Gameplay and Level Design

Try it out!

Gameplay Trailer




In the middle of the semester, I and 3 other student developers undertook the 10th anniversary Epic Mega Game Jam. 

Theme: Down to Earth

Body of Work

As expected in a jam, development was extremely dynamic and fast-paced. All of us fulfilled various roles as they arose.

In my case, I designed the Gameplay Model and the playable Level

Gameplay Design and Scripting

  • Finding the Concept
  • Gameplay Design and Scripting
Brainstorming and Defining the Concept

My tactic when brainstorming based on a theme is to approach it as a fundamentalist problem. The theme was a common phrase, so I tried to briefly extract its etymological identity and translate that to a holistic design concept.

At the end, we settled for a Zero-G platforming – manipulating floating objects and 6DOF flying constituted the entire gameplay model. 

Scripting New Ideas

I wasn’t responsible for most of the technical implementation. However, I occasionally had ideas on how to add depth and interest to our mechanics via additional functionality.

I implemented two mechanics on the player character gameplay model:

  • Centrifugal Force – one of our core mechanics allows players to shoot an Orb that pulls objects close to it. Problem – it was too static. We wanted players to use special mechanics for gaining speed, so they had to be the primary source of dynamism. Therefore, I added a fast and violent ‘stir’ to the objects pulled by the Gravity Orb. Players could use this in combination with the grappling hook to propel themselves further.

  • Object Run – our game is about avoiding floating objects as well as swinging off of them. Therefore, a mechanic that makes players want to risk colliding with objects would benefit the core design. Thus, I made it so that moving alongside an object would make the player go gradually faster.

The script was also of sufficiently quality and made it to the final version of the game without needing to be changed.

Level Design

  • Designing the Props
  • Placing Geometry
What kind of Meshes do we put in the Level?

All the meshes within the base frame essentially constituted the level, so they had to realise the intended dynamics via affordances, constraints, and signifiers.

I used my knowledge of Universal Design to achieve this:

  • Affordances – to offer a risk-reward dynamic and encourage use of the core mechanics, the props needed to afford players to pass through them when approached from particular angles.
  • Constraints – for the same reasons, the props also needed to block the player if they were approached from the wrong angle.
  • Signifiers – even though the props did not feature explicit signification (too much noise), I designed them to be able to communicate clearly through their silhouettes.

I blocked out the geometry of the assets we would use to create the game’s spatial challenges. I later turned them into a mesh with simple collision. Then an artist turned that into a proper mesh asset with re-tuned collision.

How to Arrange our Props?

The meshes are the gameplay, they are the level. So how to arrange them? 

I used the design attributes of the props (discussed in previous tab) in order to create and link interesting moments together.
My process for creating a single moments was:

  1. Choose props based on the interaction of their attributes.
  2. Arrange props with one main traversal tactic in mind.
  3. Adjust the layout so that at least one more traversal tactic becomes adequate.
  4. Place within the level and adjust positioning to make sure the moment ‘glues’ together with other moments.
  5. Insure overall non-linearity by making sure moments affords branching.
  6. Make sure that for branches eventually converge to create tension in multiplayer.

To create global progression, I simply start off using simpler props (smaller number of attributes attached to them, less spatial complexity). Then gradually start using more complicated props.

The Final Product

We managed to make a game in a week that boasted stunning visuals and a polished core, and thus execute our original vision.

At the end of the 7 days, we had a relatively fast-paced platforming experience where you have to go from point A to point B by both evading and using geometry. 

Table of Contents


Core Design

Core Design

I defined the overall gameplay concept, designed and balanced the core set of mechanics.

Blueprinting Gameplay


I created and tested mechanics rapidly using UE4's Blueprintig System.​

Level Design

Level Design

I designed and tuned the game's level, defined the individual geometry and then arranged it inside the base frame.

Intense Work Pace

Work Pace

The game jam challenged us to squeeze the most out of the 7 days period. We were forced to plan quickly, leaning on our experience with the relevant pipelines.