During junior year of college, we had a class known as Production 1, which was meant to be one of the first times we, at Champlain College, formed teams with members of other disciplines to create a game. This class was one semester long and halfway through the semester, certain teams were cut due to a variety of reasons and the members of those teams were put onto remaining teams.
My first team was cut and so I was recruited to this team as the Lead Level Designer. This game was created using Unreal Engine 4.
Grenadium is a 1st-person competitive game. The goal of the game is simply to knock more boxes into your opponent's zone than they knock into yours in a sort of tennis-like arena. To accomplish this, the players are equipped with a multitude of grenades that have varying effects such as grenades that create black holes, grenades that explode to send boxes flying, and grenades that chain other boxes together.
- Lead Level Designer
- Created 3 arenas for the players to play in along with a tutorial area
- Helped create the systems for the environment and balanced the systems
- Weapons Designer
- Worked with the Lead Designer to create grenades
One of the criticism the team got early on was that if this is meant to be a competitive game, then players need their own space in order to learn what the different grenades do. And so, we created a tutorial space where the players can pick up any grenade and try it out.
The idea with this layout was to put the focus on the grenades, hence why they are the only colors in the level, at the very center of the level, and the first thing the player sees when they spawn in.
We also worked on filling this environment with TVs, however that didn't make it into the final build. We were planning on having multiple TVs that display an example of how each grenade works when the player picks it up. This would make it so we help hands-on learners and visual learners.
We then decided to incorporate this into being more than it's own individual space. In this game, you choose a layout of 4 different grenades for each match. When loading into a match, the players are sent here to pick their grenades as well as test them out.
This was the first level I actually worked on in the game to start getting used to building environments in Unreal Engine 4 using their art assets. They had a similar layout, except with one stack of blocks in the center. In order to add a bit more interest to the environment, I added multiple levels and ramps to make the environment more interesting to traverse and make the boxes land in all sorts of different places. The two stacks both made the level completely symmetrical and allowed both players to start off with sending a whole stack of boxes into the enemy's zone.
Moving from that level, I decided I wanted to try something a bit more interesting. I decided to mess with some systems in this and got the help of one of our programmers in order to create a volcano that would erupt with boxes throughout the match. This makes it so the match starts at a slower pace with fewer boxes. As the match goes on though, the number of boxes increases, making it more chaotic and making the end of the match more "swingy." On top of that, we added golden blocks, which were blocks that gave extra points, so that there was still some focus on strategically placing individual blocks rather than always sending the largest group possible.