Point of Contact Blog 4 – Zombie Level Design

It’s been awhile since i’ve written a point of contact blog to update you on the progress i’m making, this is quite an interesting one, as i’m designing the zombie level where the player will take on wave after wave of zombies with different damages, speeds and health.

Below you’ll find the process I used to create the ice island, AKA zombie island where the zombie minigame will be hosted, and how I achieved the visual aesthetic as well as how the zombies are coded.

First off I began with the drawn island (above) of what it should approximately look like and the general idea of the shape of the land, which I then scanned and imported into photoshop. I then drew over the outline of the island and filled it with its respective colors. Just so you know the ice island is located north east of the ice nation and is isolated from the general land mass, which stops the zombies from migrating to the mainland.


 

The next thing I did was to fill in a general idea of the land and water ratio so I can start to visualize the island making sure there’s a big enough border from the start of the land so it keeps scrolling right to the edge.

I continued to remove the grid of squares by adding more detail to the land until all the vertices are smooth. I also did the same with the ocean, modifying the main squares until it looked right.

The island was looking a little bland, so I added different textures to the edges such as dirt and more light sand as well as adding different puddle depths to the ocean. I thought the ocean was a little to straight to be natural so I added a little more “noise” to it which brought it alive a little more.

The next step was to add the water colliders, this lets boats drive only on water and if they went onto land they lost momentum and stopped if there is no collision with the water objects. The pink ring around the outside is the players water collider, this stops the player swimming right out into the water and out of the map entirely by stopping their movement. This also lets the player enter boats that are in shallow water and drive them into deeper areas, as the player won’t be able to get out of the boat in deep water.


 

Walls were added next, but a general idea of where they will go so this won’t be the final building, although I added trees beforehand to give the landscape a more natural feel to it as I tried to keep them in their original positions and build the houses around them. The zombie island will have one main building and a few other smaller buildings surrounding it which will contain more valuable items at a greater risk. This stage takes awhile as I must balance the buildings exits, and calculate where the zombies will spawn and make it harder to escape from the smaller buildings.

The next task was to fill in the houses with walls paying special attention to how many exits each house has and where the zombies will be coming from. This give some rooms lots of space to maneuver and others are tight and would be harder to escape, although the better rewards may be inside them.

I’ve also had to remove some of the water colliders because if the player stood inside them the zombies wouldn’t be able to reach them, due to the pathfinding. One other important feature i’ve also added was the zombie spawners, located around the edge of the island. These big black spots will spawn the zombies at the start of every wave, making it very dangerous to leave the houses.

A few vehicles have also been added, such as the jeep and a tank, mainly to test them against the zombies, but to also see how you could use them tactically while trying to stay alive. There’s also a few turrets placed around some of the rooms to let the player defend a location a little easier.


 

I’m getting very close to finishing the map, this time i’ve added tiles under the buildings to more easily distinguish between outside and inside. A few of the walls have also been modified after testing it, because they either didn’t look right or they were too easy to get trapped in. If you look closely you’ll see there’s some barrels strategically placed around the map, these can be detonated to kill large groups of zombies after shooting them 3 times, but there’s a limited supply so the player will have to use them wisely.

You may have also noticed a few extra black spots inside the buildings, no it’s not the plague, it’s the helicopter drop-off zones which will occasionally drop a random item from ammo, health, levels to powerup orbs which give the player limited abilities for a short time.

In the next update of the map i’ve moved all of the airdrop locations from inside the buildings to outside to make it more of a challenge to pick up the loot they drop, i’ve also added many more zombie spawners around the outskirts to stop them spawning on the same square, because they still were even after adding more in the last map update. The airdrop locations are now cyan to make it easier to see which are the airdrop locations and which were the zombie spawners.


 

There’s also a few lights added in most of the rooms and a re-placement of some of the turrets, as well as adding some health pickups where the player spawns to assist in staying alive. Another plausible explanation for that being, the people that sent the player here to eradicate the zombies sent supplies with you and lots of ammo.

Below is the final version of the map, there’s quite a few changes to this one. Firstly I removed most of the water objects to save speed, considering that the player won’t ever have a boat on this level anyway and only left a ring around the shore so the player can still hear the ocean when they are on the beach. The next adjustment was to the water blockers which is the pink outline around the island which stops the player entering the sea, if they were further out the player could hide at the shore and the zombies wouldn’t pursue them anymore due to some spots being inside the water squares.


 

Another notable change is the addition of more airdrop locations in a smaller area, the blue circles are the locations and there are now 3 in a group so when the chopper comes to drop off supplies, they shouldn’t stack on top of each other as much. There was also a few supplies created where the player spawns, because it’s very plausible when he was dropped off here he came prepared for the onslaught. I’ve also added a few pickup items inside some of the houses as well which should make the player leave their comfort zone in search for them.

Well that’s the end of this blog, if you found it interesting or want some more information feel free to leave a comment. Additionally you’ll soon be able to play this map against the zombies to test it out, just go to my “Point of Contact” page and download version 0.7.0 if it’s out.

About fluidicice

Queensland, Australia.
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