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Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

  • My Role: Level Designer

  • Time: Jan 2022 - May 2023

  • Tools: Stringray

About:

Darktide is a first person, 4-player co-op game, where a band of prisoners are drafted into the service of an Imperial Inquisitor, in a desperate campaign to save the Hive world of Atoma Prime, and prove their lives to the Inquisition.

Gameplay:

Darktide is a class-based FPS that employs "hybrid combat" - a mix of melee and ranged weapons to take on the vast amount of traitors that stand between the players and their misson.

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Working on Darktide

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Working in the Warhammer 40k universe, specifically in a Hive City, came with it's unique challenges. A Hive is not like other cities. It is continent-spanning and reaches all the way into orbit, consuming itself in its endless growth. Entire sub-levels are forgotten as they fall into darkness and obscurity. There is no outside, no sky, only more city as far as the eye can see. It is a metal cage where billions live. We had to incorporate the sheer scale of this into our creative process. Vistas and key spaces had to convey the gargantuan size that made our characters seem insignificant in this world. While claustrophobic living spaces told a more personal tale of life in the Hive.

The job of a level designer at Fatshark involves a set of responsibilities. While applying our design methodology we plan and block out levels, design mission events using visual scripting and LUA, and establish the narrative experience for a mission. 

 

Making the levels tell a greater story of life in a Hive means collaborating with various crafts. Level & environment artists, gameplay programmers, VFX, TA, lighting, sound, and narrative teams. And communication with other teams that made up the system design of the project to fulfill the intended gameplay loop.

  • Mission design - I headed up the level design on "Mercantile HL-70-04" the first mission in "The Traitor Curse" update. Working on blockouts, designing events, and shaping the narrative experience for the mission. I had the chance to design the Breaching Charge mechanic for these new missions by prototyping, pitching, and writing a design doc, outlining our dependencies and bringing the needed crafts together to create this feature. As the primary LD on the mission I collaborated with our cross-disciplinary team to bring art, code, audio, and narrative together.

  • Launch Missions + Optimization - I joined the rest of the team in finishing our launch content during the last year of development. I had the opportunity to iterate on my colleagues work, making additions and changes while working with them to maintain their vision. As we neared launch we went into optimization, collaborating with other crafts in our department to optimize unit count, solving visibility issues, and improved performance, among other things.                                                         

  • Onboarding - I did design passes on the Prologue of the game. My job was to streamline the level, improve the guidance and tutorial sections for the basic controls and melee combat. In addition to the visual scripting required it also involved improvements to the pacing and presentation of these events.

  • Training grounds - I had the opportunity to head up the creation of the Psykhanium, where we teach players the fundamentals of the combat systems and advanced controls. This work was done from the ground up, working with a concept artist to build a foundation for the visual direction. Then working on the level with a game designer and a programmer responsible for implementing the mechanics. 

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Gallery

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Concept art of the Psykhanium

Psykhanium ingame

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Mercantile HL-70-04

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Launch Missions

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