LEVEL DESIGN PORTFOLIO

Snow Painters

 
Steam link to SMU Guildhall games

// Available on Steam! Click here to play!

HighresScreenshot00003.png
 

Fast Facts

Role

Genre

Editor

Team Size

Dates

Time

Platform

Process

Tools

Level Designer

3D Kart racer

Unreal 4

41 (13 level designers)

Feb 2021 - Apr 2021

3 Months (~150 hours)

PC + gamepad

Agile Scrum

Jira, Monday, Slack, Zoom, Perforce, Miro

The Game

"Snow Painters is a pc game in which penguin characters slide around, bringing color to a plain arctic world through paint mediums, while competing against other penguins, whether human or AI, to win races. Players utilize a variety of pickups & strategies to earn first place in one of three tracks. Players can learn the mechanics in a playground map before racing on a single track or joining a grand prix style competition.

 

Videos

 

Responsibilities

General Responsibilities:

  • developed top downs
  • used the spline tools

  • utilized many of the terrain tools

  • implemented collision volumes

  • optimized the terrain for performance

  • monitored Jira for issues

  • logged tasks in Monday.com

  • participated in scrum meetings retros

  • collaborated with other departments & leads

  • conducted research

  • created sublevels

  • modified materials blueprints

  • identified risks & solutions

  • presented research findings

Special Assignments:

  • Led a sub-team of 4 on a research mission to investigate the pros & cons of spline roads

  • Served on a strike team of 4 to design & implement the first track (vertical slice)

  • Became a terrain specialist for the overall project working closely with the art department​

 

Images & Involvement

I created the terrain for track 1 & heavily modified the terrain for tracks 2 & 3. My main focus was on making sure the terrain was flush with the edges of the spline track to prevent the player from getting stuck or trapped under the track. 

I worked closely with the software development team to ensure that long sightlines were limited while also working with the art team to ensure their mountain artwork would be visible in the distance. 

I implemented natural-feeling ramps with the terrain tool to create player short cuts that felt seamless with the track, & worked closely with the art lead to create spaces for art props within the terrain's shape.

The leads had a blocker because the spline tool wasn't creating banking curves in the way they were hoping for; I suggested, & then created, banking curves with terrain that resembled the sides of a Winter X-Games half pipe. 

In some cases the spline track did not provide wide enough track areas for gameplay needs. In these situations, I extended the drivable area by blending terrain into the track. I used the terrain's degree of slope with a complex material to convey drivable or non-drivable terrain.

I collaborated on a strike team of 4 to design & implement the game's first track & vertical slice. We each began by implementing the spline track in sublevels & then redistributed responsibilities & sublevels based on project goals; I took on terrain.

Before implementation, the strike team developed a living top down of our intentions on a whiteboard. Before being assigned to the strike team, I led a group of 4 on a research mission to identify the pros & cons of utilizing spline roads in the project, including a risk analysis.

I began creating collision volumes around tracks 1-3 to prevent the player or AI from taking shortcuts or leaving the track area. Over time, I placed these volumes into their own sublevel & passed this task on to the team at large who worked on this task when idle. 

Throughout the project we logged playtest feedback & bugs into Jira & utilized Monday.com to manage our tasks each sprint under the Agile scrum spiral methodology. We completed retrospectives & followed industry-standard pipelines.

The leads were experiencing a blocker involving the spline road's implementation imperfections after being converted to a static mesh; the issues were causing gameplay, as well as, aesthetic concerns. I presented a solution: track patches, where I would implement small patches of terrain with the track's material, place it just over the area of concern on the track, & then carefully sculpt that piece of terrain to where the player could not tell the difference between where the spline road ended & the track patch began.

 

What I Learned

This was an interesting project for me as I had one foot in the level design department & one foot in the art department for most of the project. I learned a ton about the terrain tool, but more importantly, I learned how important it is to ensure that leads know why you are communicating something to them. I was sure to communicate with the leads often, but it would have been even better if I explained in more detail - or showed them - why it was necessary to communicate that to them, & what I was hoping they would do with the information I gave to them (I had hoped they would relay it to another department's lead to avoid production setbacks & misunderstandings).

 

I also learned more about how seemingly small adjustments could cause unintended issues. For example, changing the material tiling settings on a blueprint when that material is used on several assets with & without a blueprint, or modifying a small piece of terrain on the track itself resulting in an AI pileup during gameplay testing because the AI spline was not also adjusted to compensate.