Game: Payday 2
Platforms: PC, XBOX 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Switch
Tools Used: Diesel
Production Time (Personal): 11 months
Team Size: 50+
Role: Level Design, Level Scripter
BASE GAME & HOLDOUT
PAYDAY 2 is a first person co-operative shooter where robbing banks and partake in other criminal activies is the name of the game, either solo or with friends. One of the core pillars is all about replayability.
I joined the team in the last year of production and quickly learned the Diesel engine and the editor, mostly on my own accord. Eventually tasks led to fixing various bugs in already established levels and quickly accelerated to have the main responsibility over a new game mode to be released within a short period of time.
The new game-mode, code named Holdout, is a new end-game feature that is meant to be a long-term investment for our players. The whole idea is for players to return to iconic locations where they have been several times before, but this time they are dfending an asset, be it a laptop with intel or a VIP hostage, for ransom.
As players go into a Holdout, they are faced with waves of enemies and a variety of events can happen on set waves that either make it harder by spawning more special enemies or dynamically changing the play area.
I was responsible for setting up the shared instance containing the asset and make the guidelines for picking out levels as candidates, and if they fit certain criteria, I would proceed by looking at possible areas that could make for interesting combat. After I determined that a level was a good fit, I would start adapting it to the new game-mode and make sure that everything worked from scratch and that combat felt balanced, giving the player a fair challenge.
Being thrown in to the Diesel engine and a new editor was a challenge but it fit my interest in learning new things by myself, things quickly went by and fixing bugs for two weeks made me get a deeper understanding of how scripting works. Making four officially released levels for Holdout and more that have yet to be open to the public let me be more creative and actually take more responsibility for designing and scripting how the interaction with the asset would work.
My first level made from scratch and officially released was the Bain Prison Heist, otherwise known as Hell’s Island, which was the first of a trilogy of new heists made for the 2018 Crimefest event for PAYDAY 2.
Following the great feedback of Holdout, I was excited to make my first commercially released level in the form of the third last level to bed made for PAYDAY 2.
In the Bain Prison Heist, players are tasked with infiltrating a small old abandoned prison on an island that is now under the control of the Kataru, the biggest threat to the PAYDAY team, whom have their main-man Bain locked up.
The goal; find Bain, release him and escape unscathed.
After my brief introduction to the level and what it was set out to accomplish, I started researching real prisons and looking at others made in various games.
The goal of the level was to deliver a naarrative that is imperative to the end of the PAYDAY 2 storyline while being full of action.
The estimated time for completing the level was around 10 minutes, where players had to fight their way through the prison to find Bain, release him and follow him throug the areas he had visited just seconds before playersarrive.
Post-Mortem (Hell’s Island)
With my first official level made from scratch I got a great insight to the workflow from beginning to end, how to quickly make a layout and transfer it over to a greybox to be tested. I adapted the design to the resources we had available, making good use of a smaller design with a variety of interactions and obstacles for the player while keeping the constant feeling of having to push through the horde of enemies to reach the ultimate goal.
A more complete and detailed post-mortem in PDF format will be uploaded in the future with more in-depth information of my process and how I approached the making of Hell’s Island.