Swift

October 2020 - June 2021

Unity

Level design

Team of 7

The project

Swift was my graduation project, I finished working on it in June 2021. I worked on this project as the only level designer, along with a game designer, a VFX artist, a programmer, 2 environment artists and a character artist.

Swift is a first person capture the flag melee only multiplayer competitive game. It defines itself in the way the players get better at the game by mastering movement, and by its one-shot melee fights.

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If you want to test the game, please don't hesitate to contact me by email (nersonnils@gmail.com) or discord (Otumn#7691), I'll arrange a game with pleasure.

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Level designing Sanctuary

Swift's core intentions make it a very unique game : the CTF gamemode exists in other games, but not as a main mode. A lot of games are very fast paced, but none are melee only.

This uniqueness meant that I had to test a lot of different configurations to know what was fun and what wasn't, how players organized themselves and what type of environment was fun to fight in when your only weapon is a sword.

So my first task on this project was to test a lot of different small gameplay situations, each with a different purpose (an arena, a small route or a building where players could easily hide in...) and try to merge them together to see how players would navigate throughout these different zones, and how they would prioritize them when they want to attack or defend.

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This is how Swift's main map, Sanctuary, was born.  I took 2 zones, one small route and an arena, merged them together and added a more vertical zone where players had to climb a lot more on the walls and jump from high edges to move around.

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Sanctuary is meant to represent what a perfect city in Swift's world would be : it is a very warm welcoming part of a bigger city,  built around a main important stucture for the citizens of the nearby buildings. This map had to feel alive and show how much the locals appreciated elegant and delicate things, from small props to whole buildings.

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The map is built around 2 main routes : one direct from flag to flag, and an other one giving the players more oppotunities to play with neutral elements and adapt or improvise thanks to them. This way, even if the first route is the shortess to get to a flag, it is also the most obvious one, and makes the players very visible by making them cross a very open plaza.

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This means that depending on the situation, players may want to adapt their pathing.

If they are alone, they may want to stay hidden while they go back to their flag, therefore taking the long way back.

If they are escorted by their allies, they can go for the short path, since they will be protected while they can't escape or loose their opponent using the environment.

All of that while always looking for informations about their opponents' current position, to adapt and change route to avoid them.

In Swift, teamwork is the main key to victory. Each player can choose and switch during the game between 3 classes : Hunter, Raider or Guardian.

Each class has a different passive, and a different spawn point, to emphazise on their in-game role.

Hunters are fighters, meant to dive in head first, Raiders are bearers meant to rush the enemy flag and run back as fast as they can to score. And Guardians are the supports : they help, protect and give informations on the enemies' positions to their allies.

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The hunters spawn directly facing the center of the map, where a powerful neutral item is located, to encourage them to dive head first in combat, creating an opportinity for their allies to either help them, or completely avoid the fight, and go directly for the enemy's flag.

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Raiders spawn in a hidden room, giving them 2 clear pathing choices, each leading to one of the map's main route. Since their role is to go capture the flag, they can choose safely which way to go depending on the enemies current status.

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Guardians spawn the farthest from the center of map, right next to their flag. They have a very wide view of their side of the map, making it easy for them to see any attacking enemy, and to keep an eye on any ally needing assistance.

Overall, Sanctuary is a very balanced map in its identity, in the way that it was made to showcase all the different playstyles Swift can offer.

Building Sanctuary

To follow-up on what I had worked on during my previous projects (Lights-Orb and Ethereal Sprinter), I was very excied to finally work with level artists to build this map.

As much as my work was to create an interesting and fun level to play in, I also had to create a coherent and readable map.

So, during the earliest blocking phases of the map, I made sure to think about colours, shapes and lights to make sure the level would be readable in such a fast-paced game.

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Of course I also spent a lot of time talking with the level artists to make sure that they understood what I was doing and to know if my blockout would be easy for them to work with to create an amazing and appealing environment.

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Working this closely with level artists (they were literally next to me) was the most fun I had designing levels, it made me understand so much about level design and how crucial it was to work directly with a level artist to make a good level.

Duel maps : Avenue & Dojo

Aside from Capture the flag, Swift has a secondary duel gamemode : simple 1 vs 1 fights in small arenas.

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Avenue and Dojo are the 2 maps I made for this gamemode. They both have the same purpose : make the players fight in environment that Sanctuary doesn't feature. To give both these maps a clear identity, I decided to design them each around a single neutral item : a booster for Avenue and an pick-up (that instantly refreshes a player's power cooldown) for Dojo.

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Dojo was inspired by the dojo fight scene from The Matrix. It's meant to be a very simple level, with as little platforms as possible.

The idea was to give the level a sense of training room, where the players had to focus on the essential parts of the game : being patient, making the right movement and attack at the right moment. Nothing else.

To enforce the dojo identity of the map, I placed the pick-up right in the middle, to make sure most of the action would happen on the tatami below it.

Avenue on the other hand was inspired by half-pipes found in skateparks. Where Dojo emphasise on calm and slow fights, Avenue makes the player go really fast from left to right and up and down to create very intense fighting scenes.

This level is built very verticaly on the sides (like a half-pipe). The booster in the middle makes it very easy for player to quickly get on the highest platforms of the level, essentialy making the fights look more like a game of tag, where one player tries to catch the other, while the other is trying to out-maneuver the first to counter-attack.

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