For my second personal project, I made a game in the Unreal Engine called Neon Arena. It’s a game for everyone who’s ever looked at the gap between two buildings and thought “I could jump that”, a parkour game in the style of Mirror’s Edge or Brink. Players move through the environment to track down “Beacons” to earn cash, and try and get as much cash as possible before the timer runs out. I wrote five blog posts about it:
- The similarities between Mirror’s Edge and Half-Life 2, and how that’s informed Neon Arena.
- The implementation of the Wallboost Mechanic
- Studying levels in Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst to inform Neon Arena’s design
- Implementing the Drone AI.
- Level Design Paradigms
In Neon Arena, you earn money both from collecting beacons, and from running when the enemies – bug-like flying drones – can see you. The player thus needs to balance avoiding the drones – so they can’t taser you to stop you – with staying in view of them to earn the money, which is best done with clever ducking and diving.
Two levels with very different layouts are included: one built around a central pit, one along a waterfront. I wanted to balance large open spaces (move fast, but easy to see) with narrow interiors (move slowly, easy to hide) and provide enough cover for players to duck out of the way to avoid or ambush drones. I also wanted to plan out easy “flow” routes for players – paths through the level that would be complex but satisfying to run. For more detail about the level design, see the blog posts above.