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The Village
Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Level Designer

Responsibilities:

  • Initial Blockout & Sketches

  • Initial Story Beats

  • All Blockout Revisions

  • Oversaw Level Art

  • Initial Puzzle Proposal

  • Final Looks & Set Dressing Polish to Ship

Playtime: 30-45 mins

The Village is the visual representation of what was left of the people Kena was here to help; a way to bookmark her progress in restoring the land and helping their spirits move past the collective tragedy. 

 

Throughout the game, Kena returns to The Village many times -- it serves as our hub for the spoke and hub model I established for the world map early on -- and it is always available for the player to explore whenever they wish. As such, it needed to be navigable, believable, and re-traversable, and with enough character and charm that the player might begin to think of it as a home base they care about, and one worth saving. 

Level Map

VillageMap.jpg

Semi-final Art Overhead Map

Topology & Line of Sight

​One of my goals when planning the levels and their style for this game was for the player to be able to see a landmark in the distance, and make it there through gameplay, thus fulfilling our “exploration” and “hiking” verbs! The Village makes use of this idea as well - providing the player with numerous and frequent vistas and lines of sight to other landmarks across it, in the hopes that the player can both identify where they are in relation to where they have come from, and pick a place they may want to travel to next. 

Unique, tall, “anchor points” were intentionally placed in the 8 cardinal directions and center of the village

villagemap_heightmap.jpg

Rough height map from early production

Darker regions are lower.

VillageMap.jpg
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Three vistas from across the map,

all featuring the same "anchor point" landmark:

the giant tree stump house.

SpiritMail.jpg

Map of "Spirit Mail" Locations used in production on blockout map

Re-Traversable Gameplay

It was important to show the player was making progress and keep things fresh for whenever they decide to return to the Village hub.


Two of the main solutions we devised were:

1. (below) The player can access more regions of the Village depending on which worlds they have completed. I worked to make these natural looking transitions to open up the regions. For example, the water becomes traversable after world 1, the Forest, allowing Kena to cross the large rivers shown on the map below.


2. (left) "Spirit Mail" are special regions the player can return to via collectable to complete a short challenge and gain rewards. After completing these areas, the "corruption" clears permanently, allowing the player to see a progressively restored village as they progress.

villagemap_labels.jpg

Rough map from early production.

Colors indicate which regions become unlocked when.

(Red unlocks before world 1, yellow before world 2, and purple before world 3)

Regions

 

The Village is large, with lots of possible paths through it so, I held onto the primary goal that were the player to magically wake up in one part of the village, they would always know where they were, based on the architecture, materials used, ground cover, etc.

 

As the player moves more towards one of the spoke regions (The Mountain, The Forest, or The Farm), that should be apparent as well with more elements and set dressing from those areas included the closer the player got to that entrance. (The intentionally added benefit to this was optimization - it allowed for us to feather in the loading of some assets found in those worlds)

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Main Street
The village’s shopping and entertainment section. Also holds the center “hub of the village”

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Docks
Fishing Docks & Farmer’s Market leading into Farm world

Screenshot_20200908-153332_Game Informer

Mask Shrine
Secluded Mask Shrine to remember the dead - significantly placed between the heart of the village - life - and the entrance to the Mountain Shrine, which represents the Spirit Realm

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Forest Neighborhood
Residential Homes leading into the Forest world

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Onsen
Recreational Onsen & Mountain Homes

Additional Images from Blockout & Semi-final Art

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