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  • Level Design Analysis: Oxenfurt In The Witcher 3

    [09.15.20]
    - Eduardo Tassi
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, developed by CD Projekt Red, was an experience that left a mark and one of the games that I hold most dear, re-creating the level of Oxenfurt is my personal love letter to this game. The making of this project was a real challenge in terms of analyzing the design as well as the production itself, but this endeavor pushed me forward in order to achieve a result of which I'm really proud of, I hope to have done justice to the amazing work done by the CD Projekt Red team!

    This is an analysis and adaptation of the city of Oxenfurt from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I will mostly talk about the production process, from analyzing the level in-game in order to establish some metrics of reference, to working inside UE4 and creating a blockout of the level. You can check out this video for the complete overview of the greybox!

    Establishing Layout & Metrics

    If we take a look at the Oxenfurt level, the first thing that meets the eye it's the city structure and its complex subdivision of each area inside it. Having acknowledged these factors helped me to better understand on how to proceed with my work, and take a step back. So, before even putting down on paper some sketches of the layout, I decided to spend some more time analyzing the level in-game trying to understand more about its structure and composition. Spending this extra time was extremely useful, not only because it gave me more insight about the topography of the level layout and it's verticality (Which we'll talk more about it later), but also it made me appreciate more the key role of composition and the great use of landmarks and points of interest.

    Still, I was having a really hard time figuring out the overall metrics of the spaces inside the level, before even opening the Unreal 4 editor and iterate with the BSP, I needed to be sure to have a strong foundation to build upon. For these reasons, creating a metric library was my first course of action. Geralt, the main character, was my point of reference for the entirety of this process, I used different techniques for taking measurements in-game;

    1. Slowing down Geralt's walk: The standard movement was too fast for taking any measurement, in The Witcher 3 with just the press of a button you can make the character walk slowly, this allowed me to standardize my process: 1 step = 1 meter. This method allowed me to take metrics data for the length and width of; Roads, Building, Stairs and Props.
    2. Converting time in meters: When re-creating a level from another game, you always have to keep into consideration some margin of error, things will not be exactly as you would find them in the actual game. This is usually seen as something negative since it feels like you won't have complete control over your work, but I actually think is a great element of strength, because it allows for more flexibility especially when it comes to metrics. And so the second method I used to gain measurements was basically timing the distances between the spaces that I needed and then converting these distances in meters. 

    These two methods allowed me more flexibility in calculating each space and were the overall foundation of my production process.

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