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Sea of Clouds

Level Design Solo Project

This level was made in Unreal Engine 5 over a period of two weeks.

I was free to create any level I wanted as long as I abided by the following constraints: only simple geometry and flat colors could be used, and the only mechanic available to the player is walking.

Since all the player could do in this level was walk, I wanted to create an interesting place for them to walk through. I settled on the theme of "space-fantasy trading-post" after a visit to an outdoor shopping mall with a planetarium attached to it.

With the idea in mind, I started with some basic sketches and diagrams detailing what areas to include in the level.

A sky-dock with flying boats was a necessity for a fantasy trading-post in the sky. I also wanted to include a marketplace so that the player could experience regular people living in this setting. I also added the location I called the "Astrarium", which includes a giant glowing model planet that will be visible to the player from the very beginning of the level and serve as a beacon as to where the player should go.


A level layout with the level areas and their connections. Used as a reference for the first pass of the in-engine block-out.


A molecule map showing the connections between areas

  • Solid lines represent a direct path between areas

  • Dotted lines mean that one area can be seen from another

Basic sketches of the included areas using simple shapes

The basic idea of what I want to make

  • Rough sketch

  • Concept art for inspiration

  • A list of areas I want to include

For the first pass block-out, the most important thing was getting the rough idea done quickly so I could get playtesting feedback. The first pass uses mostly white or default materials, cubes for props and objects, and text labels to help the play-tester use their imagination to fill in the gaps (both metaphorical and literal).


Over the course of several passes, the feedback I got was mainly about players being unsure of where they should go. To solve this, I did my best to make the correct route more clear with lighting and interesting sights, and block the incorrect routes with objects and make them less interesting to look at. The goal was to give the illusion of space while constraining the actual play-space to a small-ish area.

I also added more artistic, environmental touches over time, such as buildings in the background to give the feel of a city, fence-posts with rope on the docks and in the museum, and other tidbits to make the space feel more interesting to move through.

Comparison of FIRST to FINAL pass

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