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The Frankfurter experiments

RUNDOWN

DETAILS

The Frankfurter Experiments servers as the final level in Unemployed: Tales of an Interview. As a level designer, I was in charge of this level and The Office

An old underground sewer system/prison cell has been repurposed into a human experimentation facility, endorsed by yours truly, the boss.


 

Unreal Engine 4
15 Weeks
Team of 4
Polygons Pack From Epic Games Marketplace
Level Design

  • Pre-Development

  • Blockout

  • Interactibility Scripting

  • Playtests & Iterations

  • Optimization


Environmental Art


 

PRE-PRODUCTION

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Research

I began my process with planning, here I spent my time researching reference material, documenting the design of the level, and sketching layouts.


 

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Staying On Track

During the pre-prod phase, we created an Asana board, this way we could easily document our whole production pipeline and receive instant feedback from one another, and it made it easier to cut if need be.

BEFORE & AFTER

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Iterating

During the blockout phase, I constantly iterate on my design since this is when it's the easiest to make changes. It's crucial to get the gameplay beats and flow down to the tea, as well as getting this prototype version feel fun and natural.

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Set Dressing

When designing the Frankfurter level I was aiming for a "make-shift" science lab that was placed into an old underground jail/sewer system.

Being a large level brought inevitable performance issues.

They were mostly related to object rendering and allowed me to learn the diverse tools such as "Draw Distance" and "Cull Distance Volumes" UE4 offers.  

GAMEPLAY

With the focus on player intuition and exploration, players can freely navigate through the level and can decide which order to complete the events.

Every event has two possible outcomes, which promote
replayability!

Level Flowchart

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Pipes Event

Maze Event

Cauldron Event

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Conveying Information

It was crucial for me that players were able to intuitively find their objective and secret paths and feel clever about it.

Through crafty set dressing and light placement, I was able to offer
great level affordance and level readability

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Rewarding Those Exra Steps

Throughout the game, there are "Synko Boxes" that are hidden. If the player finds them all in a level they are granted a "Synko Toy" that serves as currency to purchase cosmetic suits.

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The boxes get progressively harder to collect as you advance in the level.

These boxes serve as a great motivator to explore unconventional paths you might have skipped otherwise.

DESIGN METHODS

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Modular NPC

Having a modular Base AI ensured that we had a cohesive AI behavior and made it easy for any of us to change animations and the mesh depending on our context freely.

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Indirect Information

Thanks to our in-world text dialogue, we can convey information through conversations NPC's have with each other.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Working on a level of this scope was a fun learning experience. Although I would've liked to spend more time adding 1 or 2 events, I'm proud of our final version. The iterative nature of level design and challenges that come with it were a great opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and put my design decisions to the test.

A huge congratulation to my team.

 

Thank you for reading!

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