As a company employee, explore an office building being invaded by a hostile dimension that corrupts the environment and turns friends into foes.
The headquarters is a single player experience with focus on level design and level art.
Individual solo project spanning 7 weeks of work.
Focus on designing, building and dressing the level
Leveldesign and Level art inspired by brutalism.
Level Art and Lighting
Majority of 3D assets are not made by me.
Most of the meshes are from Marketplace Asset Packs
By utilizing level streaming the player can experience dimension switching. This is done so that, when a player enters a collision box it triggers another level to load in, on top of the persistent level that is always active.
Switching gives the player the opportunity the experience a different environment while staying consitent with the world building.
The player starts in an executive office, the area is enclosed and the corridor outside functions as a funnel. This is to not overwhelm the player with too much information early on. A perceptive will notice trees outside the window, which while being a natural thing to see is placed there intentionally to hint to a future area.
The Lobby functions as a hub connecting to different areas and traversing between those areas, easy and enjoyable. This space creates a thread through the entirety of the level through a level loop which connects the beginning of the level to the end.
It also functions well to include possible expansions on other floors through locked doors and a broken elevator. The design is meant to present greater opportunities for vertical movement and for the player to gain access to different areas as fast as possible. I design this with the intent of the player gaining the ability to levitate at a later stage.
Leaving the executive office
When first entering the hub the player walks down a corridor, the right wall is open which provides an open sightline to the next area as well as an overview of the open floor plan below. This gives the player an advantage in future combat encounters while providing them with direction.
The player is then led down a path which becomes blocked following a dimension switch. This redirects the player through a nearby bathroom, bringing them to the other side of the blockage. From this vantage point, the player has executed a 180° turn in which they can see where they came from.
Furthermore, the player can also see their end goal, a locked door with a red light, this goal can be seen from 3 different positions;The 2nd floor, the 1st floor and the ground floor.
Blocked path leading the player into a 180° turn.
Sightlines from the other side of the blockage.
When the player has reached the ground floor they are first funneled into a smaller lounge area before reaching the open design previously foreshadowed as a combat arena. This is to give them breathing room before confrontation as well as to show a locked door that can be used for expansion in late game.
When designing the combat areas I wanted the design to breathe together with the space, smaller areas funneling into bigger ones that invite the player to use aggressive or defensive maneuvers as they see fit and rewarding them for experimenting with their preferred playstile.
When exiting the lounge area the player is drawn to a big window on the opposite side of the room, when reached a foreshadow of the next main area can be seen across a small garden. This window acts as a point of interest while also inviting natural light into an otherwise artificial environment. Guiding the player to this position triggers a combat encounter.
It was important that putting the player with their back towards the room would create the right amount of tension without leaving them too vulnerable. This was created through placement of cover and access to escape paths.
My goal for this project was to re-create a level that could take place inside the game Control. To achieve this I had to work with the following:
Design principles had to align with an existing IP while being able to showcase my own ideas within that framework.
Implement a brutalistic architectural design into my blockout and environmental art while keeping the setdressing unified and unique to each area.
To accomplish this I played Control and observed certain key level design techniques on display. Namely, the metroidvania influence on the macro design seen in the interconnected of areas. Movability and combat were the microdesign elements I applied as well.
I wanted the player to experience a “push & pull” design, where one side is pushed away from you and the opposite is pulled in. This reuses the theme of juxtaposition and is reflected in the design while playing with symmetry and asymmetrical architecture.
After the Security Checkpoint the player is introduced the traditional courtyard.
A more traditional theme was chosen to instill a juxtaposed environment and intertwine it with a modern design.
There’s a point of interest which when approached, the player will be ambushed by enemies.
This area was foreshadowed with trees outside of the executive office.
After the combat encounter at the traditional courtyard the player will have unlocked a mini hub. There's two paths here:
One reroutes the player back to the Lobby through the door that was foreshadowed from the Lobby.
The other one leads futher into the level and can be expanded upon if placed in a larger world.
Prepod - Getting it right
Before starting the development of the blockout, I planned a week to collect all the research I needed to scope correctly.
To do this I:
- Played Control while paying attention to metrics, level design, level art and the use of materials.
- Went through Quixel Megascans and decided what assets and materials to use.
- Studied different types of brutalistic architecture.
- Studied traditional japanese architecture.
- Used Midjourney to get inspiration from concept images.
- Made a plan for the project and scoped accordingly.
- Stresstest for dimension switching.
- Started working on a top down.
This area was the first one i started blocking out and was by far the one that went through the most revisions throughtout development. Having the room function as a hub while inviting gameplay through combat, introducing the dimension switch as well as feeling like a real location was a challenge.
This area functions for those purposes but even today, after the 4th iteration I am still not satisfied with this area. Now I feel more ready to start working on it than I was 5 weeks ago.
The major changes would be to better plan for an elevator shaft and to push out the 1st floor and make it more inviting for the player to levitate to. I would also have loved to have more accessible offices on the bottom floor where the player could have a more tense combat encounter.
I had an idea for the dimension switch where after switching, mutiple floors would be stacked upon eachother and build up in the air to create a wow-moment, however that was scrapped to focus on more essential work.
Scope and optimization
Even with a great deal of planning, I still ended up a week behind schedule during the blockout phase. This mostly came from me underestimating the challenge of blocking out a hub area while also keeping metrics and the brutalistic architecture that everything is built upon, in line with Control.
I remedied this by moving two weeks from my second piece to my main piece. My second piece having been in a state of refined blockout months earlier, I felt like I could give more time to my main piece without sacrificing the quality of the second piece too much.
Due to my level mostly taking place inside, lighting became a bottleneck pretty fast. This made the level extremely laggy. I started working more with postproccessing to make the light cheaper but if I had started working with that in mind earlier it might have saved me time in the longterm.
There was also a major issue with my texture streaming, using Megascans for texture had a heavy price on performance and forced me to research MipMap, texture streaming and how to dedicate more memory to shadow caches as well as for textures.
Because of this bottleneck I ended up not having time nor resources to create more areas that used dimension switching.