Level Design Practice #4 – Winter Cliffs

Here’s a project based in a fictional Northern mountain range. I’d say a lot of inspiration for this project comes from random pictures of Canada I came across, as well as various open-world video games (Skyrim in particular).

010 - Winter Cliffs (August 13, 2016)

  • Title: Winter Cliffs
  • Time Spent: 8 hours
  • Assets Used: Unreal Water Planes / Infinite Blades Ice Lands Collection

I wanted to try my hand at a Winter scene and ended up producing this after a good amount of time. To date, this is probably the longest project in my practice series, taking roughly 8 hours to complete across three days. One of my biggest issues when working on this scene was running into a creative wall, where I disliked my progress with the level, but had no idea as to how I’d fix it.

Here’s what I had after a few hours of work:

005 - Winter Cliffs (August 10, 2016).png
Early Stages

I think the problem was my lack of knowledge when it came to natural environments. As a level designer, I’m beginning to realize that I need to hone my understanding of various environments, and that I should be actively taking in information as I browse through pictures or stroll through the city. I need to understand the nature of each environment that I encounter so that I can accurately reproduce them within a game, otherwise my scenes will look lifeless, improper, and incoherent. With due time and active analysis, I think that I can begin developing my strengths as a proper level designer and fully utilize the tools at my disposal to their true potential.

This project also took significantly longer than my previous ones because I wanted to incorporate actual level design. Up until now, my projects were more like ‘speed design’ studies where I would quickly develop a scene purely for aesthetic. This level actually allows the player to walk around, and introduces branching paths and skill gates for playability. I’m currently using a simple FPS template, so there are no unique mechanics to add to the level, so I may add those via blueprint in future work.

Here’s a quick video I put together showcasing the (semi)completed level:

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2 thoughts on “Level Design Practice #4 – Winter Cliffs”

  1. I hadn’t realized that you had started a series of practice for level designs, but they sure look gorgeous so far, with the waterside tower being my current favorite.
    It’s clear that you’ve put a lot more details in this piece though, it seems… Wider that the other ones to me, which is a good thing!

    Have you considered making a map out of these locations when you’re done with your practice? It would be quite interesting to see if you can find a meaning for each of these locations – especially the Cartoony Kingdom, since sentient beings would be living inside.

    I’ll leave more detailed comments on each of the levels so far when I get my computer back, I’m currently writing on phone.

    Cheers!

  2. Wow, this one is my favorite, by far. The snow falling really sells the realism for me. When the video panned over the water, I thought it looked a little too still or flat compared to the rest of the environment. I think it’s because of the wind. With the snow falling, it implies a certain amount of wind speed but it doesn’t seem to be affecting the trees at all. I’m also not sure if it would be enough wind to affect the water. Maybe not.

    You’re right in that actual nature studies would be a great influence. Sitting outside and just watching seems like the best kind of research anyone can do.

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