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Adventure 2

A spider cavern level


 At an Alpha stage its important to blockout where the player can go and what the player can do as well as start defining objects in the space.



Collecting location and prop reference images starts the process of figuring out what the level will look like

Bird's eye view

What went right



Iteration on the level mechanic

I first made working bouncepad in a few hours of coding and researching. Upon showing a playtester, they said it felt clunky and gave me good feedback on it might feel better if it worked differently. Just because it worked, did not mean it was good or intuitive. After lots iteration and tweaking and making certain aspects of the bouncepad editable in the level itself made for a more fully formed bouncepad. 


Ongoing Feedback

Feedback for my bouncepad was always valued but, this project was primarily about creating a level with a new mechanic that had to teach the player how to use it. Teaching a player a mechanic while they traverse a new space can be tricky. Getting feedback at every stage of the building process was crucial to achieving the goals of the project.


Coding for intuitive gameplay

Just creating a working mechanic is not enough. In order to get to the point where your mechanic 'feels good' you'll need to iterate on it's blueprint code. By the end, I'd totally scrapped what I had made on the first day. 



Action Blocks

Teaching a level mechanic happens in stages. In this project there are three Action Blocks that increase in complexity and difficulty. In the first stage there's no fear of death or loss and is intended to be an area for exploring the capabilities of the level mechanic. In the next Action Block fear of death is introduced but it's not a terribly difficult area. In the last Action Block, the player shows mastery over the level mechanic by using it in new less intuitive ways.



Building for mood and theme

Making the level mechanically sound is important but not the whole picture. Creating a fully realized blockmesh involves hitting the mood of the setting and the theme of the level. I mixed common phobias like the fear of spiders and of heights to create a level that lives up the theme of going on an adventure. 

What went wrong



"Mazes are not fun"

A warning was made early on by my teacher that "Mazes are not fun". I wanted to explore that. Why are they not fun? Are they confusing for the player? Do they create unneeded frustration? If so, what can I as a designer do to mitigate those drawbacks? This was a great learning process for me and while I don't totally agree with their sentiment, I now understand the many pitfalls a designer can stumble into trying to make a maze. 


Creating escalating difficulty action blocks

Creating a level encounter very difficult is easy and creating an easy encounter is also pretty easy but, creating something that is moderately difficult is somehow much more difficult to create. In other words, the most challenging encounter to design was the second Action Block's finale. It required the player use the bouncepad as a spiraling staircase that was a sink or swim situation. I remember watching a play tester get physically tense at the series of jumps and then blow out a sigh of relief when they made it to the top. This area took a lot of time for me to find the elusive 'moderate' difficulty.


The golden path above everything else

A glaringly obvious issue arose late in the building process- I had not established a Golden Path. Sure I had a Golden Path in my own head and there weren't many ways to go besides forward but, that didn't matter to a play tester that went around in circles for minutes before asking for help. I had been so focused on the details I had forgotten to lean back and look at the project as a whole. I added a glowing purple crystal that only ever pointed the player in a direction they should be going. Had I made a Golden Path from the beginning I would not of chose something so ham-handed.


Am I ever really done?

This project was intended to be a month long. I reached a 'finished' state in under a week. Of course that was no where near the final product and continuing to iterate on my designs is definitely the way to go. It does raise the question; "Had I more time for this project could I have made the level better?" and "Would it have been more beneficial for me as a designer to create more levels of lesser quality for the experience of making levels?" I suppose the answer is maybe. I can't truly know but it was a sore spot on the project as a whole.


Gates before keys

One the design constraints for this project was to make sure that the player found the Key before they found the Gate. This led to some design decisions I may not have made without that stipulation. The level was made better with the stipulation, doesn't mean it wasnt more difficult to build in this way. Something like a maze is made more difficult when theirs so many possible paths. 

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