Over the past few years, I've worked on several more projects that involve a more traditional form of level design, involving maps, level building, and asset creation. Three of these projects are detailed below.


The GSI - Simulation is a level design project that I began after completinbg my term at the Vancouver Film School. The initial idea was to create a 3D environment based on the ficticious GSI compound that I created for my Shadowrun campaigns. However, the intent for this was to be something larger than a simple map - I wanted it to be a showcase piece involving level, art, coding, and audio elements.

The first step was to create a whitebox of the environment using my initial 2D maps of the compound. You can view images of the maps and the whitebox counterparts below.


















Next, I began creating art assets to replace the whitebox and help form the look of the level. It was important for me to create unique, custom assets instead of using existing or simplified art pieces to ensure I really captured the "look" of the GSI that I had described to my players during the campaigns. While implementing some of these art assets, the level layouts underwent slight modifications to improve the level flow.

Below are a few images of the inital art pass with some basic texturing and lighting. These images are taken from the Medical Bay and main HQ areas.



















Once the art assets are complete, a more comprehensive texture and lighting pass will be put in, followed by some custom code and finally an audio pass. It's a slow process, but it's getting there! To follow along on the project's progress, keep an eye on my Blog.


One of the most important aspects of running an RPG campaign, is the ability to create an effective environment for the players to interact with. Enemy encounters, puzzles, and points of interest are only effective tools when the maps that house them are well thought out make sense for the players. I've decided to include some of the maps I've developed for my campaigns here, to give some insight into the process.

Below are five examples of maps from my campaigns. I've also provided a bit of commentary for each of them.

1) Antilla: On the island of Antilla, players encountered a devious puzzle inspired by the Temple of the Ancients from Final Fantasy VII. The goal was to successfully collect twelve seals required to open a gate and pursue the mission's target. Inside the maze, players needed to track their progress and find the quickest route to the seals, while avoiding enemies and perhaps finding loot along the way. On the map, the different entrances and exits are marked with numbers, while different colored squares indicate some kind of event (blue = seals, red = enemies, green = loot).

2) Yakut: In the northern country of Yakut, a secret research base was experimenting with spirits and possession. Players infiltrated the base to free the spirits and bring those who hurt them to justice. Players proceeded through the underground level of the facility to reach their goal (the stairs). The sprawling laboratory was in lock-down mode, requiring players to use workstations to unlock a path to the final staircase (pink dots represent these stations, while the gates they open are similarly numbered). However, hidden sensors throughout the lab (red dots) also released feral spirits into the halls, and facility personnel fought to secure the lab (orange rooms). Finally, the team also encountered various puzzles that impeded their progress (green rooms).

3) Egypt: Under the pyramids of Egypt lies an ancient evil. Players had to descend into the depths of a tomb to stop an ancient powerful spirit from emerging into the world. Travelling through the tomb was tricky, as traps (pink dots), pressure doors (blue squares), chasms (brown rooms) and complicated puzzle locks (red squares) prevented passage. This map shows the first of three levels in this tomb. The two that followed also featured enemy encounters, a complicated puzzle room, and treasure rooms.

4) Art Gallery: A more urban map, this location was featured in the campaign as a reconnaissance and intelligence gathering mission. Players had to infiltrate an art gallery to meet with an informant. The twist was that the informant would only meet them during a gala event. The map is split into two zones: the art gallery, and the ball room. The former features a traditional gallery layout, including exhibits and security checkpoints. The latter features gala style adornments, including tables (brown dots), a bar (purple square), and a performance stage (red area).

5) Yucan Genetics: The interior of the infamous laboratory that supposedly held a bioweapon, this is the facility where the players first encountered the AI ADIA. Players were tasked with infiltrating the building and making their way to the lowest level, where the "bioweapon" was being held. This map shows the top level of the facility, and features locked labs as well as a large observation area in the center. The two floors below this level also featured large computer workstations, server rooms, testing rooms, and the AI's mainframe. Throughout the facility, enemies had previously been knocked out by a kind of gas, but back-up would provide a difficult escape (either through the front doors of the facility, or through the extensive garden at the back).











The Mezeah Grounds is an original game concept contained and developed as a short single player experience using the Unreal engine. Captain Marx Revis and his electronic guide AIIA root out an enemy military infestation on the mysterious island of Mezeah, and eventually come face to face with the ethereal guardian spirit that guards the island's secrets.

The project is comprised of three seperate levels: the Surface, Underground, and Acropolis. The first two offer shooter mechanics while moving through a large, elaborate (and colorful) world, while the third is designed as a capture the flag map in an ethereal "otherworld." Each level made use of limited custom art assets (augmented by included unreal meshes), and custom music (learn about the music here).

Reflecting on the project now, the design was perhaps "too epic" (as evidenced by the somewhat sprawling environment and combat bugs). However, the massive feel of the world, and the intricacies of the player experience make the journey an enjoyable one. The project also went on to win Best Game Mod/Level Design of the GD12 Game Design class at VFS.

Below are several screenshots of the levels, as well as a trailer.










© 2014 Andre Marentette