Your agency wants you to to help a robot of theirs that's crash landed into a warehouse on its way to a mission.
In this project I wanted to tell a story and build a short level with some simpler progression puzzles.
First person perspective
Escort mission & boss fight
5 weeks half time (4h/day) + 1,5 week full time (8h/day)
Unreal Engine, Maya
Some assets taken from:
Blocking Starter Pack
[SCANS] Abandoned Factory
Industry Props Pack 6
Construction Site VOL. 1 - Supply and Material Props
Developing an idea
This project has been a very iterative process.
From the start, it was supposed to be an escort mission in a jungle, and I wanted to work on composition and story. Gameplay would be shooting obstacles in the environment to help the little robot get through and as you found more things along the way, a story would unravel.
This idea developed into something less spacious – a warehouse, with three rooms. I kept the robot and made more linear puzzle gameplay, going from room to room, still helping the robot through. It turned out too simple and it felt like something was lacking in almost every room.
I had no intentions of making a boss fight from the beginning – that idea was developed at the end of week 5 (out of 6,5) when I felt I had to make some drastic changes. The middle room of my previous idea was cut but I kept the other two. Doing this, I wanted the boss fight to involve elements that you’d gone through in room one and two, but none of those elements were very boss fight-like. I'm discussing this more under the section "Improvements that could be made".
Week 2, when the level still had three rooms.
You're greeted by the robot you're supposed to escort.
The first door can't be opened from this side and the window above it is blocked by a crate.
To open the first door you need to make your way up to the controlroom by pushing boxes and jumping.
In the controlroom you press a button which makes the crates move along the railings in the ceiling.
You can now get out of the window above the door and open it from the other side.
In the second room the door to the outside is locked.
Once again you need to make your way up to the window above the door.
You need to jump across the shelves and make sure not to get hit by one of the passing crates in the ceiling.
There's a walkway around the wall which you can walk on to get to the window.
Outside, the little robot transforms and now wants to kill you.
You need to find four red gas cylinders and throw them at the boss to destroy first its shield and then the robot itself.
The first cylinder is placed so that the player can try it out right away (see picture 4). The other ones are on a container, inside a cement pipe and in the back of a truck.
The boss fight
A lot had to be done to develop the boss fight in only two weeks - lots of new blueprints, mechanics and a whole new area outside the warehouse that I hadn't planned for before.
Tracking the player
I wanted the head of the boss to always follow the player, so that no matter where the player is, they could be hit by the lasers.
The lasers had one big criteron (besides damaging the player): don't go though objects. The player should be able to hide behind or inside of things without the laser hitting them.
This was done by creating a mesh that would stretch until its line trace hits an object. When it does, it stretches so that it hits the surface of the object and doesn't go through.
The shooting is telegraphed by the boss lighting up, first its body and then its eyes. Then it stops following the player with its head and shoots at the location where the player was, or still is if they haven't moved.
Improvements that could be made
If someone told me that I had to remake this level and boss fight and give it improvements, there are a few things that comes to mind:
I would have wanted more gameplay elements, or at least improve some of the ones I had. For example: the pushable boxes. They can only be pushed in one set direction - it would be more interesting if you could push them any way you'd like and figure out for yourself where it's supposed to be.
The second room, with the shelves, had a lot of potential for a more interesting puzzle than the one I settled for. I could for example have filled it up with more stuff to climb on, perhaps more pushing-boxes-puzzles.
From the beginning, the gas cylinders were inside of boxes, and you were supposed to lure the boss into shooting its lasers on the box so that it got destroyed and reveiled the gas cylinder. I got it to work but then ran into some problems with i.a. collisions that I didn't have time to solve, so the idea was scrapped. It would have added one more element to the fight.
Another idea with the gas cylinders and boxes was to shoot the boxes that are on the rail in the air and get the gas cylinders that way. Of course, then I would have either had to give the player a weapon, or use something else in the environment to get the boxes down.
Giving the player a weapon was very tempting and might have been a better way to go around the boss fight. But I wanted to try to make it interesting with the things I had already had, which became my biggest problem. I didn't have a lot because I hadn't planned for a boss fight when first I made the level. Some drastic changes in gameplay, perhaps a weapon, I think would have done the fight good! It would have been interesting to see how it would have turned out if I designed the boss fight first - then the level before, and see what mechanics I could come up with.
To make the boss more interesting, different levels of intensity in its patterns could have helped. For example, when the shield is down, it goes into some sort of berserk mode.
A smaller improvement is that I would have liked better telegraphing sounds when the boss shoots - something that really sounds like a laser charging up and shooting.
The boxes can only be pushed from the yellow side
The boxes on the rail had more potential than just being a leading line.
This project was a rollercoaster.
In the end, the boss turned out alright; I got most of the mechanics that I planned for to work and I'm happy that I change my mind that final time when I decided to add the fight. It made it so that I had to do more scripting, which is something I've grown to enjoy!
I had an idea and a plan from the start but I think maybe I felt a bit rushed, and the planning probably needed a really thorough, deep think to catch all the loose threads. Still, it was interesting to say the least to make these kinds of big iterations and it's been a learning experience for sure!