The Flooded City Level Design

The Flooded City was once a place teeming with life. People and animals wandering around the streets, but now has been turned into one of the most dangerous areas in Broken World. With a constant onslaught of tidal waves coming towards you. You’ll have to find a way to survive while progressing towards the Fire Monument.

The Flooded City Area Objective

As mentioned previously, the “area objective” for the player to survive long enough to reach the Fire Monument, while dodging massive tidal waves that come towards them. Here is one of them in action!

The Flooded City Top Down

This top down was shortly made after understanding what the area’s objective was. While it didn’t stay completely accurate once put into the whitebox / block out, it was a good basis to go off of.

The Flooded City Whitebox

The beginning of the blockout

I wasn’t entirely sure how I was actually going to get work on the whitebox started, so what I first did was create the player’s path through the level.

Using a Previs

This was made as a promo image of the Flooded City – which at the time still hadn’t been made. However, this actually inspired me pretty hard to go with this direction – Previously it was mostly underwater but I like the idea of having the player stay on the ground at all times after seeing this.

Continuing this style

What I ended up doing, I probably wouldn’t do again – I basically ignored making a blockout / whitebox and started work using final assets, which ended up making this take 10x as long. But it did work out quite well in this project.

Creating Prefabs

Now that I had committed to this direction, what I ended up doing was creating custom buildings prefabs out of a bunch of different asset packs we had. By the end of this project we had probably around 9-10 different large buildings for the player to scale. Going back to the Top Down – It showcases different “safe spots” underground and overground, but by this point I decided to go forward with only overground safe spots to save time.

Implementing the Prefabs

I loved this style, and it seemed to perfectly fit into the levels. Instead of having the player walk on the ground the entire time, they were able to use the glider to stay on the top of each building and stay safe.

Upscaling the Flooded City

With the around 10 different large building prefabs, I was able to create something more interesting while keeping the original path the player had to take in the top down version.

New buildings from ground level

Here is a shot from ground level of the buildings, what the player would normally see.

Adding Props

Props were the next big thing that was necessary to add, making the world feel more lived in. Even though areas started to feel more cluttered, I made sure to never hinder the gameplay.


Before this change, the player could technically leave the city and the island it was on. To fix this I had to figure out the boundaries (without just having invisible walls). Initially, there were mountains covering the entire island. But this didn’t work from a gameplay perspective because it meant the wave was not always visible to the player – which made it frustrating to die to.

Boundaries from first person

These boundaries definitely helped sell the aesthetic of the area, it no longer felt just like a random city.

Increasing difficulty

One issue we had around this point was that the player didn’t have a reason for going down onto the ground level of the area – where the immediate danger was. Technically they could just stay on the roof tops. We changed this by implementing multiple different loot chests – almost all on ground level. So the player had a choice:

  • Stay on the roof and collect no items
  • Risk going down to pick up items

This definitely worked well as the items the player had to pick up were items that could upgrade their weapons, or food that was necessary to survive.

Starting Area

This was the starting area of this level. With a (From left to right) save point, NPC, crafting table, upgrading table, ability unlock station and the portal out of the area.

This was made high up for 1 specific reason. To have the wave be showcased to the player before they were on the move so their deaths never felt cheap or unfair.

Deciding the ending

Deciding how the player unlocked the Fire Monument was a massive challenge. The original top down had it out in the open but it felt anti-climactic while playtesting with others, after a few different ideas, one finally stuck.

Idea #1 | Castle

The first idea was to have a castle for the player to platform around. But, this idea didn’t keep for very long as it had the same large issue of not showcasing where the wave is very effectively, meaning players would die easily.

Idea #2 | Puzzle Platform

The second idea was to give the player a large platform to walk around, solving different puzzles to finally unlock a door to the room that contained the Fire Monument. This suffered from a different issue, that there were thousands of different objects in this one, tiny area – causing the frame rate to dip massively. This idea was scrapped very quickly.

The Final Idea | Puzzles, Platforming and Combat

The final idea was a combination of everything. The player would have to activate 2 buttons to open the door to the Fire Monument. 2 crates were scattered in this final area, one unlocked by platforming, while the other was unlocked through combat.

Final Gameplay

Unfortunately, there were too many changes to list, so instead I’ve linked the final gameplay of the Flooded City below.

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