- Introduction -

Welcome to the Game Design portfolio of Danny Johnson. You can browse through the various posts for projects in the Post summary to the right. Some of the work uses existing properties for a basis, but I have then created a unique design in the spirit of that game. All work has been created by me unless otherwise noted. You can also visit my game design blog or view my resume.


Challenge (Gears 2)

The Challenge:
Create a level for Gears of War 2. Time limit is one day, although this may have to extend to compensate for re-learning Unreal.

The Point:
To use the Unreal Editor to create a level that fits within the Gears of War framework.

The Thought Process:
I am having to re-learn the Unreal Editor at this point, but I was quite familiar with it in the past. Since the Unreal Editor was used to create the Gears of War games I find it appropriate to use the same tool to create a level for the game. My intent is to build a level that has a solid layout and interesting design features, but I do not plan on making visually appealing. In game development it is best for the a level designer not to get caught up in the details of how something will look, but rather how it will play. I will use basic textures and create simple shapes to convey the gameplay instead of just placing the pre-made models because it would create a mishmash that neither looks appealing or focuses purely on level design.

I have chosen to make a section of a level that would occur during the driving sequence up the snowy mountain. This level focuses mainly on quick action because the main gun is so powerful that most enemies die in a single shot. To break up the action I want to create a part of the level where the characters must get out and fight on foot. Similar to the vehicle sections in Half Life 2, this lull in activity provides a nice counterbalance to the fast paced driving portions.

The Design:
About half way through the level the player will approach one of the large structures that has Locust streaming out of it. While driving past the building grappling hooks are fired at the vehicle and latch on it causing forward movement to be halted. The wires connecting the grappling hooks are electrified and cannot be cut from your end, but the player must investigate a way to disconnect them from inside the building. The wires also grab the cannon and prevent it from turning, which keeps you from using it to blast the wires free.

Marcus and Dom enter while the others stay at the vehicle to prevent it from being attacked. Upon entering the building it is revealed that the enemy have more of the grappling hooks and use them to block your progress through this section. The electrified wires act as a barrier that hurts the characters if they touch one, but they can still fire around it easily. To get past the wires the player must first shoot at the turret that fired the grappling hook, but this only causes the electricity on the wire to cycle between on and off. The player must cut the wire during an off period, but must time it correctly so that it does not electrify them before they finish. The player eventually works their way up toward the top of the structure to the grappling hooks that where fired at the vehicle and uses the same technique to cut them.


The image is a bit light, but you can probably still get the gist of the design. The left layout is the bottom floor and the right side is the second floor. The design has already changed somewhat from this layout due to the ability to iterate in a gameplay environment. I will probably be able to post screenshots of the Unreal file soon.

A preview of how the level turned out. You can view the walkthrough for a detailed description of the level.

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