Tag: level design
Ever wondered what it would be like to work side-by-side with one of your favorite developers and create a game? Well, with This Is The Only Levels 2 slated for release tomorrow, these are my thoughts from the process:
Developing games, when you don’t have to do any of the grunt work, is REALLY fun. I got to come up with a ton of really fun levels and assist with the entire creative process throughout development… without having to do any of that pesky “work”, like coding or making graphics.
A lot more goes into a game than just code and art. Besides all the creative stuff, which we pretty much hammered out on the 1st day, all of this stuff needed to be done as well: UI for the menu and other off-menu screens, game save system, high scores, bonus modes, and API implementation.
It’s amazing how many bugs pop up in the oddest areas. This is something I already know, from all the testing work I do… but that is all AFTER the dev QAs his game. In a game as simple as TITOL2 (same engine as last game, just new levels), we easily found 20 bugs. From a certain level having an unexpected exploit to the save file not wiping deaths when you clear your level progress, and everything in between.
You can’t get too attached to any one idea. Given unlimited time, John could code any crazy level that I came up with… but one level we wanted to use left gravity for the level, so you’d have to jump from left to right on the edges of the platforms to reach the exit. Sadly, the engine (which John said could DEFINITELY handle left/right gravity) did not like this idea. I wasn’t given the full explanation, but it would have taken a lot of time to mess with the engine to get this 1 level to work. Better solution was just to use a different level idea that didn’t make the original cut. One other level that we liked wound up not being nearly as fun in actuality as it was in my head… so again, we tweaked it… and now it’s one of my favorite levels.
Don’t rush the process. The first TITOL took John 12 hours, start to finish. So going in to this project, I thought it would take 2 or 3 days, tops, for this one. It’ll wind up being released on the morning of the 10th day. There’s a lot more extra features in this game, and my level designs are a bit more complex than what was in the first game. Combine that with the AS2 to AS3 conversion… and a 1-day game becomes a 2-week game. At the same time, you don’t want to take TOO much time… when you think everything has been found and is ready, let it loose. I’m really nervous that we’ve overlooked something, or some major bug will pop up as soon as it’s released… but, if that happens, we’ll know about it soon enough. Not much more we can do about it now.
Altogether, this was so much fun. I hope that all of you guys wind up enjoying the game as much as I’ve enjoyed working on it. And give insane props to John… all the little things he puts into games are what makes them great, not my level designs. The UI, the elephant, the polka music, and a dozen other things that I won’t mention so that you can discover them all tomorrow.
A few months ago, I mentioned that I was writing the script to a game and working with some friends to do the coding/art. That project is currently on hold, but I’ll probably finish working on it at some point. I need to figure out what I’m trying to do with the game… otherwise it’s just going to suck. And I won’t put my name on a project that sucks, especially when I’d be the major reason it sucked.
I’ve also been approached by a few different developers to design levels… and I shudder at this thought. Playing and solving levels is super fun; the battle of wits between myself and the cunning developer. Coming up with 20 or 30 creative levels to try and stump players, having a linear ramping difficulty curve, and designing levels that are all going to be unique… it’s daunting. And that’s just the design process; then you actually have to do the grunt work of making the levels in whatever editor you’ve given to work in, which may or may not be user friendly. It’s tedious, arduous, and is the complete opposite of fun.
However, there is one game that I had a different reaction to. It’s a game that when I played it, I immediately started to bug the developer about wanting to assist on designing levels for a sequel. Ma nishtana ba-mischak ha-ze mi kol ha-mischakim? (That translates to, “Why is this game different from all other games?”) The answer is simple… it’s a game where level design is not tedious, arduous, or un-fun. It’s a game where levels can be designed in seconds or minutes and each level has 1 specific trick to it. The goal of level design in this game is to screw with the player in a way that the player is still enjoying himself (or herself). And I get no greater pleasure than screwing with people… why not take it to the grand stage?
So you must be asking what game this is. I gave a vague hint about it the other day. The game is This Is The Only Level, and I’ll be working in the Armor Office later this month (or early next month) on the sequel. Expect fun and delightfully evil levels from yours truly. :)
I’ve also been working on a big project for the past 2+ months, but I’ve been asked not to talk about it. Expect some stuff about it once I’m cleared to discuss it or once it’s public.