This level was created for the final assignment, week 10 of the CGMA Level Design for Games course.


Many years ago, the cowboy’s mother was a prospector and struck it rich. Unfortunately, her partner betrayed her and stole all the gold for himself. The cowboy’s mom tracked him down, but he died before she could find out where he stowed all the gold. Recently, the cowboy happened upon some clues about the gold’s location. But his sworn enemy overheard his plans to find it and has gotten here first, with an army of desperados. They’ll use any means necessary to keep the cowboy from his treasure.

Project Details:

Over-the-shoulder third-person enemy wave shooter. Cover mechanics are heavily involved when fighting in combat spaces.

Controls are as follows:

  • Player can run (shift)
  • Jump (spacebar)
    • Vaulting over waist-high obstacles when pressing forward “W” and jump “space bar”
  • Focus aim (right click hold)
  • 3 weapons plus a hand grenade:
    • Holster (1 key)
    • Pistol (2 key)
    • Machine Gun (3 key)
    • Grenade (g)

Note: Cover, shooting, grenade, animations, and AI systems were all part of a package provided as part of the course.

Designing the Level

Level Flow

Using the set level flow I worked out how I wanted my level to progress:

  1. Explore the campsite area
  2. Jump down across the broken bridge and defeat the small guard at the abandoned mining building
  3. Explore the rundown mine and surrounding buildings
  4. Descend down the steep slope into the valley and explore and defeat the enemy within the town
  5. Explore the town to find the location of the treasure.

Before starting this project, I gathered some reference images for how I wanted the level to look. I knew I wanted a mixture of natural and more urban areas with the enemy being clustered around the urban areas.


Before starting the blockout I gathered as much reference as I could to give me a greater understanding of how I wanted the layout to look and feel.

Design Techniques:

Starting Point and Vistas

From the very beginning, the players is guided through the level by the environment. Key landmarks and vistas are used throughout the level to show the player where they need to go. To get the most out of the vista reveals I funnel the player through a narrow environment before revealing the new area to the player to make the reveal more rewarding to the player.

Exploration space

When designing the placement of the collectables and environmental storytelling moments I thought about a player’s golden path. I used this as the base for the collectables placement, some are placed directly on the main path, others are placed just off it to encourage the player to explore and allow the player the freedom to approach the level their own way. Each exploration area has strictly determined edges in the form of canyon cliffs to help the players understand where they can explore and where not.

Environment Storytelling – Placement of Assets

As the narrative had been given to us when designing this level I decided to use environmental storytelling to build on this given narrative. Through assets placement, in the level, I have created moments of narrative to encourage the player to ask the question “what happened here?”. The narrative provides states that the player is taking on the role of the cowboy taking revenge on the person who betrayed his mother as well as competing with his sworn enemy to get to the treasure first. I decided to add environmental storytelling moments that allow the player to build a narrative of this sworn enemy being a ruthless villain who has killed everyone in search of treasure. I wanted the player to be able to build their own narrative for what has happened to the events in the level are implied and open to player interpretation rather than being set in stone and explicitly told to the player.


As with the previous assignments, I made use of local and distant landmarks to help the player navigate the space and reach the end goal. I choose to start the player in a forest area with a local landmark of the Cowboy’s tents and the natural rock monuments helping the player to navigate this overgrown, natural area. The rest of the area features man-made structures, like the rundown mining buildings and the church as distant landmarks which helps the player to navigate the combat areas of the map. Local landmarks like the water fountain in the main town area help the player quickly work out where they are when there are in the middle of a combat situation.


Players approach combat in multiple different ways like aggressive combat or the more stealthier approach. When planning the combat spaces I tried to take into account each type of playstyle and develop areas for players to flank, take cover and find high-ground as well as retreat and hide from enemies inside building which can also be used as strongholds. Though the enemy AI is a little clunky there are enough possibilities and routes for them to take to make the gameplay challenging and as a result, is rewarding for the player.

Gameplay Walkthrough

Project Gallary