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The Greenhouse Attack

A Third Person shooter 


I wanted to challenge myself by making a combat-intensive cover-to-cover shooter level based on a real-life location. Working through the challenge of converting real spaces into interesting and fun combat experiences. I wanted the combat encounters to feel open and approachable in different ways to suit a variety of playstyles.

This level was inspired by The Division & Uncharted because I found it had the same design approach I wanted to explore in this piece.


Project Time: 6.5 weeks half time

Focused on combat design in a whitebox stage

Software Used

  • Unreal Engine 5 

  • Blender

Game Template

  • Jakub (ALS) 


This is the general overview of the level devided into two parts. Use the slide to see both parts


You are an agent on your way to talk to agent Talin, Talin is deployed out in Brooklyn in Bloom Haven Sanctuary which is a safe zone for civilians. Talin and his team have found some vital information about an enemy stronghold nearby and we need you to go and get it before the sanctuary gets overrun.



When it came to the location to base my experience on i chose Brooklyn Botanic Garden


I wanted an open location with clear landmarks and with variating environments. Brooklyn Botanical Garden with its unique buildings,  transformable terrain, and a TV mast close by inspired me to base my experience around it

Blockout & Whitebox
Starting the blockout process 

I started my blockout by downloading the general Google Maps layout to get a size reference to work from. I started working based on a 1 to 1 scale map of the area changing it throughout the project.

Blockout Workflow

I decided to work on the level in chunks dividing the level into smaller areas not just to make the level easier to approach but also to make it easier to focus and make fast iterations to areas than if I had worked on the whole level simultaneously.

Area From Idea to Whitebox

I found drawovers to be the best way for me to iterate/ take in feedback as it lets me have a crude visual representation of ideas before executing them.

they let me have an agile workflow where I can test concepts quickly in my head and then transfer them to a playable state without much extra thought 

Why Drawovers?

My workflow when working on these areas/chunks where:

Basic blockout -> Drawover -> refined blockout -> Drawover/Feedback -> Whitebox

Overall Progression

This was my process throughout this project 


During the project progression, I got some feedback regarding my combat encounters and some problems I needed to solve to make them more interesting and less flat.

Combat Encounter 1: STREET

Pre Rework

  • Combat felt flat 

  • There where no vantage points so the player felt confused

Post Rework

  • Added two main vantage points 

  • Completely redesigned covers and the approach in the area

Combat Encounter 2: DITCH
The good of the first design
  • Interesting combat dynamic with trenches that opens up the combat space for intriguing gameplay moments.

Why it didn't work
Purpose of the encounter

This combat encounter is the first encounter in part 2, with the main purpose of increasing the intensity for the player.

  • The encounter was flat and didn't offer any advantages positions 

  • ​The player didn't start the encounter in an advantageous position and wouldn't have had the ability to form any mental map over the space before entering the encounter

  • The combat area was too big for the encounter and its space wasn't utilized to its full potential 

  • Lacked cover variation throughout the encounter

The player approach 

With this new encounter, I gave the player an overview of the space letting the player process the encounter before engaging.


Giving the player different options of approach and different identities was a big part of the rework.

Changing the space

I decided to Compress the combat encounter giving the player more breathing room between the attack and the first combat encounter.

And converting the previous combat space into breathing space while still utilizing the trenches as walkways.


(Red space is removed space)

(Green space is a new combat area)

Combat Encounter 3: FLOOD

Pre Rework

  • The entrance to the combat space had a chokepoint (The door problem) witch led the player to not progress into the space .

Post Rework

  • I made the entrance to the space be on a vantage point letting the player have the high ground over the enemy making more approachable.

Design Focus

Designing for different playstyles

When starting this project one of my main challenges was designing combat spaces for different playstyles making combat spaces more complex and interesting. 

Playstyles in focus

The different playstyles I had in focus while working on the project were:

The Sniper -  Keeps at long range and vantage points if covered. Often uses long-range weapons like snipers.

The Cover to Cover - Moves around cover to cover at medium range, often moving between cover islands. Often uses medium-range weapons like Light machine guns and assault rifles.

The Rusher - Wants to rush the enemies with fast movement and high damage taking cover only when necessary. Often uses close-range weapons like submachine guns and shotguns.

Combat Design
My Approch To Combat Design

I followed a few different core concepts while designing my combat spaces. These concepts are: 

Playstyle - specific Space - space that had a specific playstyle in mind.

Combat lanes - Space the player can move through naturally without major blockers to the flow of combat.

Cover Layers -  Making the players always have cover options with regular intervals creating lanes between layers for combat to occur with space for the player to flank.

In the showcase below I show one of four combat spaces I used these concepts together with a combat design breakdown in general of that space specifically.

Combat Encounter 1: STREET
Playstyle Designated Space

My main focus when designing combat spaces was to create intentional spaces and lanes for specific playstyles to thrive in.

The spaces are loosely defined with some core design focus around the intended playstyle, without limiting the overall playability.

The Sniper: Their space is designed to be far away and on top of vantage points, giving the player a clear advantage and making them feel more vulnerable.

The cover-to-cover: This playstyle is the most dynamic. Their focus where to heavily follow cover layers and more direct paths between cover ilands to give players options of movement that aren't too exposed. 

The rushers: Their design focus is to have more open spaces between covers exposing the player and enemies to flanking attacks.


Rusher Space

Cover to Cover Space

Sniper Space

Methods of guidance

In this project, I used various ways to guide the player. My main ways of guidance throughout this project were by using uniformly colored signifiers and also working with the composition of the long-term goal as a main guiding force looming throughout the level.

Having two clear goals
The Communications Tower

The first half of the mission the main objective the communications tower. This was a great target because of its size where you almost always had it in your field of view when you approached it. being the part of the level focused on exploration.

The Greenhouse

Because of the striking visuals of the new end goal; the burning base and the now more combat-oriented gameplay, I chose to obscure the target during longer sections of the player's return journey. This allowed me to preserve the wow factor of the burning base, as well as avoid visual fatigue.

Affordance & Signifiers

I used signifiers a lot to guide the player through smaller areas, highlighting area goals, main paths, and general guidance by coloring signifiers with the color yellow.



Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Goals

In this project, I used various ways to guide the player.

Primary: Long-term mission goals giving the player a long-term objective.

Secondary: Short-term mission goals like area exits.

Tertiary: moment-to-moment targets mainly focused on combat goals.





Working on a piece like this was fun and exciting, needing to analyze my references and my design deeply was an exciting challenge I haven't done to this degree before. This was my first time working on more advanced combat design and I learned a lot about creating those spaces. 

Because I worked on areas separately some areas got a lot more playtesting than others which made some encounters less polished than I hoped for, but on the other side, the spaces that got a large amount of playtesting felt polished and exciting to play.

I think I created a compelling mission with interesting combat encounters, especially for the time I had planned with a solid scope that never felt overwhelming. If I would create the experience again or revisit the project I would rework the ending space as well as make it smaller to increase the playtesting balance. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this piece!


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