Portfolio - SteamWorld Build


Break ground on a new frontier as the planet dies around you!
Dig deep and build wide to excavate long-lost spacefaring technology, while ensuring everyone has the vital water, fuel and creature comforts they need!

Do you have what it takes to reach the final frontier?

My Contributions

I came into this project roughly a third into development. I was the only Level Designer working on this game.

Level Design (City)
My first task when I joined the development was to help come up with basic 3D assets that would be needed for the City Levels.
I put together a list with reference photos and quickly got untextured placeholder assets so that I could start building levels.

Soon after it was collectively decided that there would be 8 City Levels in total. To make sure all levels felt unique and memorable I put together another list of assets we would need.
I was also assisting in coming up with different themes for the levels.

Grand Gully

Level Design (Mine)
I was in charge of creating all Mine Levels in the game, each Mine Level consists of 3 Floor Levels with ramping size and difficulty.

When I joined there wasn't any clear ideas of what kind of layout would make for fun gameplay.
This meant that I would be trying out a lot of different kinds of levels and iterate on my levels.

Through 8 different Mine Levels (with 3 Floor Levels each) I would have to make sure all levels would have roughly the same length, difficulty level and the same amount of resources/treasures.
I used Unity 2D Tile Palette to create all Mine Levels. 2D Tiles would then be replaced by 3D assets ingame.

Mine Floor 1

Level Iteration
Being the lone Level Designer on the project I would have to maintain and update all 8 City Levels and all 8 Mine Levels to make sure they are all up to date and standard when necessary.

When it comes to City Levels my biggest task was to reach an understanding of how big these levels should be and what kind of space they would need.
When playing I would build optimally and estimate that the levels should be about 30% bigger than what I would personally would need.

Iterating on the Mine Levels was my biggest task during this project.

Resource Tile Count

In this screenshot my tool for checking how many of each block exist in the selected Mine Floor is shown.
After setting up a base level and getting that level to a high enough standard I would use that level as sort of a template for the remaining 7 levels.
All 8 Mine Levels would have roughly the same size across all Mine Floors

All Mine Levels where then tested continously mainly by myself but also others from the development team.
This would result in lists of issues, ideas for improvement and inconsistencies across the levels.
After each iteration more testing would be done until improvements couldn't be made.

Mine Editor

Mine Decoration
Most decoration objects in the Mine Levels are placed manually in 3D. Since the Mine Levels themselves were made in 2D I had a separate Editor Tool for placing Mine Decorations.

The Mine Decoration Editor basically renders the selected Mine Floor in 3D making it easy to place decoration and seeing how it will look ingame.
I also had help from artists with decoration placements, mainly on Swamp and Vectron Floors.

Mine Decoration Editor

In order to reach a high standard and locate areas of improvements in the level design I had to spend a lot of time on playtesting all levels.
During each playtesting session I would write down everything I found that could be improved or fixed.

I also got a lot of support with playtesting from other members of the development team, especially the design team.
Their feedback was extremely valuable to me as everyone plays the game differently and noone has the exact same experience.

Bug Reporting
While playtesting I would also come across issues not related to level design and all these issues would have to be reported in order for other disciplines to react and fix.
Lots of time was spent giving as much information as possible for each issue reported including reproduction case if possible.


  • Single player City Builder & Mine Exploration

  • PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox and Nintendo Switch

  • Developed in Unity 3D at Thunderful Games

  • Buy at Steam


  • 6-12 Hours of gameplay

  • Dual genre gameplay

  • Achievements

  • 8 Unique City Levels

  • 8 Unique Mine Levels

  • Downloadable Content

SteamWorld Build Characters

Throughout development I faced a number of challenges.
Joining the team mid-production and having very little experience with the genres.
But I was quickly able to get a feel for the game at it's early stages and understand what kind of levels the game would need.

Switching between 3D (City Editor) and 2D (Mine Editor) could also get a bit disorienting, but in the end most of the level design development had been spent in the 2D Editor.

Placing down cables between doors and levers in the Mine Editor was tedious work, it was done with splines that were then turned into 3D ingame.
Some cables has close to 100 individual points that I had to manually place.
Across 8 Mine Levels with 3 Floors each there are a lot of cables.
Cables where also the main way of guiding the player through the Mine Floors, maintaining a constant sense of direction was tough with little other means of doing so.

The biggest challenge though was definitely to make sure all City and Mine Levels were properly balanced while still feeling unique.

Mine Editor Cables

Editor view of one of many big cable splines.

City Editor
As with the Mine Editor, the City Editor is also based on tiles but is mainly worked with in 3D due to the high amount of 3D assets being manually placed.

Decoration assets have to be placed in individual tiles and all playable areas has to be painted with 2D tiles manually.
3D assets are then used to create a visible edge for where the playable area ends.
Different colored tiles is used to seperate starting area from unlockable areas.

Plateaus with buildable tiles are also painted with 2D tiles manually using a Plateau Tool.

City Editor

Starting area (green) and unlockable area (red).
Mine Editor
The Mine Editor uses 3 different layers in order for two or more object to be allowed on the same tile.

During some stages of the tutorial, some tiles will be highlighted ingame.
These highlights are placed in a separate layer in the Mine Editor and are then assigned to separate tutorial events.

Mine Editor Layers

Tutorial objects are also placed in all Mine Levels and assigned to triggers which will spawn an animated arrow where I have placed the tutorial object.

Objects such as treasure chests, enemy hives and unearthable rocket parts are manually placed outside of the Tile Editor but will be assigned to the tile/tiles they are placed within.

Enemy compositions that are spawned from Hives during Unearthing events are set up in prefabs that are then assigned to Hive prefabs (this is set up by me).

Hive Walkers

Each Hive has enemies walking around to visualize it's threat.
These enemies are placed in the Mine Editor using splines around decoration objects to decide their movement paths without enemies walking through objects.


SteamWorld Build Screenshot
SteamWorld Build Screenshot
SteamWorld Build Screenshot
SteamWorld Build Screenshot
SteamWorld Build Screenshot
SteamWorld Build Screenshot