I particularly enjoyed creating this place that was obviously cartoony, but also had the seedy, real-world-ish setting of an all-American backwoods trailer park that had seen better days, but which was now slowly sliding into a ravine.
The whole point of course being to come up with fun gameplay that could result from such a scenario!
Drakan: the Ancients’ Gates was Seattle company Surreal Software’s PS2 sequel to its popular PC game Drakan: Order of the Flame. I was brought onto the game toward the end of the project to overhaul the level design for the final level of the game. Drakan: TAG got good reviews and was loads of fun.
Surreal’s talented artists provided the art for the game objects and characters you see here. I then arranged those objects on heightmap terrain I sculpted, textured, and lit. I also painted and animated the layered skies.
You can see the level in action in this play-through:
After Drakan, I moved on to a partial port of the game The Fellowship of the Rings, which was based on the book itself. I did level design, gameplay design, and some sky textures for this game.
As with Drakan, Surreal’s artists provided the art for things like the trees, plants, structures and characters you see in these shots. Then I arranged those objects on terrain I sculpted, textured and lit, and I set up dynamic effects like particles and skies.
I also set up gameplay scenarios in which Hobbits or other members of the Fellowship did things like follow the player-controlled Aragorn, and help defend against enemy attacks.
Here’s a clip showing gameplay in Weathertop:
That clip culminates in a scenario based on one from the book, in which Aragorn has to defend an injured Frodo from attacking Nazgûl:
Using Surreal’s powerful Riot Engine, I set up the character behaviors, making the unconscious Frodo an attack target of the Nazgûl, and making the Nazgûl run away when they reach a certain threshold of damage. After they retreated for a certain amount of time they would come back for another attempt.
And after they came around for a second attempt, Aragorn could do enough damage to make them flee for good.
More shots from the River Anduin and Weathertop, showing my heightmap terrain and skies: