My approach for making the single-player level BENEATH is to use my multiplayer deathmatch map Residential Evil as a foundation, and build a directed, narrative-based experience into it. One of the first steps in doing this was to take the undirected, free-flowing map and impose onto it a linear path. It's been fun figuring out how to give the player a directed space by making as few meaningful alterations to the multiplayer map as possible.

RE started out something like this:

It's a three-tiered map that centers around tight corridors and interlocking gameflow loops for flanking and unpredictable movement patterns. There are multiple stairways leading between each of the tiers, allowing a good use of Z-space, but not just a bunch of huge caverns. I think it was successful at giving the player freedom of motion in all directions, while maintaining a focus on close-quarters combat.

BENEATH, as the name implies, focuses on leading the player further and further below the surface. At the beginning, the player is tasked with exploring the mansion to find the source of the disturbances at the site. Once he finds the secret door in the attic, the free-roaming/undirected segment of the level ends. Two powerful enemies enter the mansion from beneath, and the player must confront them to proceed. It's at this point that I started constricting the player's path.

The entrance to the basement is directly below the attic. I removed the stairway that led straight from the attic to the downstairs hallway (1), bringing the player's confrontation with the assassins out into the main room of the mansion. I also removed all but one of the stairways leading from the bottom floor of the mansion down into the basement (2,3). Once the player clears the two assassins from the mansion, he follows the only available path into the lower basement level. The basement is a dense combat zone populated by a number of soldiers working in teams. Again, the final destination on this floor would be too easy to reach with the multiplayer layout, so I closed off two of the three doors into the final/central room of the basement (4,5), leading the player in a roundabout path following the perimeter of the basement floor. The player must work his way through each room in sequence before exiting the final room of the basement through a newly-installed elevator. The elevator descends into a new, cavernous arena-type sub-basement that hosts a boss fight (not pictured.)

Point is, it's been fun to take a space that was meant to give the player as much freedom of movement as possible, and through a subtractive approach, create a space that directs them down a linear path. It's been a good exercise and I'm enjoying the results.

I'll have shots of the new sub-basement area when it's gotten a little more polish. It's starting to come together.

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