Amatus Hotel – Gears of War Instance

So, this week I decided get back to work on another level instance. These instances are suppose to be simple and small levels that focus on a single aspect or idea. I really wanted to keep this instance in that mind set, being extremely simple and focused. So I decided to create a nice flanking space.

I also wanted to avoid doing the thing I really like to do, which is adding on more to the level as I go. Whenever I work on a personal project I tend to find a lot of cool extras to add into the level on top of the original plan, mostly because all of my personal projects have no deadlines. However, I want to get a lot of these level instances out quickly, so I am working on avoiding the extras and sticking to the original plan.

For this level I choose to use the Adam’s House packages to create a nice interior. An upscale hotel worked well for this and I gave the players a simple objective or just moving through the area and meeting up with the rest of their squad.


The level turned out pretty well for being a simple arena with a flanking position. Both the players and the enemy Locusts are given clear cover fronts to sit and duke it out. Between the two fronts is a large killzone and it creates a nice point in which players understand they only have 2 options. One is to sit and fight it out from there, which could work if players are patient and slowly pick off the Locust one by one. Or two, flank the enemy position through the right hallway, which forces them to scatter and making them easy targets.

Creating these player choices is never easy, and making them clear to the player is even harder. Including things like chatter from Dom and a Point of Interest makes sure the player is aware of the possibility. However, a designer can never force the player to see something or choose to do what they want. We really only can create a clear path or puzzle and hope that the player will move the way we need them to or be able to understand how to solve the current puzzle.

It’s a tightrope walk between the designer and player, in which we want everyone to understand how to succeed but also not give them too much help. Holding their hand too much makes it too easy or makes them feel like they aren’t making their own choices.

Forced Paths:

Normally, I don’t like forcing a specific action for the players to take. I like giving a lot of choices to them as they fight or move around an area. But I’ve found that for these smaller instances, creating a single prime path isn’t a bad way to go. It allows the designer to focus on creating the specific path and get something that can be really fun if the player makes that choice.

For a full level, creating a nice array of choices would be the way to go, resulting in a lot of emergent gameplay or choices that, we the designers, didn’t completely plan for, which is what we want!

For now, I want to continue creating simple and focused level ideas for the players to move through. The more focused the level instance the better. I also have a nice solution for the ideas that I come up with while working on something, and that is to put them in a list to work on later. Creating another completely separate instance for each of those cool ideas.

One that I wanted to do for this level was creating a sinkhole in the center of the main lobby that would be triggered by the player in some way. The sinkhole would drag any locusts and the piano down with it in a cool explosion of dust and camera shakes. But for now, that idea is on hold for another level.

UDK – Simple Light Flicker Tutorial

Simple Light Flicker / Matinee Property Track Tutorial


Level: Intermediate

Assumes you know the basics of UDK level development, kismet and matinee.

I’ve had a few students who have wanted to create horror styled levels and one thing they have trouble with is creating fire or a flashlight that flickers realistically. None of them really knew about using Matinee to control a lot of actor properties so I decided to create a quick tutorial about using them.

Using Matinee differs from how many of the students did their light flicker, in which they use kismet to turn it on and off. The straight toggle on and off effect looks strange as its has no change over time, its instant fluctuation makes the light feel artificial or mechanical rather than a malfunction or like natural fire.

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Gears of War :: Encounter Video Update

Just a quick video update on what I’ve gotten done on my basic combat encounter. I’ve been busy getting ready for my summer job teaching UDK as well as working on another project so this GoW level has kinda been left to the side for the past few weeks.

Still, I’ve managed to work on it here and there and was able to get a lot of the major work done. The level is still very much a work in progress, but its much closer to the final version than my previous updates. Check it out:

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Gears of War :: Encounter Continued

EDIT: Just gonna toss up some new shots from some more basic lighting work and such I finally got around to doing. Still a bit away from being finished but lighting helps a lot. Here are the same shots from before with new lighting and meshing!

Hey everyone!

I got around to working a bit more on my basic Gears of War combat encounter and I wanted to throw a quick update of my work here. Behold, screen shots!

I would upload a video but unfortunately I don’t have time to make a proper one and upload it tonight. So expect an updated video soon to show off the new kismet and gameplay tweaks.

So, Whats New?

Although most of the improvements can easily be seen come from meshing and texturing the level, I did actually get a lot more done on the kismet / gameplay / cinematic side of things.

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Gears of War :: The Basic Encounter

So I’ve been away from level design for a while now, it’s what I enjoy doing most but I’ve had to focus on a lot of programming and game design for a few of my classes lately and I’ve wanted to get back into making levels for my portfolio.

So, what should I work on? Well, I wanted to work on a single player experience, it’s something I haven’t done quite as much as the multiplayer arenas and it would also allow me to focus in on a few objectives I have for this portfolio piece.

I’ve worked a lot with UDK recently but in the end I choose to work with Gears of War as it offers a lot more potential for single player experiences. I still ended up having small AI issues and things that I had to work around but that’s what good kismet creativity is for!

You can check out my first pass below:

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Castles Made of Sand

Castles Made of Sand is a game based on a Jimi Hendrix song of the same name. The game was created for my Art Games class in about 2 weeks of full production and a few more of experimentation. The idea focuses on what we took away from the song, which is a sense of change. The song’s chorus is all about how sand castles will always wash away into the sea. Much of the song and it’s lyrics feel sad but it combines this with a strangely upbeat and happy melody. It’s a weird mix but it helps create the idea that this constant world of change can be both good or bad.

Our game uses this idea to allow a lot of creativity, players can quickly create sand castles using randomly given pieces. However, the sea around them will eventually eat away at everything and break it down. Players simply have to accept the changes, they can rebuild a similar structure or create something entirely new.

You can download the game here: CastleFinalPresentation

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Casualty is a game I created for my Art Games class which is based off of a short animation. The idea was to use the provided video as inspiration and to create a game with a similar feeling and style that it provided.


Download the game here: Casualty

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10 Art Game Ideas:

So, for our first assignment we had to come up with 10 quick game ideas. Each one needed to be an Art Game in some way or another. The focus was to create change in the normal flow a traditional game would follow.


Generally we would stay within a smaller threshold of the traditional flow, increasing difficulty at some spots or bringing it back down to let the player relax for a moment. The blue line shows the basic flow path that you stick around while the red is what we are trying to accomplish with our “Art Games”. With each game idea, we want to push away from the traditional flow in some way or another and make some crazy flow pattern. It doesn’t even have to be a connected line if we don’t want, it could be completely broken up, jumping from extremely difficult to no difficulty at all.

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The Throne!

Gametype: Multiplayer Action Stealth Game

Perspective: Over Head Isometric View

Players: 8-16


The King has sadly passed away and the 12 days of mourning has begun. That means you only have 12 days to secure your place as the new King! Normally this would mean making allies with the Counsel through good will, good ideas, personality and policies. Then, at the end of the 12 Days, you would be voted in as the new King…

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