Although my title at nDreams was Principal Level Designer, I was the most senior level designer in the company, and I was the head of the level design team. My duties included:
Line managing the other level designers.
Interviewing prospective design candidates (for both level design and game design roles).
Creating new level design workflows and pipelines, as well as improving existing ones.
Ensuring the level designers were fully integrated into the rest of the development team (which wasn’t the case when I joined the studio).
Working with the game’s leadership team to manage team workload and scheduling.
Reviewing and guiding all location development from concept through to final playable.
Mentoring junior level designers.
Overseeing the development of multiple mission types.
Working with with the Game Director to shape the game’s narrative, characters, and draft script.
In addition to team leadership and line management, I was personally responsible for designing three of the game’s six location and building two of them:
I designed the layout of Hookfaber Mansion, although another designer built it in game. I also wrote the scenarios for both the initial mission and the final mission, which are set there.
The concept behind the location is that Gustav Hookfaber – later revealed to be the game’s villain – was conducting supernatural experiments in the basement. In the opening mission, the player is sent to retrieve the equipment of a previous ghostbuster who mysteriously vanished in the mansion.
While collecting the equipment, the player learns the game’s primary mechanics (PKE meter use, trap use, proton wand use and environmental interaction), and believes they accidentally released the Ghost Lord, who bursts out from the basement, leaving a huge hole in the main hall of the mansion.
The mansion was intended to show both the old-money wealth of Gustav’s family, reduced to a dormant, spooky shadow of its former glory; as well as show Gustav’s true personality in the basement: a dark, malevolent and yet brilliant mind.
Time range: 00:00 – 11:40
In this mission, the player returns to Hookfaber’s mansion, having learned the villainous truth about Gustav. They must fight their way through the no longer dormant mansion, reaching the Harvester machine where the Ghost Lord originally emerged, and retrieve his staff, before fleeing.
Because of the damage to the mansion from the introductory mission, the player is unable to take the same route, and must use a different path. The player then needs to fight the Ghost Lord, who is pursuing them as they flee.
This mission ends slightly differently to my original concept, where after leaving the mansion, the Ghost Lord would force the player into the aetherial realm, fighting through stitched-together spectral parts of each main location before emerging on the Golden Gate Bridge for the final battle. In the released version of the game, the player is simply teleported to the bridge for the final battle.
Time range: 13:30 – End of video
I designed and implemented this area, set in a water processing plant and sewers. The idea behind the area was to call back to Ghostbusters II’s river of slime sequence, while at the same time providing a range of exit/entry points for missions, and a mix of environmental dressing. As with all locations, it was important to contain a mix of large areas suitable for grand scale battles and game modes, but also shortcuts and smaller, tighter corridors to create spookier atmospheres.
Time range: 24:44 – 30:51
As one of the most iconic areas of San Francisco, it was always intended that we should include Chinatown as one of the game’s locations.
The classic Ghostbusters scene this area was intended to call back to was the hotel ballroom from the original film, so it was vital we included a restaurant with a high ceiling so the player could fire the proton wand at ghosts but ‘accidentally’ hit furniture and walls.
This map made extensive use of smaller areas, intending to feel like the cramped streets and alleys of the real Chinatown. Because the game was being developed for the Meta Quest 2, it was imperative I was able to control sightlines for the player so that there was never too much of the location visible at once, ensuring the headset was able to render the scene at a high enough frame rate to avoid simulation sickness. At the same time, however, we didn’t want to simply have internal spaces, and we wanted the labyrinthine nature of the environment to include different heights as well as alleys etc.
I concentrated on shaping the area so that multiple mission types could fit in it, with the strategic use of opening or closing routes in order to ensure the area felt different each mission.