For this assignment, I have been asked to create a project in Unreal Engine 4 which includes a door. It’s my choice how to plan the environment and layout and I have been told I can use existing assets or custom. I must design a “small, contained scenario which involves the player / NPC / other going through or using a door in an interesting way”. I must consider, what the door is, what it will look like, its size and how the player will interact with it. I must create a paper design of the level, versions of all props and textures (if I have any), a working UE4 level and a video walkthrough of my level.
The Originals is an American TV series, created as a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries. The show is based around the Mikaelson family, the first vampires to ever walk the Earth. The family consists of Ester, the original witch and mother of the family; Mikael, the vampire hunter and abusive father; Freya, the firstborn witch; Finn, Elijah, Kol and Rebekah, the original vampires and Niklaus, the original vampire/werewolf hybrid. The show follows Klaus as he and his family become consumed with the supernatural politics of New Orleans.
In episode 2, season 5, a revived Ester uses magic to get inside Elijah’s head and she tries to convince him that her plan to strip the family of their immortality is what’s best for them. Esther forces him to relive a distant memory of his love for a young woman named Tatia. The episode shows the inner workings of Elijah’s mind and portrays it as a long white hallway full of white doors. At the end of the hallway is a damaged door with claw marks and peeling red paint. Behind the red door lies all of Elijah’s worst memories and darkest moments. As long as the door is shut, Elijah’s memories are safely locked away out of his mind. This allows him to be the best version of himself.
I really liked the idea of a maze made of doors for this brief. The red door in The Originals would form the final door and would be the end of my level. I would like to make a puzzle of some kind which would eventually lead the player to the red door.
Following my previous idea for a puzzle leading the player to the final door, I decided to research ‘door puzzles’ in order to gain a few ideas for my level. The majority of the posts online were based on ideas for Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and most of them were focused around riddles rather than puzzle solving. This would be more difficult to incorporate into my level as I have been told I must use UE4 blueprints for line traces and arrays.
As I continued searching, I found a post with the above anecdote. I really liked this idea and thought that leading the player through a number of more complicated tasks before offering them the easiest option would be a good idea. Many people overthink scenarios to find answers when sometimes the answer is right in front of them. I remember being told about a hypothetical problem used in job interviews. The question posed is “how would you fit a giraffe in a fridge”. While most people would answer with a complex way to fold the giraffe or to take the shelves out, the correct answer is to simply open the door and put the giraffe inside. The question does not define any parameters beyond the fridge and the giraffe. The correct answer is the simplest and the interviewer will look for someone who sees through an issue rather than overthinking it and creating new problems.
The basis for this level is that it would be part of a larger game in which the player must solve puzzles by simplifying rather than overthinking. The player will have to find objects or methods to either break the door down, pick the lock or remove the hinges. All of these will eventually result in failure leaving the final option to knock on the door which will allow the player to progress.
Top Down Design
The first step was to sit down and create a layout for my level. I drew this on paper and created a pathway from the start point. I created a flow through the room using pillars which would lead the player down some stairs and into the main chamber. On the other side of the room and back up another few steps is a double door that would form the end goal of the level. Off to each side are the tasks required to unlock the final door. The first task will involve shooting a number of enemies in order to spawn a key for the main door. The second task will be a room full of blocks. The player must jump between these in order to reach a high platform where the second key will be spawned. Both keys must then be put into the locks on the door. When nothing happens, a ‘knock’ option will appear and, once interacted with, the door will open, completing the level.
The first blueprint was for the Master Interact. This is simply a custom event that fires when the key ‘E’ is pressed.
The second blueprint was a Line Trace, this allows the player’s gun to fire a line directly from the gun and into an object. The line trace allows the blueprints to know what is targeted for the Master Interact.
The third is a Line Trace Check, this allows the player to add a Print String to the line trace. Adding this will mean that the player can identify what the line trace is hitting when it is fired.
Enemy AI Blueprints
This red cylinder represents an enemy within the game. The blueprint allows the line trace to direct 50pts of damage to the enemy (their total health is 100).
The next blueprint set was for the level’s lighting. The first step was a Master Light – which works similar to a Master Interact as it controls all of the on and off options for each light.
Then I blueprinted a Lightswitch, this can be interacted with using E and forms an array with the lights below in order to control multiple at the same time.
Basic Interact Door Blueprint
The first blueprint is designed to open a single door when the player approaches and presses E. The images below are adaptations of this where I have created a double door. The blueprint opens both doors away from the player at the same time.
Key & Locked Interact Door Blueprint
The first blueprint is for a key. The second is for a locked door. These blueprints work together using variables such as booleans to keep the door shut when interacted with if the player has not interacted with the key first. Once interacted with, the key is destroyed so it cannot be interacted with again. The key is also set to rotate to indicate to the player that it can be picked up.
End Game TriggerBox Blueprint
The final blueprint was the most basic and simply ends the game when a player passes out of the final door and into the trigger box.
Final Level Summary
The final level actually turned out to be a lot different than my original idea. This was mainly because the blueprints for my original idea were far more complicated than I had anticipated. They would’ve taken a while to learn and even longer to perfect and I only had 2 weeks for this brief.
The player starts in a small, enclosed room with pillars on either side to guide the player into the main blue hall. Here the player will find a red glowing door and accompanying key. They must pick up the key and open the door to enter the next room.
In the red room, players will walk down some stairs to a perch where they must shoot 10 enemies. Once all 10 enemies are neutralised, the player is safe to jump down to the ground where they will find another key and door glowing in green.
Once through the green door, the player is directed along a narrow tunnel into the green room. Here the player must turn on the lights using the light switch on the wall in front of them. They must then jump between the glowing green platforms and ascend to the top of the room. There are also a number of ways to climb back up to the platforms if the player falls off. To prevent players jumping down and climbing back up further along the route, I have placed various walls and divisions to block their way. At the end of the route are a set of stairs, at the top there is a ledge with a key and a door glowing in blue.
The blue door leads the players into the upstairs of the main blue hall. The upstairs ledges are surrounded by glass windows to prevent the player falling off and having to run around the entire level again. They must climb a small set of stairs to the glowing double doors. Once they have passed through this door, the level is over.