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previous project SMW - Lava Lake

Flesh Colored Horror

DESCRIPTION

Flesh-Colored Horror is a first person horror game that takes place in an abandoned hospital. During this  project I had the opportunity to work for the very first time on Unreal 4;  it had been an amazing learning experience, where I had the opportunity to learn how to turn a level design document into an in game level.

We were not supposed to add any flavorful to the gameplay:  the player doesn’t have any ability, he can just walk around and be passively exposed to the narrative. I think that focusing on creating environmental narrative is very important, because in games there are a lot of sections where players has just to walk from point A to point B.

It is incredible to realize how even small projects can give a lot of insights and be an important learning experience: along my year at VFS many instructors spoke about the 80/20 rule, pushing us to understand on which areas we should put our effort. I am quite happy with my work on this project, but just because I had to crunch a lot, erroneously focused on details that are not important as at first I thought.

DETAILS

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I. Geometry

A complex concept to wrap my head around regarded the BSP system: at first I didn’t really understand how improper geometry can influence the whole thing. Overlapping BSPs by mistake is very easy, especially working with oblique surfaces and different grid sizes.

I used a lot the pen tool, but I soon discovered that it requires even more awareness of the big picture: another reason why in the future I will try to spend more time working on the metrics system on paper.

 

A very important takeaway from this project involves the role of Level Designers. BSP are very powerful, but they are not an art tool: pushing their limits breaks the system, because they are not meant for art-heavy duties.

This is a lesson that I learnt the hard way, even having had advice from experienced instructors: I can make shapes, but I must be aware of their limits and my limits as a Level Designer. 

II. Narrative

I like games or books that take their time introducing the narrative, I like when I start to play just observing the environment, then I slowly ease into the story.

I tried to do something similar with this Level, almost the whole first floor is just an abandoned place; maybe some furniture are not where they are supposed to be, but I didn’t want to scare the player, just to make him curious about the location. 

Then, a saddle and weird sound starts to come from behind a door: when the player gets closer enough, the handle starts to desperately shake. When the player gets even closer, someone screams, then is just sounds of jaws chewing something.

I liked the idea of quickly changing the theme, now it is not anymore about a crumbling hospital, but something wrong is happening there.

During his walk through the hospital, the player see always more and more clues that something is happening. I tried to play a lot with sounds and blood, trying to point out narrative beats and guide the player towards the end of the level.

I decided to conclude my take on Flesh-Colored Horror making another small scene, something that sounds more like a new start instead of the end.