Harran Express is a single player level in the game Dying Light. In it, the player explores the newly-sectioned off town as they complete quests, meet strange people, and traverse the playground-like environment!
Engine: Dying Light Engine
Role: Sole Designer
Team Size: Solo Project
Platform: PC, Steam
- Creating a (small) open world jungle gym
My main goal with this project was to successfully design an encapsulated open world for the player to explore. This includes multiple quests, loot drops for players to find, and characters to flesh out the world. Dying Light relies on the ability for the player to treat their area like a jungle gym, allowing them to express themselves through how they maneuver around the environment. It was essential for me to have every area within the world allow the player to flow through it, and have every objective be approachable multiple ways. This resulted in the adding of ziplines and vault-able pieces scattered throughout the area to have players continue their momentum wherever they went.
- Designing around the game
To design around this game, the designer must acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of the game. The strengths are the traversal, exploration, and melee combat against zombies. I made sure that I played to these strengths by having an open world and designing quests that forced the player to traverse the world.
Map Designs in Harran Express
Weenie in Harran Express
One of the challenges I wanted to tackle was how to help the player quickly figure out where they were in the open world. The way I handled it was to have a central Weenie that the player could use to orient themselves quickly. The important thing was that it needed to be both distinct and able to be seen easily, so I chose a tall lighthouse.
Routes in Harran Express
Dying Light is a fast game. It thrives when the player is able to quickly flow through an area and rapidly change elevations. To compliment this, I designed each area to have both varied elevations close enough to quickly transition between them and omnidirectional platforming elements so they can be approached from any direction.
Ramps in Harran Express
In order to assist in the elevation transfers stated above, I utilized a consistent vehicle to communicate to the player easy elevation transfer. With this consistent visual language, the player can look at an area and "chart a route" even quicker.
What went well?
Open World: What succeeded was the environment itself and how it allows the player to constantly flow through it. Having buildings roughly the same size near one another, vault-able pieces on the streets, and ziplines connecting it all, the area of this level is a joy to move through.
What went wrong?
Too Similar of Areas: In my attempt to have the world be suitable for traversal, I didn't pay close enough attention to making each subsection unique. While there are distinct areas within the level, they do not stand out as unique as much as I would have liked.
What did I learn?
Play to the Game's Strengths: Before beginning a project, it's essential for a designer to analyze the game and decide what the game excels at in order to make an experience tailored to the game. I learned that the designer needs to design for the game in front of them, not for what the THINK the game is.