Post news RSS Level Generation & Photo Mode

This week's article covers recent work done in the realm of level generation and also highlights the in-game Photo Mode for RIZN, my work-in-progress third person zombie shooter.

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Level Generation

I've been slowly pushing forward with random level generation over the last few months and have finally reached a point where I can say with confidence that the concept is proven and working even better than I'd originally hoped. I opted for randomly generating levels at runtime so that the demo I release later this year can feature Survival Mode, a game mode that lacks any narrative and instead tasks the player with simply surviving the hordes of zombies as they work towards finding a cure for their infection. This would allow me to release the demo much sooner, leaving me the remaining time until release to focus on the narrative itself and fixing any bugs, etc.

In the video above, I quickly walk you through the process used for generating a level. Each city is divided into quarantine blocks separated by large doors and gates which are initially locked. Once the player finds the corresponding key, they can progress through to the next zone which is chosen at random. Quarantine blocks are constructed using a randomly selected base - made up of streets, sidewalks, and quarantine walls - which are then populated with a structure layout, again selected at random. On top of that, each structure itself - regardless of which structure layout is chosen - can have one of the numerous interior layouts selected, ensuring that each playthrough will be a unique experience for the player. Lastly, occlusion culling is baked in the editor and ready to be leveraged during runtime by essentially combining the OC data for each prefab into a single, cohesive culling system.

For Story Mode I plan to use a similar process with one exception: several of the blocks will be pre-determined and tossed in the mix at appropriate points. These particular zones will be used to advance the narrative, the remaining blocks being used as filler, thereby ensuring that I am saving myself a lot of time by skipping the level design process (almost) entirely. Coupled with the custom map editor I've built in Unity, I'm able to create new zones and structure layouts fairly quickly, and with each new zone, I expand the total number of possible combinations for each level greatly.

Photo Mode

Work has been done on the in-game Photo Mode as well, which likely doesn't require much explanation, but I'll do a quick run-through here regardless. Photo Mode essentially freezes the entire game world and then provides the player with controls to freely move the camera anywhere they want in order to easily take screenshots at any point during gameplay. Four effects are provided for customizing the look beforehand, and all screenshots are saved to the computer for easy access later on.

Photo Mode is still in its infancy since I only focused on the basics so that I could take screenshots to share on social media more effectively. It's worked out well so far, especially as far as saving me time, but I'll certainly be giving this system some polish in the near future.

Photo Mode I


Photo Mode II (2)

Comments
SPY-maps
SPY-maps - - 2,904 comments

I am a huge single-player gamer, multiplayer is not my thing. That said, the biggest downside to sp gaming was always the replayability of a game. That was till Level Generation was indented. I love how this makes that a game can be replayed over and over. When done well then it gives a game many, many more hours of new, fresh gameplay. And it looks like you did give the Level Generation enough diversity to develop new levels. Not only are the streets with houses new each time, but even the indoors in the houses change with each new gameplay. Really nicely done!

Leon

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eatsleepindie Author
eatsleepindie - - 42 comments

I always look forward to your feedback, Leon, thanks again for taking the time to respond. Last night I "played" the game for the first time in quite a while and man-oh-man, what a huge boost in spirits it was to load random levels after having used the same level every day for well over a year. The controls still felt familiar, but the environment felt foreign and unknown, which is exactly the result I was hoping for.

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SPY-maps
SPY-maps - - 2,904 comments

I can really imagine what you felt, I am a mapper, and when I map it is most of the time for the whole day. Which gives me the opportunity to make quite a large mappart. And it is SO exciting to play that then at the end of the evening! Nothing can beat that feeling. So, although this a bit of a different situation I do know how that feels, and it is AWESOME!!!

Leon

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eatsleepindie Author
eatsleepindie - - 42 comments

I spent a good portion of my youth building maps for Duke Nukem 3D and Warcraft II then handing them out to friends at school on floppy disks, so that feeling you're describing is exactly why I do what I do now. It's the same thing just with a bit more freedom to play around with ideas. So many fond memories of building hiding places and secrets into my DN3D levels so I could whoop my friends. I can't think of another hobby or job in which the reward for a hard day's work is that you get to roam freely around a world that didn't exist before you started.

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