The Scrapyard was created as a group project throughout 11 weeks in my Advanced Level Design class.

My group was composed of five people, including myself. As the group leader, I was in charge of creating a production schedule for the other members and myself to follow as we created all the assets that we needed to make the level feel real. On top of being the group leader and organizing the weekly meetings, I was also the world builder, as well as audio and light artist.

When we first met, as leader, I had each member brainstorm up an idea for a captivating level. We ended up with a variety of ideas. One was having an abandoned town in the middle of a snowstorm in the arctic, with a possessed frosty the snowman that would run around every now and then and attack players, who could find haven on the building roofs.

Another idea was a giant valley/canyon that an alien space ship crashed into the the entrance of, firing its beam into the level. Another was having a metal refinery on a lava like planet, with various moving conveyors and traps. Another idea (and the one I came up with) was floating islands with walkways connected them for a capture the flag map.

We really liked all the ideas we came up with and had a lot of trouble deciding what we wanted to do. So we asked our instructor for his input, and he more or less told us to toss some of them together. We mainly combined the first two, taking the element of an abandoned snow town and the crashed alien spaceship in the canyon. Here’s a breakdown of the background to the final level.

The Story behind the Scrapyard

Our level takes place on a snowy planet (much like Hoth from Star Wars). On this planet, a factory was built. The people who built this factory were scavengers. They created a fake distress signal to lure ships flying past the planet in to investigate. Once they were within the atmosphere, the anti-air turrets around the factory would shoot them down. From there, crab-like robots would scour through the debris for metal and valuable parts, bringing them back to the factory. However, some ships were heavily damaged when they crashed. One in particular now fires a deadly beam through the canyon, obliterating anything in its path.

This factory has long since been abandoned, but the automated systems are still operating. Your ship has crashed, now its a fight for survival.

Initially, we had planned to incorporate the factory into the level more as well. We had planned to have around half of the factory navigable, through hallways and major operating areas (smelting metal areas, etc.) However, for an 11 week project, we decided that having an exterior level would be more compelling and interesting than running around in hallways.

As the world builder, I was responsible with taking all the exported assets that my group members created and import them into UDK. From there I had to make sure that the meshes and collisions worked well. After that I would bring in their textures and create UDK materials for them and make sure the materials appeared correctly on the meshes.

From there I began to populate the level we were creating. As the person working the most with the engine, I created the terrain that would be used, and did a block out of the map. Once the meshes were made, I would replace the brushes being used in UDK with the actual meshes.

Every week or so, we would have a play test in class, to see how people moved throughout the level. With their feedback, I could adjust the level flow to make it more enjoyable.

So this was a very back and forth process, checking with my members on their progress, bouncing ideas off of them on the level flow (additions and removals of areas, such as the ice caves which only lasted for a week).

Overall, we were all very pleased with how it came out.

Credit to:

Alex Karpati (myself) – 3D Modeler (Props), World Builder, Audio & Light Designer

Brittany Cloud – 3D Modeler (Props)

Richard Harris – FX Artist (Particle Effects) & Programmer (Custom Weapons Scripts)

John Irish – 3D Modeler (Custom Weapons, Crashed Ship)

Matthew Kline – 3D Modeler (Factory Assets, Props)

Scrapyard Cinematic from Alex Karpati on Vimeo.