The Level Design of Rise, Darth Freeman went through several stages, ultimately evolving into a smooth progression of Player empowerment and challenge. The environment was designed and modeled after a Supermax Prison, sporting massive exterior walls and claustrophobic interior coridoors. Each area contains a large amount of physics Entities that the player can throw around with their Force Powers, leaving each area looking fairly different after the Player has torn through.
Aesthetically, the level uses light and color to guide and inform the player. The color palette, in theme with the greater Half-Life 2 universe, is desaturated and worn, using bright but subtle colors to draw attention towards interactable objects. The primary "Force Push-able" material in this level was a rusted yellow metal that looked at home in the prison but stood out against the white walls and bricks. The level also uses a juxtoposition in lighting temperature to show the Player the critical path, with the Combine technology creating cool lights that stand out against the warmer prison ambience. 80% of the playable space and architecture is composed of BSP, using actual static meshes for the latter exterior sections.
The level design for Rise, Darth Freeman (after the re-designs) followed a funnel-esque pattern in both form and function. As the Player progresses and becomes more familiar with their new Jedi Powers and Weapons, the level becomes more open and versitle. The last two areas, the largest in the level, offer multiple approaches to both combat and vertical traversal. This pattern follows the sensation of escaping a prison, initially feeling trapped, restricted, and claustrophobic and, as the prisoner escapes, feeling open, free, and powerful. Mixing this evolving sensation with powerful mechanics that are slowly introduced in the right situations created a good flow throughout the level, both in terms of Player narrative and gameplay.
Below is a gallery of each level Area
Hover over each Area for the name, description, and specific goals
Force-Focused Setpieces(Spoiler Alert)
Several areas of the Level were designed to require or coax the player into using their Force Powers in satisfying and cinematic ways. These are some of the most interesting scripted moments in the level, so if you don't want spoilers, download and play it first!
The Elevator Doors
The Elevator serves as the player's introduction to using Force Push to remove large obstacles in their path. This is also the first time players are exposed to the rusted yellow metal texture that indicates which large objects can be specifically affected by the Force.
The Cell Block Wall
This event, occuring just after the player uses Saber Block to deflect bullets into a pile of explosive barrels that blow a hole in the wall, shows the player that certain obvious weak points in the prison's foundation can be shattered with a full Force Push. It also reinforces the correlation between rusted yellow metal and large breakable Entities.
The Pipe Room Ceiling
This event marks the player's transition from interior claustrophobic rooms and corridors to the more open areas of the prison. The player, after escaping a large Cell Block by running through a maintenence tunnel, finds a small room with a damaged ceiling lined with the interactable yellow metal material. Shattering this ceiling demolishes both the solid rock and the Combine soldiers that were standing above it, making the player feel powerful and allowing them to continue through the level.
The Main Prison Doors
This was the first Force-Powered event I designed for this level, as the sensation of breaking through a giant set of metal doors was intrisicly very satisfying. This is the moment when the player truly feels they have broken out of the prison, and combining it with the introduction of the double jump and Force Dash mechanics proved to be very empowering.
The Prison Wall
This event concludes the level, allowing the player to literally blast open and escape through the massive prison walls that have surrounded them since they began. The final area is completely open and surrounded by a sprawling 3D Skybox depicting an island, giving the player a sense of freedom and accomplishment.