A space station that mysteriously disappeared 62 years ago suddenly appeared and you have been sent to investigate what has happened.
Unreal Engine 4, Maya, GIMP
8 weeks working time
Modular Sci-Fi Season 1-2, Polar Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi Weapons Dark, Brushify, Four EvilDragons, FXVarietyPack, InteractiveSpruceForest, Sound from freesound.com
Design a level that tells a story.
Create a believable environment.
Create a fully playable experience.
There are two survival elements in this level: oxygen and suit power. The oxygen drains when the player is walking or sprinting. If the player depletes all oxygen they will take damage.
The player needs suit power to be able to use their tools and it drains when doing so.
I made these resources to always keep the player engaged and be on the lookout for items to replenish them in the level.
Powering the generator in the middle of the level gives the player a clear goal to work towards.
The main loop of the level is to collect the red alien goo and deliver it to the console at the generator to unlock new parts of the level.
The enemies emit a sound that the player can hear. They will walk toward the player if spotted and attack. Shooting them will stun them for a second.
alien goo collection
Guns / Tools
Guns / Tools Interact
For my pickups I use Unreal Engine’s Interface. This made it very easy for me to create multiple pickups without much effort.
All the variables for every pickup are pulled from a DataTable. This made it very simple to adjust values.
As this is the core of the level and the player will interact with it multiple times it was of high importance that it is a robust system that can scale upwards and downwards.
This turned out to be a mostly mathematical endeavor.
power generator blueprint
The level has a circular design that promotes visual queues and makes sure that the player recognizes their environment if they visit the same place twice. The generator room in the middle of the level serves as a hub that the player will visit to deliver the “Red goo” and restore the power to the station.
Once the player is used to the mood and atmosphere of the station, I introduce the alien monsters.
The first thing I did was to figure out what kind of blueprints I would need in this project and created a test level for them.
I made all the blueprints in a functional first iteration state.
I made a list of rooms that I felt was required for a space station to operate and the rooms that I needed for the story itself.
After that I made a rough sketch over the layout roughly how every room would connect to each other.
Since I had the asset pack I needed for the environment already, I started building the rooms straight away from the sketch.
With multiple adjustments and playtests I got the layout I was happy with. This is where I started placing the alien goo and blueprints into the level and creating the exterior of the station where the player can see out into space.
Once all the blueprints were in and the layout was in a final state I started placing the props that were very important to tell the story of the level and adding sound effects and visual effects to the blueprints.
After a lot of playtests I managed to smash multiple bugs and reach a stable experience. This was very important to me as the mood of the level can easily get ruined by a bug.
After some playtests I noticed that players struggled with keeping track of the multiple variables in the game.
I solved this by adding audio prompts to remind the player if health or oxygen is low.
When the player's health is low, the screen will flash red to get the attention of the player.
I had to put a lot of thought into how I would make sure that the player did not get lost in my level. I made every room as unique as I could with different color schemes and lighting to make every environment feel different. I also added signage to most rooms.
The player starts in a small decontamination room. I wanted to convey that the player has just entered the space station from space. The first thing I present the player with is a large door. The door is broken to show that something might have gone wrong at the station.
I made this hallway to build up suspense. I gave it a dirty look to give the impression of the station being abandoned for a long time.
This room serves multiple functions. It's here the player is introduced to the blue goo for the first time.
It also introduces pickups that I spread around the room to reward the players that take the time to run around and explore.
The blue goo blocks one of the doors forcing the player to enter the door leading into the broken hallway.
The area has windows that establish that the level takes place in space.
This hallway has been completely broken. This is a wow moment where the player gets to fly around in a small area looking at the stars and the debris.
Once the player makes it across the hallway they will find their tool to remove the “blue goo” with. There is also blue goo right next to the tool. If the player uses the tool on it they’ll get access to a small room with a pickup.
The player heads back and removes the goo blocking the door with the newly obtained tool.
In the next hallway, the player will notice that one of the doors is not powered and the other one leads into the power generator room.
This is the hub of the level.
This is also the room where the player learns the main gameplay loop of the level, to collect “red goo” and hand it in at the generator to unlock doors. I did this by having the player pick up the goo mining tool and having a huge red goo blocking the console that the player will need to use.
I placed the generator on a lower floor to convey the feeling that this is the heart of the station that the player has to revive.
In the recreational area and the armory the player will need to gather more red goo.
This is also where the player will be able to find the gun preparing the player for the next section for the level.
Once the player hands in enough “red goo” to increase the power to level two the doors to the science lab and bio domes will unlock.
Here I introduce the aliens for the first time to the player. I placed a lot of glass windows in this section because I wanted the player to see the aliens before they attack them.
I made the environment look like it was the ground zero for the alien outbreak.
I placed the exit to the biodomes right in front of the player so there is no confusion where to go but as soon as the player steps forward they will hear and see the aliens in the room to the right.
I designed this area to be where the player encounters the most aliens. The player is led along a path while the aliens are sneaking around among the trees and might attack from anywhere.
The area will lead back around to the broken hallway at the beginning of the level. This is made for the player to recognize where they are and a shortcut back to the generator so they can unlock a final door.
Due to the power now being back to normal, the defense system has been reactivated. This system is protecting the portal.
Dead aliens on the floor convey the danger the lasers present.
As the player enters the room they will see that a few lasers are still flickering a bit in front of them and there is a console on the other side of the defense system.
They will have to get to the console to make the rest of the system unstable in order to reach the portal in the middle.
I designed it this way because I wanted the final room to present an interesting unique challenge.
I decided to have two endings here to promote player choice.
The player can choose between either stepping into the portal or using the console to shut it down, both ending the level after a small sequence.