Tag Archive for Level Design

Invertical and the new types of levels

In my previous “Blog A Week” I reflected on the Great Big World. Previously as a reward for completing the story you unlocked one HUGE level but that had its flaws. To tackle this I’ve looked to create a series of smaller rooms.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Each room has a portal to save your progress (I may replace this with your classic disk sprite) and collectible items. The design is very much about puzzle solving your way to the books and scrolls then moving onto the next room. Each room is styled based on the main chapters in the game so you could climb up from the underground areas and enter a city level or go along to a castle.

I’m rather liking it and this could well be something that I look to use in future versions. I’ve actually had a play about with Invertical as a mobile game. A lot of the levels involve inverting whilst jumping diagonally. Unfortunately this is a bit too fiddly on a mobile device. In order to make the game work on Android/WP8/iOS the levels will all need redoing. However I feel that the design and structure of the new bonus and Great Big World levels are the foundations for a great mobile game.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves though. This PC version (definitely Windows, likely Linux too) has to get finished first and X-Orbtek II is shaping up rather nicely!

Invertical – “Why do I need to collect the books & scrolls?”

I’ve always found the “what’s my motivation for … ?” questions rather odd. Why do I personally play games? Because I enjoy them? Why do I want to collect hidden objects? Because I enjoy hunting for things and the feeling when I find them.

In Invertical you could collect books and scrolls, hidden throughout the level. These usually meant a deviation from the main path and had an extra challenge, either making you risk dying or simply puzzle solving how to reach them. Given the game is at its most fun when you are trying to spot your route, collecting books and scrolls was intended simply to be an extra bit of fun. Having the completion total also gave players a reason to go back through the levels. However the question was asked “Why do I need to collect the books & scrolls?”.

In the forthcoming massive update to the game I am looking to provide an extra incentive. This will be in the form of bonus levels that are unlocked when you get all the scrolls and books. These new levels will follow a set a design guidelines to make them a little bit different to the rest of the levels. For starters the room/level size is the same as the screen size meaning that straight from the off you can see everything on the screen at once. I was a bit critical of Portal 2 for having objectives you couldn’t see and whilst Invertical does have a consistent direction (up) and a map, having smaller and more contained puzzles can be more enjoyable.

The other thing that I am looking to do with these levels is use more items and objectives that need completing before you can access the portal. Each level will have a NPC (machine, human or weird thing) that tells you what the objective is then usually items that need collecting. For example one level has the portal guarded by a blobasaurus rex monster (not a final name, or actually used in the game at all). A knight by the name of Sir Boris will give you your objective, which is to get kitted up and scare away the monster. Various other levels include retrieving cats for a nice old witch, getting power cores for a portal generator and retrieving a farmer’s lost key. Simple stuff but it is a nice variation in play and they are enjoyable levels.

So in the forthcoming version of Invertical, why should you collect the books & scrolls? Because it is an enjoyable and challenging task to unlock cool levels!

Work in progress of new bonus levels

Work in progress of new bonus levels

Designing chapters for Invertical

Can you make it through alive?

Since my last update I’ve been a little busy and not made the progress on Invertical that I would have liked. However I have managed to create an exciting new “Chapter” in the game with fairly unique gameplay compared to the other chapters. Whilst the core gameplay will always remain the same, I’m hoping each chapter will have a slightly unique style of play. My latest one is based around not getting impaled by the nasty spinning discs! Others will involve more puzzle solving and much less chance of dying, which are my personal preference. However having the game solving effectively the same puzzle won’t make it particularly enjoyable for a longer session so I’m looking to mix it up a little with these slightly different challenges. The new chapter still uses the player’s colour as all enemies and sharp things are black, white or grey. This means that avoiding an enemy isn’t necessarily about timing the jump but timing when you switch colour. For the more evil level designs this will be a combination of timing jumps and colour.

Can you solve this puzzle?

Just comparing the two screenshots, both early on in their respective chapters, you can see that completing them will be very different. For one you have to find a way through a challenging looking area without getting shredded and for the other you might not need to worry too much about dying but the challenge comes in finding the route may not be immediately obvious. Later levels in the chapters will often combine the two.

My intention is that there should be a good mixture of the different playing styles across the various chapters with the finales for each chapter adding a unique twist to avoid the game feeling repetetive. Currently it is weighted slightly more to the jumpy-timing style levels but I’ve a clear idea for how each chapter will play and I’ve simply just not got as far as those that involve more puzzle solving. There will also be a bonus level if you complete the game successfully that I’m quite excited to build. Whilst all the current levels are very much about the ascent, hence the vertical part of the name, this would be a LOT more open. I intend to make one very, very large level with multiple exits then a load of collectibles. Completing the level won’t be hard, collecting everything will be though! It will probably need save points though as it would be a little harsh if the player died with 20 books collected and had to start over!

Anyway, so that is a little update on what I’m working on and what is mainly on my mind when it comes to the development of Invertical. There’s a load more work to get done if I’m to finish the game in August but I’ll remain optimistic. In the meantime the Deep Sea Chapter is a good example of these different styles of gameplay and how they are both used within the Invertical colour based gameworld.