Game Design
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Shooter Level Practice

Combat Sim is a 3rd person shooter created in Unreal Engine for VFS students to practice creating 3rd person shooter levels in.


3 section shooter level

The Combat Sim assignment consists of 3 sections: An infiltration section, an assault section, and a defense section. My Combat Sim level was created in term 4 of my 6 term course at VFS.

Infiltration Section

The first section of the level consists of sneaking through an area guarded by security cameras and laser tripwires. A short hallway introduces cameras and tripwires before opening up into the main challenge room, a long L-shaped hallway with cubicle rooms stemming off of it. A number of spaces exist off of the critical path for players inclined to explore, hiding extra ammo, a spare weapon, and an air duct allowing players to skip a small section of the area. Two pathways lead in to a room introducing a single enemy and some cover, introducting combat in a relatively safe environment before dumping the player into the assault section.

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Assault Section - room 1

The assault section centers on using elevation and cover to magnify the threat of the A.I. enemies. The first room of the assault section has three enemies: Two on an elevated catwalk with some cover and one on the same floor as the player. A mix of low (1 meter) and high (2 meter) cover allow the player to tackle this room without worrying about the enemy's height advantage too much. This room houses 2 ammo pickups to top up the player's ammo after the fight.

Assault Section - Room 2

The second room has two tiers: a lower floor the player starts in and a horseshoe-shaped upper floor. Enemies primarily spawn in the advantageous upper floor to get the drop on the player. Clever players can fight their way up to the horseshoe platform to negate the enemies' high ground advantage. This room also features a weapon pickup near the exit and some ammo pickups both hidden and along the critical path.

Assault section: Room 3

The final assault room mirror's the basic shape of the second room, having a raised upper catwalk and a lower floor the player starts on. The entrance to this room is in full view of the enemies on the catwalk, putting the player under more pressure as very quickly after entering the room. A grenade launcher is provided at the beginning of the room to match the increase in difficulty. A number of hidden ammo pickups are in this room along with a sniper rifle in a side room. A door at the end of the catwalk leads to the defense section.

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Defense Section

The last section of the level is a large, open lobby area that the player must defend against waves of enemies. The player enters on an elevated catwalk with full view of the room to orient them, with no enemies yet. A collection of weapons and ammo is scattered around the room, with a collection of ammo at the defense point which triggers the enemy spawns. Several staggered waves of enemies spawn when a set percentage of the previous enemies are killed, constantly keeping the player under pressure. Enemies advance on the player's position from multiple spawn points along the far end of the room. Finishing off the enemies signals the end of the level.

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Lessons Learned

There are a number of improvements that I would make to the level if I were to create it or a similar level again.

Firstly, while the infiltration room is set to have a relatively easy critical path and more complex side areas, some players were overwhelmed by the amount of cameras and tripwires in the small space. If the size of the main hallway was increased this might alleviate these players' overwhelming issues.

The drop from the infiltration section to the assault section did its function to separate the areas and provide an interesting moment to players, however the size of the air duct was too small for the camera to properly fit and the length of the drop was criticized by some players as being too long. Simply widening the duct and decreasing the height would fix these issues.

The assault course does not prevent the player from advancing to the defense section before killing all of the enemies. No players skipped the section during play testing, however a gate that only opens once all enemies are killed would safeguard against this behavior.