My aim with this project was to learn Unreal Engine and create a playable level for my web portfolio to highlight my creative skillset using an unfamiliar engine. In addition the aim was to have the project playable on this website to act as a sort of interactive showreel. As this level is not just a level blockout, it would require some level of art and mechanics to be implemented alongside it. My plan was to get an understanding of the entire game creation pipeline within Unreal Engine and not just those limited to level designer responsibilities.

Initially the project was intended to be a simple first person adventure game, however as the project developed, it became clear that I could do more with it and expand the initial concept. Considering that this was intended to be an educational piece for myself I let myself get a bit carried away with certain features, such as the true first person gameplay and puzzle solving mechanics. I learned a tremendous amount from the project, through failure and compromise mostly but also growth and small victories. Below I will go over the core components and processes of the project as well as outlining some problems I faced and solved whilst tackling this extremely ambitious first Unreal Engine project.


Concept

I constructed the foundation of the level using the Cryengine Level Design tool matching the scale with the original concept. Following this I populated the environment using a combination of purchased assets and my own to establish a dark and sinister mise en scène. The original concept was not originally intended to be transferred onto a 3D engine, as its purpose was to provide players with a visual aid in combat and travel. As a result the concept lacked sufficient realistic decoration and embellishment which ultimately made the environment feel somewhat contrived. So I spent more time working on making the environment feel natural and authentic.

Before concepting the environment, I began by creating an informal preproduction blueprint to answer all of the questions regarding details, such as the stonework, lighting, inventory, and décor. When considering the layout and form, I am led by gameplay and narrative rather than trying establish to realism. My aim was to make the environment look as though it had been converted into an inn recently, thus provoking inherent suspicion once the players conversed with the innkeeper. Additionally the inn’s windows were all boarded up to prevent the players from escaping; this was a gameplay choice to ensure that the new players joining the pre-existing campaign didn’t deviate from the introductory session..