Creating a Sci-fi Lab Room: Depth and Ceiling

In the previous article, I talked about adding variety in level design by simply repurposing assets and creating prefabs out of them. In today’s article, I will review the thought process that allowed me to create an entire sci-fi lab room using this method.

Creating the Columns

Don’t worry, I aligned the floor better later 👀

I wanted this room to have more life to it rather than looking like some sort of glorified box, I also wanted there to be a sense of grandeur and importance expressed through its size. Previously, I mentioned how narrow pathways that lead to open areas create a sense of expectation that piques the player’s interest and incentivizes exploration. By designing the level to have a simple hallway leading into a large complex area, we can easily achieve this goal through juxtaposition.

Adding Columns is a great way to add verticality and depth, not to mention that these boring ol’ flat walls will have more life and personality now.

Note: I will explore adding height further in the ceiling section of the article.

I downloaded some column assets from Filebase , and kitbatched myself a pretty nice-looking column.

Putting them together by using shortcuts:

Before

After

The column object I put together was saved as a prefab and duplicated.

By using the same column prefab and a floor asset, I was able to create an entrance archway that serves as a transition from the hallway to the open area.

Note: To alter an existing prefab into an entirely new one, you must unpack it. I suggest duplicating it prior to this.

The verticality of columns in combination with archways can make a room feel more spacious and adds height.

Creating the Hallway Ceiling

Starting with the hallway, I duplicated the floor as a base so that I could properly align all the necessary elements.

After duplicating the ceiling, I proceeded to add and swap more assets to create accents that add a sense of depth. It’s important to provide details to express the kind of environment the player is in — it might be easy to overlook ceilings when level designing, but they still form part of the immersion. Furthermore, if you’re an environmental storyteller, this is extremely essential.

Note: I mention swapping assets, while I previously discussed how to do this manually, when using Filebase, you can do this automatically by using the Replace Prefabs Plugin. With this, you simply select the asset you want to swap from your scene, then use the pllugin’s interface to select its replacement.

Replace Prefabs Filebase Plugin in action:

Creating the Main Ceiling

The ceiling for the main area followed the same process as the hallway ceiling, however, I added even more detail here.

Adding Pipes

This main area is meant to be a lab, and I wanted to communicate that to the player through details. One of the accents that can make this more apparent is to add a series of pipes going along the ceiling. If you take a look at real-life labs, they often have a ton of pipes going in different directions, this is usually due to the machinery used in the facility.

Note: I will also be adding props to the level which will make the lab part obvious, but we don’t want to sacrifice small details for the bigger ones.

Adding Struts

By repurposing the columns and following the same techniques I was able to add even more detail to the ceiling. The struts add more depth and a sense of height.

The struts are aligned with columns, except for the center which is aligned with the ceiling tile.

With this, the ceiling is complete! The next article will cover the doorway of the lab room as well as some more assets that will be added to fill up the room.

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