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ZORYA: THE CELESTIAL SISTERS
Madlife Divertissement

2019

Level Design / Game Design

Zorya: The Celestial Sisters is an asymmetrical cooperative puzzle game, made in Unreal Engine 4.

One player controls the sun and plays with the hours of the day to move the shadows on the ground, the other player controls a character on the ground who can only move in shadows.

Players must cooperate to reach the end of each level level. Each level also contains a hidden collectible.

 

My role on the project was to create 34 level designs, as well as part of the game design.

The game was a big design challenge, on the one hand because of the use of shadows in the creation and resolution of puzzles, and on the other hand because of its asymmetrical gameplay.

Game Design

Level Design

My design process for this project was to follow these steps for each new system added to the game:​

Brainstorming

The first step in adding a new system to the project was to find as many uses as possibles to this new system, using a series of sketches imagining the interaction of this new system with the other systems already present in the game.

Prototyping

Depending on the requirements for the new system, and according to the possibilities and constraints discovered at the previous step, I would then create a prototype for the new system using a blueprint in Unreal Engine.

Action Blocks

Then came the creation of a gym in Unreal Engine, where I could test the ideas imagined in the first step and experiment with the different systems using action blocks, short sections of levels prototyped in blocking.

 

This step allows me to discover the possibilities and limits of the new system, as well as to test a multitude of puzzle ideas, quickly, before the creation of actual levels.

Selection of puzzles

Using these action blocks, I then wrote a list of puzzles to integrate into the game, by ordering them depending on their difficulty and the systems used, to ensure a good progression curve for the player.

From this list, I decided which puzzles to keep and which puzzles to combine for the creation of a level.

I also selected puzzles that were more difficult than the main puzzles of the game. These would be used to reach hidden collectables in each level.

Creating levels

Finally comes the creation of levels. First quickly, with a combination of sketches and blockings in engine, to test that the selected combination of puzzles works well and to ensure that the shadow paths (where the character on the ground can move) created by the level's obstacles do not allow the player to skip parts of the level.

Once the general idea of the level has been well tested, the blocking was refined to make the level feel more alive, to better integrate it into the game's universe and to help guide the artists working on the level art.

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