The Sketch Book
A collection of case studies
Blocktober 2019: Lighting Guidance Case Study
In the next image we can see the street the player emerges onto, a landmark (also the player's objective) is well lit and visible when the player turns the corner. Signs act as stabs of colours in the otherwise grey and urban setting, these and the lights on them should draw the players eye and make them move towards them. Note the green door which indicates an area the player can explore, this building would contain resources and an opportunity for environmental storytelling. The tank acts as a mini landmark so player can orientate themselves in this area.
On their path to the landmark clocktower the play encounters a gate which they can't pass through. This requires the player to turn around and find a side path. This next screenshots shows the area from the locked gate. The side path is lit well from this angle and is marked by yellow signs to get the players attention. An optional exploration route can also be seen (green ladder). Road blocks are used to herd the player in the right direction.
As the player progresses down the side alley they get a glimpse of the clocktower above the other buildings to inform them they are going the correct way. They reach another fence but are guided to jump onto some crates and a dumpster to get over the fencing. This guidance is done through lighting and putting a bright colour (to catch the players eye) on the objects the player needs to use to get over the fence. Piping acting as leading lines, brightly coloured signage and blood spatters are also used to guide the player over the fence. Once they are over the fence, the player can progress to the clocktower and leave the area.
This is another case study that I worked on during blocktober in 2019. My aim was to emulate the lighting guidance techniques that can be found in Left 4 Dead. The level I used as a point of reference was "No Mercy" From Left 4 Dead. I picked this level because it's set at a similar time of day and is in a urban environment. Since Left 4 Dead is the level reference it is safe to assume the gameplay will require the player to defeat hordes of undead as they progress though the area.
Other level design techniques are used throughout the level to support the lighting guidance. These elements include bread crumbing, leading lines, landmarks, colour theory, shape theory and dynamic elements to catch the player's eye.
The below screenshot shows a parking garage which is the first area the player enters. Crashed cars with lights still on act as path guidance and provide some environmental storytelling. Leading lines, blood splatters on the floor and signage also guide the player. The shape of the garage with soft angled walls also encourage players towards the exit.
From this case study it's clear and obvious how important lighting is in guiding the player. It's important the correct things are lit to catch the player eye and lead them in the correct direction. However lighting is only one piece of the puzzle, other establishing guidance techniques must be used to compliment the lighting to ensure the player has a clear understanding of the space and their affordances.
Blocktober 2018: Wayfinding and bread crumbing case study
In the above screenshot the player enters the room from the left doorway. The exit (right doorway) is obscured by the pillar so the player is guided by vines on the floor and walls that point to the exit. Different coloured rocks are positioned on the floor to help breadcrumb that player to the rooms exits. From the angle of the screenshot the level landmark is visible, creating a nice "reveal" moment for the player. The screenshot below demonstrates these same methods of wayfinding being used in another location.
A gold tower is used as the level landmark. In the image below the tower can be seen but the path goes up to the left. Vines are used to guide the path and are assisted by the dead trees, whose branches point the player in the right direction.
The levels intended gameplay is as follows:
-Players have to work their way to the gold tower fighting varying enemy types as they progress.
-The corridors linking the areas would have a traversal puzzle (swinging blades/ spike traps) that would require a timing element to pass through safely.
-The final area with the gold tower in it would have a high concentration of enemies within a narrow combat space. This is intended to act as the players final test of skill in the level.
The intended gameplay time is 10-15 mins.
What you see is the work completed on the level in my spare time during October.
I built this level during Blocktober 2018. I was aiming to build something that would work as a setting for a mission in an RPG or action adventure game similar to Fable or God of War.
I was using this to study how the action adventure genre typically implements wayfinding and bread crumbing. I focused on using nature to help guide the player. This resulted in vines along the walls and floor acting as leading lines and different coloured rocks on the floor to work as bread crumbs. I also used tree branches to point the player in the right direction and to frame objective.