Creating a Sci-fi Lab Room: Props to Bring a Level to Life

In today’s article, I will continue discussing the thought process behind the Sci-fi Lab Room level design. Be sure to check the article down below to follow along!

Note: This entire room was made with assets from Filebase.

Filling the Gap

After completing the main ceiling, there was a gap I needed to fill. This was leftover since the floor was used as a base for the ceiling and it wasn’t completely symmetrical to the entranceway.

By using some more assets from Filebase I was able to put together an overdoor with some organic variation.

Creating a Doorway

The entranceway was the final gap to cover, and of course, a room wouldn’t be complete without a door. I repurposed some of the floor assets to make a wall and got a door asset from Filebase to complete the structure.

Adding Props

Props, as I like to call them, are assets that are specified in the scene to add life and realism to the environment. They also help us communicate with the player about the kind of setting they’re in.

I wanted to make this area feel more like a lab and less of an ambiguous sci-fi room. As it was before, it could literally be anything from a hangar to a med bay or even a base of some sort. To achieve this, I introduced some elements that form part of a centerpiece. The elements included terminals, smaller ones that are placed in corners, and larger ones that surround three test tubes as if the machinery is being used to study their contents.

Assets to Accentuate a Centerpiece

Building a level or area around a centerpiece that you wish to highlight is extremely useful for planning and outlining your level. You can structure your scene to support this point of interest, and you can set up your level in a way that organically attracts the player to it.

In this case, the centerpiece will be some gigantic specimen/test tubes, because who doesn’t love an ominous encasement full of questionable green ooze?

Star Wars(A cloning center)

Whenever I play a horror game, test tubes are always a point of interest, you’re easily drawn to them because of the natural curiosity(and fear!) to know what’s inside. I will revisit this concept later when I actually go over the thought process behind lighting and ambiance.

Staircases and Altar

To highlight the test tubes, even more, the floor beneath them was duplicated to form a raised sort of “altar” area. The center tube was placed atop a base to further emphasize it.

More Support Struts

I had previously made some struts for the ceiling, but these are support struts for the hanging terminals, and they needed to be more pipe-like. I used an entirely different asset for this and manipulated it until I got this result.

I also duplicated the Support asset to add more complexity. It might look a bit messy at first glance, but when looking at it from the player’s perspective, it looks just right.

As designers or developers, we always see the smoke and mirrors behind the fantastical game worlds we build, so it’s important to take off the level designer goggles and jump into the player's perspective every once in a while.

That’s it for today's article! In the next article, I will be going over environmental colliders and then we get into some really cool stuff with lighting!

Follow me for more Unity Dev articles! I am currently covering a series of Level Design Documentation, and I will be adding Narrative Design articles soon as well!

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Dennisse Pagán Dávila

An ambitious narrative designer seeking to learn more about game development and software engineering. In this documentation hub, I share my skills and learning