LEVEL DESIGN PORTFOLIO

The Mysterious Misadventures of
Mollie and Mordecai

The Conservatory
 
Steam link to SMU Guildhall games

// Click here for the Steam page! (Expected Release: Fall 2022)

// Click here to mint the NFT version. (Shipped!)

 

Fast Facts

Role

Genre

Editor

Team Size

Platform

Process

Tools

Level Designer; QA Lead

3D Action Adventure

Unreal 4

70

PC

Remote Meetings

Redmine, ClickUp, Discord, Google Docs

The Game

"One fateful Halloween night, Mollie falls into the claws of The Wizard. Now, she must use her wits to escape his twisted estate - but she's not alone! She teams up with Mordecai, another victim in The Wizard's grasp. Together, this young duo teams up to achieve their ultimate goal: escape the estate and undo the magic that has cursed them both!

 

This single-player campaign for pc introduces an original story set in a unique fantasy universe where the player controls two unique characters with distinct skillsets in order to overcome elaborate puzzles and persistent enemies.

As a player, you will 

  • explore the corrupted estate from the attic, to the basement, to the graveyard outside!

  • battle a cursed legion of "The Stuffed!"

  • collect items and engage in alchemy to make your character more powerful and dangerous!"

 

Videos

 

Responsibilities

Level Design Responsibilities:

  • Designed, implemented, and modified multiple levels
  • Prototyped gameplay actions in blueprints

  • Edited cameras, database entries, & properties for vfx, blueprints, and other assets 

  • Utilized terrain sculpting, painting, and foliage tools

  • Participated in remote meetings small group discussions in Discord

  • Modified materials

Quality Assurance Lead Responsibilities:

  • Reviewed and implemented collision blocking volumes and assets

  • Monitored Redmine for bugs, feedback, and other issues

  • Managed production documents and tables in ClickUp

  • Optimized assets for performance and gameplay

  • Enhanced levels with set dressing & lighting

  • Served on several strike teams to collaborate with other departments

  • Led a core group of deep-dive qa testers

  • Served as a resource for general game testers and developers as needed

 

Images & Involvement

Boss Fight 2
Boss Fight 2

Boss Fight #2
I was responsible for designing the gameplay space for the second boss fight level. I was tasked with creating a scenario where the two protagonists would be separated before the combat sequence. I was also asked to create the necessary underground transition area to the level that followed the boss fight, which has to also match up perfectly to the next level start location. The programming lead programmed the combat sequence in this level.
 

I designed this level to be somewhat of a rest area before a major boss fight in the game. It closely follows the narrative lore of the game and uses level design principles, such as framing, to guide the player. 

The Conservatory
Graveyards
Graveyards
Servant's Passage
Servant's Passage

Other designers were responsible for designing many levels in this game. In some cases, I designed or redesigned portions of levels. I mostly did this for the graveyards and for one of the interior mansion levels. I implemented these designs with level design best practices in mind adding conveyance where appropriate (i.e. landmarks, leader lines, contrast).  In the graveyards, I was responsible for making the end of one graveyard area visually match up with the start of the next graveyard area. In the mansion space, I was asked to make some longer hallways more interesting in terms of gameplay; I accomplished this by creating obstacles for the player to move around, adding searchable notes, and by adding floor trash in the area that depicted more lore from the game's narrative.

Some of the levels had a great whitebox in place and just needed set dressing and some elements of conveyance to guide the player. I spent a considerable amount of time bringing to life the second half of the opening level with terrain painting, foliage, landscape assets, and contrast elements like lighting and bright red mushrooms. Note: It is possible that some elements of this space may be modified to accommodate cinematics that were still in development before leaving this team. 

The Village
The Village
Dollmaker's Workshop
Dollmaker's Workshop
Dollmaker's Workshop

Other tasks were more related to quality assurance as I was also the lead in this department. For example, I added a ton of collision volumes into levels and reviewed other collision volumes other designers had implemented. My goal was primarily to ensure that the players could not escape the playable space and that they could not get stuck on small or oddly shaped assets/groups of assets.  I directed all of my qa team to try to escape the playable space and intentionally get stuck; I wanted them to find ways to cheat the puzzles and level progression as intended. In one level in particular, the players were in a narrative space where the antagonist was a giant; therefore, all of the scene props seemed giant. This came with many challenges for quality assurance as I had to look for stretched textures and odd simple collision.

I was asked to go into each level and find the perfect place to add a special treat that could be collected by the player. In order to do this, I had to be very familiar with the level layout and player flow. My goal was to put this one pickup in a place where players would be rewarded for purely exploring the scene, and to do this without adding to the existing level's design. After placing the treat, I had to assign a parameter to each one and validate the actors in the scene. VFX would later go in and add pickup effects to the treat for juice. I was also asked for VFX input on the perfect level effects for this unique level.

Dream World
Dream World
 

What I Learned

One of the big lessons that I took away from this project was how important it is to work in cycles. We had major milestone deadlines that we worked from, but we didn't have sprint cycles or smaller deadlines. I believe having 2-4 week deadlines with specific tasks to be completed in each would have helped to keep the team in communication and better focused on the critical things that were need at those times. We also had a list of bugs and issues, but not necessarily a list of actionable tasks to resolve those issues, nor did any of them really have a deadline. By taking the time create tasks and deadlines to resolve the issues in another table, I think the team would have been better prepared for the time commitment and tasks ahead. 

As a designer, I learned how to better use the foliage and terrain painting tool in Unreal 4. I modified database entries, new parameters in the details pane, and learn a little about ai patrol pathing in the engine; things I had never done before in Unreal 4. I also learned something so simple, but useful: the "G" key turns off all the lines in the engine and "alt" + "s" simulates the environment so you can take better screenshots!