Return to Kaas City
Return to Kaas City is a level design project intended to fit within the scope of a Jedi: Fallen Order level. Explore the forgotten Sith capitol of Dromund Kaas, as you make your way for a new Sith castle, built in the shadow of the once great Citadel.
Unreal Engine 4
3rd Person Action Adventure
During the development of this project I would meet bi-weekly with my teacher and mentor to polish the level blockout. The goal of this project was to create a refined experience made up of well composed visuals and gameplay areas.
Return to Kaas City invites the player to return to the capitol planet of the ancient Sith Empire, as was featured in Bioware's MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. According to Legends lore, the planet was abandoned, and the great city that once stood yielded to forest. I wanted to bring that nature-reclaimed city to life once more, by imagining what it might be like if a new resident has arrived -- and you the player must be the one to stop them. I wanted to base a significant portion of my design on the design of Kaas City in SWTOR. What stood out primarilly was the great trench that the city was built on, and so I set about designing my map around a trench.
I wanted to have a sort of 'S' curve to the whole level, with four distinct sections. I wanted the level to be set on a gradient so to speak, meaning as we went along we'd go from forest to urban, while blending the two in between. With a game plan set, I'm always happy to dive into blockout, starting with development on an opening vista shot, general sizing of each area, and eventually even a small starting section.
Figuring out the macro of a level is very important to me, and is usually the first thing I tackle. Following that, I will start tackling each section of the level itself, trying to bring those up to a base level before returning to them for further iteration. What was initially going to be more of a river/waterfall zone in the first area would become more of a jungle, and the object that would bridge the great trench, a skyscraper, would prove to be one of my most interesting challenges in level design yet.
Taking on a tipped over skyscraper as a traversal and combat space was certainly an interesting endeavor, and demanded the most time out of me in the duration of this project. After sizing the initial piece and getting its rough silhouette, I took that and built a slight more sophisticated geometry. I would go on to create a floorplan as well as modular one floor long pieces -- only to return for one last round of iteration before piecing the whole structure together. Once pieced together it was simply a matter of knocking it down like a geode of design possibility.
While I truly wanted to insure the scope of my project this time around was more manageable, I still bit off a considerably large chunk. Given the speed of our placeholder character too, long stretches of area could feel very long, and so finding opportunities to break up the environment into interesting subsections would prove vital. This is especially obvious in the city area, which is by far the vastest zone in the level.
Finding ways to surprise the player and change into even more drastically different thematics proved a challenge as well. In the final area I wanted a drastic swap, from the overgrown city to a newly dug in Sith Castle, one that derived its visuals from Vader's castle and other A New Hope era works. I contrasted this by being sure to draw shapes and blackout's directly from SWTOR's city.