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Prison Break the Conspiracy

(2007-2010) – released in March 2010

Role: Level Designer for Chapters 1 and 6
Engine: Xubl proprietary engine
Duration: 28 months, 40 people + outsourcing
Editor: Maya Xubl tools
Scripting: C++ based scripting language

Description: Prison Break the Conspiracy is a 3rd person action/stealth game. My role was to design and implement chapters 1 and 6. Since there was only 35 people at our company at the time, level designer was also a scripter, gameplay designer and much more.

One of the challenges for level designers on this project was that game is happening in real environment so we were not completely free when designing areas. Besides, some buildings and areas were scenes of multiple missions, so we often had to find more than one interesting version of gameplay in the same area. It took a lot of brainstorming to find solutions that were fun enough for a player and didn’t require too much changes of environment.

Fortunately we had plenty of tricks on our disposal. For example, in chapter 1 on the narrow staircase I had to warn the player he will be caught if he tries to go one floor higher. I used the following tricks to achieve that: First I trigger dialog between the guard upstairs and another one below. Then the guard upstairs begins to wave his flashlight so the light beam is clearly visible on the wall in front of player. Additionally the guard is not looking directly downstairs, so if player goes up anyway, he still has some time to back away before he is spotted.

Also this was the first time we worked on stealth gameplay, so there was a lot of trying and tweaking involved. As AI vision is based on actual lighting in the levels, we had to work very closely with lighting artists and thoroughly test every little change that was made later in development.

When the game was finished, our lead level designer Matevž Štular and I wrote a document together on how to optimize our level design process for future projects. We really learned a lot on Prison Break. Foundation for this document is the lecture from Bioware, makers of Mass Effect 1, where they explain how they optimized their workflow for Mass Effect 2.