Level Designer

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Speed Studies: Last of Us Combat

With this series, I desire to examine, research, and recreate my favorite levels. Speed Studies is intended for quick creation of block-mesh to research, practice, and repeat. For this I chose Hunter Underpass / Alone and Forsaken from The Last of Us’ Pittsburgh chapter.

All credit to the original designer Mark Richard Davies and team at Naughty Dog.


With this process of learning, I discovered a deeper understanding of metrics, scale, spacing, cover connections, and flow. Through a back and forth of gameplay and Maya, I set forth to make choices on scale and spacing.

final-combat-d2.jpg

By recreating this environment, it allowed me to more closely examine the various cover connections, flanks and fronts. Using Unreal 4 I was able to create a third person game environment to test timing, spacing and scale. By getting into the game from the start, I quickly found flaws and problems in my scale and arrangement. This process allowed me to be nimble and adjust quickly.

Inspired by the work of Michael Barclay and Ovidiu Mantoc in learning by recreating. For more in-depth master class of level design, third-person design and combat spaces, and check out Level Design for Games with lectures by Emilia Schatz—Lead Designer at Naughty Dog.

Jon Hickenbottom