New Level Design by Melody Wang

Posted by | December 05, 2013 | Game Design | One Comment

The following is written by Melody Wang on a new level she has been working on.

Before I started creating the new level, I highlighted several keywords I wanted specifically in the level: no walls, no maze, high, large, more choice, more variety.

Then I came up with this: a puzzle map related to light. Initially, the center treasure is highly guarded by four guards. The player can only distract the guard away by turning off the light(s) they stand by.

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 12.49.21 PM

After I turned this concept into an UDK map, I realized it was too small and the whole layout was not balanced. I was out of inspiration for days. I knew I must create a great map. It would be a next big thing for Fat Loot.

To get some inspiration, I talked to one team member about my thoughts. First, he reminded me of our concept art, which was this:

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 12.52.49 PM

Suddenly, I felt that was the exact direction I should follow: large vertical and horizontal space, two layers through stair approach.

He pointed me to Tomb Raider (2013), which is an action-adventure, exploration, survival game. He showed me some awesome pictures of that game:


“Yes! The outdoor scene, with rocks, grass, trees! That’s exactly we should pursue!” I was instantly inspired.

Then, I restarted the design from scratch after I did some research on Tomb Raider and Uncharted (see the pic below.) I redesigned the treasure stage the same as that in the concept art and kept the light puzzle which I felt was unique. I added four corner stages for holding four light switches, four player-start-places decorated with line of pillars, side stairs for going up to the second layer and clear paths to each event place.

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 12.59.18 PM

I drew the inspiration from the following scenes:


I made the four players’ spawn points higher than the ground because I wanted the player to see the full scene of the level and get a general idea of what was far away and what they would experience afterwards. Once they entered the game, I wanted the player to be merged into the scene by standing high and looking far.

After Pat, our lead designer, looked at my level design, he mentioned something interesting when we were talking about the guards: the path in the grass. Then, I thought maybe we could make the player hide in the grass instead of just in vases like with previous levels. Just like the right picture below, when the player was hiding in the grass, she could get a view of the far structure.


Overall, the basic concept is finalized. I still have a lot of things need to think about, e.g. where should put the guard, how to make the light puzzle not hard and reasonable. Stay tuned. There’s more to come about this level…


About Lawrence Jung

Lawrence Jung is a USC MFA Interactive Media and Games student and Lead Producer of Fat Loot. He enjoys painting, watching anime and getting lost in the forest. Some of his favorite games include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time and Mario Kart.

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