Aug
04

Chapter 9 – “Return to Camp”

6 years, 2 months ago 0
Posted in: Games, Samples, Turok

Return to Camp was the first level I created for Turok. It had some high-point requirements with the majority of structure and immediate events designed by me. The level is fairly linear, as noted by the Connectivity Chart. I’ve updated this to reflect the current terminology in Design Concepts.

My previous projects involving The Suffering used companions to help shape the emotion of the moment. In this level I use nearby scientists to re-iterate and push fear of the unknown.

Primal was a planned vision mode for Turok. Swamp Mud was a new mechanic I proposed to counter stealth maneuvers. MGs are Mendel-Gruman Corporation soldiers. Several other creatures are mentioned that didn’t make it into the game. I’ll try to track down descriptions and update this post soon.

A few months later, the scope of the game was reduced to ensure schedule goals. The spirit of this level evolved into Chapter 5 (which I’ll post soon).

I’ve included the original file here for offline reference: Design_Turok_ch09.doc

Level Overview

Legend

Summary

Battle-worn and now alone, the player has to find his way back to Base Camp with the LRC (Long Range Communications Unit).  Limited Ammo and Health force the player to rely on Primal, Stealth and Environment Resources.

This trek is all about slowly ratcheting the fear-factor with a new, unknown creature.  Through a series of terror encounters, the player is exposed to the Lurker.  This species differs from the other dinosaurs in that it’s more agile and stealthy.

Other key moments include: freeing a Scientist from a ravaged Convoy surrounded by Venom Spores, fighting Pterodactyls from a Cliff face, and passing through the Lurker’s lair to enter Base Camp.

Objectives

  • Turok makes his way back to the main crash site

Mission Stats

Estimated play time    30 minutes
Time of Day    Dusk
Overall Gameplay Theme    Urgency, Exploration, Tracking and Puzzles, with solo stealth
New Gameplay Elements    Venom Spore, Lurkers, Swamp Mud
Big Gameplay Topics    Lurker Combat, Rail Gun vs. Sniper, Vertical Navigation
Power Ups    Mind Bender (Tracker plant)?
Weapons    Bow, Knife, Hand Gun, SMG, Auto Shotgun, Frag Grenade, Tazer, Sniper Rifle
Vehicles    ATV, wrecked RPG Jeep, wrecked Helicopter, wrecked Spider-Tank

Fail States

  • If Turok dies

Level Topology / Connectivity

Scarface provides an exit from the T-Rex nest which drops down into the Swamp…

AZ 01 – Swamp

Area    Swamp and Treetops
Weather    Dusk – Growing Storm Clouds
Time Estimate    5 minutes
Difficulty    8
Connections    AZ 02
Objectives    Choose the upper or lower route to exit the area
Gameplay Types    Primal, Combat, Exploration

This Action Zone offers a change of pace after the T-Rex finale battle in the previous level 8.  Stealth, exploration, and fear-of-the-unknown drive the experience.  The arena is a multi-leveled, LONG outdoor corridor.

Entering the arena slopes down from dense jungle into a Swamp which is surrounded by cliff faces.  Base Camp can be seen westwards from the initial slope or treetops.  The player has to choose slogging through the mud and dense fog or climbing into the trees to creep by without falling.

The Lurker’s signature sounds are heard periodically from the fog.  The unrecognizable sounds put the player on edge.

In the center of the swamp, a MG is heard slowly being torn apart by Maulers.  If the player chooses to investigate, he’ll discover the dinosaurs fighting over a now dead MG.  He can choose to attack them all, wait until only one remains, or carefully circumvent the area.  MG Ammo act as a lure.  The Mauler encounter is to showcase their formidability, for when they later get slaughtered by an unknown assailant (implied Soldier Bugs).

The player exits the arena through a narrow canyon that eventually drops into the next arena.

Action Zone Layout

AI in AZ:

  • 03 Mauler
  • 01 Pterodactyl fly-by
  • 01 dead MG

AI Default Behaviour:

  • Mauler target-specific combat (MG)
  • Mauler combat

Big Moments & Hooks:

  • Sense Deprivation to amplify fear
  • Mauler feeding on dead MG

AZ 02 – Checkpoint

Area    Canyon
Weather    Dusk – Growing Storm Clouds
Time Estimate    4 minutes
Difficulty    4
Connections    AZ 01 and AZ 03
Objectives    Tricking Triceratops to bust open the exit gate
Gameplay Types    Sniper Rifle, Puzzle-solving, Combat

Attentive players should recognize this location from the end of Level 6, when they jumped over a gorge causing a Helicopter and pursuing ATV to crash.  The arena is bowl shaped, with looming wall overhangs, drenched in shadows.

This area serves as a MG Checkpoint for vehicles that transport Bugs to the labs.  There’s no presence of Bugs, however.  A closed tunnel bores into the canyon wall, while a road disappears into the jungle.  A gated fence prevents further exploration of the canyon.  Parts of the canyon are clogged with smoke from the smoldering Helicopter and ATVs, obscuring vision.

Entry to the area is through a narrow canyon drop-off.  Before the player jumps down, he can choose to pick off grazing Churdies for a Sniper Rifle exercise.  Churdie death throes draw out 1 (of 2) concealed Triceratops.  It emerges from a gated cave.  The remaining Triceratops is still secure in its cage.  If provoked, or the other Triceratops dies, it breaks out of its cage.  Later inspection reveals two dead MGs smashed against the interior wall.

Sniper ammo is limited however, forcing the player into more aggressive combat.  The Triceratops will try to charge the player.  This should suggest tricking the Triceratops to break through the exit fence.  If all dinosaurs are dead before this occurs, the player hack the power relay in the Triceratops cave to open the gate.

Leaving the arena, the canyon opens up to a jungle mountainside.  Along the route, tell-tale signs of Lurker presence is left on tree trunks (scratched out decals).

Action Zone Layout

AI in AZ:

  • 02 Triceratops
  • 04+ Churdies
  • 02 dead MGs

AI Default Behaviour:

  • Grazing Churdies
  • Triceratops Combat

Big Moments & Hooks:

  • Location tie-in to Level 6
  • Using the Sniper Rifle when entering
  • Tricking the Trcieratops to exit arena

AZ 03 – Convoy

Area    Jungle Road
Weather    Dusk – Distant Lighting Storms
Time Estimate    5-10 minutes
Difficulty    6
Connections    AZ 02 and AZ 04 (2x)
Objectives    Free Scientist from surrounding Maulers
Gameplay Types    Sniper Rifle, Combat, Introduction

Sound of battle draws the player into this area.  A MG Jeep and Transport is being ravaged by Maulers.  The only survivor is a Scientist Dr. Jones who’s pinned under a transport cage (similar to the Triceratop ones), screaming.

The road continues down around a bend.  The surrounding jungle is littered with Venom Spores.  Distant Lightning thunders an impending storm front.

Once saved, the delirious Scientist explains he was part of a convoy carrying a Soldier Bug from the Extraction Outpost to the Labs. He’s been pinned for days with no help.  Something must have happened to the rest of the squad.  He also reveals the Venom Spore and suggests its toxin can be used on weapons.  He strongly suggests taking the road to the nearby Outpost.  Do not stray into the Jungle or be overcome by Venom Spores.

The road dead-ends at a rockslide around the corner.  Base Camp can be seen from the crest of the hill.  A pack of Maulers and a Triceratops has been brutally torn apart and sprayed against the rock wall.  Bug slime covers the area, suggesting a Soldier Bug attack.

The player can safely pop Venom Spores.  If done, one of the eruptions reveals another route out of the area.

A Lurker growls off in the distance, frightening the Scientist.  He promptly ignores his own advice and retreats past the convoy into the Venom Spore-infested jungle – heightening the fear of this currently unseen creature.  If the player follows the Scientist, he’ll have to maneuver through the Venom Spores.  Or he can choose to take the formerly hidden route near the rockslide.

Action Zone Layout

AI in AZ:

  • 03 Maulers
  • 01 Scientist –  Dr. Jones
  • 15 Venom Spores
  • 02 dead Maulers
  • 01 dead Triceratops

AI Default Behaviour:

  • Scientist Cowering/Fleeing
  • Maulers target-specific combat (Scientist)
  • Venom Spore proximity explosion

Big Moments & Hooks:

  • Freeing the Scientist
  • Venom Spore Introduction
  • Dino Slaughter Aftermath (Soldier Bug implied)

AZ 04 – Canyon

Area    Cliff
Weather    Dusk – starts Raining
Time Estimate    10 minutes
Difficulty    7
Connections    AZ 03 (2x) and AZ 05
Objectives    Navigate vertical terrain, avoid Venom Spores and Pterodactyls
Gameplay Types    Climbing, Jumping, Pterodactyl combat

The main purpose of this area is vertical variation to the typical horizontal encounters.  The player has to navigate a series of ledges, climbing vines, clambering, and simple jumping along a cliff face through a large canyon.  Venom Spore placement slows the progression.  Rain pelts the rock surface, suggesting a more unstable situation.  If the player falls and survives, he can climb back up near the start.

The Scientist has wedged himself up on an unreachable ledge.  A sense of dread is forced through his ramblings and cowering.  As the player passes from a lower ledge an unseen Lurker drags the Scientist away screaming.  Pterodactyls swoop in and try to attack the player at appropriate moments.

At one point, the player can spot a dead Scientist in a Pterodactyl nest.  Ammo can be found on the body, but the player can’t jump to it until he reaches a later vantage point.

Rounding the next corner, the player catches his first glimpse of hanging Venom Spores next to a large waterfall that cascades off into mist.  When the player stops to investigate, another Pterodactyl dives in to attack.  Then suddenly, a Lurker jumps from above, attacking the Pterodactyl!  They struggle in mid-air for a beat before falling into the water mists below.

The majority of Venom Spores are hanging after the waterfall.  Two single-encounter Lurkers appear, showcasing their underbrush (or crevasse) and jump-from-above spawning.  The cliff area is exited via a narrow pathway into the jungle which drops back down onto the road.  Base Camp can be spotted northwest, just before the drop off.  Another rockslide prevents backtracking up the road.

Action Zone Layout

This image is a micro detailed version of the layout at the beginning of the document.  Areas in the close up can be numbered/labeled to correspond with numbers/labels in the written description above.  It’s a quick and stylized presentation of the Action Zone.

AI in AZ:

  • 01 Scientist – Dr. Jones
  • 01 dead Scientist
  • 03 Pterodactyls
  • 14 Venom Spores
  • 08 Venom Spores (hanging)
  • 03 Lurkers

AI Default Behaviour:

  • Scientist cowering
  • Pterodactyl combat
  • Venom Spore proximity explosion

Big Moments & Hooks:

  • Scientist gets slaughtered by unseen Lurker
  • Pterodactyl Combat on precarious ground
  • Avoiding Venom Spores on precarious ground
  • Cinematic Lurker introduction

AZ 05 – Outpost

Area    Deserted MG Outpost
Weather    Dusk – Rain and Lightning
Time Estimate    4 minutes
Difficulty    4
Connections    AZ 04 and AZ 06
Objectives    Eliminate random MG Rail Gunner, Turn Generator on, Open Gate from Tower
Gameplay Types    Primal vision and tracking, Sniper Rifle combat, Puzzle-solving

The player enters a clearing covered with patches of trees, swamp mud, and Venom Spores.  A fence divides the field from a Bunker & Tower and a cliff face which has a large pit into the ground.  Over the pit is an elevator with a neighboring Power Shed.  Rain storms through the area, affecting visibility and sound.

Dead MG bodies litter the area, in from what appears to be another Soldier Bug battle.  A Spider-Tank and two Jeeps lay in ruin near the Bunker.  On the opposite side of the fence, a RPG Jeep is lodged in the mud.

Before the player can progress past the fence to the next Action Zone, he has to open the gate.   The switch is in the Tower.  The power is off, however – and the generator is found in the Bunker.  A power line runs from the Tower to the fence and one runs from the fence to the Bunker, giving the player the basic clues to progressing.

A lone Scientist Dr. Smith is at the edge of the road.  He escaped the Convoy attack in AZ 03.  He’s battle-worn can’t get in the Bunker.  As he tries to explain this to the player, a Rail Gun suddenly obliterates him.  Two MGs are hidden in the Outpost.  One is cowering in the Tower, who cries out in terror periodically.  The other is overly-paranoid and totes the Rail Gun.

His position is randomized between three areas: 1) in the Bunker, 2) behind the Tower, 3) nestled between two Jeeps.  The player has to recon to determine the MG’s location.  The Sniper Rifle is best suited for this, as long open patches of mud leave the player open to Rail Gun shots.  Smoke Grenades are found on a dead MG near the Spider Tank (which is in the center of the field).

No other creatures are present until the player enters the tower.  He spots the cowering MG just as two Lurker climb/leap to the tower and decapitates the MG in full-view.  This is the first multiple Lurker encounter, revealing their climbing/leaping ability.

Action Zone Layout

AI in AZ:

  • 01 Scientist – Dr. Smith
  • 01 MG Rail Gunner (randomized)
  • 01 MG Cowering
  • 02 Lurkers
  • 03 dead MGs

AI Default Behaviour:

  • MG Guarding
  • MG Cowering
  • Lurker combat (climbing/leaping)
  • Venom Spore proximity explosion

Big Moments & Hooks:

  • Determining the location of the MG Rail Gunner with the Sniper Rifle
  • Turning power back on
  • In-Your-Face Lurker surprise attack, killing a MG

AZ 06 – Extraction

Area    Deserted MG Outpost
Weather    Dusk – Rain and Lightning
Time Estimate    3 minutes
Difficulty    7
Connections    AZ 05 and AZ 08
Objectives    Survive Lurker combat, descend into Chasm
Gameplay Types    RPG Jeep (stationary)

Once past the fence, the player is immediately assaulted by Lurkers.  They crawl from caves and leap from the pit.  The field of swamp mud prevents a quick escape, suggesting use of the RPG Jeep.

Here the player can get his first taste for RPGs and their power punch.  If the player blasts the Lurker spawn-point caves, he can disable that spawner.  The ## of Lurkers will be play-tested for count.

Afterwards, the player has to discover a way into the pit.  The surrounding sides are covered with Bug slime and burn marks.  A battered cage is hoisted over the pit, powered by a switch in the neighboring Power Shed.  The cage lowers at such a rate that the player can never enter it – he has to jump on top of the cage, exposing himself to any attack.  The cage descends in sporadic bursts from the stressed generator.

Lurkers and other unrecognizable sounds echo up from the darkness.  Halfway down, a Lurker leaps from above onto the cage attacking the player, forcing melee.  The action causes the cage to stop permanently.  The player has to jump to a nearby ledge and continue on foot.

Action Zone Layout

AI in AZ:

  • 03 Lurker spawners (throttled ##)
  • 03 Venom Spores

AI Default Behaviour:

  • Lurker combat
  • Venom Spore proximity explosion

Big Moments & Hooks:

  • Using the stationary RPG Jeep to survive waves of Lurkers
  • Using the RPG to disable Lurker spawners
  • Descending into unnerving darkness on top of a rickety cage

AZ 07 – Chasm

Area    Underground Chasm
Weather    Dusk – Raining
Time Estimate    4 minutes
Difficulty    8
Connections    AZ 07 and Base Camp
Objectives    Navigate vertical terrain, avoid Venom Spores and Lurkers
Gameplay Types    Primal, Combat, Climbing and Jumping

Finally, the player has traverse narrow, underground ledges through a Lurker lair.  Water falls from the opening in the ceiling and from cracks in the wall.  Hanging Venom Spores block the quickest routes.  Lurkers attack from crevasses and leap down from the outside.

Here the player has use all levels of experience from previous encounters: Primal, Lurker evasion, Venom Spore timing, climbing, and jumping.  As the player walks through the last waterfall (which blocks Primal Vision) to discover the exit – a Lurker leaps out for the final confrontation.

Some distance past the waterfall is a vine-covered wall which ascends to Base Camp.  WC conversation echoes through the tunnels as they prepare to seal off the entrance to prevent further Lurker invasions.  As the player ascents, they slowly slide the cover over.  He has to make some noise or reach the top for the WC to re-open the cover – (a frantic last minute of gameplay!)

Action Zone Layout

AI in AZ:

  • 07 Lurkers
  • 13 Venom Spores (Hanging)

AI Default Behaviour:

  • Lurker patrolling
  • Venom Spore proximity explosion

Big Moments & Hooks:

  • Lurker Combat on precarious ground in their lair
  • Avoiding Venom Spores on precarious ground

Appendix A: Lurkers


Formerly named the Lagosuchus, this creature stands out from the other dinosaurs with its ability to climb and jump from vertical surfaces.  Very stealth-like in nature, when in-active it hides in the surrounding environment, possibly affecting Primal.  They’re independent-minded and work better solo.  When encountered in groups, they operate on an individual basis (no squad mentality).  It has a particular sound something between a Cougar and chirping.  When leaping from cliff or tree surfaces, it leaves a unique damage decal to indicate passage.

Lurk State: When not moving, the Lurker’s texture palette adjusts to its surroundings.  Primal signature is reduced.  It crouches in below in underbrush or in rock crevasses, or high above on ledges or tree limbs – ready to leap.

Leap Mechanic: Jump from a vertical position to another vertical wall (special AI node) or at player.

Climbing Mechanic: Climb vertical, special ladder volumes (think rock climber) (no ceilings though).

Swamp Movement: They’re movement is not slowed when in Swamp Mud.

Appendix B: Swamp Mud

Swamp Mud involves new mechanics.  They’re areas with large exposed tree roots, thigh-high thick watery sludge or mud, with small mounds of normal ground.  Navigating swamps slows movement and increases sound movement, which decreases stealth.  In mud, movements with lighter creatures like Churdies are not affected.  Swamps also emit a low level gas (Haze/Blur FX).  Large areas of Swamp include Volumetric Fog, which obscures vision.  In conjunction with the already present gas, fog halves Primal vision.

Appendix C: Base Camp

To be able to recognize Base Camp from a distance, it should be placed near a unique outcropping of rocks. Here’s a couple examples how a strong silhouette can improve Base Camp as a Landmark.

Older Version

I’ve included an older version for reference. Every Action Zone is slightly different from the ones mentioned above. The largest difference is between AZ 02 and 03. You had the option to commandeer an MG Jeep and drive up the mountainside, fighting creatures on the way. A shortcut route existed for players who decided to advance on foot.

 

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