The Solus Project


LEVEL DESIGN/LEVEL ART



The Solus project is a first person exploration game, set on an alien planet. It was developed for 3 years, lead by Sjoerd "Hourences" De Jong. I created a part of the final level for Solus. I was responsible for the level design and level art.

Level design

I was given a clear task from Sjoerd, to create a room that linked his previous game "The Ball" and "The Solus Project" together. The goal of this part of the level is to envoke the feeling that the balls are intimidating, like a looming shadow.

Layout

The layout of "the ball room" was fairly simple. I was instructed to do a straight path forward. The challanges with this level was related to making the player feel different emotions with using only space and lighting. The purpose of this level is to show that the mystic spheres that have only been seen once or twice are not unique, but rather mass produced.


Below in the walkthrough I have a gif for each number on the timeline. Even further down, below the walkthrough, I have a extended explanation of the pacing in Solus.


Walkthrough

(The gifs became a bit grainy when I optimized them to load faster)

As this is only a part of the final level, you start in a claustrophobic maze-like corridor. This is deliberate to give more contrast before it opens up into a larger room later on. It is pitch black, the only light comes from the flashlight. 

On the way to the larger room, lore is presented on stone tablets along the way to build tension and interest in the player. 

The corridor opens up into a larger room. The player will see a lot of balls that they know can contain monsters. The player is elevated by a few stairs at the start of the room to be able to see how many balls there are. The white sterile light combined with the systematic placement of the balls makes for an uncomfortable environment.

Once the player is down on the floor, the balls are close to the player and also high up. They are almost looming over the player. The level also had to work with a lot of different light sources, such as torches, flashlights and glowing crystals. On this gif the flashlight turning on and off to show one of the possible lights.

The floor is slanted downwards, to create a more claustrophobic feeling. This also makes the balls feel closer and greater in number. The balls were very high-poly and we could not have a lot of them due to optimization. I had to do a lot with very few balls.

The player gets to the climax of the room, approaching a sculpture of a mystic alien head. I worked a lot with framing and lines pointing towards the head to make it feel more powerful. Below the head there is liquid lava. This gives a scary red under-light to the head. The head is also positioned above the player, looking down. Most of this is to make the player feel less powerful, and make the head feel more threatening.

The yellow lines outline the enviroment. The repeating layered style of the architecture creates multiple frames around the head, framing it. The architecture also creates a lot of lines, leading the eye towards the head.

At the end of the level the player enters a tunnel below the stone head. It is very dark and the player can not see especially far in front of themselves. At the end of the tunnel there is a ladder leading to the exit.

Extended pacing

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 oliver.granlund@futuregames.nu