Quest for Valor is a 3D 3rd person action adventure created by Scott Morin as a teaching tool for students at Vancouver Film School. In Quest for Valor, Juno must battle against the minions of the Skeleton King in an attempt to clear dungeons, solve puzzles, and defeat the Skeleton King! Over the course of 2 months, I created A Tale of Two Cities, a mission/level for Quest for Valor. My core tasks creating the level included:
- Developed original level concept for 3rd person action adventure game, creating detailed layout plan, cinematic sequences, as well as a miniboss and boss fight.
- Concepted and scripted specific cinematic sequences, both for gameplay and story purposes.
- Took layout plan from concept to reality through whiteboxing, playtesting, and art pass.
- Used Unreal Engine 4’s Visual Scripting (Blueprint) to create multiple puzzles and custom gameplay sequences, in addition to several custom prop Blueprints for specific functionality.
Quest for Valor was equal parts Mission and Level Design. From the beginning, my level, A Tale of Two Cities, was designed to take place in and around a large recognizable landmark. Because of Quest for Valor's inspirations in the Zelda series, I took inspiration from the structure one of my favorite levels in the Zelda Series: Dragon Roost Island. A Tale of Two cities begins in a small town outside a volcano, and players must pass through the interior of the volcano, along the outside, and finally, across islands on the far side. My primary challenges during A Tale of Two Cities were threefold:
First, I needed to provide a narrative through-line, and while narrative was not the most important aspect of the level, it was important to have a narrative context to the space. I achieved this through a short one page story spec, and a breakdown of each cinematic sequence created at the start of the project. Using this, I developed my layout to support these sequences, spacing them far enough apart to create an interesting escalation of intensity.
Second, I needed to provide interesting and varied gameplay beats while still providing a logical escalation of objectives -that is, not reusing similar beats too often. In Quest for Valor, there are 3 distinct gameplay beats: Combat, Puzzles, and Platforming. I used each of these primary beats both alone, and in combination with each other. At the beginning of the level, players start with more simple beats - an easy combat beat, platforming beat, and puzzle beat one after another in quick succession. As the level progressess, beats get more difficult, or more complex through combinations and narrative escalation.
Lastly, As a Boss Fight was required for the level, which required unique gameplay to help it feel special. The challenge with this was to make the Boss fight feel unique to the rest of the level, while still ensuring players understood intrinsically the mechanics of the fight. This was achieved through theming throughout the level. Almost from the beginning, I created multiple destructible assets littered throughout the level, and utilized special particle effects to draw players attention to them. In the final boss fight, the boss cannot be harmed unless players destroy these same destructible assets in order to make the boss vulnerable. This helped create a "gameplay narrative" the served the whole level, and came to a crescendo in the final Boss Fight.
If you'd like to see small snippets of my Level Blueprint please feel free to check them out below: