I wanted to try my hand at greyboxing a level concept as a way to acquaint myself with Unity again and get myself back into level design. The end result is a handmade, simple abandoned apartment complex meant to be the introduction to a first person shooter game.
But how did I get here? I started with a very barebones and basic floor plan sketched up in Photoshop. This was my ideal set up of the situation.
Then it was off to Unity to work. I’d been introduced to a tool called ProBuilder earlier, and it seemed to be exactly what I’d need to come up with a decently made prototype level. I got to work setting up the three-tiered floors immediately…
… then set about dressing it up, adding rooms and lighting.
I know a little bit about lighting and how it affects tone and the atmosphere of the environment, and so decided the lighting would be green to create an air of unease in the player.
The objective was to use lighting to both enforce a mood and guide the player. Notice the green lighting in the hall and the glow of white light at the stairwell to help guide them forward. There’s also the open room with sunlight streaming in from a window to add further contrast and guidance. The room is ultimately a dead end but imparts on the player the history this place might’ve had.
This continues on to the second floor, which had to be changed from the sketch because the space didn’t allow for 3 rooms of equal size. Mental note, be sure of scaling even MORE before going into this.
The third floor impedes the player’s progress by throwing rubble in their path that obscures a hole to one room on the second floor.
Upon dropping down here, they find the first weapon of the game: a knife, illuminated by a heavenly glow. Ideally, upon picking it up, the door would be burst down by a cultist and become the first kill of the player. More would be swarming on the first floor, and the game would properly begin.
In the end, the finished prototype deviated from the previous plan, but ultimately I feel it did so for the better. It feels much more compelling now that it’s not a nebulous exploration of a random apartment complex; it feels like trudging through an unnatural and forgotten landmark before chaos begins by guiding the player up from the entrance through its dark and spooky halls before empowering them. Start low, end high.