Level Design

"Island Escape" (UDK) - January to March 2014

An assignment in my first year of University that was my first ever attempt at Level Design.

For the assignment, we were only given the same asset package and complete autonomy to make whatever environment we chose. I decided to build one where the player starts in an underground island bunker.

 

With the outside environment, I made use of terrain cutting through the grassy plane to allow above ground access, texture painting for the sandy parts and a rocky plane below with its terrain sculpted up to create a mountainous backdrop.

 

In-built and baked lighting underground, armour and weapon power-ups for the player and actors for the interactive vehicles outside that the player can roam freely around in were also all utilised.

I would have liked the outside environment to be much bigger, more varied in terms of terrain elevation and much more smooth and realistic with the beach area, ideally. However, this was all that was required for my first year of University.

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World War 2 Tunnels - October 2015 (recreated June 2017)

A Texturing assignment in my second year of University for Autodesk Maya (with Unreal 4.12.5) that earned me a First. I opted to build a set of WWII tunnels akin to an underground bunker. These featured: a staircase below ground, a store room, a communal/strategy area with three visible bunk rooms (each with unique layout) and a dining area on the lowest floor with more locked rooms.

As part of the assignment requirements, I made sure the level was well lit throughout, both above ground and inside the bunker, using more than one kind of light in the Engine. Mostly point lights and all with a yellow tinge to make it accurate to most older man-made underground lighting.

 

Everything you see in the level, from ceiling to floor, including all of the meshes within are original creations of mine, including the textures applied and all of their respective Normal & Bump Maps apart from the grass outside.

The level was recreated in roughly eight solid hours in one day and is shown through 28 Screengrabs that give a straightforward tour of the entire level from starting above ground to finishing at the lowest point, featuring every room.

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Roman Military Camp - August 2016 (recreated June 2017)

Initially developed to tie into my Dissertation before the New Forest Authority collaboration project was selected, I built from scratch a Roman Castra using Autodesk Maya 2016/7 and Unreal 4.12.5.

 

All of the meshes in the level were designed and made myself with some original textures (the wood & nails from my WWII tunnels).

I had plenty of creative license (while using official plans and reconstructive images online as direct sources, as well as the 'Asterix' comics as looser inspiration). As such, I decided to fill the camp's four corners with what the research told me belonged in a place like this; a training ground, mess (eating place), stable and a prison area. 

As you can see, the level is populated with palisade walls, watchtowers, white infantry tents, tables, benches, chairs, training dummies, wooden cells, stables, hay bales, stocks, chaises, red officer tents, period-accurate weapons and their respective racks, orange cook tents, and a grey Imperator's tent.

For this level, instead of UE4's lighting (point, spot etc) I made use of particle effects, specifically fire on candles, torches and campfires.

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Rishi Outpost -  Mid June to Mid/late August 2017

A level I'd been interested in creating for a while and  something I can expand my Level Design repertoire with by building something in a Science-Fiction genre, unlike fantasy or history in the prior levels I've created.

I ended up creating over 120 meshes, the corridors & rooms myself exactly as they were in the primary source material ('Star Wars: The Clone Wars' episode "Rookies"). This meant I had to research through images, footage, and use basic logical reasoning to fill in the gaps.

 

Because the episode only showed little of the base (the outside, some corridors, the command centre and a fraction of the armoury), and there was no official layout of the environment to follow anywhere, I had plenty of freedom with the rest. I created a storage room and versions of the barracks (sleeping quarters) from the episode "The Hidden Enemy" and the mess hall (dining area) from the episode "Brain Invaders". All while keeping the base's aesthetic & colour palette for fidelity.

 

All of the rooms were integrated seamlessly into the 1 environment. This not only made the base faithful to all 3 episodes in terms of design & accuracy of contents but also roughly symmetrical around the command centre in the middle.

 

This level marked a new standard of design quality for me as it was, at the time, not only the largest but also the most complex level I had made so far. This is because it employs blueprints to enhance it inside & out with emissive textures in a variety of colours on multiple assets.

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For optimal viewing experience, consider watching on a desk/laptop system.

Helm's Deep - End of October 2018 to Mid April 2019

This is a University assignment of mine I thought about 'remastering' for a long time since the hand-in to reflect my enhanced abilities and skills as a designer unburdened by the constraints of an assignment brief.

 

The original development time was very limited as we had a short time frame to create a "very large" film scene from scratch, inside and out, alongside four other large assignments. Since completing this assignment in April 2016, I have furthered my skills and knowledge greatly, hence why I chose to revisit this particular assignment.

 

The original in-engine scene was comprised of eight separate Maya scenes all designed from the film, video game "The Third Age" and creative license to all fit and scale together, each had all geometry and texturing at a base level.

 

I decided to re-do all the scenes from scratch, by breaking apart each one and retopologising all the geometry in far greater detail and fidelity. I added the creation of a ninth scene made from scratch, the Hall. I spent really a lot of time tweaking texture UV's in Maya to make them all as realistic as possible and manually setting the collision presets in-engine for every single individual mesh component to 'Complex' for more realism.

The final build of the project included an in-engine scene containing 3,026 actors built up of meshes (some with emissive or translucent materials), particle effects, all 4 kinds of light with regularly varied intensities, attenuation radii & colours and a lightmass importance volume as a box around the whole scene to manage its size and complexity.

Click on the images for larger size and better quality.

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For optimal viewing experience, consider watching on a desk/laptop system.

© 2017 - Matt Archer

Final Map 1