Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guerrilla Games Design Test

The Hornets Nest: Train Terminal Encounter
The player and an NPC teammate were separated from their squad after a daring mission to rescue a traitor of the Helghast army.  The traitor was killed in the escape but was carrying stolen weapon plans, which the player now possesses.  The squadron has commandeered a passenger train and has planned a rendezvous with the player at a train terminal near their current location.  According to intelligence, the terminal is clear of hostiles and it should be a quick mission.

The desolate train terminal is bathed in a haunting red dawn light.  It has just finished pouring rain but still continues to drizzle.  Hazy light wafts through the dirty, cracked glass of the high ceiling. Blue light flickers from reading lights built into the waiting benches.  The terminal is lined with businesses that were once civilian owned, the old store names and advertising is still barely visible under the new government postings.  The area has been quiet since a failed bombing campaign left several undetonated missiles in the area.

Overall Mood:
The encounter begins suspenseful and quiet and climaxes with the player and NPC struggling to survive until they are rescued by a drop ship.

Starting Weapons:
  • Assault Rifle
  • 2 Grenades

Encounter Flow

·         The player and an NPC teammate drop into the station from a broken set of stairs. Trapping them in the station ground floor loading area.
o        The end of the station opposite from the starting area, there is a blocked stairway.
o        If the player jumps on the railroad tracks, he is electrocuted.
·         Walking into the boarding area triggers the sound of a train in the distance.
o        A timer begins that will trigger will trigger the arrival of the Southbound train when it is complete.
·         There are 2 snipers on the balcony across from the entrance
o        They do not become aware of the player until they begin to fire, or move into the second half of the boarding area near the balcony.
o        If they player aims their reticle at or near the snipers, the NPC tells the player to stay out of view.

Remain out of sight of the snipers and move into the space
Southbound Train Arrives
·         X amount of seconds before the train arrives; an automated voice announces the arrival of the Southbound train.
·         The NPC, realizing that their squad should be coming from the Northbound tunnel, yells at the player to dig in and hide.
·         The Southbound train pulls into the station, and the doors open.
o        Enemies begin to exit from the train in intervals.  Between each interval, the train doors quickly close.
§         The spawns are divided into groups of 2, with X amount of seconds between each spawn.
§         2 Shot gun enemies
§         2 Shot gun enemies
§         2 assault rifle enemies
o        The enemies patrol the entire loading area, covering all sight lines, making hiding indefinitely a slim possibility.

Stay out of the line of fire of the snipers while engaging the enemies from the train

The player should focus on dealing with the first wave of enemies from the South Bound train and then flank the turret closest to the entrance.   The player can take advantage of being out of the turret’s line of fire by going down to the train boarding area.  The player should also deal with at least one of the snipers during this phase; ideally the sniper on the South Bound side.  Staying on the South Bound side and neutralizing the threat is the best strategy, before engaging the troops that will becoming from the newly arrived North Bound train.  
·         After half of the enemies have been killed, the doors of the two adjacent train cars open, revealing enemy mounted fixed turrets.
o        The gunners immediately start laying down cover fire.
o         A group of 4 assault rifle enemies spawn from the train car in between the turret gunners.
o        The train car doors remain open after the turret gunners have been killed.
§         Players can now enter the train cars to collect weapons located on a gun rack.
·         The gun rack contains shotguns and sniper rifles.
·         The NPC yells at the player to take out the turrets.
o        Once one of the turrets gunners has been killed, the arrival of the Northbound train is triggered.

Northbound Train Arrives
·         X amount of seconds before the train arrives; an automated voice announces the arrival of the Northbound train.
o        The Northbound train has been shot up; the enemy intercepted and killed your squad on their way to the rendezvous.
§         When the player aims their reticle at the train, an event triggers the NPC to comment on what must have happened to your squad. 
o        4 assault rifle soldiers spawn from the train and begin to actively hunt for the player.
o        After 2 of the assault rifle enemies are killed, 2 more will spawn from the train.
Change of Plans
·         The NPC calls for assistance on the radio, the new plan is for a drop ship that is in the area to pick the player up.
o        The drop ship pilot says that he is going to blow up the front of the building and fly in and pick up the player and the NPC.
o        The pilot fires a missile into the front of the building.
§         A silhouette of the drop ship is visible through the glass windows at the front of the station.
§         The screen shakes when the missile strikes letting the player know what has happened.
o        The Pilot tells the player and NPC that the missile did not detonate on impact and that he needs them to help detonate it since it was his last missile.
o        The NPC orders the player to shoot the missile with a sniper rifle to try and detonate it while he provides cover.
§         After every X seconds, the NPC will remind the player to shoot the missile with a sniper rifle, until the player has done so.
§         Several different lines of VO should be recorded for this instruction, to make the NPC feel more realistic.
o        The player needs to use the sniper rifle to shoot the missile.  Other weapon damage is not accepted and should be out of range.
§         The player can collect a sniper rifle by killing the snipers located on the front balcony of the train station. 
§         The snipers are scripted to fall over the balcony. On enemy death, an impulse pops them over the balcony railing, along with custom “enemy only” collision authored to ensure the enemy goes over the railing.
§         The player can also find a sniper rifle from a weapon rack inside of any of the train cars.

The combat will push the players to the center of the map.  Underneath the bridge is a safer place to snipe the missile.  Please note the added waist high collision.  Bunkering down under the bridge, with the NPC covering one side, and the player covering the other is a good place to hold up for the remainder of the level.  
o         When the player shoots the missile, it explodes, killing any remaining enemies on the entrance balcony.

·         Once the window is destroyed, the drop ship flies through the opening in the window.
o        Sound will be extremely important in giving the player spatial information on the location of the drop ship.
o        This may need to be a brief IGC that pause combat to achieve the most polished presentation.
·         The NPC yells at the player to get to the bridge to get on the drop ship.
o        The NPC delivers the VO when the drop ship reaches the waypoint
o        The drop ship pilot hovers near the bridge in the center of the station.
o        The drop ship pilot is accompanied by an NPC that uses a gun mounted on the drop ship to lay down cover fire.
·         After the NPC gives his directions to the player, a new wave of enemies spawns from the trains on each side, applying pressure on the player to flee.
o        The enemies are scripted to head towards the player’s current position, flushing them out of their cover.
o        The intended reaction is to have the player run and give up the combat engagement.
·         When the player jumps onto the drop ship, the pilot lifts off and flies back out through the window.
o        To spice things up and use the play space, the pilot can take a more elaborate path out of the station, by weaving through the pillars on the second floor before turning around.  The fiction to support the more hair raising flight path would be that the pilot needs to dodge enemy fire. 

Additional Materials
 For the outer wall of the train structure, I would keep damage to a minimum.  A long crack could be useful for drawing the eye towards the front window with the Helghast symbol.
Cracks in the walls can also be used for light sources and to highlight good cover positions.  All cracks should be smaller than what the drop ship could fit through, to maintain the purpose of destroying the front of the building.  

Initial Exploration Drawing
 I always begin a level design on paper.  It allows me to quickly explore crazy layouts and ideas that would take longer to implement in 3D.  I had about 5 ideas for the test, with my main guideline being that it needed to have a good emotional arc, setting and a big set-piece moment worthy of a AAA action game.

If I were to do this design again, I would play with more vertical elements as well as having more fun with the way the trains enter and criss-cross through the station.  Due to time constraints I needed to stick with a design I could finish and polish in the allotted time limit.

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