Unreal Tournament 3 – Derelict

Level Summary

Development Time: 3 weeks

Level Description: The goal when creating Derelict was to create a unique Unreal Tournament 3 level based off of the original DM17 level from Quake 3. My level design is a mirrored version of DM17 – which adds two more upper level platforms on the other side of the map as well as another middle platform underneath that. However, the most unique addition is a huge derelict spaceship floating in the middle of the level that players fly to using the jump pads from the platforms surrounding it. I had several goals in mind when creating and designing Derelict.

Goals:

In order to achieve the above goals I constantly tweaked and tested my level. I followed the initial design of the level I made in my level design document pretty close towards the beginning. In fact the layout of the level stayed close to the original design throughout the whole process, minus minor tweaks to scale and visual polish. After making a tweak or a major change I would run the level in editor and test how it felt playing with bots. I would also have a few test sessions with students, which is where I would get my more useful feedback.

Link to Level File

Derelict.zip

Documentation

Abstract
Level Design Doc

Level Breakdown

Image

Overview of the level highlights key points (green) and pathways (pink)

Goal 1: Create a familiar but unique level layout

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Level Layout Example Index:

Front Overview

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Mirrored the two upper platforms and the middle platform on to the other side of the map
  • WHY: To open up the level and give it greater flow for gameplay
Overview of the level from the front

Additional Details

In order to make my level unique and not just a simple clone of the original DM17 level, I began by mirroring the two upper platforms and the middle platform on to the other side of the map. This immediately opened up the level and allowed for greater flow and gameplay. Above is an image of the overall layout of the level. The upper platforms can be seen in the front of the image as well as in the far back. The new midsection is directly under the front upper platforms.

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Closeup of New Middle Platform

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Gave the new middle platform: connecting bridges, lift elevators, and teleporters leading to the armor pickup
  • WHY: To give players easy access between all the platforms
Closeup of new Middle Platform

Additional Details

The above image is a closeup shot of the new middle platform. Just like the other middle platform (not in the picture except for the bridge with armor on it), this platform includes two teleporters that lead to the armor piece on the bridge. I also added bridges that connect the two middle platforms in order to provide easy access between them. Below each bridge I also added elevators to provide easy access to the middle platforms for anyone stuck directly below the bridges.

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Closeup of Bottom Platform

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Created the bottom platform to be a close recreation of DM17’s
  • WHY: To keep some semblance and familiarity of the original level
Closeup of Bottom Platform

Additional Details

The above image is the bottom section of the level. The collection of jump pads provide quick access to upper platforms within the level, just like the original DM17 level.

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Goal 2: Create a visually stunning centerpiece

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Centerpiece Example Index:

Spaceship Exterior

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Created a spaceship in between the top platforms of the level
  • WHY: To give the level a new twist that makes it more unique
Spaceship Exterior

Additional Details

My original design in order to create a visually stunning centerpiece in the middle of the level was to put a floating derelict spaceship in between the four upper platforms. Players would use the jump pads on each platform and fly through the spaceship (no actual interaction) before landing on the opposite platform. It was not till I started actually building my level that I thought of allowing players to actually land on the spaceship and fight there. However, once I did come up with the idea I brought it about my building the spaceship out of many different static mesh pieces. The construction of the spaceship took quite a long time, but it provided a big and unique piece of eye candy that ties the level together. The above image is a closeup of the exterior of the spaceship.

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Spaceship Interior

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Made the interior of the spaceship have low gravity along with: green lighting, bio rifles, and an extra armor pickup
  • WHY: To provide a unique gameplay experience that contrasts to the rest of the level
Spaceship Interior

Additional Details

While the exterior of the spaceship only went through a couple minor iterations, the same is not true for the interior of the spaceship. The original design of the spaceship’s interior was quite empty, save for some weapon pickups. In order to make it more visually interesting I added several glowing goo tanks which greatly improved the ambience of the ship’s interior. I also filled out the space more by populating it with crates. Even after that, the space was still considered to be a little boring, as testers wanted something more out of the area. It was suggested that one solution would be to make the inside of the ship have low gravity, so that is what I did. It took a little while to tweak the gravity values to where I wanted it, but once it was done the gameplay inside the ship felt a lot more unique and fun to play. To further the feel of low gravity I added a few crates with low density that appear to float around when shot at. The final tweak I made to the ship’s interior was to make its walls and a part of its floor a surface that could be seen and shot through, but not walked through. This addition was made because of tester feedback about how being inside the ship was too safe from the snipers. This last addition also opened up the level more, giving players inside the spaceship a chance to fight those on the outside and vice versa.

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Goal 3: Give the level a visually interesting setting and background

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Background Example Index:

Sun in the Background

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Added a sun in the background
  • WHY: To make the background more visually interesting
Sun in the background

Additional Details

In order to give the level a visually interesting setting I felt that it should take place within an asteroid field near a sun and a couple of planets. This goal was actually meet pretty early on and was quite an easy task. I took the asteroid belt asset and put it around the level and placed collections of rocks (with an asteroid texture on it) on the outskirts of the level. I also placed a big glowing sun on one side of the map and a big red planet along with a small moon on the other side of the level. The above image is a shot of the sun on one side of the level. While the sun provides a cool looking background it did go through two iterations. Originally it was a lot bigger and brighter, but testers observed that it was too bright and overbearing, so I decreased its size and lowered its glow.

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Planets in the Background

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Added planets to the background
  • WHY: To contrast the sun on the other side of the level
Planets in the background

Additional Details

The above image is the background of the level on the opposite side of where the sun is. The giant ominous red planet provides a contrast to the brightly lit and glowing sun and the moon adds a small bit of ambience and variation. There were no real alterations made to the planet and the moon during the development of the level.

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Goal 4: Make the sniper location more unique

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Sniper Platform Example Index:

Sniper Platforms

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Added an additional (smaller) sniper platform that a player can easily be knocked off of
  • WHY: To give the player a choice between platforms
Sniper Platforms

Additional Details

In order to make the sniper platform more interesting and unique I decided to make it on a floating asteroid instead of another platform. This provides a cool visual as well as supports the theme of my map. But after creating the initial sniper platform, I thought about having another sniper platform with a better viewpoint. So I put another floating asteroid platform high above and behind the initial floating asteroid platform. I made it smaller then the other platform and made it so the only way to get to it is my jumping off the edge of the first sniper platform on to a jump pad that jumps you up to the hidden sniper platform. I made the hidden sniper platform smaller so that when a player goes up there they have a risk/reward choice: it gives the player a good vantage point, but they can be easily knocked off by incoming fire or another player.

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View From Secret Sniper Platform

What I Did and Why

  • WHAT: Gave the additional sniper platform a better view of the level
  • WHY: To emphasize a risk/reward choice: a better view = greater chance of getting knocked off into space
View from Secret Sniper Platform

Additional Details

The view the player gets from standing on the secret sniper platform gives the player a greater vantage point but also puts the player in greater danger.

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