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Forlorn Laboratory

Project Summary

Forlorn Laboratory is a level design project that was made in Unity and took roughly fifty hours to complete. The level follows an agent sent to shut down robots that have gone rogue in an office and factory complex.

In order to complete the level, I went through the full pipeline documenting, paper mapping, whiteboxing, and polishing. In order to speed up the process, I utilized a premade asset pack that included enemies with AI, weapons, and a character controller.

Papermapping

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Beginning the Level

I focused on player intention and context at the level's start.

 

The opening cinematic and lobby room serve as a short tutorial for the player, introducing keys (which they must use to exit the room) and the concept of weapons and enemies, which are presented as a narrative setpiece to give context to the level.

 

I also show several goals in this room, such as entering the receptionist's office, the factory below, and the control room across the factory floor. I've done all of this in a safe environment to make the player feel comfortable and confident.

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Lobby entrance.

Gameplay and Pacing

When developing, I aimed to create stealth or "sneakiness" in an action game. The assets I used lend well to fast-paced combat, but by creating predictable pathing for robots, as well as denoting their health and damage by color, I encourage careful planning and deliberate play.

 

I also create this feeling by forcing the player through the ventilation area; while this isn't a choice in the linear level pathing, the nature of the path emphasizes the feeling of stealth.​​​​​​​

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Ventilation area.

Key cards and doors can get old easily, so I made sure to vary between stealth sections (the server room), combat sections (the offices), platforming (ventilation), and areas with puzzle solving or listening to voiceovers.

 

I also attempted to subvert expectations with a keycard not working, forcing the player to take an alternate path. 

Blue keycard.

Postmortem

For my first 3D level design project, I'm quite proud of the final product, especially the pathing complexity, pacing, and layout.

However, I feel as though many areas of the level are too large. I wish I had begun smaller and built outward; the character controller had a naturally fast speed I couldn't modify, making it hard to control. This lent to a generally larger level.

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Factory area.

Once the player acquires the purple keycard, they're meant to progress to the control room, where the card fails, redirecting their path. Unfortunately, there is nothing in place to prevent the player from skipping this major narrative beat.

The level's structure means they will likely travel directly to the overseers office. This could have been fixed with a gate, a valve, or simply by redirecting their attention.

Purple keycard and door.

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