MMM - If You Build It...
In Orcs Must Die!, the fortresses built by powerful War Mages of old played an integral role in the story. For Orcs Must Die! 2, we're bringing more level variety into the game with new dwarven mines and redesigned fortress levels. The art department (Yellow Pod) at Robot plays a crucial role in the process, breathing life into empty gameplay spaces. Today, level artist Paul Slusser will be walking you through some of the level creation process. Be sure to check out the time-lapse video at the end of the post to see how the "Corridors" level came to life.
Crafting "Corridors" - written by Paul Slusser
Our pipeline at Robot for coming up with levels is fairly streamlined, and has gotten even faster while developing Orcs Must Die! 2. A designer starts by building the basic shell of the level. Once that's set up, they test how it plays, adjust onslaughts and then hand it off to the art department. By the time I receive the level, design has a fairly good idea that it will be a fun level to play.
The first thing I always do before starting up the art pass on a level is to actually play it. It’s amazing how many good ideas come from just sitting down and playing through the level a couple of times. Things like, “I could really use some archers along that wall,” or “It would be really cool if this room was actually a courtyard with sun light flooding into it.” The hardest part of the whole process is trying to come up with a mental vision of what this level will look like when completed.
It’s amazing how many good ideas come from just sitting down and playing through the level a couple of times.
I start off trying to figure out which rooms will be completely inside the fortress and which could be courtyards. I like removing the ceiling in areas where I didn’t think it was needed and allowing sunlight to flood into that space. However, I do realize this is bad for ceiling trap placement, so I do it sparingly. I usually work closely with our designers when drastically changing some parts of level that would change the flow of the horde. I don’t want to stomp the gameplay vision they initially had for the level. Most of the times our discussions are very minor and we always go with what we think will be more fun for the players. The process here goes fairly quickly, so when changes are needed it doesn’t set us back
Once I have the look I’m going for, I start adding in all the “small” details to the level. Trims, columns, overhangs, railing, lava pits, molding, etc. All of these elements are really what give the levels a consistent fortress look. A lot of times I’ll have other fortress levels open to compare how I did things in order to maintain that consistency. After the small details are in place, I get to start placing all of the lights around the level. This is really the most fun part of the process for me because you to see all the hard work you’ve put into a level start coming together. Contrast and color are beautiful things. Once the lightmaps are baked out, the level will then go out to everyone in the company for playtest. I’ll usually start work on a different level or task and come back to this one at a later date to fix up any problems people might have found with it during testing.
It’s really a relatively simple process, and it gives us the freedom to make any changes that are needed to make the level as fun as it can be. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out the video below!
It's been a while since we've done any general updates on where we are, and we realize that things have been a little quiet on the southern front. Here's a look at where we are around the studio:
If you didn't see the news floating around Twitter, then let us be the first to tell you that Robot Entertainment will be exhibiting at the Rooster Teeth Expo on July 7th and 8th. We'll be there showing off both Hero Academy on iPad as well as some co-op Orcs Must Die! 2. If you're in the Austin area and want to check out a really engaging gamer-focused show, be sure to get your tickets now and come say hello at the show!
Hero Academy has been a little quiet lately, but it's still full steam ahead! Last Friday we released a new update that helps with a few bugs and many of the iPod Touch and iPad 1 stability issues. You should be able to get back to those problematic Dwarves games now. We're also hard at work on the next heroic team. I can't say much about them right now besides the fact that we are actively testing them and working out their game mechanics. We're all very excited about the new team, and it's definitely the most unique team we've created so far. We'll have more specific details to share about the team in a few weeks when we're closer to releasing them.
We're also still working on that Android version of the game. We know it's been a while since we've given any kind of update, but it's still a ways out from completion, and we're not quite ready to show it off yet. But trust me, when we are ready, you'll be the first to know.
OMD2 and HA Interview Round-Ups
A handful of interview have been popping up online about Orcs Must Die! 2. Here are links to a few recent ones:
- SplitKick Interview
- GameRanx Inferview
- Tadpool Tech Podcast Interview
- YouTube has a mountain of Video Interviews about OMD2 from PAX East
Robot is Hiring
We're still actively seeking a great Server Developer, so if you or someone you know fits that bill, please check out the job posting on our Careers page!