ERA

After bonding with a mysterious artifact, you’ve been taken to a secret test facility and prodded by scientists. Use your newfound power to escape, at any cost.

Project Information

  • Project Length: 14 weeks, half time
  • Game Engine: DOG Engine (In-house Engine)

Responsibilities

  • Level Design
  • Story
  • Lighting & Set Dressing
An early overview of the Computer Labs level.

Labs & Offices

The story of ERA follows a woman who’s fleeing from captivity in a deep underground lab. She shares a symbiotic bond with an ominously floating orb of blood, which grants her powers.

We determined early that the sequence of levels would vary from a lab environment to the upper offices. We originally designed around three levels per level designer, ending up with 8 total concepts. In the end, we cut it down to 5 total levels, making the experience more concise and intense. This played well with the goal of making ERA a fast-paced third person shooter.

Early overview of a later office level. It ended up getting cut.

Level Mesh Tools

For this project, we established a new pipeline with one of our Tech Art teammates. We kept the pipeline working from Unreal and exporting to our proprietary Scene format. The actual process of “converting” the blockouts to finished designs was done with the new Houdini mesh generation tool.

In short, the main tool was used to generate wall, floor and ceiling meshes based on the input blockout boxes. Further, we could add doorways and windows by way of using subtractive boolean blocks, making the tool very versatile.

Zoomed out view of the first level’s refined blockout, prior to propping and mesh generation

Unique Challenges

Designing more linear levels for a third person shooter was very different from the previous project, Spite: Egar’s Rage. We got some extra help from the graphic artists with set dressing the levels towards the end, making the corridors of the ERA complex feel much more alive.

We also faced a couple of unique challenges as level designers. One of our three designers jumped over to help another group during the last few weeks. Fortunately, due to earlier cuts of levels, us remaining two only had to fix mesh generation and enemy placement for an extra level. Another hurdle we had to tackle were technical issues with the Houdini mesh generation tools. The generation meshes would sometimes break in places, so a considerable amount of time was spent testing fixes and troubleshooting.

Issues aside, we ended up with an end result that looks and feels great!

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