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A level map inspired by Outlast Trials (Beta) made with a modular level kit and modular guiding tools. 

The map is focused on flow for losing enemies as well as motivating players to work together

Time Indicator




Unreal logo




To understand the relations between the rooms, I designed a node map with the function of the room to give it a familiar feeling to the player. The iterations are focused on creating more loop-able environments to make sure the player has enough room to avoid enemies as well as feel rewarded for exploration.


For the initial sketch, I took inspiration from layouts of Victorian houses and created an initial sketch that is based on the node map. From there I analyzed where the flow in the rooms would lead into as well as which loops I would create. 


As the game is playable with one player as well as up to four players, the design needed to be accesible for both scenarios. The greyed out areas on the left are areas that could benefit from another person's help mostly in the case of loot. The blue line however indicates paths where you need another player to for example open a passage or trigger an extra event. But even the purple routes if they don't get opened by multiple people can be bypassed by sidepaths.


The initial (left) and the final tension (right) graph divided by gameplay beats

(move the middle bar with mouse to see the differences)


The bbiggest change was the onboarding area, it turned out that the beginning area created a lot of tension from the start. This was mainly because I created an unintentional mid-entry point with not a lot of lighting. The player would feel scared to already make a choice in which way they should explore and did not feel safe from the start thus creating a tension spike. Because it is a horror game that throws you right in the deep, I decided to embrace this change and keep it in.


As the level is focused on exploration with a non-linear take on the linear mission structure, I mainly guide the player through natural flow of the rooms. But because this game is mainly played in dark lighting, I added different types of guiding throughout the level to help the player out in tense situation.


As the player will loop around, I created one meso-landmark and two miso-landmarks. This way the player is still able to recognize whether they have gone in circles or is making progress. With the meso-landmark being in the center of the level and the miso-landmarks on the side routes where there are more options to choose from.

Also some subtle hints help the player choose the right path or as a designer let them choose the wrong path. I did this by using pipes to show more depth to increase path choices that the player can see and a train rails on the ground to keep them focused on the objective.


While the main enemy would roam around, having static enemies would not only create a tense moment as the players need to walk around them but also because of that, creates a guiding line towards the main goal

The idea behind that is the psychology of Pareidolia which is the idea that people start seeing patterns in recognizing faces and being drawn to them as it looks recognizable. People would often be drawn to those locations because of this.


As the player is surrounded by darkness for most of the game, small lighting on objectives helps the player understand where to go.  Using outside ambience lighting also helps illuminate the doorframes in which the player gets invited in and communicate progression.


I added full bright lighting to main paths to communicate ''safety'' to the player as well as a creating a difference between side paths and main paths in order to decrease a feeling of lostness.


Due to having a modular kit that is easily adjusted with a tool I made, the iteration phase of the block out was easy and fast to do.


Initial block out before any feedback points nor iterations. This version only has the ground floor to test out to before needing to make big chances


Iteration was focused on the flow of the level and connections between rooms as well as creating better identities per room.


The last iteration is focused on extra guidance such as adding pipes and iterating the lighting to make it more visible as people would often ignore it.


For both the first version and second version I did external playtests. The first time I only focused on observing them and noting their comments. The second time however I followed their paths to mimic my own heatmap of the level. This way I could find valuable data about the flow and the rooms I needed to iterate on in later versions.


One minute video of finalized block out


Modular kit

To get the right metrics, I did paint overs of Victorian houses with humans in the picture to get the right proportions. Afterwards I worked on an asset list based on mechanics of Outlast Trials such as pushing open big doors and compared them with the architectural reference to get an asset list.

From there I worked on the implementation with the cube grid tool in Unreal Engine to create the assets. 

Modular kit overview
Corner of hallway with modular kit

Testing & iterations

Even though I had correct metrics in-engine based on realistic-like metrics I needed to assure the quality before other developers and I would work with the kit.


I did this with a stack test to test out the type of flooring that is possible, a loopback test to make sure the kit can be tied together correctly, a quick check on what type of room sizes can be created and finally user testing where I tested and iterated on how someone else would use this tool. 



According to Le Corbusier (architect, 1887-1965) the flow of a person within a house is determined by using the geometry hidden within the building itself. Guiding the viewer unconsciously. He believed that the modern spirit of architecture was ‘a machine for living’. Making the house more functional and adding purpose to it rather than just living in it. 

But how does one create that flow within their own idea? We need to think of walls as lines. Creating a plan sketch makes this easier. Curves for giving flow and hard corners to stop work the best. The logic behind this is that flow is a thing of nature, we follow the stream. The curves are soft geometry and inviting to follow. The hard corners however can feel somewhat intimidating and makes you stop or discourage you to follow it. 

Research on flow



To make the building process of the level easier, I made a tool with blueprints where you could easily add in a model and then change it in the details panel with an enum.

Because of this it was easy to iterate in the blockout when thinking of paths and would also be easy to setdress as you can swap out the assets with different assets in only a few minutes.


To make guiding the player easier I created a spline tool with blueprints that could be switched out with any static mesh. This spline could later then be exported and imported in Houdini to make a procedural mesh along this specific spline and import it back into Unreal Engine.



To showcase my work before block out I made a GYM that showcases the tools I made, the lighting settings I used, the metrics and finally the full modular kit. All have an explanation how to use the features as well as additional noteworthy information.



My biggest learning is about architectural flow and how much it impacts the player's choices. Guidance is, because of this, not always needed and you can create a good level with just a good flow structure that has enough looping rooms. 

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