Join Adam Crespi for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting goals for the player, part of Unity: Level Design.
Game levels take a lot of planning before we jump into 3D. It's important to plan out your level, think about what you're doing and what are your elements you're going to use. So you can design a level that feels open, and still directs the player towards where you want. We're going to start out with a game called "Blend". This is the third edition, the Casablanca Edition. The premise of the game is straightforward. You're a globetrotting chef and you need to source out, and produce meals for exclusive clients. All of your ingredients must be sourced locally and sustainably, from local market.
Your goal then, is to learn enough of each market to find ingredients, but not to look like a tourist, thus the name of the game, Blend. It's a long duration collection game. What this means is that it's not a, frantic timed collection. But you have to go around and get your ingredients, before the market closes. Ingredients will ascend in scarcity and value, and players can level up by assembling complete recipies and finding unique flavor swaps or combinations. There's also a secondary mechanic of barter here. Some shopkeepers maybe willing to barter for different ingredients and your success depends on reading the signage and other way finding devices. The game takes place over one half day, roughly either an early morning through lunch or mid-evening to avoid the hottest part of the day and following the cycle of the market's opening.
We need to collect different food items, spices, oils, and other staples, and occasionally unique kitchen equipment. We'll have to design some wayfinding tools and methods, wayfinding allows us to orient ourselves in the game environment. And it can range from simple signage to color coding and motifs on the wall such as tile. Signage is an obvious way of wayfinding, but we don't want to always just put a sign in. We'd like to do it in a way that feels like a natural part of the environment that it exists there for the people who were there whether the player is there or not.
We'll start out with some reference imagery. This is set in Casablanca. So, we've got imagery of different suits which are narrow winding streets and also other markets in North Africa and the Middle East. This is a spice stall in one of the markets and we can see just the raw spices available by weight here along with all kinds of other goods in jars. This is a medina, an example of a very narrow, possibly winding street in an old part of the market. In this image, we have a lousha or covered walkway. And somebody is selling rugs and they're strewn on the columns and on the walls.
This is a pot vendor, where they're selling both serving bowls and decorated pots and vases. Here's a rug vendor and it's important to note that there's a shop down below and possibly living quarters or other shops up above. And the building height is used to display as many pieces as possible. Here's another, Medina. What we see in a lots of these places is that it's a mixture of covered walkways and open spaces. Partially covered in some places for shade, and also because buildings have been built over the walkways. So we need a mixture in our game of enclosed spaces and open ones. Here's another covered walkway, this one a little bit taller,with shops off the walkway, and minurets off in the distance.
This one has lights in it and a flat roof made of wood. Here's yet again another covered walkway or a hallway with doors in it. Doors and screens are important in a game environment so that the player can either stop, be stopped or interact with something to get in. Here we're seeing another merchant, this case rugs, under a canopy of reeds. This is a large covered market. Covered for shade, with windows to let in light, and two stories of shops. Small shops with either living quarters or second shops up above. An this is the spice market again.
It's also important to see the visual density of these markets. We'll need to take that into account when we're designing the texture sheets later. One of the things that's helpful in laying out a level, is to draw out elements you think you might need, in a map. This can be either done with pencil and paper or in applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, or even in a flowchart, such as Microsoft Visio. It's up to you how you'd like to lay it out, but drawing out, a kit of parts, an then laying out the level is an important step. What we have here in this document is a series of both shops and connecting elements.
There are small shops, each one with shelves around and tables in the middle, and a couple of variations. And a long shop here, with a door at either side. We've got some different elements to be able to make our connecting spaces. This square represents a vault, or an overhead curved stone arch. And here's a double vault and finally a barrel vault. These green pieces represent maybe some kind of arrangement of a tent on poles or a canopy. Whereas the X down here is an all fabric or reed tent. There's also some connecting walls and elements, these are walls with arches and columns in the middle. And doorways both opening or swinging and sliding doors. And some connecting elements that are curved.
This one is a 15 degree bend while this wedge is at a 45. Finally, there's a special case and we may end up adding more. This is an eight sided open space able column or eight sided dome. That's made to attach to any other object. Part of what we're after here in laying out our kit of parts is planning in advance to avoid art fatigue. If we have one of every element it's gong to look very repetitive very fast. And what we want to do is think about how do we vary the nature of our world so that we can reuse the elements but not look like we're using them too much.
The other things we need here on our legend are some player goals. We know we’re after things like poultry, let’s say, spices, vegetables and so on. In our goal here on our Mac, we can lay these out in colored dots. I’ll start out by making some vegetables. And I’m just going to use some circles for these, pressing L for ellipse or circle, and clicking and dragging down here to make an over-sized circle. This would be a 200 pound pumpkin or something in that scale. We're not after scale necessarily as much as a visual recognition of a goal here. I'll fill it in with a color.
In this case I'm going to use a bright orange, and press shift x to swap foreground and background colors. You can also use, any kind of bush stroke you'd like. And simply lay down, some, markings that denote a goal. I'll take these pieces, and hold Alt and, drag, and clone them. We'll say that this goal here, is going to be, a vegetable goal. So it's fairly easy to find. I'll select these three pieces and press Ctrl+G to group. My hot keys here in Illustrator are very straight forward. If you used Photoshop you can do Illustrator.
All of these elements are grouped. You could either do them here in groups or in layers if you're working in Photoshop to lay out the level. I'll say that this three part circle is my player goal, and I'm going to take it and hold Alt while I drag and shift to constrain direction to make a clone in a straight line. An then I'll change the fill color on this to, let's say red for meats. I'll clone it one more time here, selecting, holding Alt, dragging an holding Shift to clone, an I'll change this color to, green, for another vegetable. We can lay out our goals this way, an this'll let us take these elements an position them through the map. Here's what it looks like to start drawing this out. It's very quick to do this, and I;d highly suggest it, because it lets you lay out conditions and variations.
I'm going to lay out a row of shops here. First, I'll take my beginning shop and drag it down. And then the shop that's next to it. I'll let them snap together, but instead of being exactly in a straight line I'm going to let them skip just a little bit. Finally, I'll pull this one back. What I want to think in terms of when I'm laying out a level, are natural places for cover for a flare. Cover doesn't always have to refer to being shot at. What cover may mean is, in places like this where the wall dips in, we have an opportunity here in the corner to position something the player may not have seen initially.
But may be a valuable find, such as a hidden spice in a basket. I also want to look at ways to vary the condition and change direction. What we're after in laying out our map is to avoid a bowling alley. And I'll illustrate it here by Alt-cloning these shops. If I clone them, and click and drag outside of the bounding box here where my arrow turns to an up and down for rotation, I'll make a hallway. I'll hold Shift to flip around 180 degrees, and I've got the start of a medina. And right here, I've created art fatigue. What's going on is that I've got essentially a symmetric arrangement, or fairly close to.
And I've also got a clear line of sight from one end to the other. What I want to think up in making these winding suites or in any game level is, are there ways to limit line of sight. So that when I'm using tricks like a (INAUDIBLE) culling later, only culling which the players could see I can block the view without looking like an obviously blocking. Here's a way around this to draw out this level. I'll take this first shop and rotate it. I don't mind that I've created an odd wedged space back here as we're not going to see it. I'll assume that the shops will fill it in at some point.
Then I'll take this one and pull it back to here. Now I've got a natural bend. And I'll take my long shop, put it over there and rotate it into place. I'll let this one stick out, using the arrow keys to just nudge back over. And now what I'm creating, is an interesting hallway, a blank wall for signage and standing here, a block line of sight. If we use the Line tool, accessible by pressing slash, we can draw a line for line of sight from the end. Click and drag hold shift and see where that line of sight ends here at the wall. We have to turn in order to see down this second street we have to be over here. And so what we're seeing simply in laying out the level and line of sight tools and simple blocks is with a little variation we can make our market. And create unique local interesting spaces for our player limiting line of sight and adding end goals.
I'll take the start of my medina and add in some vegetables Alt-cloning them in different shops. This will be a meat shop here, and finally, the small one will be a spice shop. But there will be some hidden spices way back here in the long shop that if we're feeling adventurous, we can go find. These are some basic tools for laying out a level. I'll lay out a few more, and then talk about directing a player along a path.
Note: This course places a strong emphasis on modular construction techniques and resource optimization as part of the design process, which will help your build process be more lean, nimble, and efficient. A basic knowledge of Autodesk 3ds Max or Maya, and Adobe Photoshop is recommended.
- Setting goals for the player
- Planning the player path
- Bounding the world invisibly
- Defining player scale and field of view
- Using and joining modular elements
- Setting up prefabs
- Adding ambient animation
- Opening doors
- Making stairs walkable
- Lighting scenes