BioShock – Level Design Project – Reference

Around 6 years ago I began working on an idea for a personal level design project based on the original BioShock. I always wanted to make a level for BioShock as I imagined a story focused DLC being released for the first game. Shortly after I started however, my son was born and the project slipped into the misty realms of parent brain fog!

Strangely enough, I came across a lot of my files recently while sorting through my hard drive and managed to sort through a lot of what I started. I thought about it a little and and decided I wanted to start up the project again and document my process and work flow. Plus it would give me some a chance to delve back into Unreal after using Unity for quite a while.

World building: Rapture

BioShock launch trailer (2007)


Bioshock is one of my all time favorite games and I always wanted to design a level which would introduce the player to the a DLC

Where ever you look, Rapture is always trying to tell a story through its environment. Its alive and the city itself is arguably the most important character in the game. I always loved how Rapture is constantly reminding you of where you are, far beneath the ocean in a crumbling city. Its sustained struggle to hold back the relentless pressure of the water. As a player, you can hear the city groaning under the weight of the water as the blue filtered light fills the environments.

Fig.1 An example of Environmental storytelling in BioShock

Reference is key!

I decided (yes this is crazy) I would begin by reverse engineering the iconic Lighthouse by spending a huge amount of time walking round in game taking screen grabs, writing notes and testing scale. I’ve included a small sample of the reference material I gathered during my exploration.

Exterior reference

Interior reference

Bathysphere bay

From here, I began by creating an asset list of all the static mesh actors I could find and began the process of modeling the various aspects that constitute the Lighthouse.

I think that’s it for this post but I’ll be back with an update on modelling and level layout.

Thanks for reading!

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