Half-Life 2 – Zombie Cleanup

Level Summary

Development Time: 4 weeks

Level Description: The original goal of Zombie Cleanup was to create a Half-Life 2 level that uses the crossbow in a unique way. The overall objective of the level is to kill your way through three waves of zombies using a new and improved version of the crossbow called the “fire crossbow.” The design of the level is quite simple with four main areas: the starting alley, the rebel house, the two side alleys where the zombies come from, and the storage room. Below are goals I had in mind when designing Zombie Cleanup.

Goals:

Just like my previous levels, in order to achieve these goals I had to test the level a lot. My design and creation practice was the same as Rescue in the Dark. I would implement something and then test it. If it did not work out the way I wanted it to I would change something and then test it again. In fact, this level was actually the more difficult of the levels I have created; as I dealt more in-depth with scripting then I have in other levels. It was something that I greatly struggled through, but while there are still some minor bugs that remain, I feel it is a level worthy of including in this portfolio.

Link to Level File

Zombie Cleanup.zip

Documentation

Level Design Doc

Level Breakdown

Image

Overview of level with primary (green), secondary (purple), and enemy (red) pathing

Goal 1: Make the crossbow bolt glow when fired

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Glowing Crossbow Bolt Example Index:

Glowing Crossbow Bolt

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that the crossbow’s projectile glows when fired
  • WHY: Because I wanted to see if I could
Glowing Crossbow Bolt

Additional Details

The most unique feature in this level is the fire crossbow. The initial idea for the level was that the player would fight zombies in an almost pitch black environment. The player would use the glowing bolts to see in the dark in addition to using them to kill zombies. I ended up having a lot of trouble getting the fire crossbow to work the way I wanted it to: I could never get the glow of the projectile to last after it hit something. So what I ended up doing is focusing on the fun of killing zombies instead of using the crossbow to see in the dark. But as the image above shows, the fire crossbow still allows for a cool visual effect.

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Goal 2: Make zombies catch fire and explode

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Images

Zombies on Fire Example Index:

Red Zombies

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made a new type of zombie that explodes a few seconds after it catches fire
  • WHY: To add some strategy to which zombies to shoot
Flaming Red Zombie
Exploding Red Zombie

Additional Details

While the fire crossbow is entertaining in its own right and settings zombies on fire is fun, I wanted to make sure there is variation even in the basic zombies, so I created an exploding zombie. The exploding zombies are the same as normal zombies except they are the color red and explode a few seconds after being shot. The exploding zombies provide an added strategy as they can be used to quickly dispatch any zombies that are close by. The above picture is an image of one of the red zombies exploding.

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Zombies Catch Fire

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that fire can spread from one zombie to another
  • WHY: Because I wanted to see if I could
Zombies catching each other on fire

Additional Details

What also makes the level interesting is the fact that when a zombie is shot with the fire crossbow the zombie catches fire and if that zombie runs into another zombie it catches on fire too. While catching zombies on fire with the crossbow was part of my original design for the level, the fire being able to spread from one zombie to another was not. The zombies catching each other on fire was a suggestion from several testers who tried my level. I was able to get it to work after many hours plugging away at different solutions. The final solution dealt with telling a trigger to parent itself to a zombie every time a zombie spawns and then having the trigger activate once a zombie is caught on fire.

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Goal 3: Provide a secret room with something useful inside

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Secret Room Example Index:

Secret Room Exterior

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made the secret room only accessible from two breakable windows
  • WHY: To force some exploration into the level
Exterior of the Secret Room

Additional Details

While the original design of my level did not leave room for much exploration I wanted to change that by adding an additional area or “secret room”. The secret room is a room just above the walkway and is only accessible by breaking one of the room’s windows and jumping inside. The above image is the exterior of the secret room. It is distinguishable from the Half-Life lambda symbols near its windows.

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Secret Room Interior

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so that the trap door only spawns barrels on the first two button presses, followed by a garden gnome on the third, and then nothing after further presses
  • WHY: To add some humor into the level and prevent players from having access to an unlimited number of explosive barrels
Interior of the Secret Room

Additional Details

My original design for the secret room included two turrets. But after testing several times with the turrets I found that instead of making the level easier, they in fact made it harder since they would let zombies die without killing the headcrabs on them first. I then changed it so that the room had a single button you would push and an explosive barrel would come out of a trap door in the ceiling, but that was exploitable since you could potentially fill up the level with explosive barrels. So what I ended up doing instead was that I limited the number of barrels the trap door produced. Using a counter I made it so that after pressing the button a third time the spawner for the barrels died and a spawner for a lawn gnome was enabled. So after a player presses the button a third time a lawn gnome comes out instead of a barrel. Then when the player hits the button again the button makes a noise and nothing comes out of the trap door.

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Goal 4: Provide the player with a surprise during the final wave

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Surprise Example Index:

Surprise Zombie Attack

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made it so during the final wave the metal door breaks open with additional zombies inside
  • WHY: To surprise the player and force them to change their strategy during the final wave
Surprise Zombie Attack

Additional Details

My original design for the waves of zombies always included a surprise attack from the zombies towards the end of the final wave. But my original design called for the zombies to be in a graveyard and to include black zombies. But after testing I found that it was much easier to have the zombies come out of a structure where the door did not look like you could shoot through it (prevents the zombies from being killed before busting through the door), so I changed it to a storage room with a metal door. I also found that including a black zombie in such close proximity to the player was too difficult so I took that out as well. I also made it so that in between zombie waves a low knocking sound could be heard from the metal door, clueing the player into what will eventually happen towards the end of the level. The above image is from when the zombies finally break through the metal door.

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Additional Images

Zombie Infested Alleyway
Interior of the Rebel Base

Fix lighting of DFSI

Fix lighting of DM17