Initially started out as a project for one of my university courses back in 2016, where we were supposed to create a software piece and then test it with a team. I chose SOMA for the interest of being able to create something atmospheric and creepy. Since I was just starting out programming and level design, it was a great learning experience.

After successfully passing the course I ended up putting the project on hold to focus on other projects, before deciding to pick it up again 2 years later to refine and finish it.


My tasks

  • Constructing the initial block-out
  • Adding set-dressing and tweaking lighting to the level
  • Creating scripted sequences, monster encounters and puzzles

Tools used

  • HPL3 Engine
  • HPL3 Scripting language

Level Design

The player is tasked with exploring a spaceship where it’s crew has mysteriously disappeared. During the journey, players have to solve puzzles and face different enemies. The level has several small hub areas where the player is free to explore the environment to find his next destination and also linear sections where the player has one clear path, usually blocked off by enemies.

When coming back to refine the level, I ended up overhauling huge majority of the areas. Improving the general look and feel of the level design and detailing areas. It was interesting to see how far along I have come with two short years. The overhauled areas not only looked better, but they were more interesting for the player to navigate through.


Level Flow & Scripting


The players main task is to escape from the ship, and in order to do so he has to get to the emergency shuttles. But due to the ship being in emergency quarantine lockdown, the area is shut off. In order to get access, the player has to take a detour to the generator room to turn off the emergency power present on the ship, after which the player has to find his way back. Upon returning to the areas he previously visited, the players discover that during his absence they have changed, with the lighting being more limited and several enemies being present in the area now.

Through out the level there are also some smaller puzzles (such as finding correct number combinations for keypads) and scripted sequences to both challenge the player and also to make the area feel alive. The scripted sequences are mainly designed to creep out the player, making them feel like they are stuck in a claustrophobic area with numerous hostile creatures.

Example of the area overhauls I did after coming back to the project 2 years later.