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Level Summary

"Bulldozer" is a Half-Life 2 level of my creation that takes place within the public library of City 17. The player is tasked by Alyx to shut down the combine's communication tower and retake the library for the resistance.
This is a single-player level developed by me for 15 minutes of gameplay. The level uses destructibles to encourage changing the player flow and features a nemesis enemy in the form of an APC.
Development Time:
Team Size:
12 weeks

Initial Concept

As a starting basis, I used the New York Public Library as a reference for planning out the shape and room layout of my own library. I then began iterating for gameplay on top of this design. My own building was smaller than the real-life version so I changed the layout around slightly.
After the high-level planning, I started plotting out gameplay and the critical path through the space. Here's a snippet ofthe path before the library walls begin exploding from the APCs.
The core of my building and exterior design largely remained the same as my paper plan. The smaller details of the map changed a lot through iteration. The stairway connecting the two floors went through multiple changes to provide a simpler interior layout. I also changed a lot of the exterior buildings and streets to provide a better contrast against the building itself. The roof of the building went through a full rework as well since I felt the space was being underutilized. I added two skylights and a large landmark tower that I created out of BSP. The skylights both help with the interior lighting and provide a way for enemies to enter the building that isn't on the ground floor.

Design Goals

Changing Player Flow

I wanted to use destructibles to change the player's path as the level continued on. Players have the opportunity to form a mental map of the space before a climactic final fight.

Persistent Boss Enemy

I designed around a nemesis threat lurking in the background of the level during play. I scripted an APC car to serve as this threat and culminate in one final battle.

Changing Player Flow

Mental Map Pre-Destruction

Here is one example. Players first explore this hallway based on where they are able to go. Once the first wave of destruction kicks in that path opens up revealing more pathways and alternate cover positions.

Incorporating the Enemy

Once the APC crashes through the walls the flow changes further. The balcony is destroyed and creates a new route between floors. This route will change one final time when the APC smashes through the ramp it created on its first pass.

Persistent Boss Enemy


When the level starts the APC will travel along the road. While this guides the player's vision to focus on the library it also serves as foreshadowing. Later on in the level the APC will sporadically fire into the building at the player.

Interacting with Destructibles

To build on the destruction mechanic I use it as the main method of fighting back against the APC. First by teaching players to drop chunks onto the top of the APCs then later by incorporating it into the design of the final arena.


What Went Well

  • My concept was very strong from the paper planning. Building with vehicles in mind on paper made implementing them much smoother.
  • Using destructibles worked really well for spawning new groups of enemies, I rarely ever needed spawn closets.

What Went Wrong

  • I had a difficult time limiting myself to building purely within the metrics I set at the start of production. I kept expanding outwards to include neighboring buildings and walls.
  • The pacing of the level feels off. I wanted a climactic finale but I found that it's a lot of combat that lasts a long time with no breaks.

What I Learned

  • The importance of cover. I started out by taking too much of the player's cover away making the fights really difficult.
  • In-game feedback is incredibly important so players are not confused. I used ParticleFX to convey levels of damage to the APC.


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