Lost City of Om-wO
On the fringe of Hyrule's great mountain ranges stands a city lost to time, a people that relied on a cult of twilight for their very livelihood. The Lost City of Om-wO is mega dungeon designed as a 'DLC map' for Breath of the Wild. The map's theme and stand out feature is 'as above, so below' allowing the player to continually travel upwards through the levels two sections, or continually travel downwards... Ending up right where they started their journey.
Unreal Engine 4
3rd Person Adventure
This level was made for a level design class final, in which we were partnered with concept art students who had been reimagining popular IPs. I was assigned Breath of the Wild and challenged with creating a map that encompassed its theme, more so than its gameplay. The gameplay used to create the level is far more akin to a souls like, but served its purpose in terms of designing a contextualized space. This level was designed to be a link between Breath of the Wild, and Twilight Princess, with its lore and architecture meant to mimic that of the its predecessor.
When building this level, I held in mind two things. The first was the thematic of as above, so below, which was meant to mimic the nature of the Twilight realm as a mirror of our own. The second was the visual language of Twilight Princess, in particular, the structures of the twilight realm. I tried to envision how a city of devout believers would try to emulate it, and then envisioned all the history that came after.
The Level is split into three main sections, with each a number of distinct subsections.
The Space is meant to serve both as an introductory space, and a final boss point. Given the roundabout nature of the level, it is where you will start and you will end as well. The Great Gate opens once a the player completes a small quest, going to an empty tomb to retrieve a key item.
City of Men
This ancient abandoned city sits atop the peak of a great mountain. The remains of those that lived there are clear to see, with sections devoted to residences, commerce, agriculture, religion, and even military strongholds. Unfortunately the mortal stewards of the city are gone, and in its place are two warring factions: Bokogoblins, and Twilight Guardians. The Bokogoblins are infesting the city, and as the player advances through this section of the level it becomes increasingly clear that they are locked in a siege, trying to break into the Temple Above, albiet unsuccessfully.
The broken step is the introduction to the level, offering a committal combat route through the encampments on the top of the broken road. Alternatively, the player can creep along the scaffolding on the side, offering a stealthier route.
The residential district is a slow climb upwards, offering winding subroutes through each area that are rife with items and supplies for the fights ahead. Even here we can see a smaller alter of worship, selling the intensely religious nature of the city's inhabitants.
After climbing through the residential district, the player enters the Bazaar. This area is larger nexus that provides a few routes forward. Characterized by its more open nature, this area is rife with patrols that the player can choose to evade or engage directly. A default route is open via a lift to the Upper district, while a small quest can be completed in order to gain access to the back entrance to the Fort.
The Upper District is the once home of the city's elite, characterized by its grander architectural scale. Here the player can explore the district for supplies and lore snippets as to the history of the city. This section connects to the front of the fort, offering a more challenging entrance in.
The Fort is the main objective location of the City of Men. The headquarters of the Bokogoblin siege, this ancient fort has been fortified with further goblin enhancements. Here their leader looks over a stone from the City of Spirits, pondering the ways they might break into the temple district above. He serves as a boss, and will provide the player with one of the three tablets needed to unlock the last boss.
At the end of the City of Men stands the Temple Above, a mystical location relatively untouched by the ravages of time. The bokogoblin invasion has roused the Twilight Guardians from their slumber, their magic sealing the grand gate and their watchful protectors seeking to repel any would be invaders. A perilous uphill battle awaits the player before they reach the temple, and gain access to the Twilight Realm within.
The City of Spirits
A massive cavern that exists below the City of Men, the City of Spirits is a great source of magical power drawing on both the spirits of dead mortals, and beings of Twilight. Similarly to the City of Men, this area has two factions, restless undead who occupy the crypts and dark path, and the Twilight Beings that occupy the hanging gardens and labyrinth.
The first section of the City of Spirits is the great descent, a downward trek that features a few drops and light encounters with skirmishers. Backtracking might prove fruitful, with many arrows and ranged items populating the area.
At the bottom of the descent are the crypts, a number of structures surrounding a central hill. Enemies ambush from behind tombstones and seek to catch the unprepared player off-guard. This more open area also rewards players willing to take on early combat challenges by awarding weapons useful in defeating the undead. When the player is ready, they may enter into the dark chasm.
The chasm is a series of bridges and platforms that leads up to the great gate below. The player must navigate the collection of archers while moving from light to light. A few hops downwards will find the player at the gate, leading to the twilight beings' abode
The Hanging Gardens is the central hub of the City of Spirits, featuring a number of large explorable structures. Here the spirit of the Mason lingers, the man who architected the two cities the player traverses through. He serves as the City of Spirit's boss, and like the Bokogoblin leader, will award the player with one of the tablets needed to summon the last boss.
As the player continues to descend, the structures become increasingly alien. The labyrinth is full of winding hallways, activatable spectral stairs, and of course twilight beings to slow the advance of the player towards the Temple Below.
The final leadup to the Temple Below is made before the player as they step on the large twilight runes. These cause spectral staircases to appear, leading the player to the next combat arena in a series of steps that will lead to the great temple before them.
Regardless of which path the player chooses to take first, they will experience the second route in reverse. Once the player enters one of the two temples they will enter the Twilight Realm to fight in an arena against the midway boss, the Twin Princes of Twilight. Upon defeating them they will exit, and either need to descend through the City of Men, or ascend through the City of Spirits. Doing so will insure the player has all the tablets needed to return to the starting area, and trigger the mounted boss finale against the shadow of Ganon.
This project was ambitious to say the least, inspired by a deep love for Twilight Princess and an equally great love of Souls series mega dungeons. I fell in love with the concept of creating a great loop that the player would need to navigate, and when blocking out the general size/vibe of the level I way over scoped. But rather than reeling it back I tried to throttle forward, coming up with distinct sections for this great journey, as well as lore, quests, and boss engagements along the way. But because of its great size the level lost a lot of nuance in the details, some areas are far more fleshed out and well thought-out as combat spaces, while others are much more afterthoughts.
I learned that while the meta-architecture of a level is certainly important and compelling, it should not be prioritized over the moment to moment gameplay of a space. The moment you've created a boring area you're in perilous territory, you need to ask yourself... Does this need to exist? I can think of quite a few areas in this level that could and probably should be cut, but I've shown it here as it was concepted if only to showcase my overdetailed diorama of a made up city.