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Level Design

Here are some of my personal projects in 
Level Design, Game Design, Writing and Art

Dreams of a Level Designer

LD Time Challenge

Time: 5h 
Description: I set for myself a challenge to create a short level for an action VR game with stealth and puzzle elements. The idea was for me to graybox a level in a few hours and to convey the ideas of the level and the player's flow through the level in a concise manner. 
As I've recently played the hit VR title Half-Life: Alyx, I was in the mood to create a similar experience, in very basic shapes in Unreal 5.
I started by brainstorming and finding a theme for the level, as well as a story to base my creative decisions on. I landed on the story of a snowy apocalypse where the player drops into a snow covered library overrun with enemies and a weird alien growth, his goal being to reach the exit of the library and investigate further into the strange mutations growing everywhere.

After finding the story and idea, I sketched out initial ideas on paper until I arrived on a rough shape that I wanted to take further. Along the way I was coming up with game design ideas for this imaginary game, like the ability to reach through openings to grab loot or manipulate objects.  After the paper design stage comes the initial grayboxing in Unreal. Setting up everything how the sketch says and then I go through and test out this initial design and how it feels in 3D space. From there on the grayboxing continues but in a more detailed manner. I add smaller details and simple level geometry that still influences the players perspective and view at different stages in the level.  The First section of the level is a small hallway with a little puzzle. There are goodies (grenades and ammo) seen through a window but not accessible by the player (arms too short). Going down the hallway is a locked door with a cracked wall through which the player can reach and open said door (mechanic taught just earlier with the broken window). Here he can find a key to get to the goodies, which can then be used in the upcoming open two story library section.  The player starts here on the upper floor, while his goal (a door leading deeper into the building) is on the ground floor below. The open space offers the player a clear view downstairs to get familiar with the layout of enemies and environment and to offer the player several ways on how to approach this combat situation. After taking out a key enemy (silent knife time) the player has the option to use either staircase to get down to ground floor. The layout of the level is strewn with bookshelves that offer firing, spying and covering opportunities to the player.  In total this short level graybox was finished in around 5 hours from start (brainstorming) to a "finished" state, meaning from here on I would push the level further to include actual enemies, puzzles, and items and make it playable from start to finish. From there playtesting would start, showing flaws in the design and needed changes.


Crimes in Game Design

The Abyss Below

Genre: Roguelite 3D Action Game
Description: The Abyss Below was developed for my Masters Degree. For two semesters the game was developed by me with a group of other students. The game is a mix between Rogue-lite games and 3D Action games like Dark Souls. The game world is randomly generated and features the methodical reactionbased combat that is prevalent in the Souls-Series. My role in the 
project was Game Design, Level Design and storytelling. The project faced some problems due to lacking programming skills in the team and bad feedback from professors. Nonetheless the project gave me a greater insight into working with Unity as I imported and implemented many assets and a bit of code into the game. Although the game still has many problems and bugs, as many student projects do, it is still a great achievement as I learned a lot from it. I had the pleasure of working out the enemie’s combat design, which were only implemented rudamentarily. The level design was great to work on since I admire how Dark Souls does it and wanted to get a similar feel in this game. For my Master Thesis I decided to test two different implementations of story into the game. For this I also got to create a nice story and improve my writing. 

Teo's Day

Genre: 2D Endless Runner
Description: Made at Uni for my Game Design course. It’s a game about an adorable Wolpertinger who gets disturbed in his forest and has to travel through dangerous levels.
The first actual game I worked on in a two person team. I did the game design, programming and level design. Being the first game I ever made it was a bumpy ride. The biggest challenge for me 
was the programming since I’m not really good at that. The project however turned out quite well even though there are still a few bugs. The fact that my teammate and I are good friends helped with the decision making and splitting of workloads. The level design here featured usually a high stakes path and a safe path for the player. Here and there some tricky sections that require quick thinking are sprinkled in to change up the pace.

Gang Jam

Genre: Multiplayer Brawler
Description: Gang Jam is a four player local multiplayer brawling game. It was developed in 48h at the SemesterGameJam 2018. The topic was “discovery”. The hook of the game is that the players have to brawl each other while continuously “discovering” their controls. Every 20 seconds the controls change randomly. This was my first game jam and it was a blast. The challenge to create a game in these conditions was great. I took the role of game designer and team management and a bit of Unity integration and level design as well.

Clash at Midgard

Genre: Boardgame
Description: Made at Uni for my Game Design course, together with many friends. It's a boardgame inspired by the Manga "Attack on Titan". In the game players have to defend their town from monstrous Icegiants. Some players can transform into ice giants themselves. The objective is to plug up the wholes where the giants come in from. 
My Contribution: Game Design, Story, some art

Writing Endeavors

He who fights with Monsters

Origin: Created for a course during my Masters degree. An exercise in writing a complete story for a game 
Synopsis:  Ben is a nerdy 18-year-old looser who has no perspective and spends his days playing video games. As one day he fails to notice the demon-apocalypse happening. Contrary to any normal person he is exstatic that he can start a new life as a survivor. He heads out in his gear and promptly gets his ass handed to him by reality. Even in this world he is of no use and is about to die at the hands of a horrible monster. Through a lucky coincidence he kills the monster but also dies himself. To his surprise he wakes up in his apartment again. From there Ben is forced to respawn in his bed everytime he dies. He meets companions that help him on his way. His goal to find his love interest crumbles as he discovers she’s taken. In a fit of rage he kills his companions but also dies by their hands. He then wakes up again, but one of his former companions now shares his powers. This event has changed Ben’s world again and together the two have to face off against the final boss, their former friend and ally. The protagonists barely win by the skin of their teeth and Ben sacrifices himself in an attempt to close the portal to hell. He wakes up one last time, but this time one day before the apocalypse. He uses the chance to stop the apocalypse from happening but dies in the process. Contempt that he saved the world he dies one last time. 
This story was created as an exercise in dramaturgy. To create a story after the methods of the heroes journey and the need/want model. This class helped me very much in becoming a better writer and writing better stories. I can now pace them better and structure them properly, which I struggled with before. 

Die Rückkehr des Chaos - Kapitel 1

Origin: My first attempt at writing a fully fleshed out Pen’n’Paper roleplaying adventure in the german roleplaying system “Splittermond”.
Synopsis:  At first the players have to investigate the kidnapping of a small girl named Anri. But in their digging they discover the secret evil society called “the red ring” who are planning to ressurect the demonlord Aranaktu. Our heroes can foil the sacrificial death of Anri but Aranaktu is released regardless. In a chaotic exchange the players get thrown into a time portal only to emerge 20 years in the future where they meet an adult Anri who helps them return to the present. There Aranaktu is destroyed only for adult Anri to absorbe his evil essence. Our heroes then have to do battle with their friend on a floating island that is about to crash into a town!
This pen and paper story was a great exercise for me as it combined my Game Design skillset with my storytelling abilities. The challenge of creating a story that should ultimately be shaped by the players is what I was drawn to. This is not unlike stories for video games where the players actions should also drive the plot. I also had to consider balancing and difficulty for each event, trap, social interaction and enemy encounter I created. This ultimately gave me a lot of good insights into creating game stories and implementing gameplay into them in an organic way. 

Earth 2107

Description: Earth 2017 was a project we did at Uni. I honestly can't remember what kind of game it was going to be. We just came up with lore, story and characters. 

Clash at Midgard

Description: Clash at Midgard was a project we did for uni as seen above. It was a boardgame and it didn't need much in the way of story but we decided to come up with something so we can base design decisions on it, like the design of the ice giants.  

Art Shenanigans

Anri Old
Anri Young
Dingleberry Finn
Clash at Midgard Fight
Clash at Midgard shoulder armor
Battleburg concept 2
Battleburg concept 3
Battleburg concept 4
Battleburg concept 1
Mass Effekt
Half Life v1
Half Life v2
Dragon Age
Deus Ex
Bionic commando
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