Based on the goals and solutions I set after my research, I’ve created a quick basic layout for my levels. The level will be split into 3 sections, with only the middle section being traversable. Invisible walls and props will be used to block these areas off. In the grey areas, there will be the appearance of geometry, but it will just be flat planes and very low LOD models. The dotted line shows where the visual style changes. As I intend to have props in this version of the levels, they can change gradually for a smoother transition. While I don’t intend to have a strong visual path (I want the player to believe they have been left to explore), I will have an outline for a main path though the level, and some optional ones leading to points of interest. Here, the player is rewarded for exploring by being presented with an interesting little scene.
Doing three levels like this is going to be loads of work, so I want to start with one main area and two points of interest for each level, and then add more if I find time.