Dying To Get Out is a map I made with co-op in mind, for the game "Dying Light". The main objective of this map is to find a way out of the quarantine alive. The players will get their quests mainly from a survivor that they save from a group of bandits that are holding him captive. From him they get quests to follow and finally find a way out of the town. I tried to not hold the players' hand in the objectives but still tried to encourage them to utilize the different forms of gameplay from Dying Light, such as firearms, melee and of course the thing Dying Light is most famous for - the parkour.
Dying Light Custom Map
Made in Dying Light Developer Tools
Scripted in PSXL and SCR
Created in 4 weeks half-time
Making a small open world
The main campaign of Dying Light uses a couple of really big maps. The gameplay reflects that openness in it's freedom of gameplay. Having to do something similar during only four weeks in a completely new editor proved to be a challenge.
The editor has a playable zone, that you can use to restrict the player's movement, but I thought that would only feel cheap.
I tried to enclose the player in natural ways that didn't feel too far off. I placed buildings that the players could see in the horizon and had the map be surrounded by big roads and tunnels. Those are places that would be obvious for the people responsible for the quarantine to close off with barricades.
But if I placed barricades everywhere I didn't want the players to go, it would just look weird. This forced me to make a couple of building unclimbable and put barbed wire on all the fences around the map which hindered the player from jumping out of the map's boundaries. With the buildings are managed quite well. When I was playtesting with other people no one thought they never felt restricted by invisible walls. I made the buildings high enough to feel naturally unclimbable but still fit in the scene.
Building the layout of the map was the biggest challenge I faced. The building-pieces were for the most part not very modular, the naming convention wasn't very clear and the fact that some pieces didn't snap while others did, made it very tedious to build something specific.
This resulted in a mistake I made. Actually building my map was so hard that I made things that were never used. The actual playable area was pretty small and I had parts of the map that were never really used. When I had become more used to the editor I changed the layout and the flow of the map improved a whole lot.
The hardest thing for me to make was the Highway. It felt as if the developers had used a spline-tool to make it, but in the editor they instead used the road they made for the main game, and chopped up the pieces they had. To figure out what roads fit together with which piece was hard. Then when I managed to find a piece that fit, I had to try to make it fit in with the town where the player is during most of the playtime.
With Co-op in mind
When designing this map I wanted each player to not be completely restricted to each other, but in keypoints they should gather up again. This is why I designed the town and quests to have something of a funnel-like design that is repeated during the map. What I mean with this is that I use a small area that later opens up to a big one, that goes to another smaller area and so on. The quests are also designed with this in mind. I tried to have the quests be pretty open and not just say where and what to do exactly. One example is the first quest where I the objetive was simply be to find some kind of way out. This leads the player to the workshop that the bandits had overrun, and clearing them out becomes the new quest.
To have the players cooperate in combat I placed many gas canisters and traps that they could use together to defeat their foes. One person throws the canister, and the other blows it up. This way the players will feel that they overcame something together and not just that they did something cool on their own.
But designing those scenarios weren't very easy. The main game of Dying Light doesn't change at all when you play it co-op, so to have specific challenges that only could be done in co-op wasn't exactly possible. That's why I leaned heavily to making the combat encourage cooperation with these combat-scenarios. The other problem that arose because of this was balancing.
As I touched on before, the enemies aren't stronger in co-op, so the game is pretty easy when you have a friend with you. Because of this I had all the enemies be high-level and tried to balanced the weapons accordingly. The map never really felt truly challenging with co-op, but neither did the main game. I instead focused on making the map fun to play and have it play out like a power fantasy.
Quests and scripts
I didn't want the quests to feel stale and be like a check-list of things to do that the players don't really know why they are doing it. The solution was encouters outside of objectives and having a quest giver. With a quest giver the reasons for the quests became more obvious. I wanted the players to not feel like I was the one telling them what to do. Instead they should feel natural and obvious for the player, like the objectives were the same thing they would've done without a quest telling them to do it. Having a quest giver strike a deal with the player felt like a natural way to solve this. Do these things for me and I will help you find a way out of the town, basic but understandable.
In these quests I didn't want a lot of arbitrary steps, such as ”kill all the zombies here”, when the real objective was ”turn on the power”. Instead I had enemies in quest locations or had them spawn when getting to a specific step in the quest line. This made the map feel more alive and not constructed for only gameplay.
The questline that I made for this map follows the player's journey out of the quarantine. The first quest the player gets is to simply search the map to look for a way out. While wandering the player gets attacked by bandits when they get to the workshop on the other side of the town square. Here the player gets the quest to clear the workshop of bandits and save the quest giver; the mechanic Niklas.
He will thank you for helping him, but when asked about a way out he will request that the player turns on the main power in town, because his own generator will soon die. The switch for the main power is in the opposite side of town. The main way to get there is through a overrun street full of zombies. The house with the power switch is locked and to do it safely the player has to have back-up from his co-op partner, or clear the area. When the power is switched on, a lot of virals will be alerted and attack the player!
Get back to Niklas and he will thank you again, but he still has one request from you. He asks you to check in on his friend and get some blueprints from him. There the player does not get a friendly greeting from this Niklas' friend. He seems to have been killed by some bandits, that attacks the player. Here I didn't give the player a quest marker that just points to where the blueprints are. The player will instead get a zone to search for it in.
When the blueprints are found and given to Niklas he will finally reveal his way out. He gives you some car keys for a truck that is on the highway above the town. Now the player just has to get there.
Of course the highway is also completely overrun by a horde of zombies.
But not only the common ones - a Demolisher awaits the player by the truck at the end of the highway! I made a small arena for the player to fight the Demolisher and even gave the boss a health-bar. When he is defeated the player can finally leave the town and is free! This is the end of the map.
The way the quests were made was completely new to me. In one file I wrote all text and descriptions I needed and in a PSXL-file I used the text from the other file to write the objectives. It was a way I wasn't used to at all, but it was fairly simple. The biggest problem was the lack of documentation, so I had to figure out a lot of it on my own. Apart from this way to script I could also use triggers, which were made inside the editor in a easy way.
I had real fun making this map and I'm proud for the fact that I managed to make such a big map with a lot of different gameplay and sequences. This is the first thing that I've released to the public on the steam workshop and the reception I've gotten has been very positive, with over a thousand views!