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Project 01 - Powersurge

A first person stealth shooter experience.


My goals with this level was to end up with a compact horror shooter centered around stealth and planning. I wanted the gameplay to shift between a fast pace to a careful crawl towards the objective; activating two backup generators to power defences within a hostile factory. From the start I set out to finish with a clean, readable whitebox to highlight my design intent.


  • Individual solo project spanning 5 weeks of work. 

  • Focus on designing and building a clean and readable whitebox.

  • Scripting gameplay events.

  • Level design, mood and lighting.

  • AI placement and AI patrols.


  • Player character and AI script based on a
    emplate provided by Max Forsberg, modified by me.


  • Make the player feel fragile, small and insignificant.

  • Reward planning, stealthing and exploring.

  • Make enemies dangerous but easily killed.

  • A focus on horror, stealth and escape rather than being a powerhouse like In Darktide.

The Process

Visual References

First thing I did was gather visual references to strengthen my vision and keep me on track throughout the project. It was Important to me that the cool Wow-moments in my head recieved their rightful place in the experience without breaking immersion.


Sketch Overview

Once I was happy with the rough overview I began noting down a rudimentary explanation of gameplay loops and pacingThen I started blocking out a rough Idea of my major wow-moments and USP's In engine before getting to work blocking out the level properly.


Blockout Overview


From Blockout To Whitebox

The Introduction

From the start I had a very simple Idea when it came to onboarding. Push a few buttons, get comfortable with the movement and basic gameplay-loop of activating world object objectives. I didn't iterate much until later on in the project.


Thanks to the most important tool for a Level designer, feedback and iteration, I decided to restructure the entire introductory area. The discerning and well thought out feedback of my classmates and educators at The Game Assembly made me realise the area was not well designed enough.

Instead of it being only a rushed onboarding funnel towards the next area with no design intent of it's own, it had to become  more engaging. So I hadded more

space and opportunity to explore, climb, vault and highlighted the intended path better.

The Factory Security Checkpoint

It was Important to me that the security checkpoint was

daunting. I made sure to highlight the high amount of enemies and visually strengthen that the place they are about to enter is a hostile zone. The area is supposed to be scary and make the player sneak for the generator, but sneak kills, a well hidden weapon and optional paths provide a multitude of different ways to progress.


The smeltery was the area where the player was meant to get comfortable with the idea of patrolling enemies, enemy line of sight and gunplay.


To aid this, the player starts at a vantage point with very high affordance, the design intent was to let the player take their time, watch the environment and learn the enemy patrol patterns before tackling the problem. There is also a Las-gun clearly highlighted beneath a spotlight, within a locked storage yard only reachable from the players start position. This ensures the player can get comfortable with their new las-gun at their own pace.

Assembly Line

The Assembly line is the last area of the map. In this section I wanted the player to have less visual overview of what was to come, to keep them guessing as to how many hostiles and dangers lurked around the corner. It's also the first time the player is 'forced' to interact with environmental hazards and puzzles such as broken factory robot arms and conveyor belts.

I really wanted the player to be careful, take their time and clear the area at their own pace, building up a false sense of security as when they finally turn on the last power generator, enemies start swarming in through spawner portals, and the hectic backtracking begins.

Whitebox Overview


The Gameplay

Act I
Onboarding - movement

I really wanted the player to be a hundred percent sure about their own abilities when it comes to movement. To that end, the player starts off in a broken industrial elevator, where they have to both crouch and jump/vault to progress further. This onboarding is neccesary to have the player experience multiple paths throughout the level.

Onboarding - Buttons and Terminals

I really wanted the player to be a hundred percent sure about their own abilities when it comes to movement. To that end, the player starts off In a broken industrial elevator, where they have to both crouch and jump/vault to progress further. This onboarding is neccesary to have the player experience multiple paths throughout the level.

Act II
The First Enemy encounter

Right, here's what gives the experience that dash of horror; enemies oneshot the player. Upon seeing the player, their eyes light up green, and they charge heedlessly towards you. This decision was not taken lightly, but I wanted the player to be genuinely scared of the enemies to encourage stealth and patience.

Therefore, I placed one patrolling enemy who alerts his friends to the players position should he see them. My intent with this was to have the player take a step back and plan their approach.

Activating The first generator - The payoff

As the player reaches the generator, an enemy portal appears and begins spawning enemies continuously. The spawned enemies rush towards the player position, but as the generator Is turned on, the turrets activate and easily terminate all enemies within the checkpoint, as well as the rushing enemies spawning from the portal.

Arrival At The Smeltery

I wanted the player to feel safe upon arrival into the smeltery, to further reinforce the gameplay loop of; assess, plan and execute. Therefore the elevator stops on a balcony catwalk where the player can overview the entire smeltery before jumping down and tackling the challenges ahead of them.

Weaponry, at last!

One of the two first laser rifles was placed within the safe area where the player may use and test their new tool in safety.


To ensure the player does not miss the chance for safe and comfortable way to get their weapon, I placed a spotlight over the weapon to highlight it clearly.

The Safe Weapon Location

It was key to weapon onboarding that the player had proper affordance to use It safely and get comfortable with their new weapon. And what instills a better sense affordance than a see-through fence?

The Perilous Weapon Location

The second weapon lies in an exposed position, guarded by an enemy, standing over his fresh kill. Reaching the weapon is perilous because there are patrolling enemies behind the position that will inevitably spot the player. Therefore the player must carefully rush the enemy and stealth kill it to reach the weapon before the enemies reach them.

Arrival At The Assembly Line

The Final Area beckons, and just as before, the area the player arrives at is safe. This time however Ive worked In more visual occluders and visibility is reduced. This encourages the player to be extra careful when assessing and planning their approach. 

The Assembly Line

To reach the final reserve power generator, the player crawls beneath the tanks on the assembly line. They are forced to slow down, wich allows the player to see patrolling enemies on approach aswell as a sneak peek as to where the next weapon/ammo can be found In the form of an active lantern.

Fighting In tight Quarters

This is the final area, and I wanted the player to feel unsafe. The player is in a a cramped space and exposed with only a tiny crawlspace to give affordance. As they fight in close quarters, I hope to build more tension for the coming release.

The Last Generator And The payoff

As the last frenzied cultists are fought off, the main objective Is close at hand- The Generator Is activated, and the factory gains some of Its power back, causing a mechanical arm on the assembly line to smash into enemies who come tumbling through a freshly opened portal. This environmental kill serves as a rewarding moment for the player who until now has been avoiding and running from the very enemies who are being crushed. However, those who survive try desperately to hinder the players way back to safety in the turret protected FacSec, or factory security checkpoint.

Backtracking - The Finalé

As the main objective is achieved and the final Generator is activated, the factory gains some of its power back. This triggers a sequence of backtracking, where the enemies are rushing after the player, forcing them to flee back the way they came in a rushed retreat.

The Finale

The Blueprints

AI Spawners

My spawners appear as green luminescent portals from which the AI drops. The spawner has an activation triggerbox and a de-activation triggerbox.

The spawner activation triggerboxes themselves can also be spawned In once a generator Is activated, to prevent player from activating spawners meant for the backtracking section.

I decided to have the de-spawners delete any spawned enemies aswell to increase preformance.

 Terminals, doors and checkpoint booths

One of my core gameplay loops revolve around affecting the world by turning on different machinery. I made sure to construct my blueprints In such a manner that I was able to quickly and easily add more references to different blueprints all depending on what 'powers' them, and what activates them.

The Turret

The turret was key to the level's victory condition, which was to end up safe at the security checkpoint. It targets the nearest enemy and fires, killing any enemy that collides with Its lasers.

The conveyor belt and mechanical arms

Theese blueprints activate when powered by a generator.

The Conveyorbelt simply moves any dynamic actor along Its length. The mechanical arm acts like a dangerous and hard to traverse way to get from one place to another, and ofcourse to bludgeon enemies to death.

Closing Thoughts

When I set out to do a more horror centered darktide experience, I wanted to stray away from relying on hordes of enemies to set the tempo. Instead I wanted the player to slow down and take their time, and choose themselves when they wanted the action to kick off. I think I did a pretty good job of nailing the feel of It, but I would have loved to be able to spend more time polishing the backtracking section of the level. I had to scrap the intended ending pretty late into the process, which complicated the designing of a new way to end the level.

There are things I would have loved to implement and iterate upon If I would have had more time. For example, I would've liked to have had implemented more features like more weapons, expanding on the mechanical arms and their usage, melee combat and allied NPC's.

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