Cityscape is powered by Valve’s Source Engine, created almost entirely in the Hammer Editor. The map is an experiment in the psychological well-being of players when exposed to varying systems of color, space, and light. The architecture consists of a predominant metal tower that rises high above the surrounding city. In the upper half of the tower, there are four levels of progression, with the last stage being the very top. Each stage gradually shifts in terms of space and color to subtly motivate the player to progress upwards, without the use of physical hazards such as enemy AI or passive dangers.
Even though I’m not a composer by any means, I had fun putting together a five part musical score for the in-game soundtrack. I call it Spiral Arm because it reminds me of outer space. The final part of the score is in the trailer, and can heard when the player finally reaches the top of the tower.
The colors and textures throughout the map are very alien, with bluish metals, dark tiles, and stark lighting. The architecture itself is gothic influenced, with elaborate columns, intricate spikes, and expansive halls and passageways. Every stage of the map combines the aura of a dingy medieval church with a foreign alien glow, thus lending itself to elements of science-fiction horror. Strong inspiration for this map also comes from the HL2 citadel, as many of the same textures are used; however, the architecture and theme is entirely different. Also, unlike the citadel, this towering structure fits within the confines of a single map, allowing a player to traverse anywhere from 2500 feet above the city to 300 feet below the surface.
An ominous four-sided door opens to the first stage. The narrow walkways extend out into a metal abyss, with cramped tunnels emerging throughout the labyrinthine maintenance system. The primary light here is a subtle green, which provokes a sickly feeling in the player, making them very uneasy and uncomfortable. The overall space is very closed-in and claustrophobic. Ideally, the player is unnerved in every possible way (with light, space, and color), eventually forcing them to move upwards via a maintenance ladder.
The passages on this level are still narrow in space, but the incredibly high ceilings offer some relief, and suggest upward progress. The primary color here is a fluorescent blue, which, while not as uncomfortable as the green, still feels stark, barren, and cold. Every once in a while the player will catch a glimpse of the horizon outside, but will have no gauge of height. Only until he reaches the air dock, is the true massiveness of the structure revealed.
After progressing up another ladder, the player is now much more free to move about, as the space here is entirely open. However, the player is still somewhat confined by dense structures and heavy columns. The light here is a much brighter blue compared to the level below, and the openness of the architecture allow the player to see the outlying landscape with its orange hue very clearly.
After ascending up an elevator platform, the player finally reaches the very top. The space here is entirely open, offering no claustrophobic passages or foreboding columns. The color is primarily orange, and the player can witness a gentle sun on the horizon and an outlying city surrounding him. Featured at the very top is the Core, which presumably gives power to the entire tower. This level is ideally the most comfortable environment psychologically, as it is free from uncomfortable light and cramped space. Only now can the player truly realize the sheer height of the structure upon which he is standing.
EXTERIOR & GROUND LEVEL
Shown hear are some additional exterior shots of the entire tower, as well as the ground level, which opens up into a deep cavernous abyss.