So this Map spawned from the idee of making a Level that played out in the branch work of a bunch of trees. I was excited in seeing if one could adapt a design to a space and the elements and restrictions that comes with it. 

And as a Design I decided to go for a more open exploration map. With a destinct main goal and small sub goals that could be taken in eny order. While still keeping a flow and guiding a player towards the End. 


Third Person exploration Level

Exploration, Composition and interesting Environoment

4 weeks (part time)

Unreal Engine and Maya






To start of I usualy whant to develop a strong mental image of the space. And to do so I look at and collect a lot of referances. And when I have a good picture of the space. I try sketch it down on some papper. To see and decide on a good flow thru the map. While keeping in mind the idee's of strong main goal and exploration. 


And I came up with a map devided in half with a ravine and river. Where the Main gola is on the other side and two clear branshes conecting the two sides. And there for deviding the map in two areas making it easier to mentaly map. 

I then sat down in Maya to make som simple building blocks that I would need to Blockout the space with. 


Design Theory

When I was going to creat the space I Had a few Theorys I whanted to have in there. 

Exploration. What makes it fun to explore?

To make the simple act just navigate and exploring the level fun and interesting.

Something they do very good in games like uncharted series. Is that the simple act of navigating and moving thru an area is fun. It's a lot of things that goes into making it so. But after doing my own analysis of the game. I have come to these conclusions for exploration. 

And to do so focused on making that the areas thru out them map hidden from the player at first sight. And when they find them you get a nice reveal and small puzzel/challange on how to navigate the area. And making eatch area have a diffrent feel and visual experiance. 


Like a epic sence of scale. Becasue I like to have a few big and overaching elements in my Levels. Since it usualy leaves you with an sence of Epicness and also acts as a great landmark to help with navigation. 

And since I Whanted the level to be in and have a lot of elements of trees and branches in it. I whanted to make sure it wouldent get really messy and hard to read the area. Since the nature of this elements it really easie that is doses. 


With that I sat down and started the process of creating the space. First I wanted to set the scale and make a quick layout to get the flow of the map. And after runing around in it I realiced that it needed to become a bit smaller. 

Clear goal

Even tho it was an exploration map i still whanted there to allways be an clear Goal. To make sure that the player never feels lost or comfused. And they way i Would do that it to establish the main goal very strongly in the begining. With a bottel necked entry and reveal into the area. 

Side Goals

Something I feelt was missing when i made the diffrent hide away areas to explore was a reason and a goal why to go there. So what i cam up with was a small orb that flew away into the area and landed to give the goal of geting it. And that way the reward of of exploration was to find a new area and then get a clear goal to a littel navagation puzzel.

To do that I made a simple visual script. Where i had an orb that followed a spline, triggerd by a trigger box and then collected and visualy represented on the player. Once collected. Whitch i thught was a nice feedback for compleating the puzzel. 

The collected orbs could perhaps later be used to unlock some hidden path or rewards. feeding back into the sence of exploration.


To mark out where to make some good composition shoots I utaliced a node network. So that I could kinda plan out where the diffrent composition shoots should be. 

And i used the composition shoots botha as an reward and a way of showing the goal when the player discovers the diffrent areas hidden away. 


Something I tried to keep in mind when designing the space was to use Occlusion alot. Because it's good for both hiding areas and alowing for "what's around the next cornor" feeling when exploring. Because whats behind there could be enything. And the player whants to push on and find out what's next. 

Another benefit of using Occlusion in the map was to allow for culling and optimazation. Since the more of that you have. The more epic and spectacular view you can afford to do. 

Closing thoughts

To end with I would like to prefrace that this was mad as a Demo area. So this would not have enugh pull on it's own to be a fully fleatch experiance. There would need to be more polish and another mechanic to make it be able to stand on it's own. This was just made as an example for how simple navigating and moving thru an level can be rwearding and interesting. 

I can already come up with a lot of things to imporove on this area. So if I had time to iterate and polish the map I feel comfident I could have taken it to a level where it's twise as good as it's now. So example is...

And I thinck that the idee of using leting a space define and dictate a Design would very mutch so work. Since im quite happy with how it turned out. And with a talented environoment artist I thinck this area could turn out really well.