Christopher Morris   Level Design

'Sea Of Theives' -

Prosepective Islands

Unreal Engine 4

Heavily inspired by ‘Sea of Thieves' by Rare Ltd. these islands represent an exploration of island design within that title. Care has been taken to both the island silhouette from a distance and to the general shape viewed from above as these two factors impact readability and in game navigation.

In addition care was taken to assess player flow within the context of a large open game world. This means players may approach islands from a direction. While this must be taken into account it can also be a useful tool when predicting and designing around potential player interactions, as seen with the ‘Old Fort' island.

These islands were created in an Unreal Engine testbed project of my own creation using simple meshes and Unreal Engine's spline meshes. No ‘Sea of Thieves' or Rare Ltd. content was used in the production of these islands and are not represented of the content found within that title.

Broken Steps

Broken Steps is an exploration of tiered play spaces on a single island. Drawing from my experience in multiplayer shooter environments I focused on providing a high degree of mobility both on and around the island providing several routes of access, including players using ship cannons to gain access to higher parts of the island from their ships.

This approach helps create more in depth island engagements against both players and hostile AI without impacting on the core game mechanics. Care was taken to focus on and include callout locations and large areas in which chests might be buried.

The rough form of the island was informed by real world geographic features and erosion patterns. I used this to help inform the placement of flow elements such as bridges and platforms that aid in movement; this also helps form a narrative around the island.

Old Fort

A slightly unusual island compared to the standard ‘Sea of Thieves" islands. This shallow horseshoe shaped island features an old fortress as a focal point. In opposition to the standard open approach of other islands, this fort has limited approaches creating a more predictable encounter scenario.

The core design concept behind the island is rooted in my exploration of the core mechanics of ‘Sea of Thieves', in particular, the relationship between player ships and crews when faced with an environmental, AI challenge.

In this case, a large hostile ship that poses an inherent threat to player ships; a threat that requires players to work together for the greater good whilst still seeking personal gain. The concept would be for one crew to gain the attention of the hostile ship and lure it towards the fort while another crew would station the fort and bring its weapons to bear.

This would also have player vs player implications, placing the island in a high traffic area of the greater world map would pose an interesting choice; risk approaching the fort and save time, or be cautious and go around?

Crab Isle

Focusing on identification from a distance, this island was designed to have a crab like appearance, with large stone pillars being used to represent pincers and legs. The main area of the island is open, providing high visibility of the surrounding seascape while the shoreline provides a limited cover and a few places to hide.

On reflection, there is a slight discrepancy between the silhouette and the top down appearance, the latter looking more like a turtle than crab.