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MasterM



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I am an April Fool
2nd December, 2011 at 11:33:40 -

an advice on level design
good examples on level design

hold me a speech, anyone?

see i want to get better at level design / do something nice so i want to soak up as much knowledge and informations as possible. do you have some avice or tricks? much appriciated. also im talking about platfomers in THIS case.

 
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s-m-r

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2nd December, 2011 at 14:28:56 -

To make it plain and simple, here's some abbreviated personal advice:

Think about games that you think are fun to play for one reason or another, and determine why it is they "work" for you.

Start challenges with the basic elements included: small jumps, few enemies, etc. Introduce more or tougher challenges at later levels: wider jumps, greater combinations of enemies, more aggressive/different types of enemies, etc. This is a way to implement the idea of graduated challenge/immersion: the player will be more experienced not only in terms of the game, but also in the skills required by the game to be effective at that level.

One thing I remember distinctly from my youth is the NO-REPEAT RULE: it's in your best interest to not make players go over the same territory (that is, the same level layout) more than once, unless something drastically changes between visits that makes the experience worthwhile. Add in enemies, changes to the landscape or challenge level, and so on. This lets the player realize the similarity from one visit to the next, but be surprised by the changes that have occurred. On the flipside, if you make players go over the same territory time and time again, they'll accuse the game designers of wanting to pad game length by adding in useless 'travel time' or somesuch.

Make your game shorter if the only way you can think of making it longer is by repeating stuff.

Once a level is laid out, play it several times to see if you can break it. Then have people you know play the level several times and see if they can break it.

Specific to MMF: Line the outside of the play frame with a border of impassable objects, so that the player avatar won't "fall out" of the level.

Apart from you doing some research of your own on game design, well...The above is a good start.

 
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AndyUK

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2nd December, 2011 at 20:17:39 -

One method is the top, middle, bottom design. Where it's easy to get to the bottom (you start there anyways) but there's not many collectibles. The middle, which takes some effort to get to and has a few more collectibles and the top route which is harder to get to and has the best collectibles. Any mistake could cause you to fall down to a lower level and ruin your chances of finding the good stuff.

 
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Sketchy

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10th December, 2011 at 15:53:21 -


Originally Posted by s-m-r

One thing I remember distinctly from my youth is the NO-REPEAT RULE: it's in your best interest to not make players go over the same territory (that is, the same level layout) more than once, unless something drastically changes between visits that makes the experience worthwhile. Add in enemies, changes to the landscape or challenge level, and so on. This lets the player realize the similarity from one visit to the next, but be surprised by the changes that have occurred. On the flipside, if you make players go over the same territory time and time again, they'll accuse the game designers of wanting to pad game length by adding in useless 'travel time' or somesuch.


I wouldn't necessarily agree with that - extensive backtracking is one of the defining features of the popular "Metroidvania" genre.
One of my favourite games was an action-platformer-RPG called "Zeliard". Each level was spread over two (or sometimes more) caverns. Each cavern had multiple exits, leading to different points in the other cavern. You'd pass through each cavern two or three times, but you'd take a different path each time because you'd be entering at a point that was previously inaccessible to you. If you messed up, by falling off a high ledge for example, you'd have to backtrack quite a bit. In some cases (like if you die and don't just reload a saved game), you might end up having to backtrack a lot further - but in those cases, there were huge shortcuts made possible by special items that you didn't have first time around (eg. shoes that let you jump higher or climb slippery slopes).

There are definitely advantages to this system. It's less linear than a typical platformer (giving a greater sense of freedom and exploration), but demands less backtracking than a true Metroidvania game and it's harder to get stuck for what to do next. A lot of the time, you'll be able to see important items long before you can actually reach them, so it adds an element of strategy as you try to figure out how to get to them. And of course it means you, the level designer, don't have quite so much work to do.

 
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Del Duio

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10th December, 2011 at 22:36:24 -

I like games with branching paths too (i.e. Castlevania 3 for the NES).

So say you have a fairly linear level called stage 1 with a boss at the end, you could go through it and kill him and go to stage 2.
OR someplace on stage 1 you have a secret tunnel which leads to another exit, and upon clearing the stage that way you go to a stage 2a.

 
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10th December, 2011 at 22:40:19 -


Originally Posted by s-m-r
One thing I remember distinctly from my youth is the NO-REPEAT RULE: it's in your best interest to not make players go over the same territory (that is, the same level layout) more than once, unless something drastically changes between visits that makes the experience worthwhile.



That's a good rule, but that would fly in the face of a Metroidvania-style game. But for linear stage progression games I agree, nobody's going to want to slog through 10 stages of forests where everything looks the same. You could also revisit a stage in the way that s-m-r mentions at the end of the quote by going through a stage 1 forest and then much later in the game your evil villians and etc could burn down that forest and you could journey through it again with much harder enemies and stuff.

 
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Va1entine



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9th January, 2012 at 13:21:46 -

I start by drawing on paper with a pencil and rubber. Once i'm happy with the design I then translate it to the computer.

Edited by Va1entine

 
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Hermes



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10th January, 2012 at 11:35:29 -

Those are all very good analyses and explanations. Many platformers run off of those types of concepts, so if you're going for a platformer, then (obviously) these would be the things to consider.

You did say in your post that you were talking about only platformers in this case, but just in case you're interested in other game types, I'll detail my own for you.

The game project I have is a pseudo-3D game which looks like a down-scaled isometric view. Because of this, no area can be very large on account of the surroundings having fisheye distance disruption. So what I did was I broke up every area into distinct locations that are all linked from the sides, top, and bottom. The player would move off screen and "walk" into the adjacent areas. Since the basic engine runs off of the players' ability to navigate these locations, the level design falls more on how many locations there are per area, what can be encountered in those locations, and whether or not the player has to travel back through them once a potential "end" location is reached.

It's a lot like the Metal Gear Solid games if they were much more segmented.

So I hope that gives you some extra insight! Best of luck for your platformer, MasterM!

 
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