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Deep Water

Summary

Game: Dying Light

Engine: Dying Light Dev Tools

Development Time: 80 hours

Level Overview

Deep water is a stand-alone, singleplayer level for Dying Light. Deep water is a small dungeon where players collect items, learn new mechanics, and fight a boss.

The level consists of 2 area: an open, sun-lit basin, and a dark, underground sewer.

Design

Design Goals

  • Unique Experience - For this project, I wanted to create something in Dying Light that wasn't built into the game already. To do this, I created new mechanics and a dungeon style level.

  • Interesting Boss The end boss had to be more than a stronger enemy. I wanted to take the mechanics I introduced throughout the level and incorporate them in the boss fight. It was important that going through  the level prepared players for the boss.

Mechanics

I introduced new mechanics that involve controlling electricity

  • Bow - In addition to attacking enemies, players use the bow to destroy fuse boxes. Destroying fuse boxes removes electrical hazards and grants access to new areas.

  • Generators - Turning on generators adds electrical hazards to the environment, which changes how you navigate the environment.

Detailed Walkthrough

Exterior

Players start in the exterior: a sun lit basin. Although most of the level is underground, I wanted to include a bright exterior to contrast with the dark interior.

The exterior features a small group of easy zombies, which gives players something fun to as they pass through the environment get their bearings.

The Legend of Zelda was a big inspiration for this level, so the starting weapon had to a toy master sword I found in Dying Light.

Exterior
Entrance

Entrance

The entrance to the dungeon introduces electricity: a hazard featured throughout the level. When the player enters, a zombie runs into the electrified water, demonstrating the hazard. Players cross the water using the pipe on the right.

Creating a path across the water was a challenge. Originally there were two pipes, which were difficult for players to mount. Next I tried just a lower pipe, which was easy to jump over or slip off of, so I opted for a higher pipe that players hang on. 

Foyer

The foyer, the central room of the dungeon, starts with a small group of zombies to fight. A hole in the middle of the room leads to the lower level, but starts blocked. All of the doors are electrified, however a light coming from the top-left reveals another entrance to the bow room on the left.

The bow is visible through the door to the room, and the corpses add a bit of story to the scene.

The room across from the entrance is optional and can be accessed after players get the bow. The chest inside contains electric arrows.

Foyer

Bow Room

Players enter the room by dropping through the window, but they cannot exit through it. This room gives players the bow and teaches them how to uses the bow to turn off electricity.

The red light draws players towards the fuse box, and a wire shows it's connected to the door. Arrows in the wall around the fuse box suggest that players should shoot the box. When the fuse box is shot, sparks appear and the red light turns off, showing that something happened. The door loses electricity and players exit through it.

With the bow, players can open all the doors in the foyer.

Valve Room

Players cross the foyer and shoot a fuse box to enter the valve room. This room introduces the toad - a ranged enemy that is easier to kill with the bow. The second part of the room has more electrified water, with a simple jumping sequence to pass it. 

On the upper platform after crossing the water is a valve, which opens the hole in the foyer. Players jump from the upper platform to the door to the foyer.
 

The Pit 1

One of the first ideas I had for this level was the moment of players jumping down a pit, onto a pile of corpses.

In the pit is the mini-boss: a "Goon" from Dying Light. The Goon is strong, but slow. Although the fight is difficult using melee, the speed of the Goon and the piles of corpses in the pit making ranged combat much easier.

The door to the purifier room is behind the goon. Opening the door is slow and players can easily be hit by the Goon in the process, which encourages them to fight the Goon first.

Purifier Room

Players cross the large pool of water to the generator on the other side of the room. The red light on the generator indicates that it's interactive. Turning on the generator restores power to the purifier, also electrifying the water.

The chest next to the generator contains a grappling hook, which allows players to cross over the electrified water.

The Pit 2

Turning on the generator in the purifier room also electrified the water in the pit. Players shoot a fuse box across the room to disable the electricity. I originally had toads spawn on an upper platform at this point, but their height advantage made them too hard. Changing the toads to a fuse box removed that difficulty and reusing the mechanic made the level feel more cohesive.

Once the electricity is gone, players can use the grappling hook to return to the foyer, or reach go through the window in the pit, to a room with an optional chest containing electric arrows.

Players leave the dungeon through the entrance, where they encounter another toad.

Boss

When players return to the exterior, a giant toad, "The Defiler", emerges from the water. I put the boss in the starting area to give it another use and surprise players.

Although the boss is based on the toads found earlier in the level, it is a much different fight. The boss is only vulnerable to electricity, and it's primary attack is a large, slow projectile, that explodes after it lands.

Generators behind fences are now accessible via the grappling hook, and electrify the water, damaging the boss. Players can turn on one generator and dodge the boss's attacks, or turn on both to kill it faster. The electric arrows found in optional parts of the level also damage the boss.

Players can leave the level after the boss is dead.

Scripting

Scripting Overview

A big challenge working in Dying Light in general was the lack of documentation available. The official tutorial videos were a good start for standard Dying Light level design. I, however, wanted to make a level that wasn't standard Dying Light. The scripting for my level involved a lot of experimentation and digging through source files to understand how they were designed and how I could use them.

Fuse Box

Although fairly simple, scripting the fuse box mechanic was surprisingly challenging. The issue came from using a damage trigger - hitting the fuse box - to control particles. The quest script could not detect the damage trigger, and the particles could only be controlled by the quest script.

To solve this, I looked for a way to connect the trigger to the quest script. I knew the quest script could detect kills, and through testing, I discovered the trigger could control damage volumes.

I created an NPC with 1 health, and placed it in a disabled damage volume outside the level. When a player shoots the trigger, it enables the damage volume, which kills the NPC. The quest script detects when the NPC dies and disables the electricity particle. Although I wish I could have directly disabled the particles, I am rather proud of my workaround.

Boss

The biggest challenge in creating this level was the boss. Modifying AI is not available in the developer tools, so I looked for AI scripts in the source files. I found the scripts quickly enough, but I couldn't find where they were implemented. Eventually I figured out that the scripts are implemented via naming convention, and went on to learn how they function.

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