Gears of War – Rescue in the Dark

Level Summary

Development Time: 5 weeks

Level Description: Rescue in the Dark is a Gears of War rescue mission located within a kryll-infested courtyard. The overall objective of the level is to clear the kryll off a helicopter pad by turning on two floodlights, each of which are on two different platforms on opposite sides of the level. The level has four main areas: the west and east platforms (each with a floodlight), the north platform, and the helicopter pad. Each platform contains an initial attack from four wretches as the player reaches it, and the original design of the level calls for an emergence hole to open up nearby after each floodlight is turned on. In order to create a fun and exciting level, I had several goals in mind when making the design for Rescue in the Dark (see below).

Goals:

In order to achieve the above goals, I constantly changed and tested my level so that the level ran without problems. Useful feedback from the students and teachers, who played the level, at any given point, provided me with ample ideas to make the level more challenging, interesting, and fun. In short, my design process required constant testing with every change to be sure the level ran correctly.

Link to Level Files

Rescue in the Dark.zip

Documentation

Abstract
Level Design Doc

Level Breakdown

Images

Overview of the level highlights the primary (green) and alternative (pink) pathways

Goal 1: Create a non-linear Gears of War level

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Non-Linear Example Index:

Multiple Platform Entrances

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made all of the platforms have at least two entrances
  • WHY: To give the player choices when exploring the level
Lit up pathways show many possible routes to take in the level

Additional Details

To make Rescue in the Dark non-linear, I gave each platform more than one entrance and provided multiple well lit pathways to all the entrances.

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Shooting Gas Tanks

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Put gas tanks throughout the level
  • WHY: To allow the player some additional exploration
Shooting gas tanks gives the player safe access to ammo on the other side

Additional Details

Another way in which I attempted to make the level non-linear was to add gas tanks to enhance player strategy options in exploring the level, allowing the player to neutralize certain areas of kryll besides just the helicopter pad. I put these tanks in various places within the level including small areas of darkness to allow for possible short cuts through the level, as well as in front of some of the ammo placement areas to require a small amount of strategy in order to get there.

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Goal 2: Provide multiple attack positions for the enemies

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Attack Positions Example Index:

North Platform Attack Positions

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that the northern platform has the most enemy attack positions
  • WHY: Because the northern platform is bigger and easier to defend
Enemy attack positions and pathing (red), player position (green) on the northern platform

Additional Details

In addition to making the level non-linear, I also wanted to give the Locusts multiple positions that they could attack the player from. Since I had already designed the platforms within the level to have multiple entrances, giving the locusts multiple attack positions was quite easy. I just had to place emergence holes by the proper platforms and make them run to a node on the platform in kismet. Above is an image of the northern platform with enemy pathing and player position highlighted.

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East Platform Attack Positions

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that the east and west platforms only have two enemy attack positions
  • WHY: Because the east and west platforms are small and testing proved that having more entrances was too difficult
Enemy attack positions and pathing (red), player position (green) on the eastern platform

Additional Details

The west and east platforms were originally designed with three entrances which after numerous testing proved to be too difficult, so I changed the number of entrances to two. The above image is of the eastern platform and highlights enemy pathing and player position.

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Goal 3: Create a difference between the west and east platforms

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West vs. East Platform Example Index:

West Platform

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that cover objects surround the floodlight switch
  • WHY: In order to differentiate the west and east platforms from one another
Western Platform with cover around the floodlight provides the player with a slight change in gameplay

Additional Details

In the original design of the level, the eastern and western platforms were almost identical, being mirrored copies of themselves. In order to change them up a bit and create more of a difference in gameplay I decided to change the way the player gets to the floodlight on the western platform. Instead of just turning on the floodlight and then having the emergence hole open up like on the eastern platform, I added cover around the floodlight that the player must leap over in order to get to it. Once near the floodlight two wretches attack the player. After the player kills both wretches the nearby emergence hole opens up. Above is an image of the floodlight button on the western platform.

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East Platform

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that nothing is in the way of the player getting to get the floodlight switch
  • WHY: Because this was the way both platforms were originally designed
Eastern platform without cover around the floodlight button

Additional Details

On the eastern platform the player just has to push the button to turn on the floodlight which after a few seconds opens up a nearby emergence hole. Above is an image of the floodlight button on the eastern platform.

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Goal 4: Create an exciting end level matinee

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Exciting Matinee Example Index:

Helicopter Bombarding Helipad

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that the helicopter fires missiles at the helipad as it approaches
  • WHY: In order to make the matinee more exciting
Helicopter firing missiles at the helicopter pad to clear it of any remaining locust

Additional Details

My first thought on how to create an epic matinee at the end of the level dealt with the overall objective of the level: clearing the kryll off of the helicopter pad in order to get rescued. Therefore, the next logical step was to make a matinee of the helicopter flying in. However, the original matinee of the helicopter was not exciting; it just flew down out of the sky and then landed on the helicopter pad. In order to make it truly exciting, I designed it to shoot missiles as it flew down. Above is an image of the helicopter shooting at the helipad as it flies in.

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Helicopter Attacking The Last Locust

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that the camera shows the helicopter firing at the last Locust
  • WHY: To disguise the fact that I autokill all remaining Locust during the matinee
Helicopter firing at the remaining locust

Additional Details

While the helicopter firing missiles was exciting, it was still not good enough, so I added a camera switch towards the end of the matinee of missiles being fired at a locust. The above image shows one of the missiles being fired at the locust.

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Action Shot of The Helicopter

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that the camera does a panning shot around the helicopter
  • WHY: To add some more action to the matinee
Action shot of the helicopter approaching

Additional Details

One of the final touches I made on the helicopter matinee was that I added a panning shot that goes around the helicopter at the beginning of the matinee to make it look more like an action scene. The image above is a shot from the camera panning around the helicopter.

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Front Shot of The Helicopter

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that the matinee starts with the helicopter approaching the camera
  • WHY: To emphasize the fact that the helicopter is coming to your rescue
Front shot of the helicopter approaching

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