Monday, 14 July 2014

Haru Ranman Assignment : Level Editing

For part of our assignment we are to create a level design document that defines what we are focusing our level on, designs we have created for that level and where our environment will be based in the game. Our game known as ‘The Depths Between’ has various areas where certain places are key for the main protagonist to travel to in order to meet his team and trigger events.
Crystal Memoirs
In the game my environment is based near the middle of the map we created. Crystal Memoirs is a sub-jungle terrain where in the middle lays a large pond in the shape of a dolphin to represent the guardians there. In the centre of that lays a small island where a Sakura tree lays sentient, inside that roams a powerful dragon, which the main character must destroy in order to regain new powers. So far I want to give a brief description of what shall be happening in my game and what the main goal to achieve here is.
The character that I’ve created is a wolf hybrid called Leash; she resides in Crystal Memoirs to hide away from hunters set out to kill hybrids or enslave them, as well as keeping watch on the largest Paradoquin herd who graze on the right-hand side of the level (the exit out of Crystal Memoirs and into Deep Purple Pass) during the summer months, and at the entrance of the level in winter (which is connected to the Disaster).
The Initial Ideas
Already our team have made separate NPC quests that force the main player to endure these missions in order to progress to the next place in Limbo. The main objective of the game in a nutshell is conquering the elements of the land, take down your old nemesis that somehow followed you to the afterlife and free the realm from the darkest of souls: Death, before you can pass on in peace.  Leash’s job in the story is too be Tai’s companion and the key to unlocking the main element Water, as well as Wind and Ice.
So how do we start getting into Crystal Memoirs?
Before we even start getting to the runes, Tai will be exiting Disaster Plains at nightfall where the Paradoquins are recently roosting for the night. However thinking the Paradoquins would be a great means of transportation to Crystal Memoirs Tai completely forgets the fact that the equines are placid through the day, turning into possessed, bloodlust creatures at night sort on hunting anything that moves within their radius. Instantly the chase is on when the stallion of the herd catches Tai’s scent leading the other members to hunt down the protagonist. The player then has to run before the horses catch up with him to the entrance of Crystal Memoirs where more start appearing in front of Tai, making the player choose quickly briefly whether they should take the left or right path. Obviously if they take the left they die and to the right they can carry on, before setting foot on the grassy banks the main plan was for a short cutscene to appear where we see Leash appear and kill of the herd’s stallion in order to protect Tai and drive the equines back to their nesting grounds.
Our next plans for this was to have a continued cutscene where Greed (Tai’s enemy) challenge him only to find out Tai needs a certain element, in order to defeat him so instead Leash backs up the main character my also chasing off Greed. The cutscenes should end then where Leash explains to Tai he needs the main element Water in order to advance, yet it can only be obtained if he manages to find her katana which she then throws into the pond.
Now this is where it leads onto the NPC quest, in the actual pond is another level environment in itself and resembles something similar to Faron Woods in Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword when the land gets flooded by the water dragon. When the player decides to swim down in order to retrieve the weapon he comes across two of the guardians that protects the underwater caverns. A Koi Carp quickly grabs the sword just as Tai reaches it and swims off through the underwater maze whilst a dolphin begins to guide the player through the underwater level where the player must engage in certain tasks in order to get into the secret opening of the cherry tree. From there another cutscene would trigger where we would see this dragon coming after Tai whilst the two guardians give back Leash’s sword to Tai and tell him in order to get the powers he needs he must face off against this dragon.
After the player finally defeats the boss Leash shows up in order to finish off the dragon, reminding the players not to get too cocky and begins to lead him towards his next part of the journey.
The Actual Plan
Now at the time the idea above is eventually how I want my level to pan out when we begin to make our FMP, yet I didn’t take much into consideration of what I should be doing for this assignment as I wanted as much of the above done. After speaking to one of the tutors of how my ideas may be too spontaneous I realised that I had given the player a huge level to explore and unlike me they may not want to stick to the main quest and go on side quests which is understandable. After re-thinking this through I thought I might as well base this assignment on where Tai will begin to try and get into Crystal Memoirs.
In UDK my made an environment of where will be leaving from Disaster Plains into the start of Crystal Memoirs, however the time will be at sunset where the Paradoquins won’t be bloodlust monsters and still have their minds. Half of the level I’ve created a terrain map for, making sand dunes  to represent the desert getting more smoother until they reach the edge of the jungle. There they have added custom assets of my own which are a huge rock and temple shrine as shown in my initial sketches, various runes that placed around the entrance to the next part of the level, horseshoes and a Paradoquin. Around there also I’ve added static meshes from UDK’s content browser such as various trees, foliage, two doors that block the entrance to the next part of the level and lamps giving a mysterious and eerie effect.  In the next part of the level the players are boxed in a small clearing where I’ve added more static meshes such as grass and leaves.
Around the level is a daylight system made into a sunset so it fits in well with the story, whilst materials are imported into UDK from various sources on Google and have been referenced to in the bibliography. The one problem I had with this was at first I didn’t understand why when I imported materials they didn’t appear as textures and wouldn’t be used to create materials, so after messing around in Photoshop I had to convert the files from JPEG into TARGA files where they finally appeared as textures.

How to Play
The world properties in UDK is set at UTDeathMatch and player begins at the edge of one of the sand dunes. From there you are to walk over to where you see two huge doors and a Paradoquin. Walk over to this creature and you’ll trigger an announcement with an owl hooting sound, saying in order for you to pass through the doors you must find 5 horseshoes as Paradoquins are part horse. In all fairness it seems a little too easy but the shoes are scattered throughout the level and in some places you have to really focus on where you look because purposely I’ve the lighting not as clear which gives the player a challenge.
Two horseshoes are located at the start of the level where you walked up, one being on a hill and the other being half-buried in a sand dune. Another is extremely close to Paradoquin and is on the left-hand side of the tree. Finally the other two are at separate ends of the jungle where the lighting isn’t as clear and you have to keep a real-eye out in case you accidently walk away from the object. With each horseshoe you pick up a special sound will appear which I imported into UDK (which has been referenced), as well as an individual players announcement. One of them gives the player the clue that if you are struggling to find the horseshoes look for the lamps, over each horseshoe area I’ve placed lamps there just in case people do struggle with finding these shoes. Now when you touch the needed object I’ve set up a destroy trigger in Kismet where you never see that item again unless you start the game again, then set up a variable bool systems where once you’ve collected the 5 horseshoes it sets off the matinee placed on the two doors which will open and show the player a quick camera sequence where you’re now having to go head to head with AI.
In the next level I’ve made sure the lighting is clear for the player to see and in that area I’ve created pathnodes for the AI to follow, in Kismet I’ve designed it where the AI won’t shoot the player unless he’s not obstructed and in between there I’ve created small delays and made this loop in Kismet so it looks more realistic to the player. Your final objective is to shoot down the AI and take his weapon which I’ve changed from the normal shooting and then that’s it.
Alpha Testing
Every time I’ve made a set change or added something within the level I’ve always gone back and forced play just to go around and make sure things are working. My first problem was when my package became ruined and UDK wouldn’t allow me to save my level if I had put any of my custom pieces in.

In order to get round this it meant I had to start my package again and make sure everything was correctly saved and in the right files and formats. So far the Alpha testing worked where everything done what I wanted it to do and looked ok. All that’s left was to compile my work and send the game into a BETA test.

Discalimer: I do not own any of these sources they all respectfully belong to the original owner.
· (Image used)
· (Image used)
· (Image used)
· (Music used for show reel)
· (Sound used for level editing)

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