Production II Level Design

Updated: Jul 3, 2019

Week 12 - Designing the World

Once we cleared the direction of the game and its mechanics, we could begin work on levels. The first step was deciding the type of environment that we wanted. Trying to adhere to the original vision of the game, we based the levels on the Lusitania, a luxury cruise liner that was sunk by German U Boats in 1917 and was found to be carrying war munitions for Britain. Lining up closely with the narrative, this type of environment fit the context perfectly and gave us a real inspiration that we could draw on to help keep the design of the levels consistent. Again consulting the narrative, we decided to create 5 levels, each moving through different parts of the ship and introducing a new horror.

We began with a rough path the player would travel through the ship and how the levels would be separated. Then, drawing on environmental horror, we agreed that we wanted the beginning levels to be a bit more open and as the players progress through the game, become more tight and claustrophobic, slowly revealing monsters hidden in the ship. After that was decided, I was tasked with creating level 2 and level 3.

Designing Level 2

Level 2 is located in the mid decks of the ship, after the player falls through weak floorboards in level 1. I used the floor plans and drawings of the Lusitania to assist me in designing the level.

I began by sketching out floor plans and playing around with the general size of the level. When creating level 2, I wanted the player to feel like they were exploring an actual ship, but I wanted to make it tighter in the passenger decks to produce the environmental horror that we were hoping to create. Dropping players into a larger room would help them get their bearings, especially since they will still be getting acclimated to the split drone. Then, in the next room the level gets tighter, increasing the players’ tension, but the straight, lattice hallways would keep the players channeled, helping them through the level. For more about level 2, read about it here on The Gaze of the Abyss project page.

Designing Level 3

I designed level 3 to be the engine boiler room and the lowest part of the ship that the player reaches. I drew inspiration for this level from images of the Lusitania’s engine equipment as well as the layout that I did for level 2.

I started by making it slightly smaller than level 2 and connecting the two levels with a stairwell that the player winds their way down. I made the puzzles in this level much simpler and more straightforward than level 2 because I wanted to highlight the lamprey monsters’ eggs that would be coating the walls of the winding pathways through this level. For more about level 3, read about it here on The Gaze of the Abyss project page.

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Claire Yeash

Game Designer and UX Researcher