MAP FLOWS & DESIGN INTENTIONS
This is a modular layout design for a drone disguised as a pigeon in an open-world setting.
These layouts offer articulated interior objectives and challenges, while still remaining flexible for user-generated content.
Key factors that drive and highlight the gameplay as an aerial character - a drone as a pigeon:
Mobility – This is one of the biggest factors that I want to fiddle with, as a drone can both traverse on the ground and in the air. Air traversal is likely to be the majority method of mobility, hence the levels should be spatially articulated, and clear in directionality.
Interactivity – This category is rather a broad one as both player-centric and object-centric interactivity should be considered. If we look at what a multi-purpose drone can perform, we can see intersections between the character we can control and objects we can influence. In this case, orientation manipulation, destructions, and content combinations.
With the above factors in mind, let’s consider factors that drive an interdependent level:
Readability – I like to emphasize on clear readability of a level, as there are diverse play styles and play experiences to be considered by the audiences. A clear and easily interpretable environment should not be concluded as an easy and effortless level. Complexity can come in many different forms with a good foundation for how well the players can perceive the play spaces.
Empowerment – These layouts should not have hard limits on what the players can perform. My levels will not tell the players what to do, but allow them to approach their preferences and have the flexibility to utilize the game's play mechanisms. Players should be EMPOWERED!
Metrics and Affordances – To not make play experiences interrupted by confusion, affordances (E.g. Hanging lines can be cut or destroyed from weight pulling), shape languages, and metrics (E.g. Vents are slightly larger than the size of the drone to prevent larger props from being transported) need to be coherent.
Blue – Traversal junctions. The primary traversal gates are the big front opening or door-size openings on the side walls, whereas more are located on the top of the walls as vents, as well as floor vents. The placement of these traversal gates is articulated to create dynamics between rooms and game objectives.
Yellow – Landing Pads. Resting area for the drone that hovers above the main play spaces to offer options for surveillance and pause.
Red – Destructible items. These items can be destroyed or damaged through a variety of approaches and come in varying forms, such as billboards, light poles, and packages.
These layouts are designed as interior spaces for a commercial mall, which includes individual interchangeable rooms:
1. Mall Lobby 2. Restaurant 3. Toy Store 4. Warehouse 5. Restroom
Modularity is a big part of this level design. I chose a hexagon to be the base perimeter room shape because in contrast to triangle or quadrilateral shapes, hexagons can ensure when connected, there can be 2 faces from all the rooms that can be accessed instead of just one. This can generate very interesting play objectives.
On top of that, one can reshape the interior volume of the hexagon to any desired shape or form.
Modularity is NOT defined by symmetry. For the scope of this layout design, I will be using 3 hexagonal perimeters to create diverse play spaces, in addition to 2 more non-uniform spaces.
Those are connector traversal gates between each room. The primary traversal gates are the big front opening or door-size openings on the side walls, whereas more are located on the top of the walls as vents, as well as floor vents. The placement of these traversal gates is articulated to create dynamics between rooms and game objectives:
- Big openings are regular entry and exit points at a storefront.
- The vents on top of each room are designed to be slightly larger than the full span width of an average pigeon(1 – 1.36m) to allow for fast traversals, but not item traversals. Similarly, the floor vents embody the same intention.
Another usage for vents is that it allows the room’s modularity to be more organic. In the current demonstration, the rooms are interconnected to ensure there are 2 gates for each room. In more diverse cases, vents can articulate the layouts further when interconnected non-uniformly.
The usual height for a floor would be around 14ft/4.2m. However, incorporating the listed key factors for this game, I want to exaggerate the play spaces a bit to emulate a Racetrack feeling with distinct loop/route patterns for the players to empower the freedom of mobility and excitement as a free-flying drone. Therefore, the floor height is now 16 ft/5 m.
Each zoning is carefully considered for the rationing of the room.
Blue Ratio | > ¼ of the total room – This is the top traversal/safety area for the pigeon, where this area is above most surveillance and dangers. It is also an area for the players to glance over their “tracks”.
Orange Ratio | locating at > ¼ below the room ceiling – This is the conventional height in this world for interior spaces to hold most “landing pads”. In this zone, play spaces will provide platforms for players to rest their drones from danger, to conduct stationary surveillance or tactical executions. You will see this in more depth in the final-level configurations.
Green Ratio | < 2/3 of the total room – This is where the majority of the gameplay will occur!
This is the first configuration, and the ideal of this configuration is to promote interconnectivity. All the rooms are connected to two faces of their neighbor rooms. Like what the name of this configuration implies, it’s all about mayhem, with extra irregular mayonnaise.
This will be the most active and dynamic configuration, as the mall will be filled with customers and procedural NPCs.
The player will spawn at the center mall lobby on top of a random landing pad. The objective of this configuration is to cause as much damage as possible before the timer runs out, and the trigger for the objective is to trigger first damage from anything damageable. This is a great way to support different play styles and approaches. You can choose to go reckless or hard-core to maximize your score. For example, players can scout the entire configuration before creating any damage looking for potential high-valued items or combinations of item manipulation to create extra damage – pre-placing explosive packages on top of the restaurant lamp and cutting the lamp loose when causing mayhem to create explosive impacts at the dining area.
NPC & Extra Bonus!
In this configuration, the key NPC will be the restaurant head chef. With a worse temper than Gordon Ramsay, this chef will ensure all the works of art created in the kitchen will be perfect, and everything on the plate will not receive criticism.
This will be the regular surveillance pattern from the chef. Starting from 1, where the chef will circulate around the kitchen area the most often. Occasionally, the chef will randomly circulate out toward the dining area in either 2 or 3 routes. The surveillance pattern will break and turn into a chase pattern when you are spotted by the chef.
Pay attention! The restaurant in this configuration will be a high reward area because the chef will carry the infamous fillet knife out, and you can bet the chef is also a world-class knife thrower!
But, why the kitchen area first? The restaurant will offer even more bonuses if you can mess up the chef’s precious serving foods or orders to customers! Remember, if you mess up the foods, the mayhem objective WILL trigger. However, if you begin by messing up the correct orders of food to customers, such as swapping out plates on different tables, as long as there are NO physical damages caused, you can earn bonus points without triggering the mayhem objective!