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SICARIA

3RD PERSON STEALTH | 2024

In this stealth game I was responsible for the onboarding level that was focused on linearity with narrative exposition.

 

Collaboration was mostly focused with environment artists, other level designers, and scripted event team

GAME IS STILL IN DEVELOPMENT

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In development

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38 PERSONS

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UNREAL 5

MY RESPONSIBILTIES

  • As a lead, I helped the team diverge and converge in concepting phase to get to a cohesive idea

  • As a level designer, I planned the onboarding experience and focused on a linear experience with focus on UX design

  • As a level designer, I collaborated with other level designers to plan out the level beats as a whole

  • As a level designer, I collaborated with environment artists to define the space and create emphasis on the player paths as well as communicate guidance for the player

  • As a level designer, I collaborated with the scripted events team to establish gameplay moments that were narrative driven.

PLANNING

ONE-PAGER

As the narrative is explicit and the onboarding needs to be linear, I focused on symmetry in the interior space where the player starts so that navigation between floors would be easier for the player and they'd solely focus on learning the mechanics.

For the exterior, the map was focused on inner courtyards resembling those from Antwerp in the 16th century. But to make the world less linear, traversel would be also done indoors to give the illusion of a bigger world.

Research Onboarding - One pager V2.jpg

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MISSION STRUCTURE

Based on research to other stealth games, I build up a structure of which mechanics need to be onboarded and how that would tie in the missions. The structure for the onboarding would first be focused on navigational onboarding, core loop onboarding and then develop it with an introduction to easy gadgets. From there I made a proposal for the mission that would fit within the narrative and collaborate further with the narrative team to make a cohesive experience.

NODE-MAP 

To communicate my ideas to the other level designers, scripted events team, narrative team and AI team, I made a nodemap. The nodemap would discuss the rooms that would be needed, what gets onboarded in each room, what the scripted events need to be able to do and what AI should be able to do as well as extra information such as the location of the beat and the estimated time. From this nodemap, I also discussed the rooms with environment artists but as they were still creating assets, the room type did not matter much as it would be very modular. 

BLOCKOUT

First blockout 

My focus for this level was the geometry, the timing of the scripted event moments, the guidance as well as the setup for the UX design of the onboarding.

I had back and forth communication with the scripted event team and environment team. For scripted events team I communicated what the moments need to be able to do as well in the process what could still be added.

For environment collaboration, I went over the metrics for the interior and tested the pieces through each iteration and focused on making sure that the custom pieces would be communicated so it could be added to the modular kit.

BLOCKOUT ITERATIONS 

VERSION BLOCKOUT 1

The first version was used to get the feeling of the interior spaces right, as this was not investigated yet.

 

The main action point was to make the spaces smaller/cut off for making set dressing easier.

VERSION BLOCKOUT 2

The second version of the iteration was focused on finding the right timing for the scripted events. Most iterations within this version were constant tweaks through playtesting because of this.

The main action point was to put more emphasis on player guidance as well as player UX for the mechanics onboarding

VERSION BLOCKOUT 3

The last current version was where I gotten more resources such as a programmer to help me with setting up button prompts for onboarding mechanics as well as feedback from other level designers and environment artists to get lighting/spaces right.

From here on, playtests are being done and one of the biggest upcoming chance is to create a secondary path and give the player more freedom in a tense situation.

FULL VIDEO OF LEVEL

WILL BE UPDATED SOON-ISH

ITERATIONS DURING SETDRESSING

Focus on second phase pathing

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DESIGN TECHNIQUES

FORESHADOWING

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GUIDING THE PLAYER

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SPICING IT UP

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RESEARCH

Gathering references

For gathering references, I would delve myself into google maps street view to get a sense of the space and structure of the place. I also used it to understand the relationship between land and the sea that I would be able to take advantage of.

Paint overs

To understand the housing in the area and imagine myself climbing the buildings, I made a few paint overs to get an idea of the ledges and window placement to make the experience more believable.

Reference images

LEARNINGS AND TAKE AWAYS

Coming soon

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