how I would've changed it for the better.
This is a drawover of the level in top-down mode, made in Photoshop before having to work from home and then finished using a free editing program called Krita.
Meshing out the level
I picked a low poly asset pack for meshing out the level to fit the characters from the locomotion pack, but also to change it up a little visually compared to my Curfew level.
that little extra
Light and post process
Because the asset pack I used was so colorful it stole the focus from the player and suddenly the orange-clad target did not stand out anymore. I tuned down the colors with a post process and changed the sunlight intensity to be less dramatic but still there.
This video showcases one of the several scripted distractions you could do to move NPCs. It is not perfect and if I had more time I would have implemented more of these but it was very effectful and made it feel like you had more control. It may have been implemented pretty late but I am glad I added it.
I went over the level an extra few times propping. The top floors of the apartment building was tricky and I left it pretty bare, but all boxes were placed as potential covers. I had no actual stealth or combat but I still had it in mind when designing.
I decided not to show any player paths in this overview because it is pretty open for the player at the start to roam around the site, so I settled on just showing off the main focus points and the site's clearance grades.
Video: gold playthrough/ showcase
A little playthrough/ showcase video showing the level and some gameplay.