After laying out a couple of the issues the design of Last Light was facing last week, a design meeting was held between myself, Chris, the team’s lead designer, and Scott, who was also brought on board this semester. As the first order of business, Scott and I brought up very similar concerns about the current state of the darkness monster, wondering how we were supposed to design around it almost always being present while keeping it threatening. In order to resolve this, we decided to revert the enemy back to something more conventional: an entity that could be defined as a moving point.
We made this shift based off of the assumption that the enemy would now be able to wander around, but only in dark areas. However, we had to now consider how the player would interact with it directly. What would happen if the player shined their flashlight at it? What about if they dropped a flare near it? I did bring up that the first time I heard about Last Light last semester, I was under the impression that it sort of operated like the thing from SCP Containment Breach.
A clip of Markiplier playing SCP Containment Breach
The main enemy in this game can only move when the player is either blinking or looking away from it; the player blinks when their “blink meter” runs out, though they can manually blink by hitting the spacebar. Basically, my idea was to replace “eye contact” with the player’s flashlight; the player would need to keep their light pointed at it to keep it at bay. Chris also mentioned the idea of having the monster “dissipate” after a while of being hit with light, having it reconstitute itself somewhere in the level a short time later. We agreed that it would be a good idea, keeping the player on their toes in regards to the enemy’s location.
A system flowchart of the enemy’s new behavior
We couldn’t help but notice another similarity to Alien: Isolation here- the player is given a flamethrower to temporarily fend off the xenomorph. After its use, the alien jumps back into the vents, only to crawl around and inevitably drop down elsewhere later.
Chris was also wondering about the function that flares would serve in this new context; would they damage or halt the monster? Scott and I agreed, thinking that to be a logical extension of the rules. I also added, though, that flares might serve a similar purpose to smoke grenades in Counter-Strike. I had been working on a CS:GO map with my roommate recently, and he had mentioned that high-level players would often use smoke grenades in choke points and narrow areas in order to discourage enemy players from moving through the area.
A CS:GO player breaks down smoke grenade points in a map, and explains their utility
I proposed that we could make areas that the player would need to “defend” or move about, which would have more than one way to enter. A flare, in this single-player context, would serve as a “smoke grenade” against the monster, closing off one avenue for it to move.
After getting this resolved, we moved on to discussing other systems and the narrative. I think, though, that the antagonist was the biggest piece of the puzzle; it seems more interesting already, and we’ll be working with our team’s programmers in order to hopefully make it even more threatening.