Maya Blockout - The Last of Us

Design Goals

This Maya Blockout is a small project I made to practice my blockouts using the Maya package as well as learn more about encounter design and other level design techniques.

Here are the tasks I completed in this project:

  • Created a 2D map with attention to scale while also taking into account cover systems, doorways, and windows.

  • Blocked out level in Maya using appropriate metrics

  • Imported blockmesh to UE4 and set-up collision and lighting

  • Placed enemy mannequins

  • Studied/Analyzed encounter and level design techniques.

My main focuses I wanted to accomplish with this project were:

  1. Recreate a combat encounter using Maya as my blockout package.

  2. Analyze and understand the level design techniques used by Naughty Dog to help guide players through the space.

  3. Analyze and understand the encounter design that went into this particular encounter.

What I learned

During and after working on this project I was able to understand how Naughty Dog uses leading lines to help players focus on areas of importance and where to go. Coupled with other techniques such as lighting, scripted cutscenes, and dialogue, players are easily able to understand their main objective and the inevitable combat encounter they are about to enter.

These images are perfect examples of that. The yellow lines are the leading lines created by the geometry. 

The other lesson I learned from this project was the encounter design. While creating this blockout I realized the layout accounts for multiple playstyles:

1. Stealth

2. Aggressive

In the image below you can see that the player has two ways to approach the encounter. They can 1) Decide to sneak through the entire encounter by using the cover systems or 2) They can aggressively progress through by using their guns. Alternatively, these throwables can also be thrown at enemies to damage them and assist with combat.

The player also has access to pickup tools scattered in the space that aid with sneaking such as bricks and bottles to serve as distractions. This tool can work in both playstyles as they can use them to manipulate enemy AI to traverse them into areas where they are not scripted to originally go to. 

While this encounter is in the earlier stages of this game, However, it is not a tutorial. Players have already been equipped with the knowledge from previous encounters to understand how to complete this one. Therefore, this encounter is a test that gives the player agency so they can decide how they want to approach it.

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