Roles: Game and Level Designer
Date: May - June 2020
Time: 7 Weeks
Team: 10 People (2 Designers)
Genre: Singleplayer Horror/Stealth
Transient is a horror, singleplayer exploration and stealth game full of frightening moments and a creepy atmosphere. Enter a 1950s setting, explore, solve puzzles and challenge yourself to visit the unnerving and winding attic…
To avoid the shadow monster and find all the clues to get back to their doll
Core gameplay design and balancing
Designed hints and clues
Progression in the game
Part of creating the narrative
Whiteboxed the layout and level
Created the finished level design
Planned and placed gameplay geometry
Sneak & Hide
Stealth is a main part of the game.
This element was developed in sneak and hide.
We wanted the player to have that creepy feeling of peeking at the monster, which goes well with the unease pillar. You can also see when it is safe to exit.
Exploration and clues
For the player to explore and progress we made drawers openable and clues for the player on how to progress
The AI is the main challenge in the game and what gives the game it's dynamics.
Feedback on what the AI was doing was also hugely important. We added special music and a sound when it heard the player and a screech and screen effect when it sees you.
Mechanics and balancing
Stamina depletion and re-generation
AI chasing speed
AI sight/hearing distance
This image shows how the value of some of our mechanics affects each other. When it comes to this it is good to be structured, but above all, it comes down to testing and being aware of that/how things affect each other.
We started with extreme values when trying out a feature and then adjusted in smaller steps before reaching the final values.
Tutorial and clues
The tutorial elements in the game are made of paintings and carefully placed in the starting area. This feature got a lot of appreciation from players.
There are also drawings giving clues and guidance to the player. These were playtested and iterated a lot because of their significance leading the player in this open space.
Some of the iterations telling the player that the key is in a room they probably haven't been in yet.
Design paper drafts turned to 2d artist drafts and later finalized.
A problem was showing clearly to the player if something was locked or open and what the interaction for an object would be. We designed this UI that pops up within a certain distance, shows the type of interaction, and then highlights and conveys how to interact.
The narrative was a pretty big background part of the game. By creating a backstory, character motivations, and a plot with a twist at the end, this also shaped the environment, mood, and gameplay a lot.
It made the game more cohesive, and by not spelling out the plot very literary the player's mind will fill in the blanks or have variations in interpretation.
Get in touch with me if you are interested in how we created the narrative, there are plot and background documents etc, but it's something I'd rather share and explain than upload.
- Create an indoor space that causes unease and suspicion.
- Stealthy gameplay and interesting environment, where you need to hide.
- A 1950s upper-middle-class setting.
I looked into a lot of floor plans and designs, both from real-life houses and from games, especially mansions and horror.
My intention was to find geometry and design that felt "off", suspicious and weird to the player, while still feeling like a home
Corridors without being linear
We talked about the Silent Hill PT demo and how levels that loop around are cool.
I wanted to use space as effectively as possible, having different paths to avoid the monster and for the player to navigate themselves as easy as possible, while not seeing too much
Draft of level
After some drafting I had this general idea of a blueprint.
I wanted to see how it worked in 3d and start refining how the rooms would be shaped and placed, that needed whiteboxing. I used Probuilder in Unity.
General design idea
Iterating on the rooms, using the prototype character and enemy. It needed more variation and crookedness.
The general design is that of a horseshoe where you can take different paths across and between rooms. Rooms are based around the central area and close in proximity. This means you are close to and can hear the enemy more often. Gathering information while (hopefully) being unseen/heard.
Movement and Gameplay
There was a lot of testing and iteration on the composition, how things look, and felt in different positions and areas. Also how it would accommodate free gameplay while still leading the player
We were pretty happy to see that all three jury groups had a playtime very close to 20min.
The attic was the single most challenging area to design. It is supposed to feel cramped and creepy and an enemy encounter taking place.
You enter at the bottom left. You get a view across the room to where you are going. The area opens up with several ways to hide (example lines). The enemy spawns when you are furthest into the room and you must get back. Hiding places are marked with a circle.
The last bit back is cramped again and it easily turns into a chase. We then despawn the monster when you reach down the stairs.
Things I learned or am proud of
A lot of things learned from previous projects came through in this one, helped, and were reinforced. Workflow, early prototyping, scope, and general design and feedback for example.
The agile/scrum process and the ability to communicate and co-operate during a lockdown was greatly tested and improved.
I always feel a great responsibility for the product, in this project, I found a good balance between focusing on a specific task and helping out or looking at the bigger picture.
I'm proud of the team, our ambitions and that we decided to do something different and that we knew was difficult, and how it turned out.
That I've gotten appreciation for feedback given to other team members, for example on art.
I am also pretty happy about the level design, that it was believable and conveyed the mood. I would do some improvements with the knowledge I have now, like varying ceiling height.