Role: Level Designer

P.A.I.N.T. is a Third-Person Shooter where you and up to 3 friends can use your paint guns to fight the S.U.I.T.S and color their corporate factory. 

Complete objectives and defeat enemies to earn the highest score possible.

29 Person team, 20 Weeks, Unreal Engine 4

Download P.A.I.N.T on Steam

LEVEL DESIGN

My role for this project was Level Designer. I was responsible for our zone where the player will complete the “Lock Down Zone” objective. The game takes place in a suit factory making the production line a main focus for the level design.

SCREEN SHOTS

Notes

General level design notes
  • Level was build around the “Lock Down Zone” objective. Where the player would be stuck in the zone and has to fight off x amount of enemies before they were allowed to leave.
  • I tried to make the level encourage and facilitate movement to the player by using multiple branching paths, elevation, choke points, utilizing AI movement, etc.
  • There is a focal point in middle of the zone so player can always orient themselves towards the middle.
  • Dynamic moving pieces (Cogs and Cutters) in the level make the space feel more alive.
  • Provided the player with risk reward opportunities;
    • Cutters kill the enemies but could also hurt the player.
    • Player can use the cutter for traversal purposes to get to high ground quickly and put distance between themselves and the enemies.
    • Cogs provide the player with and opportunity to have a quick break from enemies and put distance between them. But players can fall into the fire pit below.
  • The level is also capable of supporting more objectives. Such as the Poster and Vending Machine objectives.
  • Level was entirely developed in a 6 Week period.
 
How would I improve the level next time?
  • Improve on factory aesthetics / make space look and feel more like a factory by integrating it into the blockout from the ground up instead of relying as much on set dressing.
  • Improve level scale relative to the player.
  • Improve on the flow to encourage the players to stay moving.

Level Process

Moments experimentation 

I started out by prototyping a verity of moments. My aim was to test what kind of environments best promote the gameplay style we wanted at the time. These environments also had to support the over-sized-factory theme and the production line that flowed through the middle of it. I also needed to provide space for the player to maneuver around enemies.

Merging and testing

I then complied the moments into one singular level and started play-testing.

Iteration and more testing

Based on the play-testing feedback I dramatically reduced the scale of the level, added more elevation around the outside and made a new entrance. As the gameplay required space to play well, and the factory theme pushed for smaller tighter spaces, there was consistent trade offs between density and openness.

Past this point there were continues small iterations with the help of play-tests to reach the final level that can be seen above.

Core Loop Issues

For a very long time during production our gameplay Core Loop was undecided and always changing. Because of this I was frequently changing/deleting ideas, block outs, and white boxed levels because they didn’t fit the vision anymore. Here is whet I learned from that experience:
  • I learned that it is worth it to first invest time in helping develop the core loop before venturing too far into level development.
  • Quick prototype levels / moments can help gameplay designers make decisions.
  • Always be willing to adapt. Do not get attached to your designs. Be willing to throw them away or drastically change them for the good of the project.

Misc

Other Miscellaneous things I have done for this project;

  • Made a blueprint that opens the elevator doors. Works by detecting enemy presence, opens doors but then enabled a blocking volume so more enemies cant walk through the back while the doors are open.
  • Fix lighting issues. Reduced build times dramatically without a hit to quality with tweaks to the Lightmass settings. While reducing build data from 1GB to 200MB
  • Optimized UV Lightmap resolutions on many assets. 
  • Swarm reviews for levels to check quality before anything got in the build.
  • Balanced enemy numbers for target difficulty based on number of players.