The Grid is a large multiplayer arena that takes place in an abstract digital space. The level consists of a three-tiered structure with a central choke point that players navigate through in a game of capture the flag.
The Grid is inspired by the Tron series, which is a direct inspiration on the overall concept of Hyper Syntax, the game The Grid is from. The art style was a big focus on this level, making the level feel close to that style while also giving it a distinct identity. The level was intended to stand in stark contrast to the chaotic lights created by players.
All work on The Grid was done 100% by myself, from level blockout to final art asset creation, including implementation of all spawn points and stage hazards. Because of this I had plenty of flexibility to work on refining the core gameplay and aesthetic.
With the level's art I focused on the contrast between the fluid light trails the characters create through gameplay and very angular set pieces for them to fly through. To emphasize this, the edges of all the obstacles are lit with a very bright glow while most of the level is very dark. This also makes obstacles easy to identify in a wide area.
The core obstacles of the level, the block waterfalls, were informed by the art direction. The waterfalls give an additional layer of visual noise to the player and can help to orient them as they fly around. These cascades are designed to be as instantly recognizable as dangerous as possible.
From the outset The Grid was going to be mechanically simple and visually impressive. The level is broken into 3 core areas which all open in the center to pass between them. To contrast this the spawn points and flag capture points are situated away from each other and on the edges to encourage players to move between these 3 layers.
The block waterfalls look visually interesting and break up the level while also providing the function of a risky play option. The waterfalls are not very fast moving but require proper timing and often use of the boost to get through.
The overall layout of the level is made to encourage areas of safety and risk as well. The outer edges of the level are generally very safe and are where the spawn points and flags are in order to give players some short time to think about where to go next. Conversely, the center is the wide open and dangerous transition area.
Players spawn from the green center tier and are immediately pointed to the center. From the spawn they can all see each other at a glance and are equally spaced from the first flag's spawn point. As they fly into the center of the level they can start to see immediately the block waterfalls and other obstacles, which are intentionally far off to give players a safe buffer to start.
The block waterfalls contrast the bright light trails made by players to easily identify the mess of danger players can get into. Since all objects in the level are hazardous to players it was important to make sure players could identify exactly where things are.
Structures other than the block waterfalls exist as more of a suggestion of interesting paths for players. The level is filled with lots of negative space, which is necessary to navigate the level and to dodge and weave as well as steal the flag from opponents. In testing this level players revealed how interested players were in flying through unique structures, so these pieces serve as guidance in that.
The differently colored tiers of the level (red, green, and purple) were designed to give players a way to orient themselves easily in a space. Because the ships are able to roll to the left or right 360 degrees any direction can be up at any time. The angular structure of the level helps to orient them, as well as the different layers being colored to give them an idea of what sort of objects appear in specific tiers.