MARTIN BADOWSKY » LEVEL DESIGNER
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (released Nov 2019)

This game was a level designer's dream project! I worked on a number of locations on Zeffo that feature in the second (and third) visit of the planet. I designed and blocked out the areas below, and these were then developed alongside Environment Artists, Lighters and other disciplines.

Large AAA productions involve a lot of people who contribute to the game and the level, the work you see below is the hard work of an entire team.

Zeffo - Imperial Headquarters

The Imperial Headquarters are comprised of a landing pad and a base built into a mountain on the planet Zeffo.

The Imperial HQ's purpose was to link multiple districts on Zeffo. I built the landing pad itself out of quite detailed BSP brushes, inspired by the base on Eadu in Rogue One. I then adjusted some elements of that design to work with our player metrics. I designed the path getting under it, wall-running through the middle and the climb around to get the most out of the space.
Once the player has been through the area, there is an elevator that creates a nice shortcut back for players that die to the tough Purge Trooper Commander.

Zeffo - Crash Site

The Crash Site is a lake on Zeffo into which a Venator-class Star Destroyer crashed several years before the game begins.

The Venator Crash Site was the first area I worked on. I based the angle of the crashed ship on a piece of concept art I thought looked interesting and also wasn't too close to the crashed Star Destroyers in The Force Awakens.
I spent a lot of time trying to get the approach to frame the tilted wing and also on making the lake feel as large as possible to get that view, without being a slog to traverse (also challenging because when I first blocked the space out, we didn't have swim).
It was quite challenging to fill the lake with something the player could run and jump on, so I came up with a circular piece of the engine that in my mind had broken off, which created a neat little arena and also gave the player some traversal options. It was tricky to make curved surfaces feel good, and several artists on the area helped to achieve the end result.
I'm proud of the way the area acts almost like a mini-hub with a cave secret off to the side, the Broken Wing section to explore, a path that goes off into the Imperial Dig Site and the open engine that leads into the Venator itself - there is always something new to explore when the player comes back a second and third time with new abilities!

Zeffo - Venator Wreckage

The Venator Wreckage is a large optional area that players can explore if they come back to the Crash Site lake with Jedi Flip (Double Jump).

This area was worked on by several Environment Artists and was tough to get right mainly due to making the 70 degree angle work. The angle made it tricky to get traversal to feel right with our systems and eventually using mud and dirt to flatten things out in combat areas helped a lot.
I tried to incorporate the Droid Overcharge ability into the level as well as eletrical hazards. The electrified pillars worked out pretty well as an environmental hazard that players could Force Push enemies into.

Zeffo - Broken Wing

The Broken Wing is an optional loop the player can explore - and fight a Legendary Beast in - while at the lake on Zeffo.

This area was originally meant to be the place where the player could find and acquire the Droid Overcharge ability. Overcharge was moved to the planet Kashyyyk (a room I actually designed and blocked out to teach players how to use Overcharge to power things up and then shut them down) and the area became an optional with a large reward.

Zeffo - Imperial Dig Site

The Imperial Dig Site is an area underneath Zeffo that leads to the Tomb of Miktrull. Along the way, the player meets and fights the Second Sister.

I really love railing-less bridges, abysses and Stormtroopers falling into them ever since I saw A New Hope (and played Rebel Assault II), and so I wanted to have a space in which players could fulfill that fantasy.
I'm really happy with the way the level runs along the chasm, pointed at the eventual goal, and the player criss-crosses it and works their way around, seeing it from multiple angles.
I also cannot stress enough how passionate the Environment Artist on this level was, pushing me to make the Boss Arena more central despite it being more work for him, and how much of the environmental storytelling he brought to the table such as the giant decapitated Zeffo statue and then the railing system carrying the head piece.

Zeffo - Tomb of Miktrull

The Tomb of Miktrull is a large underground tomb in which the player acquires, and then learns how to use, Force Pull.

This level was all based around the player needing, learning and then using Force Pull. The entire space was based around the ability, and was inspired by the way Zelda Temples show players objects they cannot interact with yet, and then recontextualize those areas once the player gets the ability and returns with it.
I prototyped several puzzle elements I thought would be fun to use Force Pull on, and the one that kept sticking out was a simple cube that was on fire, and using it to burn obstacles while avoiding water. Breath of the Wild had recently been released and the chemistry engine in that game was a big inspiration for being able to create less scripted puzzles by making solid singular elements that interacted with each other, leading to multiple solutions. There were a lot of these elements, and it was when the Lead Level Designer suggested throwing one of the Candles into a Magnet to bypass a Waterfall that things started clicking into place. From there, all of the steps the player needed to know to solve the central puzzle had to be taught backwards individually.
Throughout the game we worked hard to make sure that the entire planet was in real world space (the 3D Map kept us honest), and so the final touch of taking the elevator all the way up and popping out to face the Weathered Monument was a nod to the excellent Firelink Shrine elevator in the first Dark Souls.