The Opera House

 

Level Specifications

Engine:

Number of Players:

Genre:

Development Time:

Assets:

Unity

One

Horror

4 days

Leda and the Swan, The Three Graces by Geoffery Marchal, other modelling

assets were produced by the team 

This level was the culmination of a mechanic centered around using a guitar as a controller, with sole navigation through the use of an echolocation mechanic. The level was a challenge to design as it was completely unlit and un-textured. The map itself features multiple paths, various enemy encounters, and careful pacing with the use of shape language to denote path, orientation, and the objective.

 

One major design challenge for this level was to give the player orientation in total darkness and additionally to provide tension through pacing and the environment. Since the game utilized an alternate controller, actual player movement was on rails. Branching was only possible through a system of hiding, selecting, and committing. To that end, the level was largely constructed to be linear in nature in order to control the pacing.

My school runs a  program wide game jam called Sprint Week twice a year, where all the different years are mixed together into random teams, given a specific theme or constraint, and given four days to create a game in Unity. This level is the result of that jam. Besides level design, I was also the principle programmer and sound designer on this project.

Link to the LDD:

Navigation without Light or Textures

To help players understand when a hiding object was in view versus a regular object, shape language was employed. For example, all hiding objects were round in nature, where as every other element of the level consisted of sharp points. A colour would then highlight the object when the player pinged that was distinct from the rest of the level. In the instance of colour blindness, I also leveraged the use of a different shader texture on the ping for that object to make it visually distinct from the rest of the pinged objects.  

Pacing a Horror Game

An incredibly important part of a horror game is the pacing of the encounters within the level. It was important that the player was aware there was a threat, but it was also equally important that they were given moments of rest between encounters. Horror games that constantly toss enemies within the players path can often create fatigue, and in doing so, lessen the impact of frightening moments. I was very careful to plan the level to include stretches where the player could recharge from a tense moment. To facilitate that, I created a series of diagrams to plot out the different points of engagement.

Scripting Events

For this game, it was especially important to engage the player at specific points in the level, and additionally ensure that the tutorial functioned smoothly. To ensure that, it was I built a series of events to trigger throughout the level, to both surprise, and delight the player. One example of this was the final scene of the game. The player sweeps down a staircase into the main auditorium of the theater, where they are confronted with the ominous sight of their mentor, impaled on the organ in the centre of the stage. As the player focuses forward, I created a an event for them to be surrounded by the ghosts that populate the level, before camera control is pulled away from them and they are shown they are surrounded. The thought behind this scene was to end the game on a bang, and not a whimper.  

 
 

Final Map Game Play