Clock's Ticking

Level Summary

Clock’s Ticking is a single-player, standalone level built in Dying Light. Dr. Zere is in Old Town trying to help a woman and her two children who were bitten. They’re beginning to turn and are in desperate need of Antizin. However, the only known doses in the area are in a lab behind the quarantine wall. The player is tasked with obtaining the antizin as quick as they can for time waits for no one. 

Info

Game Info: Dying Light

Engine: Chrome Engine 6

Development Time:  8 weeks (Oct. – Nov. 2023)

Role: Level Designer

Team Size: Solo

Design Goals

Town Layout Suitable for Smooth Free Running

The first goal I had when designing/creating this level was to create a town that was ideal for freerunning. I created a natural town layout with buildings of various heights and sizes. On the street level, there are various props the player can land or climb on top of such as dumpsters and cars. To assist in lateral movement, cables stretch from roof to roof across the streets. 

Seek and Find

My second goal was to create a fun quest that required the player to seek and find items without them becoming frustrated. To do this, I created a lab whose layout encourages exploration. It has several interior windows which allows the player to see into the major spaces before entering them. I also created a teaching moment to draw the player’s attention to the type of item they would be collecting. Lastly, I used colored lighting and specific props to highlight the quest items.

Engaging Combat

Thirdly, I wanted to create engaging combat throughout the level. The player encounters several types of enemies with a mixture of fodder and quick-moving zombies. As the player is searching for antizin, they are encountering enemies as they go. In the latter half, I amp up the difficulty by adding harder, human enemies. I also begin spawning more enemies along the critical path to create additional obstacles for the player.

Documents & Maps

Level Design Document

Click on the link below to view the level design document (LDD) I created for this level. 

Clock’s Ticking LDD

Maps

Post Mortem

What Went Well

  • I had a solid design for this level by the time I went into editor to start building it. I put time into making a thorough LDD and maps that were to scale
  • Blocking out my level went smoothly because I stuck to what I had designed in my maps. And although the design on paper didn’t transfer 100% into the engine, I was able to make adjustments so that the structures still fit into my design
  • The varying amounts of each enemy type created a nice balance during combat encounters. Also, the addition of one more enemy type towards the end added the sense of urgency I was going for

What Went Wrong

  • I was only able to create 90% of the town due to time constraints. However, by choosing to cut out some of the level, I had time to polish the parts of the level I did get in
  • Initially, my side quest was set up to be connected to the second NPC that the player interacts with. However, this ended up being confusing for the player. To fix this issue, I separated the side quest completely from the main quest by using a third NPC
  • I did not fully consider the orientation of the lab in relation to the sewer’s exit causing some strange sightlines. To help the player find the goal in this area, I used lighting and decals for conveyance

What I Learned

  • I learned the value of placing different enemy types in different areas. In particular, I got a good understanding of how to place enemies so that when they spawn the player has enough time to react
  • I learned how to better use decals. I was having issues with conveyance, and my level felt kind of empty/lacked atmosphere. I learned to use decals to both guide the player and bring spaces to life
  • Dying Light has a heavy focus on the night v. day, so I learned how to accommodate for different times of day. For example, the main form of conveyance I use during the daytime are visual effects (like smoke) and decals. However, during the nighttime it is hard to see these things. So, I used bright effects (such as fire and sparks) along with colored and flickering lights