Category Archives: Level Design

DevBlog 72 / World Design inspirations

Hi everyone!

This week we worked hard on the Bottom Rift Windmills area, It’s pratically done, and ready to apply the workflow we talked about on the Devblog 58

For this particular zone, we did some research on real locations and came up with a lot of architectural influences. The image below show places like Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park in Spain (Pyrenees), Phugtal Monastery in India, Canyon de Chelly National Monument in the US and Puente Nuevo in Ronda, Spain.

From left to right top: Puente Nuevo and Phugtal Monastery. Left to right bottom: Ordesa y Monte Perdido and Chelly Monument.

Like we said before this is a very early blocking of the zone, it still needs a lot of detail and beauty props on top.

Top-view of Bottom Rift Windmills blocked zone.

This zone is perfect for a stroll by the riverside!

Our animator is almost done with this little fellow that will be haunting you in the Rift Windmill zone!

Acrobatic attack no.2!

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DevBlog 71 / Survival rule #1: Cardio

Hi there!

Half of the team members are enjoying their much deserved vacations, and our programmer and game designer is back and working on the blocking of the final zones of the game! Most of the ideas are in paper and sketches including the puzzles, encounters, cutscenes and events. Blocking the final zone of the game provides an opportunity to look at the game as whole, while also considering its pacing and mood building and performing small tweaks here and there.

Right now we are blocking the Bottom of the Rift Windmills, the area inhabited by the previously revealed canyon kids. We’re aiming at a spicing up the place with a lot of exploration opportunities while taking advantage of the topology of the terrain to include plenty of vertical exploration as well. Here’s a small preview below.

Bottom Rift Windmills blocking preview.

Like we mentioned above, small tweaks and polish passes were made in the previous zones in order to achieve the intended mood. Below you will find two pictures, the first one being of the Old Woman’s House, and the second one an encounter with two cursed soldiers that are into jogging.

Old Woman’s House in the woods.

Survival rule #1: Cardio.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our devblog update, have a great weekend!

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DevBlog 66 / Jetpacks, picnics gone wrong and tribals!

Hi there!

This week we continued working on the current chapter’s end boss, nearly all of its move-sets are complete, while the AI polish and behavior are currently in the works. This boss has a lot of extra moving parts and we experienced some problems managing several of its animations simultaneously, but we’ve solved this in the end.

A fully functional jetpack!

We also finished populating the environment of this chapter while also adding the logic to support it, now it’s time for testing and to finish balancing! Here are some combat encounter screenshots:

Two’s a company…

…three’s a crowd!

Unity 2017 released an awesome new tool for cinematics, so we’ll have to port our existing ones and create the future ones with it for a more cinematic and professional feeling.

Regarding the next chapter, players will mostly be facing a new threat, the masked youths that dwell in the depths of the Rift! Their visual concept was inspired by a Portuguese tradition, the “caretos”, as well as Princess Mononoke’s battle costume. Their motives for attacking the girl on sight will have to remain a mystery, for now…

Orphan kid.

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DevBlog 65 / Steam Valve

Hi everyone!

This week we’ve discussed some new ideas and concepts for the next chapter of the game. It will take place in the bottom of the canyon, bordering the windmills zone which you might be familiar with.
We already have some concepts of the new characters and a lot of references, so the ideas are getting close to a conclusion.
For the previous chapters, André had already made some blocking, level design and testing. This final zone is currently drafted on paper, so the next devblogs may be focused on its level design and the details we would like to add.

The boss of the previous chapter is nearly done and currently being worked on by our animator. Here’s a small WIP preview of his weapon in action:

Steam weapon shooting animation WIP.

This zone has a steam theme, which is noticeable due to the mechanisms that are clearly inspired by it. The player will be searching for valves to activate and new paths to unlock. Although the steam particles are an early work-in-progress, they have already been implemented to set the mood for this theme.

Interacting with the valve.

Examining the valve.

For the next week part of team will be working on the new characters and level design of the next chapter of the game. Stay tuned if you are into level building!

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DevBlog 64 / A glimpse of the water workflow

Hi there!

This week the team was grinding intensively, as we’re slowly but steadily approaching the completion of Chapter 2.

Since our animator has been with us in the office these past days, we spent plenty of time developing, polishing and implementing animations. In particular, the Elk has received quite a lot of attention, and it is feeling more alive than ever.

The artists are busy tackling the arena where the Girl will battle this Chapter’s Boss, as well as painting the texture maps for that character.
As promised before, we’re sharing our current workflow to produce the bodies of water we’ve been featuring lately in this blog.

It’s quite simple, as you can see in the following breakdown:

Small lake mesh workflow.

Shout-out to Paulo from our tech team for coming up with it in the first place. As mentioned in point f), both the ripple effect and the water surface require materials with shader work developed using Amplify Shader Editor. Here are the nodes needed for the water surface (we’ll show the ones for the ripples on a later date, since we’re still perfecting the effect!):

Water surface shader in ASE.

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DevBlog 63 / The water wheel is in motion!

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Hi everyone!

This week while the art team was working hard adding props and populating the battlefield zone, some logic/code was improved, like the responsiveness of the dodge after an attack animation and also the time after a big hit attack from an enemy. After these tweaks, the Girl won’t take so much time getting up to resume the fight, making it possible to avoid possible follow-up attacks. We are also adapting the prototype logic to the new props added, for example, the logic of this enormous gate is ready to go.

Surprise encounters and a puzzle awaits.

Animation wise, Iuri has joined us in the office (he usually works remotely) and is producing new animations and polishing some others. Afterwards he will tackle this chapter’s boss!

Remember the Water temple concept? Here is watermill in action (still WIP).

The low poly model for the new boss is pretty much complete, and we’ve started to work on the retopo of the weapons. Next, we’ll do all the texturing and fine-tuning. Regarding the environments, we have been busy putting together the largest ruin in the game (so far), a very tall tower. As soon as it is ready, we’ll be sure to show some screenshots.

Undead Soldier new attack example.

This chapter has a lot of small ruins and dungeons to explore, set loose your explorer’s instinct!

Explore everything!

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DevBlog 61 / The Boiler

Hi everyone!

This week we were working on the animations and logic of the Ancestor undead soldier, making him alive but also balance his attacks with the others small soldiers is something that needs some extra work. This is a slow enemy, but careful with the range of the mace!
We also re-worked the logic behind the dodge when in combat, if you have stamina you can dodge immediately after an attack ( before, we waited for the complete end of the attack animation ). This was a feature much asked đŸ™‚

Tough enemy!

Regarding the small lakes, we are finalizing the final details, like dynamic and static ripples. There’s a sneak peak below. When it’s ready, we will show it in a dedicated devblog post the workflow used.

Things are coming together nicely in the art department, specially concerning the environments of Chapter 2. Since the terrain meshes and textures have finally been completed using our new workflow, the team was able to focus on polishing each area to make them feel unique. On that topic, here is a sneak peek of one of the core locations of this part of the game. For this interior we are having fun experimenting with water pools and other cool details to enhance its mysterious mood.

The boiler inside the water temple.

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DevBlog 60 / Into the woods

Hi there!

This week we continued working on polishing the combat system, this time on the feeling of the combo attacks. We tweaked once again the window between the consecutive attacks that could form a small combo. We also added a slope detection so the player cannot climb to places that he/she is not meant to. In this case, the character will decelerate when the player tries to climb something with a slope greater that 45 degrees.

One thing that was asked of us at PAX East was an option to auto hide the HUD, so the player could have a more immersive experience. This was easily added, although, every time the player gets hit, changes weapon/potion, has low stamina or the current weapon durability is changed it appears again for a few seconds.

Beyond that, it has been quite a grind to populate and wrap up the environments. Getting the mood of each location just right is a big challenge. Here are some shots of the game that showcase what we are going for in a couple of areas, but keep in mind all of this is still very much work in progress.

Cabin in the woods.

Very WIP water temple.

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DevBlog 58 / The Ancestor Soldier

Hi there!

This week we have finished the AI behavior of the Undead Soldier with the new animations, and started testing the group control with various enemies of this type, as well as with the big Ancestor Soldiers. The game model for the latter is already completed, as you can see in the GIF below. While exploring the battlefield area, if the player isn’t aware of the surroundings, several enemies can be triggered to attack. Mind the bodies lying around!

As always, various small bug fixes and small details were added to the code; a feature that was planned a long time ago was finally implemented – the dual weapon logic for the enemies. To put it simply, the enemies equipped with bows will now draw their swords for close combat situations, for example. Lastly, we’ve also added the Ancestor Soldier’s Mace and helmet to the game as wearable player items.

The Ancestor Soldier.

For the larger terrains we’re currently working on, the team has been trying out quick ways to achieve good results. The image below shows our simple pipeline to produce that kind of content, static environment parts. We first come up with a basic blockout of the scene, then we take it to Zbrush and refine the shapes and silhouettes, while keeping the model rough (since most details will be lost in the following step). Afterwards, the resulting mesh gets decimated, using Decimation Master. A little cleanup is often required, but after the UV’s are ready we bring the whole thing into Unity and start giving it life with Vertex Painting.

Workflow example.

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DevBlog 57 / Reaching new heights

Hi everyone!

The artists have been fully focusing on character design and production these past few days. The Ancestor warrior we’ve shown before is pretty much done and will be game-ready as soon as the finishing touches on the textures are complete. Meanwhile, the final boss of this chapter is currently in the concepting phase, and we are confident this character will turn out to be a very fun and challenging obstacle for the player, due to the unusual weaponry that will be used during the fight.

A simple (yet important) prop has also been added to the game – elevators of Ancestor origin. These will be linked to a puzzle that links some areas of this chapter, and will allow the player to access otherwise unreachable places.

Testing the ancestor lift.

Gameplay-wise, the combat polishing is almost on point. We are really committed to making the “undead soldier” enemy feel like a threatening and convincing foe. He’s got some cool moves like the one shown below. The logic behind the “surprise spawn system” is ready to go, so it’s only a matter of time before we show you guys a humongous battlefield filled with bodies and a couple of unexpected encounters.

If you are too close, beware the smashing shields!

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