We’ve moved to using the Tiled Map Editor this week, which has greatly sped up the levels we can create. While we don’t have a variety of art assets yet, we do have the ability to place mechanics. We are also testing with two new character classes: A character that can place hazard tiles, and a character that has a backshot (more on this later).
We started throwing together a large variety of levels. Some of these levels were rather silly:
But by quickly creating and testing a large variety of levels, we learned several things.
- Long horizontal areas are bad, as they tend to end a match very quickly. It’s better to require a player to maneuver into a potentially strategic position.
- Conversely, levels that require a lot of movement into position are boring, as it takes a long time to get to where you can fight each other. While there should be opening moves so players can make choices before they get into the thick of fighting, long barriers to move around is unproductive.
- Little “cubby holes” are also bad, particularly with the backshot class. This class can easily get into a cubby and camp, since they don’t need to turn around to shoot.That said, if we introduce a mechanic to limit this (cooldown, reload, etc), this configuration may come back…
- Similarly bad are areas with only one entrance / exit, especially with cactus. These can also lead to camping.
- One thing that does work are ‘circular’ configurations. Configurations that guide a player in a circle give the options for strategic positioning
Part of design is to try things, even if they might fail. Over intellectualizing the design process can often lead to gridlock, as the designer trys to think their way to the best solution with no actual evidence.
So the lesson: try things, and then analyze, rather than the other way around. Even a Lava Death Level can teach you something about the player experience. And you may stumble on something unexpectedly fun.