[Level Design] No.2

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Level Designs




[Art Direction] Lighting the Level

[Art Direction] Lighting the Level

Lighting in the Game “Pid “

Im thinking to light the level simular to “Pid”. I want orangy-yelow light to seep through the smoke to emulate a battle deep below the hex grid to give the game the feel of impending doom! It will keep the player on their toes and immersed.

I like the way the cave background is simply faceted with no overbearing textures. The lightning in this scene produces shadows and silhouettes that make up the detail and gives a great dreamy atmosphere the different moods this game gives is another factor that drives the player to continue with the game.

Diegetic  Interface

A GUi that is incorporated within gameplay and is not part of a Heads-Up-Display is Diegetic. It is a system that is part of the level rather than it being in a menu. Eg. the player looks at a map that the avatar holds in-game instead of looking at a map in the pause menu. The diegetuc system will not put off casual gamers as its appearance is usually simplified and shown when needed. A non hardcore gamer can find a HUD system to complex and too much to learn. By using a semiotic or visual approach will make the player understand how to play the game without having to go through a long tutorial process describing and pointing to what icon you need know about. I want to cut down on written instructions and make use of visual signals such as lighting to: warn the player, direct their attention and lighten up the mood when they play well. A dynamically changing atmosphere can indicate all those factors just as well as big obvious arrows and text. Dynamic lighting and smoke effects can also indicate how well the player is progressing; if the player is doing well there might be less smoke and ominous lights, if they are doing bad there might be thick red smoke bellowing around the battlefield. Lighting and colour can also be used as an early warning system so the player can prepare their defenses, red smoke could start to pour out from the direction of the impending enemies.  This visual que could be used instead of using bright arrows which can be overbearing and distracting.


As the player can not controll a character to move and explore, the game will be limited to indicate how the player is progressing. ie to move an avatar from one platform to another gives a sense of exploration. In this Tower Defense the player will be stuck in just one location per level; the game can not physically progress like a platform game. Instead the mood of the level could change giving a atmospherical progression. The environment could change by introducing dynamic smoke and coloued lights to update the player on their progress whether it is good or bad.


Progression is essential especially in a locked down level where the player can not move the camera to a differnt place. The player has to be able to change something within the virtual environment even if it is as simple as changing the lighting, it acknowleges their input and effort which can be rewarding.



[Level Assets] Cliff Scenery

 Natural Cliffs

To lower the detail of the scenery even more I decided to model cliff formations. I took a hexagon polygon and extruded the faces until I got a more natural shape. I took inspiration from the film Tron Legacy.

Hex Cliffs

A hexagonal landscape surrounds the battle platform as if its suspended in a canon. I found there was too much detail so I darkened the lights to focus the player’s attention.


Tron legacy or the game Tron Evolution had more natural looking rock formations to represent raw or unorganised data.


[Level Design] Hex Grid Problems

[Level Design] Hex Grid Problems

The Problem
A hex grid requires more calculations as it has 6 vertices and is an odd number, this is givving Annop ‘Nargus’ some problems and extra work!

Why We want It?
It looks great! Putting the aesthetics aside the hexagon is used in table top board games because it makes a seamless pattern with no holes in between the shapes, these holes can be found in Octagon grid, it disrupts the visual fluency of the eye and can damage the immersion factor if the Octo tiles are painted with textures.

Other Solutions
I laid out a square and Octagon grid to compare, these are the easiest to calculate as they have even numbers. However they lead to regular patterns that can be read too easy, these grids do not provide any visual irregularity such as curves which can lead to a less dynamic looking design.


[PLANS] Level Designs

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[Mechanic] HILLS, an Upward Struggle

[Mechanic] HILLS, an Upward Struggle

The Hill mechanic will make Invaders progress slower. These obstructions will make the game more tactical. The player could force the Invaders to go uphill which will give more time to destroy stronger units. The player could potentially ‘heard’ the invaders into these areas by placing a high concentration of towers at one end, making the enemy choose to go uphill.

Grid Mismatch Problem
Ideally the hill has to match the grid to simulate a Truncated icosahedron. (hexagonal sphere) To make the terrain look as if a hill is bulging out of the grid forming a more natural feature out of a not so natural terrain.

At the moment the tiles do not match, a formula will have to be used to generate this kind of terrain, this is something Annop (coder) will help me with.


[Scale] Enemies & Set Dressing

[Scale] Enemies & Set Dressing

The Invaders

I placed Dan’s robot tanks within the level to adjust scale by doing this I can roughly estimate that 2 invaders can sit on a Hex tile at a time. (depends on how big the invader type is, in this case it is 2 tanks) I also placed an Invader around a Tower to see if it fits. The Invaders have to be able to go around the towers without falling off or merging with geometry (i.e going through walls)

Set Dressing Buildings

I placed taller Hexagonal prisms to represent half destroyed buildings to set the theme of the game. There is a visual challenge here:

> The buildings to the left hand side (furthest away) look great as they are out of the way and not so dominant.

> The buildings closer to the player have become over bearing and take the attention away from the battle ground. These buildings can not be too tall otherwise they will block the view of the battle, they have to be stacked from small to tall (the tallest building has to be further away so it does not obscure the view. However by placing buildings from small to tall can can make the city look fake. The player should not work out why the designer placed the buildings in this order as it will ruin the game immersion.

I have learnt less is more and set dressing has to be finely balanced as well as irregular for it to look convincing.


Level 0.1 [Path Layout]

Level 0.1 [Path Layout]

Level Plan

A simple Level design plan for a tutorial level drawn in Adobe Illustrator. I have to take into consideration how difficult I should make each level. I can control the difficulty by widening the path ways allowing for more enemies to swarm in. 1 hex tile abreast of a path will make it easy for the player as there will be less enemies.

3D Whitebox

I modelled the plan in 3D using Maya. The perspective is isometric, this is the default view the player will start in, this perspective is ideal to see the overall battlefield, the player will also be able to use 3D navigation to pan, orbit and zoom in.

Why Hexagon Grid?

Learning from our previous prototype we discovered that the Soundwave graphics cluttered the screen and confused the player. Using a grid means graphics can be contained within the floor, a space that does not interfere with the Invaders or tower emplacements. Instead of using Soundwaves I have decided to use ripples that flow across the tiles. The Hex tiles could also glow when sound passes through; to further indicate the rhythm of music.

Gun Tower Emplacements 

The pole to the right represents a tower emplacement. The towers will be placed in the centre of each Hex tile, this prevents the player from blocking paths. At this stage I am also considering using ‘Non-Buildable’ tiles to restrict the player so it increase the creativeness of their strategy, this will also make the gameplay more challenging and not too easy.