Level Design Document
Based on Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn.
My level is based on the main character's rescue mission at the end of a book called Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn. It is set in feudal Japan in the middle of hard times as warlords are in conflict with each other, claiming parts of the three countries as their clans territory, while the people struggle to keep up with demands of rice and wine for their leaders.
In the level, the player starts in a secret tribe house in the city of Inuyama. He has just been captured by a group called the Kikuta, part of the Tribe, which is a large family of ninjas with special skills. They take on missions from whoever pays them the most. Missions like assasinations, theft, protection and smaller ones like delivering important, private messages and packages around the three countries.
Takeo was born with the special abilities of the Kikuta, as his father, Isamu, who died when he was younger, was one of the greatest assassins. Kikuta found out Isamu had a child after Takeo caught a Kikuta assassin attempting to kill Lord Otori.
There will be one playable character throughout the level which is the main character, Otori Takeo. He can use basic game mechanics:
- Use weapons
- Special attack when close to enemies
He also has his special tribe abilities:
The player can go invisible for a while to easily sneak by enemies and people.
- Acute hearing
The player can overhear conversations from long distances away and tell how many people are in rooms and places around him.
The player can leave a phantom image of themselves and reappear behind an enemy to easily attack them while they are confused.
- Kikuta Sleep
If the player stares at another person correctly, it sends them unconscious for a number of hours. This can get them out of sticky situations but they will also have to accept the consequences.
The main enemies in the game will be the patrol guards walking around the outside of the castle and fighting to protect Lord Iida in the residence. The other 3 enemies are Iida's personal guards, Abe and Ando and Iida himself, though the player doesn't know they actually do not get to fight Iida until they see him dead. Abe and Ando will be a little harder to fight but they are killed seperately. Ando first as they follow him in to the guardroom. Here you can opt for a silent kill by using the garrote. The player battles Abe after attracting his attention from stepping deliberately onto the nightingale floor.
There will be no vehicles throughout the game. Some patrol guards will be horseback but the player will not have the option to ride a horse.
- Leave secret house with Kenji and Yuki
- Navigate the city to the castle, avoiding patrols
- Swim through the moat, hide Jato (Shigeru's sword) in the long grass and scale the castle wall to get in the grounds
- Take out various guards and with Yuki’s help, get Shigeru down from the wall.
- Go back to the moat, collect Jato and use it to cut off Shigeru’s head.
- Go back over the wall with Kenji and climb into the castle residence.
- Locate Iida and kill him
- Once Iida is dead, cut off his head with Jato and escape the fire in the residence with Kenji, Kaede and Shizuka.
- Find a boat at the moat and leave the castle grounds.
As my game level will be an RPG-style, there will be many things the player can pick up that will help them. Such as food, weapons, poison and armour will be hidden in chests and cupboards, in houses and the castle residence.
Directional Cameras, Cut-Scenes, Interactive Cut-Scenes and Quick Time Events
- Cut-Scene: At the beginning of the level, a cut-scene of Takeo, Kenji and the Kikuta Master tells the player what is happening and what they are about to do.
- Interactive Cut-Scene: After rescuing Shigeru from the castle walls, an interactive cut-scene will show Lord Shigeru asking Takeo to take his head to Terayama to be next to his brother, and then to bring Lord Iida’s head to him there.
- Cut-Scene: After finding Kaede with Iida’s corpse, a small cut-scene shows their panic and confusion and their passion coming together, with quick changes showing Shizuka talking to Abe outside the door.
- Cut-Scene: The last cut-scene is at the end as the four of them climb into a boat and escape the burning castle residence.
- Jato (sword)
- Shigeru’s ropes
- Shigeru’s head
- Iida’s sword
- Iida’s head
Top Down Paper Based Map
This is the first drawing I did of the map of the game. I was trying to imagine how the city would look as I obviously haven't seen a map of it. Right at the top of the page is the moat around the castle with a small bridge just to the right of it. I used boxes to visualise where the buildings in the city would be around the castle.
This is a top-down map of the residence of the castle which is the main location of the level. In the middle where it is crossed, is the nightingale floor that makes nightingale sounds as people walk across it. This is one of the puzzles in the game as Takeo must get across it without making it sound. To the left and right are the bedrooms with one side being for female guests and maids and the other for male guests and guards.
This is a sketch of the castle grounds. The box in between the castle entrance building and residence is a gate to allow access to the residence and meditation area without having to go through the castle. It is also to keep some guests out of this area and buildings if needed.
1 - Stables
2 - Entrance
3 - Garden
4 - Castle Entrance
5 - Main Castle Building
6 - Residence
7 - Peaceful/Meditation Area
This is a sketch of the town. The layout has changed since the first drawing I did as after reading through the chapters again, I realised the castle is to the East of the city and Takeo is hidden in a shop at the other side of town. The thick road going through is so officials can easily get to and from the castle, with another area at the bend which is just an open space for the public to roam. The circle in the middle is a big tree and the T shape at the end of the path is the dock so the townsfolk can fish and take people across the river.
Here is the same map of the city drawn on A3 graph paper. I made small changes to the size, shape and amount of buildings in order to make it even looking. The circles around the edge are trees, with a small forest in the bottom-right corner. The green line shows a possible path the player can take to avoid the guards dotted around the city. The purple dots are moving patrols where the player must look out and time their steps right in order to get past them, and the red dots are guards protecting the castle from intruders who don't move from their spots.
This is the layout of the castle grounds from the full graph paper map. The 5 buildings are still in the same places but I have extended the garden as I thought it was too small and there was wasted space to the right. The circles are trees of different sizes with a pond to the right.
This is a close up of the top half of the city with the port and main shops around the river's edge.
3D Google Sketch Up Map
This is a top-down image of my sketch up map.
And here is an angled version of it
For the castle I used basic box buildings with the residence at the back to the right of the main building. The residence is taller in height and has more floors on top but I left it like this to show the ground floor that the player will be on.
Here is the fishing port at the top of the city, you can see the castle looming at the back.
The player starts off in a shop. This is the downstairs where the stockroom is in the bottom left corner and the shop at the top.
Takeo is held in one of the tiny room upstairs. They are so small as they are intended to hide items and people from guards incase the house is searched. This is because the Tribe and Kikuta are very secret about what they do and do not want outsiders to know they are part of the tribe and commit crimes on a regular basis.
This is where Takeo's house is, the first building with the line divider.
Once you have made your way through the city and over the castle wall, you will have to enter the residence. Lord Iida is located in the one of the bedrooms. After fleeing the residence and the castle, this will be the end of the level. The player does not need to go in and will not be able to go in other parts of the castle.