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The level design of The Loop

In this page you can follow my process of crafting an immersive and cohesive game. 

From the ship and hub station tying everything together to the isolate world of The Loop.

A home away from home

Designing the player ship

After having MVP's of all the core gameplay feature in place, it's time to start designing levels. The player ship is a natural place to start since it will be a very central part of the project, connecting many elements together and bring structure to the game.
It's onboard the ship that systems like the armory, upgrade station and mission select/level loading will take place. I can't stress the importance of having a well designed ship/hub that the player enjoys spending time in. When navigating through an area they are meant to frequently come back to starts feeling like a chore, the retention rate will fall off. 

 

I want the place to feel immersive, and as a home you want to spend time in and make it your own, providing the player with a sense of progression holding gameplay rewards and found decorations. The ship itself will be very useful for controlling the overall pacing of the game, working as a pit stop between rounds giving crucial downtime and change of pace while pushing the story forward. A place to catch a break in and a natural start and end point of each play session. 

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Creating the layout of the ship

I began with listing the necessary components needed for the ship and how they would affect one and another in combination with which ones who needs to be close to eachother.
Drawing a simple 2D layout of the ship with the above into account is a good stepping stone to start blocking out the ship in engine. 

In Unreal I used the paper design to get a feel for the space, the time to walk from room to room, headspace and accessablility using my metrics. The ship needs to be compact to prevent navigating it feeling tedious while still have enough spare room to house secrets, additional story elements, worldbuilding, diegetic systems and decorations.

I have a few iterations that feels like a good starting point to build open. But the design of the ship is an iterative process to make it feel just right and will need a lot of playtesting to reach that level of quality.

Necessary components for the ship:

  • Cockpit

  • Navigation deck

  • Boarding pods

  • Docking module

  • Personal quarter

  • Armory

  • Suit upgrade room

  • Med bay

  • Cargo hold

  • Core room/engingeering​

A few things to have in mind for the layout:

  • The nav deck, armory and the boarding pods needs to be in proximity of one and another

  • The walking distance between the cargo hold and upgrade station can't be too long to prevent moving objects to feel tedious

  • Make sure the boarding pods and docking modules aren't blocked by exeterior needs

  • Have room to make dynamic changes affecting the story and theme

Making iterations to the ship

More to come!

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