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The Project - TOMB

  • My Roles: Level Designer, Gameplay Designer, Product Owner

  • Time: 4 weeks

  • Team size: 6

  • Tools: Unreal Engine, Perforce

  • Date: 2021


TOMB is a First Person Platformer where the player enters a temple on a sacrificial journey. Using an ancient weapon to manipulate the temple's mechanisms to reach the top.


The game is centered around the use of a weapon to manipulate different mechanisms in the environment, to create paths that can be navigated with different abilities such as double jumping, wallrunning, and grapple swinging

Design Goals


The goal of the game is to ascend to the top of the temple, so we needed to keep this in mind


Manipulating the environment to forge your path forward, making players think as they make their next move


Creating a sense of mystery & dread through level art & sound design

Core gameplay features

Transforming platforms

Wall running

Double jumping

Grapple swinging

My Contribution

Level Design

  • Tutorial level - mapping, greybox, final design

  • Final level -  from rapid prototype, greybox, to final design

Game Design

  • Gameplay Design - deciding features & mechanics

Product owner

  • Managed workflow

  • Planned sprints

  • Driving the vision


Level Design

Design Process

Part I: Workflow & Rapid Prototyping

One of the first challenges was figuring out how to approach levels that not only had to communicate verticality, but moveable platforms as well. My early mapping efforts didn't incorporate our movement mechanics in a way that felt satisfying, or stood out in any way.


We received some good tips on alternate approaches to our design process. So I took a day out of the schedule to introduce Action-Blocking, as a way to brainstorm different interactable platforms that could bring some of our cental design pillars together. This process also needed level designers and technical designer to work closely together, which was a big plus. Once we had some concepts we liked, the technical designer could turn them into functional blueprints quickly, and we had a solid process for rapid prototyping.


I pitched an idea for a platform that would transform between a floor and a runnable wall. Thanks to our programming team we already had the tools to set up a switch to control the states, which our technical designer then used to craft a blueprint. This prototype served as the inspiration for one of the levels I designed.

The interactible platforms were called Mechanisms, and were assembled from assets that looked distinct from the natural environment. This helped create a cold technological contrast to the warmer earthy environment, helping the visual communication in the level.

But first we had to introduce the player to our core traversal mechanics. So I started setting up a tutorial level, while we continued to prototype and iterate on our mechanisms. 

Part II: Introducing the game

The tutorial started as a simple level to test our mechanics and help set scales for jumping distance & height. Since this level was more simplified I also intended to take the opportunity here to establish the tone & atmosphere.

Early on, we wanted outdoor areas to handle transition between levels, giving players a breather space, and give perspective on their progress as they ascended the pyramid structure. 

We realized that this would involve too much work, between creating a landscape and a detailed outdoor structure. And after some consultation there was even doubt we'd get the intended progression effect due to the players proximity to the structure.

I still wanted an outdoor approach somehow, to help set a context for the game world. I started thinking of using a canyon to create an encapsuled environment where I could still keep it small and simple.


Until our advanced traversal mechanics were ready for testing I used some placeholder platforms. I used the opportunity to test jumping distances & height. First person platforming comes with some benefits but also some...limits. It was important that the distances felt generous, with some buffer space. Elevations also had to appear jumpable, with double jumping as a mechanic that can be a bit tricky, so the path had to be framed as well.


Part III: Guiding the player & atmosphere

One of the themes of the experience was that the setting would change visually the more you ascended, starting with broken down, dusty and dilapidated at the bottom, to clean and extravagant near the top.

For the interior of the tutorial level I wanted to disrupt the players locational sense. So I created broken down walls to draw players into adjacent rooms, not meant to be discovered.


The fall pit was an addition to this theme. I also wanted to introduce the shootable switches here, presenting them before the player had aquired the means to interact with them. By the time the player has made their way back up into this room they will have learned of it's function. The idea was that players remember this obstacle after they aquire the weapon, giving them an idea of what their next goal is.

While looking at our meshes I started experimenting with shapes, this led some of the rooms having "faces". I was aiming for a theme where the player felt they were being observed by their environment, suggesting a sinister presence.


Part IV: The Ziggurat

This was the final level i worked on for the game. I wanted to really make full use of our interactible platforms for this map. Up until now the player had learned how to navigate the world, and make use of our interactibles to progress. The goal of this map was to create a level where the player has to switch the platforms multiple times, reusing it to make their way forward.

 The level was arranged into a staircase-style room, where the player ascends diagonally upwards as they move back and forth across the room, switching mechanisms to bring you higher.


As the level started taking shape the staircase changed to a 45-degree slope, to create a fail state for the player should they fall down. Another side was then added to the room to create a pyramid-looking structure. I used grapple points to handle the transition between the two sides, bringing all our traversal mechanics into play.

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