Phase it (2019)
“Phase It.” Was one of my final year projects at University. I wanted to challenge myself by making a project independently and to help me create my own process on how I would approach Game Development and Level Design.
I started with two core mechanics and decided to build from how they would interact with each other. An 8 second time stop that takes as many seconds to recharge and the ability to absorb different coloured orbs that when held would let the player phase through walls of the same colour.
Starting with simple puzzles based on those interactions and gradually adding more complexity through a larger variety of objects those mechanics could interact with (different coloured orbs and walls, platforms that only become solid in stopped time, moveable platforms etc.) and new mechanics in the level that would change how the player would view how they use the core mechanics (Buttons that switch around the rooms gravity, platforms that can only be activated by using the orbs as a power source etc.)
The level design aspect of the game became less about the puzzles itself but more guiding the player to the puzzle rooms in an order in which they could learn the mechanics in a safe environment before getting thrown into the deep end with more complex puzzles. So I could keep the player interested and challenged with the gameplay loop while also keeping a smooth difficulty increase.
A lot of my time was put into structuring the beginning tutorial segment introducing the player to each mechanic by placing them in a small easy puzzle, in which they must use the mechanic in question to proceed, so that they are learning through doing rather then only reading what the button on the control does.
Wind Up (TBC)
“Wind Up!” originally started as a completely different challenge for me from Phase It. I decided to aim for a completely different genre. Shifting from a FPS puzzle game to a entirely Multiplayer focused game to try and learn from a completely different experience.
Once again, I focused on getting two core mechanics and seeing what I could build off them, this time in the scope of a multiplayer game I decided upon a punch that needs to be wound up and a quick dash with a small recharge time.
With these simple mechanics in mind, I tried to keep my overall vision for the game to be that it would be easy to pick up and play for all ages but with a heavy focus on fast paced gameplay. With several playtesting sessions it became apparent to increase the overall snappiness of the game, I needed to add a second dodge and a shorter charge time for the punch which led to some real tense exchanges as adding two dodges multiplied the complexity.
With players now having the option to store a dodge for later or close gaps by using them in quick burst etc. The game was still simple to pick up and understand but had gained much more depth with this small change.
Much like with Phase It. With the core aspects of the game realised, it gave room for me to later play around with new mechanics to add complexity to the game, mainly that of other power ups that introduce longer punches, faster speed etc.
But this time as it is a multiplayer party game, where people would want more choice in how they play the game. I made sure to make these power ups optional in the menu, which achieves multiple things, it gives players the opportunity to play how they want (serious and competitive aka no power ups, all the way to full mayhem with the power ups on) and it gives the game a lot more replay value with custom loadouts for each match allowing more variety.
As the levels had to stay smaller in scope, the main design task I had was keeping the levels to a restrained size, so the camera wouldn’t zoom out too far and lose track of the players and also to discourage players simply hiding in the levels while also encouraging them to always contribute to the action.
Currently, the game has six levels all designed with a different location and level interaction in mind. So each level is memorable and easily distinguishable and continue offering a experience that the player will continue to come back to and offer more variety in how each match will play out.