LEVEL DESIGNER

MAX FORSBERG

Introduction


This is Resourceful Protagonist, a singleplayer mod I created using the Source engine. I made it because I wanted to create a experience where the player was rewarded for thinking through situations before engaging them.


My mod was reviewed 22 times garnering a grade of 6.8/10, downloaded more then a thousand times and viewed by 27 000 people.


This mod taught a me alot about guiding the player, visual scripting and how to wrap a project as well as patching post launch.


Specifications


  • Singleplayer
  • Created at the end of 2013
  • Designed as a atmospheric experience

Tools used


  • Hammer
  • Photoshop

Want to play the mod? Click here!

The second level starts with the player being inside of the occupying forces outpost

The second level starts with the player being inside of the occupying forces outpost

Goals


My goal was to learn more about creating an interesting dynamic experience for the player.


I also wanted to create a piece for when I was applying to The Game Assembly.


To guide the player I used a lot of lights and sound ques such as this truck above, the sound it creates is a type of focal point

To guide the player I used a lot of lights and sound ques such as this truck above, the sound it creates is a type of focal point

Blueprint and research


I started my mod project by researching other mods on moddb. They seemed to revolve around presenting a fun unique story with lots of personal quirks in them.


With this in mind I started concepting my mod.


Something I love is when levels are made to be completed in several ways, what I wanted was to have this in mind for every single encounter with an enemy I created fior the player.


This was going to be my personal quirk with the levels in my mod.




Ahead of the player are 2 guards with their backs turned to the player, here the player has an opportunity to scavenge for resources in the enviornment to use against them.

Ahead of the player are 2 guards with their backs turned to the player,

here the player has an opportunity to scavenge for resources in the enviornment to use against them.

Creating scenarios and playtesting


To start off I created a scenario with the two guards in the underground base. Here the player only has a pistol with 18 rounds.


If the player explores to the left they will find a gas canister and more ammunition for the pistol, to the right a healing item and some mirrors that they can use to see the approaching soldiers coming around the corner if agitated.


To set this up I used NPC block volumes that would dissapear if the player shot them, shined their light on them or just walked to close, a nice work around any messy A.I behaviors.


Creating scenarios and playtesting (continuation)


However funnily enough most players found a third option, when they engaged the guards, the guards would throw grenades at the player which caused the player to pick the grandes up and throw them back. The players who did this found it to be extremly satisfying since they went in with 18 bullets and came out with 18 bullets.


What is more interesting is how players sometimes refused to explore the surrounding enviornment going in guns blazing however this usually ended up teaching the player to explore first and then engage the threat.


At first the scenario had only 1 guard but this was to easy because you could headshot the guard with one bullet if they were unaware of the player. To fix this I added more guards which turned out to also make the fight that would ensue a lot more fun! After all the player did become familiar beforehand with the environment after they had scavenged it for resources.


Having learnt a lot about how to create a fun and interesting scenario I moved on to creating a couple of different scenarios.

I highlight the zombine with a poster and the edge of the light to make sure the player has a chance to see the threat and respond as they wish

I highlight the zombine with a poster and the edge of the light to make sure the player has a chance to see the threat and respond as they wish

This is the bridge leading to the end of the mod, I wanted the player to feel as if they were walking towards something very important thus I decided to light the bridge using a row of the spotlights which have been used to guide the player before hand as well

This is the bridge leading to the end of the mod, I wanted the player to feel as if they were walking towards something very important thus I decided to light the bridge using a row of the spotlights which have been used to guide the player before hand as well

Reflections


People complained a lot about how the mod was very short, to adress this issue I added another map to the mod.


Something else people complained about was how unpolished the levels were, I had mainly focused on the scripting and pacing of the levels but ignored the graphical fidelity that is expected of games these days.


To fix this I would go back into Hammer and prop more, rebuild a lot of BSP work to make sure I have more interesting sillouetes in the environment.


Also working more with sound to create a stronger ambience.


The greatest lesson from this I think is that light is the most important tool for guiding the player. Something I took great advantage of as I developed the mods four levels.


As the player enters the city for the first time they are greeted with propaganda posters and fire to set the tone of the mod

As the player enters the city for the first time they are greeted with propaganda posters and fire to set the tone of the mod

The first view of the outside for the player, here they are greeted with the Dictator of the Half life 2 universe

The first view of the outside for the player, here they are greeted with the Dictator of the Half life 2 universe

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Max Forsberg © 2020 max.j.forsberg@gmail.com