Internship at Fast Travel Games
The last course I had to complete during my study at The Game assembly was an Internship at a game developing company. My internship took place at Fast Travel Games, which is a Virtual Reality Developer located in the heart of Stockholm. During this time, I got to work with incredibly talented people and we worked together to prototype different kinds of VR games and a flat screen title.
Down below I will go into more detail about what kind of different prototypes I worked on and which tasks and roles I had during these seven months of internship. Without breaking NDA of course.
Happy reading! :)
Project 1. VR: Loot n’ Shoot Action Game
After getting introduced and instructed on how the company works with the different tools they had, I and a few others at the studio put together a work group and starting prototyping a Loot n’ Shoot VR game.
We wanted a game that had nice and fluid combat, loot for the player that could be used both for upgrades, but also gadgets that could be used in combat. The game was supposed to reward discovery and exploration and at the same time, provide fun and engaging combat through pre-determined but randomized room layout and room to room combat. Essentially a first-person shooter with strong loot elements and rooms that could create funny situations depending on how the player decided to tackle it.
My main role was to Level Design different scenarios and room layouts for the game. The big challenge was to create rooms that could be tackled in different ways. Depending on what kind of tools the player had, what kind of enemies the player engaged with, but alsowhich way the player entered the room, made this task all the more difficult.
Project 2 VR: Story Driven Action Game
The second game were a little bit slower paced, but focused more on exploration, story and puzzles, with combat thrown into the mix.
With the help of a programmer, my main task was to prototype different puzzle elements in VR, essentially expanding the possibilities of interaction with your hands, weapons and gadgets.
I took a lot of inspiration from Half-Life 2, in the way they had small puzzles here and there, that felt natural, and a change of pace from the combat.
Experimenting with this in VR was a lot of fun, and being able to interact with your hands and physically pick up crates, tools and different gadgets, added a new depth of fun, that I felt had been missing in First-Person Shooters. Here are a few examples that the Test Range I worked in had.
The Energy beam as it names suggests, shoots out an energy beam between point a and point b. A raycast is used and if the beam is blocked with a crate, barrel or even your hands, it could trigger different events. For example a big machine that has no power. The energy beams are blocked by trash and the player in VR could just grab the trash and move it away from the Energy Beam’s Raycast points. The energy is connected again, and the power is on.
2. Push Plate.
This entity could be used by both objects and enemies, which opened up a lot of potential in the form of creativity and design. In the test level I worked on I made a simple Push Plate, that when it had two crates holding it down. It raised a platform so the player could cross a gap. A simple yet effective event that felt really good in VR. Especially because you can’t jump.
3. Salvagable Parts.
If the enemies in the game left corpses, why not use them? The main idea was to remove parts by ripping them off with your VR hands. The different parts could be used in a lot of different machines and even be combined to make new gadgets or key items to progress further in the game.
One example in the Test Range was a big crane that had a platform hanging from it. To get over the big gap without jumping, the crane had to be lowered. So firstly you had to check the different slots for the crane, which part is needed where. Then, the hunt for the parts began in another part of the level, where you had to engage in combat with some enemies. These enemies had these valuable parts on them, that you had to rip from them, and then combine. When the parts had been combined in the right way at slotted into the crane’s machinery. An event was triggered that rotated the crane and lowered it. It created a natural bridge, the player could walk across. Mission Accomplished.
It was a really fun way to explore new ideas and to experiment to see what sticks with the overall gameplay. Working together and pitching ideas with a programmer was a really nice experience and made it a lot more fun and creative. It’s always nice to not have to work solo sometimes.
Project 3: Flat-screen Top-down action and stealth game.
The first two projects were VR, but this time I jumped on a traditional flat-screen project that was about half-way through its development. It was a demo for a top-down action and stealth game.
The project did not have a properly level designed world to explore, so my main task was to create one for so I and the team had a chance to test everything they had worked on so far.
Because the deadline was just a few weeks away, I immediately drew a paper design on the whole level and 30 minutes later and some approval from my superiors, I started blocking it out with Probuilder in Unity. The size of the level had to be remade several times because of time constraints and after a few iterations, we had a good starting point for our demo.
The level was linear and had a few fingers that rewarded exploration, it had a mountain theme, a marshland theme and a swamp theme at the end. We tried as hard as we could to cram in as much content as possible with this little time we had. The main design pointers we thought was important were these:
At the start there was a quick and easy section where the player could try to stealth and take down an enemy, without trouble.
2. Patrolling enemies.
A camp that had a few enemies patrolling the area, this emphasized two gameplay loops the game had: Stealth or melee combat.
The level had several treasure chests that could be seen by the player, but unreachable from the player’s current location. This provided a good sense of exploration and curiosity. The treasure chests held different objects that could be used in the Demo.
4. New Enemies.
Later on in the level, we had new enemies with new attacks. These created good variation.
5. Mission Objective.
We had to have a clear goal for the player, so we set up a simple mission: Grab the key and open the gates to the sunken ruins. Later in the level, the player could go to the ruins but find out that a key is needed. The only area left for the player to explore is the Swamp and at the end, a Boss outside the swampy mine, holds the key. The player gets the key and opens The Sunken Ruins and releases whatever horror lies within…
Besides designing the level I also balanced enemy density and tweaked, if they had any, patrol paths, which had a big impact on how the level was played. If there were too few enemies, the player could just run through and hack them to bits. If they were too many, the player had a hard time stealthing through and taking them out without alerting other nearby enemies. A little bit of tedious tweaking, but was fun when the level felt better to play.
I also did a few simple props in Probuilder due to the 3d artist had a lot to do. I also helped dress the level, especially around the camps, where certain placements were crucial for patrol paths and combat areas. Dressing the levels and making them look nice is something I always loved with level making, and is something I’m interested in working with.
I think this project was the most fun to work on, even if it was on a short time constraint. I felt that in the end we made a solid Demo that we could be proud of. It was also fairly easy to work on, in the way that we had a clear goal on what we wanted to achieve with the demo, What we wanted to show people, which content and features were the most important to us. Last but not least, a cool and exciting world to work with. The setting and atmosphere of a game can really help in making a cool world to explore.
I’m grateful for being part of this team, it was a lot of fun!
This concludes my internship at Fast Travel Games, if you are interested in references just let me know!