Office Trouble

Summary

You play as a undercover vigilante trying to infiltrate a large corrupt corporation, but something goes awry and you need to fight your way out.

Specification

* Individual project

* 4 weeks half-time

* Unreal Engine 4

* Assets from QA Office and Security Room,  Flowers, Plants Nature Pack and Modular Building Set (UE4 Marketplace)

* The AI, the player character, the weapons, the interact system and the keycode was created by my talanted classmate Jacob Tjernström. Check out his portfolio here: https://www.jtdesigner.com/

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Inspiration

I was heavily inspired by modern office design where the usage of open spaces and glass conference rooms are common. I was also quite inspired by the apartement complex The Interlace in Singapore. Especially in regards to the roof garden and the way the it interconnects the two parts of the building.

First Steps

After some quick overview sketches I started the blockout process. I went a little overboard with some aspects of the blockout process and built a few sections that would never be used. In hindsight I should have started with getting the meshes in the scene much earlier.

Early iterations

One of the first things I iterated on was the room you where you start the game. In the first version there was a second floor and a much higher ceiling. I changed this because I wanted the player to start in slightly more crammed space and that the spaces open up as you progress in the level. In the early playtests I also noticed that players spent to much time exploring this space rather than progress through the level. The original area was to interesting for its purpose.

Another space I iterated on was the Ceo office. In the earliest versions the office was larger and overlooked the two floor office area. I changed this to a more common office since this is where the tables turn and the player realise that it is a trap so I wanted the space to feel a little bit claustrophobic.

 

I also moved the office towards the edge of the building so that it has large windows out to the street. This was done because I wanted large blind shades to go down and darken the room and black out the cityscape once you entered. This added more focus when the lights light up on the TV that the evil CEO talks to you through.

Story Telling

I wanted to weave in a story into the level to motivate the player. The story had to be simple so it does not overwhelm or bore the player but still not so slim that it becomes uninteresting. Since it is level that takes place in todays world I wanted to tell it through technology. So I used texts you receive on your smartphone from your companion and when you fall into the evil CEOs trap he talks to you through a TV. 

In an earlier version the way to the CEOs office was also different. Instead of walking through the large two floor office area you went straight up a few stairs to a hallway that lead you to there. This was changed since I wanted the players to get to know the enviroment a little bit before they were thrown into combat in these areas. 

Leading the player

The half of the level is without combat and for certain parts of it I want the player to explore. Let the player get the feeling of being the only one left at the office. But I still wanted it to be clear where you should go to progess. I used glas doors alot to lead the player forward. Through the glass doors you can see glimpses on what is on the other side and this triggers players to explore and progress.

One moment where I felt that leading the player was important was after you have reached the security room. I noticed that during early playtest some players took quite a while to actually find the toilet where the keycard is located. Since the keycard is dropped by a security guard during a toiletbrake I used him going to the toilet to actually lead the player. When you enter the corridor next to the elevator you can see the guard walking towards the left where the toilet is located. This helped the guide the playtesters alot.

The main combat area

Once the character have entered the second part of the building they reach the large two floor office area. This is the main combat zone of the level. I worked alot on this since this is also the first combat you encounter. The player leaves the CEOs office and enter this area on the second floor. This gives the player the advantage of verticality. This was important because the players should not be at a disadvantage during their first combat. 

 

I also added a few extra covers because the first enemy you encounter in this room is also on the second floor. The two enemies you face after this is on the floor below. The floor below also has covers so that the enemies atleast have something to hid behind when you are shooting at them from above. 

Level Progression

What more could have be done

The process with this level have been quite problematic. I overscooped alot and had to cut so much because of time restrictions. The level I am presenting here is only half the level actually. Originally the idea was that you take the elevator down where you reach a large reception area filled with enemies. Once you have pushed through the enemies you enter a smaller warehouse for imports. Through the stock door a van is waiting for you and you jump in the back. Enemies desperately shoot towards you as the van drives of into the the city. Unfortunately this all had to be scrapped during the last week of production. I just had to finish the level.

Since I had to cut the last section of the level one thing that also suffered was combat progression. I wanted the last area to be the most testing for the player and instead the final combat of the level is two enemies stepping out of an elevator. These two enemies was meant to just lead the player into the elevator and not be the end itself.

 

There was also a couple of story event that had to be cut. One of these was another line of texts that your companion sends after the CEOs has trapped you. This was meant to help guide the player towards the elevator and it also explained that she is waiting for you outside with the van I just mentioned 

If I had more time I would also iterate alot more on enemy placement. I would have liked for them to be abit more ready for the player and take cover early if not already be in cover. 

Closing Reflections

I leared so much from making this level. Some things I learned was perhaps things I did not want to learn because alot had to do with my own limitations. I know now much more about how much I can actually manage to create within a shorter time frame. In the future I will be more carefull about how I scope a project. I also learned alot about the importance of staying within the timeframe of the schedule I had set ut for myself. In comparison to my other project called Unexplored that I spent time on after I made this level where I had a better sense of the scope and I stayed within the schedule and in the end I became happier with the results.

So in the end I did not achieve fully what I set out to do but there are still alot of things to be happy about with the level and I had alot of fun making it.