Mission Design Scenarios

These are samples of mission scenarios I worked on as practice based on a design test. The test gave the task of creating scenarios using a small list of predetermined games, settings, and mission types. Below are my submissions for fictional The Last of Us and Uncharted levels.

 

The Last of Us: Random Oil Platform – Set Piece

 

The mission begins after the plot of The Last of Us, following Joel and Ellie’s arrival at a small community of survivors situated near the coast. The residents do not immediately trust the duo and ask for them to prove their value in order to be let into the community, which would be a source of much needed rest. The community is low on food supplies and, more pressingly, one child is very ill and needs medicine. The community leader gives Joel a motor boat and explains there is an off-shore oil rig nearby that houses a flourishing, but exclusive, group of survivors. If Joel and Ellie can bring back food and, more importantly, medicine, they will be allowed to stay.

Mission Start: The First Platform

Cut to Joel and Ellie cruising through the waves towards an ominous looking structure off on the horizon but closing the distance quickly. Joel tells Ellie to stay on the boat when they arrive, but she is adamant on getting to explore such a once-in-a-lifetime setting. Joel eventually relents. The structure is similar to that of the Maunsell Sea Forts of England, with numerous smaller platforms connecting to a central control station via open walkways. From the angle that the due arrives at, only two of the towers are clearly visible. Joel brings the boat up to the entrance deck, noting the strange lack of security while he ties the boat to the rig. The ship is low on gas, so Joel hopes to find some gasoline for the trip back, grumbling about how kind it was of them to not leave any extra gas in the boat.

Play begins when both characters get on the entrance platform. Joel climbs up the ladder and finds that the hatchway is wide open. They enter with caution. The room is ramshackled and empty (save for some lootable draws with collectibles). They exit out into the main deck and Joel points out that the main tower has a distress beacon on. There must be people there, he reasons. The first platform they explore has no one on it, just some collectibles and signs of a struggle. Crossing the first bridge to the next platform, they begin to hear noises coming from up ahead. The second station is dimly lit by lazily blinking red emergency backup lights. The duo begins to walk through the station, when suddenly Joel grabs Ellie and pulls her down behind a table, just in time to avoid an Infected Runner walk by, growling and twitching.

The Second Platform

Joel swears under his breath and motions for Ellie to follow him closely. She doesn’t have to be told twice. Joel creeps around the room towards the exit on the other end, lit by a green emergency light. There is a large number of Runners that patrol the area. Joel could fight them or opt for the stealth route to conserve ammo, of which there has not been much of on the rig. Joel can use his superior hearing and the blinking lights to his advantage, locating the enemies with sound and planning his movements when the lights blink on, sliding to the next source of cover when darkness falls. Regardless of the path taken, Joel and Ellie reach the exit, but find it jammed shut. This is going to make some noise.

If all the Runners were killed, no worries! But if there are some left, they are going to hear this. Joel knows they will be in danger while opening the door, but they have no choice. Joel begins to turn the handle with great effort, managing to get the door open about a foot. Something is blocking it from the other side! The Runners have begun to stir behind them and Ellie suddenly slips through the crack in the door before Joel can protest. The sounds of debris being dragged and Ellie grunting can be heard from the other side of the door. Ellie looks back through the crack, telling Joel that the items barricading the door are gone but she can’t get it open. Joel begins to push and then ram the door with his shoulders. The sound alerts the runners who begin to quickly make their way towards Joel. The player mashes the displayed button on screen as fast as they can while Joel desperately attempts to get the door open. When it suddenly gives and flies open, Joel stumbles onto the open walkway, the Runners only moments behind. Ellie and Joel quickly slam the door closed, the Runners pounding on the other side. Joel holds it while Ellie puts some of the debris back in front to keep it shut. If all the runners were killed, they simply leave the door open.

 

The Wreck

Ellie and Joel discuss the situation. Clearly this location has been compromised somehow but they can’t get out of here until they find gas anyway, so they need to press on and hopefully find any survivors and the supplies they need. As they approach the central platform, they behold an astounding sight: a large ship has crashed into the tower bridge, tangled in the metal, which is preventing it from sinking. The bridge is useless, but it seems they can navigate through the ship to get to the other side. They carefully enter into the top enclosed deck of the ship by sliding through one of the windows. The source of the outbreak of infected suddenly becomes very clear. There are dozens of long-term infected in the ship. The sounds of gurgling and clicking fill the air.

As the duo begin to creep towards the other side of the ship, one of the infected suddenly walks over a weak section of floor, which gives way and falls into the darkness of the ship below, taking the infected with it. Joel grumbles under his breath that the floor must be barely holding on and he should be careful not to step on areas that sound like they are creaking and breaking. Using his hearing, Joel can determine what areas of floor are unsafe to walk on as they groan when he gets near. Joel and Ellie navigate quietly to the other end of the ship, when suddenly Ellie taps Joel’s back and points at a first aid kit on the wall. It is a little ways off, right by where the infected fell through. Knowing this could be their only chance to grab the vital medicine inside, Joel motions for Ellie to wait by the exit. Using the same methods he makes his way to the medicine. The infected have blocked his path back, however. Noticing another window to exit from, he does so, just as Ellie leaves via her exit. Joel can head back to Ellie’s window is he so chooses, but it will not be easy with all the infected in a tight bunch.

Control Tower

Joel sidles along the side of the ship and Ellie helps pull him up onto the remnants of the bridge. They head towards the control tower. When they get there, they find the door to be locked, but suddenly they hear a voice from within! A survivor! They ask to be let in, but the man inside refuses, going off on how they just want to take his ocean paradise away, just like everyone else on the shore! He is clearly mentally unstable. Joel tells him they will leave right away, but just need some gas for their boat. This sets the man off, screaming about how he will “give them gas!” Banging around and crazed laughter are heard from within. Joel, sensing danger, grabs Ellie and begins to run back to the bridge just as an explosion tears apart the control tower behind them, the man having set it off in his insane state, killing himself. Joel, having shielded Ellie from the blast with his body, looks down as she cries out, noticing a piece of metal lodged in his right arm. He gingerly, but hastily, pulls it out and quickly makes a bandage out of his arm sleeve to stop the bleeding.

The Falling Ship

The control tower platform begins to crumble and fall into the ocean, severing the bridges to the other platforms. Joel and Ellie know it’s time to find an escape and they won’t do it here. Joel yells for Ellie to run back to their boat – even without enough gas they can likely paddle the rest of the way. They race back to the ship, Joel clearly suffering from his wound and unable to use his firearm. The infected within have become active and are stumbling around randomly from the shaking and the noise. Joel and Ellie begin to quietly make their way back to the other side of the ship, but there is too much ambient noise to allow Joel to locate weak floor areas! The floor has mostly collapsed anyway, and there is only one clear way back. Just when they are almost through, the ship suddenly jerks as the bridge begins to collapse, freeing the hull from the metal of the tower. The ship tilts back, causing all the infected to slide and fall against the large windows below. Ellie suddenly slips and falls towards the writhing mass of infected, but Joel grabs her with his left arm, yelling in pain as his damaged right arm holds onto a stool that is attached to the floor.

A hatch to the outside suddenly slams open, creating a platform. Joel swings Ellie and tosses her over to it. She stands on the hatch, urging Joel to hurry! The windows below suddenly shatter and the infected all fall into the roiling ocean below, where other parts of the oil rig can be seen falling in as well. A table suddenly falls loose and gets lodged on debris below Joel, who, taking his only chance, lets go of the stool and slides down onto the table, quickly making his way to a window on the nearby wall to exit, sliding through and grabbing onto the bridge just as the ship breaks free and falls, spraying him with water as it impacts far below.

Escape

Climbing up to meet Ellie at the second station, it becomes clear that they cannot go back the way they came, as the inside is full of tumbling, deadly debris. Joel stops to think for a second and suddenly notices a single life boat – the only one left on the ship – that has been partially deployed and is hanging by ropes. Joel yells for Ellie to follow him and he swiftly climbs down the rope into the ship. Just as he begins to work the ropes loose, a Runner suddenly pops up from the ground, having been covered by a tarp. Obviously he had tried to escape the rig but had already been bitten. Joel is about to get bit from behind but Ellie suddenly stabs the infected to death as she swings off of the rope. Realizing they aren’t going to get the ropes free in time, Joel tells Ellie to hang on as he grabs a machete the Runner dropped. The player mashes the button on-screen as fast as possible to hack away at the ropes, which give way, causing the boat to drop a fair distance into the ocean below.

The entire rig is coming down; explosions and debris pepper the entire structure. Joel grabs the motor and, yelling, “C’mon, C’MON! You had better work for me!” pulls the starter cable after a button prompt. The motor, thankfully, roars to life. Joel hits the throttle and they take off over the waves, the rig groaning and shrieking as it collapses into the dark waters behind them. They arrive back at the community and explain what happened. While they lost the boat and did not get any food, it is clear that they risked their lives to get the medicine, which was the most desired item anyway. They are let in.

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Uncharted: Shevlin-Hixon Lumber Mill – Open Combat

 

Nate and Sully have once again gotten wrapped up in another crazy treasure hunt, this time involving the legendary Treasure of Tsar Radovan – said to only be opened with the usage of the mythical plant Raskovnik, which in Siberian lore is believed to have the ability to crack any lock. The missions leading up to this point have given Nate and Sully the intel that a shadowy organization believes some Native American tales in Oregon may point to the existence of Raskovnik in the US and have set up a base of operations at the abandoned Shevlin-Hixon lumber mill. In order to locate the herb, the organization is attempting to strip away areas of protected forest so as to have an easier time scouring the landscape. Nate plans to sneak in and figure out exactly what they are up to, but we all know how well his “sneaking” usually goes.

Mission Start: The Yard

Nate and Sully arrive just as the sun is starting to set, pulling their jeep into cover a ways off from the mill, which can be seen in the distance billowing out smoke and clearly in operation. Nate gets out to walk the rest of the way while Sully drives off to ready a possible escape route, but not before warning Nate against doing anything “unusually dangerous.” Nate sets off towards the mill, where the front yard is covered in old piles of wood. There are some old shacks and crumbling walls that provide cover as Nate approaches. He can either choose to engage the fair number of armed guards (who are on patrol routes) in combat, move by stealthily, or pick them off one-by-one without giving himself away. There are old cranes and storage structures that Nate can climb up and maneuver around above the yard without being seen, swinging from crane chains and sneaking through crevices.

When Nate arrives at the entrance, he observes that simply strolling through the front door might be unusually dangerous; and he certainly would hate to disappoint Sully; so it’s time to find another way in. A light can be seen from a broken window above, with a convenient network of chains and hooks that allow Nate to climb up, with old pieces of wood and metal giving way just after he leaps to the next handhold. There is a guard at the window, looking over some documents on a table. Nate can swing in and take him out, sneak by, or wait for him to come over to the window for a smoke before yanking him out of the building and to an earthy demise.

The Rafters

The room proves to be a loft that connects to rafters over-looking the main production floor of the mill, with some large saws whirring and cutting wood that comes in and then leaves out into the river to be moved. Nate sees the office at the other end of the building and figures that’s the best place to find info and a way to hamper their progress. The stairs down to the ground floor are guarded by a fairly large number of armed men. Nate can either engage in combat to get by (there is no stealth option there) or climb along the rafters that lead the office, which is situated above the production floor. If he chooses the former, he will engage the guards of the mill in open combat, having to use the moving logs, saws, furniture, and other fixtures as cover.

If he crawls along the rafters, doing some minor acrobatics to reach non-decayed parts as he does, eventually there is a bottleneck on the path and, while crossing over it, the rotting wood suddenly breaks and Nate tumbles towards the floor. He lands on the broken beam, narrowly missing the whirring teeth of large saw. Collecting himself as he stands up, he finds himself face-to-face with a PDW held by a guard who is shouting and telling him to freeze. Nate slowly straightens up as the guard approaches; the other guards are also starting to take aim. Just as the first guard gets within a few feet of Nate, he is blinded as Nate suddenly blows two fistfuls of sawdust at him that he surreptitiously took from the floor. The guard begins to fire blindly as the other guards engage in combat, but not before Nate quickly leaps behind nearby cover, drawing his firearm and cursing his luck.

Combat

Nate begins to fight off the enemies, finding some cases of ammo and grenades in storage near his cover. There are some options for contextual takedowns in the environment, such as grabbing a small log and smacking an enemy over the head with it, swing-kicking an enemy using a low-hanging chain, and throwing a grappled enemy into a pile of logs that fall on him. When all the enemies are defeated, the office is unlocked and opens to reveal a heavy weapon enemy, who has decided to investigate the disturbance and enters into the area.  Nate can engage him head on, or wait for the enemy to approach any of the logs hanging from the ceiling, which Nate can use as a rams to stun him and allow him to lay down some serious damage.

After the enemy is defeated, Nate enters the office and finds a map of the area with some notes and locations marked. He only has time to quickly copy it down into his notebook before a large man suddenly grabs him from behind. Following QTE melee prompts, Nate fights him in close quarters. Nate grabs a rafter’s hook from the wall and beats the enemy back, but ultimately he is tackled and both are sent through the window of the office, falling towards the river below. Both of them land on a log that is moving swiftly down the river with other pieces of timber. They uneasily get to their feet and engage in more QTE CQC; Drake is given the prompt to use his hook to knock the enemy off into the drink, which he does.

The River

The current has picked up now and Nate has to balance on the log as it cruises down the river. Occasionally the log he is riding will be on a collision course for some obstructions in the river, which can be evaded by jumping to another log or following a prompt to use the hook to move his log out of harm’s way, though if it’s too cramped it won’t be possible. While doing so and traveling down the river, gun shots suddenly ring out from behind Nate, who turns around to see a large number of enemies hopping towards him on logs, eerily persistent as always, which Nate laughs about anxiously. There is no cover, so evasion is the primary tool against being shot, which still has to be balanced with navigating the away from obstructions in the river. As Nate requires both hands to hold the hook, firing his gun is not an option. Very soon, however, a roar of an engine is heard and Sully suddenly pulls up alongside the river, driving the jeep and firing at some enemies. Some words are exchanged between the two old friends, but it becomes clear that there isn’t an easy way for Nate to get over to Sully.

As they continue down the river, more and more armed and unarmed enemies start coming at Nate, even as Sully helps kill some off. When they get near Nate, the option to use the rafter’s hook as a melee weapon is given via QTE, which allows him to knock the enemies’ logs around and send them into the river, or simply catch them with the hook and push them off. Nate can melee any enemies who jump onto his log using his hook. After a short while of this, with more and more enemies coming, Sully is suddenly engaged by an enemy vehicle and is forced to pull away from the river. Nate watches this with concern, but his attention is suddenly torn away as a loud roaring can be heard behind him. He turns to look up the river and sees that the logs have gone down the wrong fork and are heading towards a large waterfall! There is a wire going across the peak of the falls that connects to parts of an abandoned building, possibly an old dam. A button prompt is given and Nate leaps out off from his log at the last second, hook extended, and latches onto the wire, kicking an enemy holding onto his leg that tumbles down the falls after a swift hit. Other enemies plunge down the waterfall below as Nate carefully climbs up the hook and grabs onto the wire, making his way back to the shore just as Sully arrives, having lost his pursuers. Nate jumps in the jeep and jokes about the level of danger as Sully chastises him. They take off towards the forest as Nate deciphers the notes he took.