Early in development, I actually took a trip to Seattle to explore the subway stations and the coastal area (and to take lots of reference pics!).

On The Last of Us Part II, I was a level designer. My duties included:

  • Being the owner/vision holder and producer for levels
  • Creating level layouts (whitebox/greybox/blockmesh)
  • Scripting gameplay sequences such as interactive cut scenes, environment puzzles, etc.
  • Buddy scripting (where to go, where to look, etc)
  • Combat scenario setup and scripting
  • Resource and upgrade placement
  • Collaborating closely with environment artists, animators, programmers, etc.
  • Work with writers on what characters should say to reinforce gameplay
  • So much more!

I got everything to an alpha state (fully playable and playtested) before I left Naughty Dog. Other designers took the levels to completion. An enormous amount of work goes into finishing a Naughty Dog level and I am eternally grateful to the designers and other team members who saw them through to completion.


The Tunnels (Ellie)

My biggest contribution to TLOU2 was probably The Tunnels level where Ellie and Dina are trying to escape human enemies and have to take a detour through Seattle subway tunnels. Inside, they find a ton of infected and encounter the Shambler for the first time.

The initial combat scenario is one of the few fights in the game where human and infected NPC's interact. I wanted to let players choose to either engage directly or play "puppet master" by throwing items to attract Clickers to human enemies.

I wanted the tunnels to feel claustrophobic and scary, especially leading up to the Shambler reveal. Foreshadowing it's arrival, you hear human victims being killed by a kind of infected never heard before. Shortly after the reveal where players see what it can do, they have to fight it armed with an idea of what it is capable of doing.

This level also included the very important story beat where Ellie breaks her mask in a spore infested area. I had to setup that moment setup properly and also the dramatic chase/escape while carrying Dina.

Time range: 4:27:16 - 4:49:23

 

 

The Coast and Return to the Coast (Abby)

The first level I worked on, this level features Abby traversing along the (now demolished) three story freeway along the coastal area of Seattle on her way to the aquarium and ferris wheel. A significant chunk was removed from the middle of this level after I left Naughty Dog, but it probably improved the pacing.

I was very pleased that my original infected filled "ghost ship" remained toward the end of the level.

Also, I don't know if it was intentional by someone at Naughty Dog or not, but I found it touching that the collectible coin for West Virginia (my home state) was on the infected boat.

Time range: 2:24:57 - 2:37:50

 

Nora Chase (Ellie)

I inherited this level from another designer, and after I left Naughty Dog, another designer finished it. Ellie chases Nora through the hospital and falls into an infected basement. The first chase part changed significantly, but they kept some of my work. The mixed human and infected combat space in the video below (7:47:26 - 7:49:00) remains largely as I designed it.

Time range: 7:45:26 - 7:52:21