So far, I've built the entire shell of BENEATH pt. 2, and laid in the gameplay-relevant set decoration objects. Here's a general overview:

From a viewability standpoint things are still pretty dicey what with the fullbright and the stock texture, but the player's path is something like this:

Green star being the start point. I've learned a lot from making BENEATH pt. 1 and observing how levels are designed in retail games, and I'm happier with the layout and flow of Pt. 2. I was pretty happy with the beginning and end of pt. 1, in that they were pretty open and non-linear, but the central section-- the meat of the fighting-- was really cramped, and basically sent the player in a more-or-less straight line through a bunch of little rooms and little hallways. Also the fights often "felt like [the player] was fighting from a doorway," in that you were confronted with enemies as you set foot in a room, and basically had to stick to the front door for cover until they were dead. So, even though I personally really enjoy close-quarters tunnel fights, I think that more open environments with more cover and flanking opportunities play to F.E.A.R.'s strengths, so I've tried to give the fights as much room to breathe as possible.

For the bigger picture, I'm trying to unify the map as a whole by sending the player through various parts of it in multiple ways and making later parts of the space visible from the very beginning. Also building out ancillary areas along hallways and side rooms that aren't actually playable, to give the player a sense that the space is more of a "real place" that expands beyond the playable path, and exists as a complete entity (labs you can see through windows but can't enter, doors blocked off by debris, etc.) So that's the basis of my layout philosophy this time.

Here's the first arena you'll meet hostiles in:
It's a barracks area, with dividers between individual bunks (more playable space to the left and right, not pictured) and a split-level ceiling. There are no dead ends, giving both the player and enemies plenty of chances to hit cover and flank. It's a straight shot from one end to the other without stopping, except a heavy is going to burst those double doors and block the way until he's killed off.
One section of the map is a non-combat living quarters area where you speak with an NPC. This is the panoramic overlook from the quarters, where the player can look back down to the starting spawn, further down to the lowest level, or up to the roofs, to reorient themselves. Makes for good scenery for a semi-interactive sequence.

Stairs leading down from the "rooftops" (indoor rooftops) to an interior area, that the player must pass through to proceed. Alice is there for scale reference.

My first vent-crawling sequence! I think it'll be a pretty nice one, not stupid and drawn out. There's going to a scripted Alma appearance in here too, but not the scary stuff. Alma in BENEATH isn't a malevolent force.. hopefully her role will be clear by the end of pt. 2.

The server core-- the heart of the facility. It holds all the answers to what lies beneath.

Weirdly I already don't feel like I have THAT much more to do on the map. Logically, I know I do: triggered event scripting (which there's more of this time,) set dec, detailing the geometry, texturing, and enemy encounters. But somehow it doesn't seem especially daunting. I think I just have a better foundation this time.

More to come soon!

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