Serbethan’s Sanctum is situated in a natural cave system below the lagoon of Serbow Island, and was historically the home of the island’s guardian dragon, Serbethan. During a period where the region was occupied by the Star Clan, they installed complex networks of pipelines and pumps to drain the caves and loot the rare magical materials within, driving Serbethan into hiding in the process. Many years later, with Serbethan still missing, the player ventures into the apparently abandoned sanctum to try and discern what happened.
My primary objective in designing this dungeon was to showcase some of the unique level design possibilities that arise from Minecraft’s water physics. In addition to the obvious potential for verticality that swimming introduces, the player can use pipe mechanisms to redirect water flows, climb up waterfalls, swim through passages that would be too short to walk through on land… and, once they obtain Serbethan’s Fang, a trident found halfway through the dungeon, they can launch themselves out of water pools at blinding speeds, opening up even more possibilities for exciting platforming.
With this initial concept in mind, I started by imagining a large, tall central room that the player would move up and down using water mechanics. From there, they would reach a number of peripheral areas and complete challenges to slowly unlock new paths through the dungeon– a structure that also lent itself well to nonlinearity. To ensure that central chamber would continue to have interesting surprises over the course of the player’s adventure, I made sure to work in a couple twists that would shake up the player’s approach to exploration, namely the previously mentioned trident, and a valve that raises the water level throughout the entire dungeon.
Level Design Document