Boneshaker

Details:

Engine: Source
Game: Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Type: Single Player
Role: Level Designer
Intended Experience: 2 – 5 minutes gameplay
Development Time: 8 weeks

Design:

In Boneshaker, I wanted to create an atmospheric experience and expand the world with the environment I had created. I intended it to be a grim level, with very little lighting. The level takes place in a cemetery and is split halfway through by the old groundskeeper’s shack, which has been repurposed by the Combine to do testing on the zombies. The shack is in shambles and replaced with new Combine tech, and a lab exists in the back of the shack for zombie testing. Corpses are strewn about all over the level, clearly surpassing their use for the Combine experiments. The level has 3 distinct feelings to it. In the first third the player must search for supplies as they are only armed with a crowbar, though supplies can be found in the outskirts. In the shack the level switches more to gunfighting as the player gains two new weapons to fight against the Combine in close quarters combat. In the final stretch of the level the area becomes more opened up and turns more to run-and-gun action avoiding the zombies and Combine forces.

While I wanted to explore setting an appropriately grim tone for the environmental storytelling, I also explored some gameplay quirks in this level. The level moves in elevation from a low vantage point to the shack and then proceeds back down the hill. As the player goes through the level they gain more and more weapons, all of which can be found in at least 2 locations, which transform the level from tense and scavenging for ammo to one where they have tools of destruction to take out increased zombie forces. I also explored a sync between lighting and gameplay with the lanterns lighting crypts throughout the level. While not every crypt has supplies on it, many do and they also illuminate a small area where goodies can be hidden for the player to find if they explore. Reception to these mechanics was great.

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