Poster for Junkyard Slog

Development Info

  • Game: Left 4 Dead

  • Genre​​: Horror, Action

  • Development Time: 5 months

  • Engine: Hammer Engine


  • Scripting (finale, camera)

  • Set Dressing

  • Level Design

  • Concept and documentation




Junkyard Slog is a custom mod in Left 4 dead where the players are trying to leave the city from zombies to call for help at a junkyard. For this project, each level designer was tasked with designing one level and collaborated on overall objectives, transitions, and theme. I volunteer to design the finale level.

Design Process

Design Goals

  • Close Quarter Combat

  • Tense Atmosphere

  • Custom Camera Outro

Close Quarter Combat

Overview of Junkyard

Junkyard Overview

For the finale level, I wanted players to move throughout the junkyard. To achieve this, I started marking nav mesh that is behind the gates that are filled with cars as spawn locations for infected. At the initial gameplay milestone, playtesters reported that they didn’t have to move around because the ammo and health pickups were in a central location.

Overview of Spawn Locations

Spawn Locations

During iteration, I decided to move the pickups across from each other. Moving the pickups allowed the players to move throughout the junkyard and become surrounded but not overwhelm by enemies. Since the player is moving across the map, the number of enemies would not be the same as it was before. To fix this problem, I added more space and elevation to the level that allowed enemies to attack the players while they are moving.

Gif of close-quarter combat

Close-Quarter Combat

Gif of elevated spawning

Elevated Spawning

Tense Atmosphere

Video of Junkyard

I wanted the junkyard to feel abandoned once the player has left the safe room. To achieve this, I started looking at the level Crash Course and Death Toll for references. What I discovered is that adding fog, lights and sounds can provided a sense of abandoned and lonlieness to the level.

Guiding the player

Guiding the Player

Properties of light_spot

Light_Spot  Properties

Properties of fog

Fog properties

I used fog and light to hinder the player's light of sight but guide them to the junkyard area. I added a flicking effect to the light that is outside of the safe house and cornfields to inform the player about where they need to go. Inside the junkyard area, I increase the brightness of the light to give the appearance of safety.

Properites of ambient_generic

Cricket Sound

Properties of logic_choreographed_scene

Sound of calling for help

Once the player has stepped outside of the safe house, they will be able to hear someone asking to pick up the radio and crickets chirping. Since I am using light to guide the player, I incorporated multiple voice lines that the player can follow.

Custom Camera Outro

Since the design of the level is focused on being outside of a tunnel, I wanted to create an outro that showcases it. Once I started noticing that the standard camera was not going to provide the outro that the level needed, I started designing my own.

Properties of light_spot

Light_Spot properties

Properties of point_viewcontrol_multiplayer

Camera properties

I started researching what could follow the helicopter as it is moving. I notice that a light_spot entity can follow an object regardless if it is moving. I decided that I needed to attach a camera to this so the camera could moveable.

Gif of custom camera

Custom Camera

Once I attached the camera to the light_spot entity, the camera was able to follow the helicopter. Then, I rotated the camera slightly in front of the helicopter so the players can see the tunnel as they are leaving the level. Once the finale started, the camera will show the helicopter leaving the level with the silhouette of the tunnel is in the background.

Post Mortem

What went right?

  • Playtesters reported feeling tense and suspenseful through the level.

  • Creating a tense atmosphere by using light and fog helped set the mood for the intensity of the finale. 


  • I struggle to communicate with the player about leaving the junkyard area when the helicopter arrives. 

  • Giving visual trails to the location of the helicopter was hard to achieve.

What did I learn?

  • Focusing the combat within a small section of the level helps the intensity of each wave encounter. 

  • Using light in dark areas can guide the players along the critical path.