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Entry #3 - 3/21/02
By Paul Cazarez and Dellekamp Siefert
Designer, Crystal Dynamics
When I first started on the Blood Omen project, I was assigned to the design--or redesign--of the Smuggler's Den. At the time, the level was sort of a mess; the player could see from the start of the level to the end, which was a terror on the frame rate, and the level had to be "cut" up into smaller regions so that it could stream from the disk and fit into memory. It was a challenge to find the right areas to cut so that the player would never be able to notice when the region loaded or unloaded. In the end of the process, I thought we did a great job in masking these background tasks--that way, the player never felt that the game was loading in awkward places.
In designing the Smuggler's Den, we had a quite a few restrictions because it was the second level of the game. For one, Kain had only two dark gifts, mist and fury. We wanted to teach the player to use these two gifts, since they were frequently used in the rest of the game. Another restriction was that the level was the smallest of all the levels, so we wanted the player to backtrack a little bit in a few places in the level--that way, he or she did not just blast through the level not enjoy the great scenery that Kain travels through. After the first establishing shot of the level, that first puzzle of the area is a good example of having to backtrack a bit so that the player is not running past everything and not seeing that part of the level. After passing through that puzzle, we thought the next area would be great for a small fight arena or another place to use stealth. The player has two choices here, to either come in with guns blaring or to use the stealth approach and kill both thieves without having to encounter either in battle. So having these restrictions was a good rule set for designing parts of a level.
Once all the puzzles were ideally fleshed out and once we had a good idea where and when to put them, it was time to script them and place them in the level for the player to interact with. Some of the puzzles needed a lengthy time to complete in some areas so that the next region had sufficient time to load, and the player would not reach the next area without "breaking" the level. When I was scripting puzzles, for instance, for the most part I always had a keen eye as to when a tester might be able to break the puzzle. But there was always someone who was able to break it! The test department was vital, and we used them as much as we could for insight, as well as help when we needed "fresh eyes" to see the level.
- Release Date: Apr 5, 2002 (EU)
- Release Date: Mar 28, 2002 (EU)
- Release Date: Jan 24, 2003 (EU)