In this group project I have done puzzle design, level design iteration on all levels, as well as had active involvement in the game design.
Imagine Resident Evil 2 but where the zombies are creepy robots - "zombots" - and where the puzzles function by a mechanic where the player can use an electrical gun to shoot at interactive panels, activating doors and elevators and such. Cables function as hints leading the player from the locked doors and cranes to the interactive panels.
The zombots have weak points, and some have armor panels covering these points.
The player has both the electrical attack as well as a regular gun that shoots bullets, and these have distinct effects on the zombots' weak points and armor plates. Bullets are a limited resource, forcing the player to make tactical choices.
I designed one of the main traversal puzzles in the game, making use of a few classic level design techniques, such as a Bait and Switch, a "Crazy Ivan"-based path reveal, using landmarks to create a desired path and set a clear goal, and mechanical elements filling a dual purpose in terms of affecting walkable paths through the level geometry.
This image shows the first blockout sketch of the puzzle.
The desired path leads straight ahead toward the tall building in the background, but a shipping container blocks the way forward.
To the right, the player can see a set of stairs, suggesting a possible path around the obstacle.
(Meanwhile, the actual main path is obscured from view by the container directly on the left...)
The top of the stairs turns out to be a dead end, but from there the player can see the telltale light from a crane control panel on the other side, just out of reach!
Since the container blocking the way looks attached to a crane, maybe these controls can lift it?
When going back down the stairs, the previously obscured actual path forward is clearly revealed to the player.
After going through a bit of a detour among the shipping containers, the player finally reaches the control panel and can activate it.
Indeed this does raise the container which previously blocked the way, and this also creates a walkway revealing a shortcut back to the dead end at the top of the first set of stairs!
Go through the container and down the stairs, and now the way toward the goal is open. Great success!
A later level in the game is set in an underground facility for servers and robot assembly and testing.
A colleague in the team sketched out an overview on paper, and I cleaned it up and iterated on it using Dungeon Scrawl.
The purple lines and boxes indicate electrical cables and control panels for locked doors.
I blocked out the entire level using placeholder assets.
The green arrows indicate the main path through the level.
I then iterated on the layout on the level, placing the "main hall" in the center of the level.
I made sure that instead of the level being one big loop, it was broken down into three separate loops all leading back to the "main hall", and unlocking shortcuts at the end of each loop.
The result of this is that once the player finishes each of the loops, backtracking to find missed items is much easier, since each separate loop is directly accessible from the main hall, instead of having to repeat a single loop around the entire level.
I also added some elevated walkways and made some areas more connected, to add some foreshadowing to the earlier loops as well as overviews over previously visited areas in later loops.
The colored arrows indicate the three main loops through the level, with dotted lines indicating unlocked shortcuts and the red arrows indicating the final path to the end goal.