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As part of my environment design module, I have been tinkering with simple trap and puzzle ideas and have tested out some ideas in Unreal Engine 4. These traps and puzzles will hopefully be applicable in my dungeon crawler level designs.

Trap

For my first trap, I have decided to create a version of a classic trap: the dart launcher. This is the first trap encountered in the original Tomb Raider that is not an enemy. This trap is usually intended to damage the player a certain amount per hit without outright killing the player. Darts can also be modified to apply different effects on the player such as poison, stun and sleep; just like real darts!

For my own darts, I have created a dart launcher that can be edited by designers to fire standard darts or poison darts. The darts can also be given different life spans so they do not enter areas they shouldn't. The rate at which darts are fired can also be modified as well as how much damage the dart can do in one attack or over different lengths of time.

Players know if they have been struck by a dart via sound effects. For poison darts, the player hears the dart hit them, then another sound effect combined with a particle system to show that the player is taking damage over time. The poison will eventually run out and the effects will disappear.

The variables in the dart and the dart launcher could have been placed in structures to make the blueprints tidier. I could have also added the ability to edit the velocity of darts to add a new dimension to trap layouts. As for hinting to the player that these flying objects are dangerous, I could have indicated the danger beforehand by having a dart strike an unwitting NPC and kill them. This would alert the player about the potential danger before being put in a position to be hit by one. Currently, the only hint of the presence of darts is the sound of the cannon (standing in for a crossbow or some other dart throwing weapon) firing.

Puzzle

The puzzle is a simple pressure plate that controls the lowering of a door. To make the puzzle more interesting I have added functionality that requires the player to lock the door in the lowered position. This must be done by remaining on the pressure plate to keep the door lowered and firing a dart at the switch beyond the door. The switch cannot be hit without lowering the door.

To hint that the switch, represented by a statue with a torch on it, is interactable, I have added a lone version of the switch to the start of the level. This allows the player to observe the switch being struck by a dart and causing an effect. On reflection, it would have been more useful for the switch to be linked to a door or some other object in the wold to show that these can be connected to moveable objects. The switch’s presence is also not immediately obvious to the player on approaching the door and requires the player to advance right up to the door to see it. This may make it less obvious as the solution.

I would appreciate any feedback on parts I could improve or have missed.

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