Level Gimmicks/Design Aspects

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KingBowser24
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Level Gimmicks/Design Aspects

Postby KingBowser24 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:47 pm

Hey guys!
I've been working on my episode off and on for nearly a year and a half, with only a little progress. The reason it's taking so long is because when i go in to build levels, I can never decide how to proceed. Its like I'm getting Writer's Block but with game-building rather than writing.

And by "gimmicks" I mean things that make levels unique and interesting, and require Layers and Events to create- for example Gauntlets, where you have to ride a platform/elevator and fight off a horde of enemies, or a level where there's water that rises and falls, covering most of the ground at max height. Or something even as simple as a well-placed NPC generator. Those kind of things.

And maybe some design ideas too?

If it helps, here are the world themes, and the final boss levels I have planned for each world, for my episode-
-World 1- Actually really need help with this one. A Village/Town type world. Its the Protagonist's hometown, and the world I'm currently still working on. The Boss dungeon is the local School grounds.
-World 2- Plains/Grassland type world. Boss dungeon will be a Mineshaft/Cavern theme.
-World 3- Beach Theme. Boss Dungeon will be an Airship-themed level (Actually supposed to be a Pirate ship).
-World 4- Desert Theme. Boss dungeon will be Temple/Ruins type thing.
-World 5- Forest. Boss Dungeon is largely undecided for now. Probably going to be some sort of large Tree Fort.
-World 6- A Bright, Neon Cityscape. Boss Dungeon will be a large Skyscraper.
-Word 7- The final world. A Darkness/Void themed world. Dungeon will be the Antagonist's Fortress.

I appreciate any advice!

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Re: Level Gimmicks/Design Aspects

Postby Eri7 » Mon Jan 21, 2019 1:33 am

I recommend you to use the technique "blocking" and what it means is that first you start off the level with the basic layout of enemies, your gimmicks and the minimal required resources for aesthetics such as using only one block or few when needed. What you will have to do is get a gimmick, one or more of them and start exploring their interactions. I would usually design few setups and then design most of my stuff around them as its easier to come up with ideas. When i can't come up with more ideas of interactions of my gimmicks, i just add more gimmicks that can make my main ones more spicy and offer even more interactions i can design around. In my opinion, vanilla gimmicks are easier to design around than custom made one because we know more about their interactions than our custom made ones. Then you add the aesthetics after that and the music (the music can come up before aesthetics but i don't recommend it that much) and during the blocking phase, DON'T forget to beta test everything, its really easy to fix stuff during the blocking phase so beta testing will polish your level.

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Re: Level Gimmicks/Design Aspects

Postby Yexell » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:09 am

Eri7 wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 1:33 am
I recommend you to use the technique "blocking" and what it means is that first you start off the level with the basic layout of enemies, your gimmicks and the minimal required resources for aesthetics such as using only one block or few when needed. What you will have to do is get a gimmick, one or more of them and start exploring their interactions. I would usually design few setups and then design most of my stuff around them as its easier to come up with ideas. When i can't come up with more ideas of interactions of my gimmicks, i just add more gimmicks that can make my main ones more spicy and offer even more interactions i can design around. In my opinion, vanilla gimmicks are easier to design around than custom made one because we know more about their interactions than our custom made ones. Then you add the aesthetics after that and the music (the music can come up before aesthetics but i don't recommend it that much) and during the blocking phase, DON'T forget to beta test everything, its really easy to fix stuff during the blocking phase so beta testing will polish your level.

thank you for this reply! I was also interested in this question!

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Re: Level Gimmicks/Design Aspects

Postby Enjl » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:45 pm

Step 1:
Don't try to fit yourself into a predetermined level structure. Instead, build the level structure around what you want to design. Saying there's a super-duper underground airship boss level is kinda meaningless if it never makes it past the planning stage. Figure out what you think would be fun to design, and do that.

Step 2:
Suddenly your episode seems pretty empty... oh well. You know the basic story, and the way from beginning to end is for you to shape and reshape. Over time, more levels will join the small selection currently part of it. Whenever you get ideas, see where they might fit with what you have in mind. It's a lot less stressful than having 20-30 more levels to do in the backlog, which can be rather draining!

Step 3:
In order to get ideas, you need to know what you can do. Familiarise yourself with the contents of the editor. Layers and events are nice and all, but if you don't know fun ways in which you can use a Goomba, they won't get you far. A lot of tools are viable for great levels, and if you explore them you'll surely find something fun you wanna turn into a level. A couple of my favourites are: P-Switch, Bubble, Conveyor Belts, Bombs.

Step 4:
It's important to think about what purpose elements in your level have. The easy way out is to make a horizontal stretch of land and fill it with enemies. Might be a tranquil experience in the end, but might also be boring. What I recommend is thinking of elements (Blocks, NPCs, autoscroll, etc...) in terms of their properties and what they'll do for you. For example: A Goomba is vulnerable from the top, but it's dangerous if you're below it, and it can fall off ledges. Familiarise yourself with such properties to find different ways in which to challenge players.

Step 5:
Testing goes super fast if you focus on the important elements of the layout first. A crude floor might not look nice for now, but when you have to adjust ledge lengths to get the Goomba to fall juuuust right, you'll appreciate not having to dig through tilesets until you're satisfied with the result. An obstacle in which elements work together to get the player to overcome it is called a "setup". Here's an example using Goombas (G) and the Player (P):
Spoiler: show
Image
Step 6:
That setup above alone won't win any oscars for incredible performance, but that's fine. Levels aren't just one setup after all. At this point it's helpful if you have a theme for your level. No, not visuals. I mean in terms of gameplay. The theme may be influenced by the visuals, but it determines the kind of obstacles you'll encounter. Let me explain:
Take the screenshot above for an example. The action the player performs is jumping past enemies from below. There are countless ways to mix this up later on in the level, creating unique obstacles by just swapping out the NPC inside the little staircase. Spinies provide the same obstacle as Goombas, except you can't kill them from above either. Bullies bring in a new dynamic by following you around, etc...
Another example: A level in which you face a lot of spinjump challenges suddenly throws a new setup at the player: A bridge of turn blocks on which a variety of spiky enemies from earlier in the level are gathered. The bridge stretches for several screens and has gaps and different levels of elevation. The player has proven so far that they know how to use the spinjump to get past obstacles, but can they do it without?

Step 7:
Ask your friends for input. Coming up with a couple dozen setups for a level can be difficult, especially in the beginning. I recommend lots of experimentation in the editor, of course, but ideas from other people are powerful as well. Maybe they'll instantly come up with something cool you never even thought of!
Ideas are useless if you can't make them real.
Image

All my assets from packs and episodes are free to use for non-Novaverse levels and projects, as long as proper credit is given.

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Re: Level Gimmicks/Design Aspects

Postby Eri7 » Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:08 pm

Wow. Enjl replied and i learned yet again something new. I think step 7 is really good when you are out of ideas but have friends who can help you out with it. (i am talking from past experience)


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