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The Arcade

3rd Person Action Adventure

Work in Progress

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This project was inspired by The Last of Us Part II. I wanted to improve my skills in Maya while building my experience in developing a more urban environment. I wanted this level to feel like it would fit right into the existing story of the game. So, rather than try to rewrite elements of the story and create a convoluted explanation I opted to make a small portion that could be inserted into an existing level. I chose Seattle Day 3: Road to the Aquarium. This encounter is meant to be an alternative path to reach the mall where Ellie must steal a boat to continue traversing the city. The location is inspired by Gameworks and the Regal Theaters located on the corner if Pike St and 7th Avenue.

The block out was completed in Maya. For the gameplay, I used Unreal Engine 5 and the Advanced Locomotion System (ALS) by Jakub W. I am currently working on implementing the gameplay, tweaking the level layout, and adjusting the lighting/weather. I am also developing a narrative connection for the arcade space. Once these tasks are complete I plan to add optional side paths to other buildings.

Layout

I wanted to design the level to allow for varied forms of gameplay. If you want to take a stealthier approach it is best to sneak through the swamp moving cover to cover and make your way inside through the bar. If you prefer a more aggressive approach to combat then storm right in through the collapsed movie theater. Each path has specific elements to encourage the different types of gameplay. The stealthier route will provide more cover and various paths to sneak through the arcade relatively unnoticed. While the more direct path has less cover, longer sidelines, and more enemies. Both paths have crafting materials along or close to the player's intended path.

Crafting the Arcade

By far my biggest challenge throughout this project was crafting the arcade building. I went through a few different iterations and tried multiple approaches. Overall I am happy with the final product. I wanted to play with the level of destruction found in the post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us, hence why I ended up collapsing the corner wall of the Movie Theater and utilizing various broken walls to provide multiple paths through the building. I was inspired to research this location after reading the article published on Medium by Arnaldo Licea, a developer at Naughty Dog. He developed the Mall encounter for Day 3 of Ellie's Journey in Seattle. He mentioned the arcade as a potential alternative to the mall location, which prompted me to look into Gameworks. After seeing the interior of the Arcade I was sold. I loved the look of the circular opening in the middle section of the second floor. I found that they had used an arcade later in the game for a bloater encounter. I wanted to see how this environment could be redesigned for the human enemy encounters in The Last of Us Part II.

PRE PRODUCTION

References
I did a lot of research into Game works and the Seattle strip that I was crafting. I spent a lot of time in Google Maps measuring distances and scales. I also found a few videos showing a walkthrough of the arcade and the surrounding areas. I put a heavy focus on capturing the visual elements of the city. Specifically, the skyscrapers and their impressive sale.
 

Research
I was surprised to find that many developers from naughty dog shared a lot of their development process. I was able to find multiple portfolios, blogs, and videos describing the level designs and their process. This was really helpful, especially when trying to gauge the level of detail to include in my proxy models. 

Analysis
I found in my analysis of the game's design that players are often given a multitude of paths for each encounter. Some go off the beaten path but reward players with crafting materials. Others offer a flanking route in combat. This heavily influenced my approach to designing this level and pushed me to put a heavy focus on varying the paths and possible gameplay approaches in a more methodical way.

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