Game: Half-Life 2
Development time: 5 Weeks
Crackdown is a Half-Life 2 map created for a mod called Rogue Research. The mod consists of 12 levels that together form a single player campaign.
Crackdown is the first level in the mod and has its focus on storytelling through environment design and scripted events.
My goal for the very beginning was to create a level that would set the mood for the rest of the campaign.
I wanted to challenge myself with making a map that had minimal combat. And instead focused on storytelling through scripted events and the environment.
The level takes place in a ghetto bordering an Industrial complex. I wanted environments to change when advancing through the level to create a greater feeling of progression.
Players will slowly move through a ghetto to towards industrial alleyways, avoiding and fleeing from the Metropolice patrolling the areas.
Story through level design.
You play as a civilian that wakes up during a violent government crackdown. The player must quickly flee the area or risk getting captured or killed.
I put alot of emphasis on making the level feel very cinematic. through scripted events and wow moments that establish the world and story.
It was important for me that the player really felt like they were on the run. And as players were unarmed, they would naturally avoid enemies or flee them.
When players are eventually introduced to the crowbar they are then instead faced with enemies that are better armed. This way the player will always avoid combat or they will get overwhelmed and killed.
One tricked I often used was positioning enemies at elevated points where the player cannot reach them, leaving you no option but to run.
Introducing the crowbar
One of my tasks for this campaign was to introuce the "crowbar".
In the first iteration, the crowbar was placed in a tight corridor. This way the player would inevitably pick it up as they passed by. The problem with this was that the pick-up felt very forced and accidental as players would suddenly find themselves holding a crowbar.
I resolved this problem by instead introducing the weapon in a skillgate. Players would drop down in a room with boarded up doorways. The only way to advance is to find a tool to remove the boards with.
I started by drawing up paper designs that mapped out all main areas, flow and the scripted events.
Playtesting together with script and design iterations continued for 3 weeks before moving on to a making a detailed blockout.
With a detailed blockout in place I could start the process of dressing the map, lighting and postprocessing.
Pictures of development from an early blockout to the final version.