Now that you've had a chance to download and try out the Red Faction: Armageddon Demo, I thought I'd give some insight into the game design choices that we made in crafting this part of the world.
At this point in development, I had been talking a lot with our Lead Producer about creating an area with true vertical movement. I set out on some initial tests to see how much of this I could fit into a playable area and keep the frame time in check.
Being able to see where you had been before was a key in achieving this, but our engine would struggle at times with long view distances. So, I had to plan carefully just how much you'd be able to see when you looked below and frame it in a way for the most bang for the buck.
A sense of vertigo was what we were shooting for as the player looked below and saw the many layers of areas that they had been before. A player can even send a rocket crashing through all the catwalks they ascended through and watch destruction happen all the way down to where they started.
My next objective in building out this area was to utilize our new "Warren Set" of pieces that we were currently in the process of developing. This set of snap-together walls, ceilings and floors gave us the ability to create some unique spaces quickly.
The set included some indestructible pieces with a rock carved look so we could create our playable space boundaries easily...while keeping in the fiction of natural rock look being a barrier for the player. It was a very versatile set that allowed us to create large playable spaces.
We built the set in a way to allow some very compact environments as well. Notice the floor in this area is destructible allowing the player to use destruction and quickly get below. Yet another way were were thinking vertical, even if on a smaller scale.
This mission is also a demonstration in designer collaboration on the project. After I achieved the things I set out to in the initial lay out, I handed the area off and worked closely with one of my Level Designers to get the combat in and he took ownership for the duration of the project. We also created a natural area to bridge my work to his upcoming sections that further showed the vertical feel we were going for.
That talented Level Designer (with a background in architecture) then created the entire rest of the mission, including the warren section with the Red Faction LEO that is playable in the Demo. This area is another example of how versatile the Warren Set was for us. The camera perspective changes to accommodate the larger vehicle, but he was able to create both tight and large spaces very quickly with effective results.
The original blog post can be found HERE, also you can follow me on twitter.