Designing levels in Call of Osiris: a synopsis
One of our goals for Call of Osiris was to authentically recreate famous Egyptian locations. The first versions of the levels were indeed like that and they looked nice enough. But they were empty and not much fun to play. Take a pyramid, any pyramid. There’s desert, sand, some rocks, a road… and that’s basically it. Few want to spend five minutes walking through a huge empty space with nothing to do, and then unceremoniously enter the tomb.
So the challenge was to adapt the real-world locations to the gameplay. We placed barriers, deployed enemies, and introduced secrets, especially in the large outdoor areas and inside the pyramids. We also used gameplay dialogs to liven things up. This way, you can beeline to the goal if you’re in a hurry, or you can explore and get rewarded.
As a rule of thumb, the above ground areas are real, and the underground areas are fictional. Rumor has it that there’s a huge underground city under the Giza plateau. Does it exist? Now you can find out for yourself! First, you have to discover the entrance with the help of Leila’s magic amulet. Then, new worlds and dimensions open up in the bowels of pyramids and temples. Here, we level designers were able to leave real life aside for a while and create something unique and truly worth exploring.
These “underworlds” combine traversal, shooting and exploration in interesting new ways, and each has been custom-built to keep repetition to a minimum. Still, they have something in common: the influence of the Egyptian gods. In the background, Set and Osiris are engaged in a constant battle for the throne of the underworld, and Set soon begins to pay special attention to our two heroes...
Call of Osiris is not an open world game, but it’s not completely linear either. You can often wander off the main path and explore the many nooks and crannies we “LDs” have built in. Secret and optional pickups allow level designers some degree of freedom and give the player a sense of discovery and accomplishment when they discover them. As a Tomb Raider fan, you know the feeling when you notice an unreachable crawl space or a glimmer somewhere in the dark, and need to find a way to get there. Maybe you need to reach a new part of the level, or maybe you missed something. Stay persistent, and you’ll succeed. Sometimes finding all the secrets is more exciting than finishing a level.
I really like the levels I made. I put my whole heart into making them reflect the storywriter’s and game designer’s ideas, but also my own. And it wasn't just me. It was a collective effort from all of us here at ActaLogic, the best team you could ask for. You’re invited to experience the results and provide feedback, good or bad.
Šimen Sterle aka Bojrkraider, Level Designer, ActaLogic