“Grave Site” is a single-player mission for the game Crysis 2, taking place in a downtown environment of a major city. Skyscrapers, concrete city roads and alleyways make up the surrounding environment. Recent panic and chaos are evident, with garbage and debris scattered throughout the area. Entering the level in an alleyway, the player must clear and secure a critical location for Marine forces. The level features players defending against waves of enemies.
- Create isolated combat encounters that support both Stealth and Open Combat approaches to gameplay.
- Implement a difficulty ramp, increasing the number and difficulty of enemies as the level progresses
- Design memorable Dynamic events and Combat Encounters to create a "living" environment
- Develop good pace, alternating between combat encounters and rest areas.
AI Reaction to Player
One thing I noticed during testing sessions was the AI often would not react to the player in a believable fashion; specifically the sound of gunfire would not cause any reaction from some AI units. Several attempts were made to fix this by adjusting different settings of the AI. The problem was resolved by designating large areas to act as triggers in the event of certain AI being killed while the player stands in those areas. By doing this, I am able to control how certain AI behave when a specific event takes place.
Additional Entry Point
During the implementation of the enemy waves, I wanted to create a moment that, while brief, is memorable for the player. I spent time shifting the locations where the enemy waves would enter the compound, intending to use three of the four corners of the grounds as entry points. The eastern side of the compound uses roll-up gates as entry points, but using the same method of entry for all three waves seems both boring and does not make the compound seem very secure. Using a damaged model of both the wall and interior gate, I toggled visibility of the damaged and undamaged segments at the time of a large explosion particle to simulate the appearance of enemies blasting their way through the wall. This successfully created a WOW moment for players while opening up a new point of entry for an enemy wave.
This first area is intended primarily as a visual setup space, communicating both the theme of the post-panic downtown area and offering a brief foreshadowing of the graveyard outpost from later in the level. The combat encounters in this section are to introduce the player to the enemies in a safe way and support both stealth and a "guns blazing" play style.
- Establish the setting to the player and convey a mood of poverty and panic.
- Introduce the player to the enemies safely by strongly supporting a stealth approach.
- Foreshadow the upcoming graveyard by allowing the player to see the cathedral through the fence.
- Use moving vehicles to simulate a living environment.
The City Street acts as the first space where the player is more challenged by the enemies nearby. A vehicle drives in from the south and stops at the intersection to the north; two soldiers exit and stand guard in the street. Two more guards patrol the street nearby, searching for any signs of movement. If the player alerts any one of the soldiers, the others become hostile and attack. This provides a more difficult challenge for both stealth and direct combat styles.
- Further the sense of a living environment with the use of area triggers that set off car alarms upon the player's approach.
- Increase difficulty ramp slightly by creating an encounter using four enemies, two of which patrol back and forth.
The Graveyard-Military Encampment section, referred to in the game as Grave Site (a play off of military names for outposts such as Alpha Site and Bravo Site) houses the bulk of the gameplay. My primary goals while designing the space were to first make it feel like a church graveyard that has become occupied by military forces, then convey that the same military group is trying to retake the space once the player clears out the patrolling soldiers.
- Give the player the high ground over enemies, providing a slight advantage.
- Offer a long line of sight for the sniper rifle without allowing the player to see too far across the level.
- Guide the player on the critical path by using fire to block the north-heading path.
Additionally, I needed to make enemies in this space feel more natural in their placement, rather than staged for the benefit of the player. Using a few triggered sequences allowed me to control how and when certain AI behaved. That way, I could create an encounter which feels as if the player and the enemy soldier just happened to run into each other.
- Provide a brief "shock" as the player encounters an enemy at extreme close range around a corner.
- Create a split pathway to give players a moment of choice
- (Left Path) Offer a long line of sight to use the sniper rifle against enemies.
- (Right Path) Provide a rest area for the player to recharge health and ammo.
- Increase the difficulty ramp with more more enemies to defeat.
- Manipulate AI behavior to react to another soldier's death
Defending the Graveyard
After defeating all of the enemy soldiers in Grave Site, it would seem odd that the rest of this enemy military would simply give up on this outpost location. I chose to include waves of enemies to create a more believable experience and further increase the difficulty level. By placing the wave locations in the areas shown below, I could have the player backtrack, but create a new experience so gameplay does not become stale. Additionally, it gave me the chance to open up the top-left quadrant of the map, removing the fire near Wave 2 that previously blocked the player.
- Implement waves of enemies to simulate "coordinated strikes" to retake Grave Site.
- Open up a previously blocked path to introduce a new section of the map.
- Gradually increase the difficulty of each wave.
What Went Well
What Went Wrong
What Was Learned