- Blocked out level
- Scripted all puzzles, gameplay elements, and events, excluding the axe-throwing
- Compiled metrics for God of War
- Researched Norse mythology to find stories and ideas for inspiration
- Collected visual reference
- Created level design documentation to plan level pacing, puzzles, and combat scenarios
- Sketched a few sketch drafts of 2D layout
- Created clean version in Adobe Illustrator
BLOCKOUT AND ITERATION
- Blocked out rough shapes of level to test scale
- Imported God of War axe-throwing from this project
- Created puzzle elements (scorn poles, vines, blue crystals) with visual scripting
- Implemented puzzles and rough combat beats
- Sent project to new players to get feedback
- Implemented sound effects, lighting, and basic cinematics
- Reiterated and tweaked
Scroll down to see each of these steps in more detail in my DEEP DIVE
DESIGN DEEP DIVE
Research on God of War and Norse Mythology
For this project, I wanted to stay true to the design philosophy and metrics of God of War. Fortunately, I was able to find this GDC talk:
Level Design Workshop: The Level Design of God of War
(sorry, it's only on the GDC vault), which basically had everything I needed to know. I took notes on their design philosophy and metrics.
From there, I started researching Norse mythology to find inspiration--both visual and narrative--for the quest. I decided that I wanted somewhere dark and brooding, and I liked the idea of a corrupted forest, something like Ironwood in Norse mythology. (I still think this location and story could yield a whole main story section of a God of War game).
I originally thought I wanted to create a main quest for the story, but after I realized this would be a massive undertaking if I really wanted to do it justice, so I decided to scope back the project to make a 15-20 minute side quest.
Here are the main things I noticed about side quests in God of War:
- Always come between main story beats
- Can only be accessed using some new ability or mechanic you've learned
- Usually about 15 minutes of content
- Use mostly existing assets, rather than proprietary or new assets
- Tie in narratively and provide character moments
I focused on the Wayward Spirits questlines, and decided to combine my Ironwood idea with the idea of a defiled graveyard. I studied Norse funerals to inform this idea.
Level Design Document
Once I had an idea, I created a level design document to test out some ideas, plan the puzzles, and pace the level. Here's my level design document!
I made sure that the level increased in intensity and puzzle complexity, while having rest periods for character development.
After I had an LDD that I felt good about, I went into the sketching and mapping stage, starting with digital sketches and ending in an Adobe Illustrator document
(This version is primarily puzzles, so the enemies are hidden)
Early iteration to test scale, placement, and sight lines
I then created puzzle elements in UE4 blueprints: scorn poles...
...the dark elf vines...
...and light crystals
I then worked on fleshing out my blockout...
Adding more props...
And scripting rough cinematics
Vine Puzzle and Arena