Hi again!

 

The project has to be delayed because school is still quite intense and also because of Cuphead. However, Yule break is coming soon, so hopefully the game can be released tomorrow.

 

About school. Since last time, I’ve had a course in level design. It was really interesting and I learnt a lot about things which seem so obvious but are important to plan carefully, such as level pacing. In the course, I wrote two analyzes on levels in Rocket Knight Adventure and Contra: Hard Corps. Maybe I’ll post them sometime if I have nothing more to show.

 

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The main part of the level design course was to make a level in the game Skylar and Plux: Adventure on Clover Island. It’s a 3D platformer in the vein of Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie etc. It’s about a mute cat and an obnoxious bird who are to save an island of Moomin trolls from an evil TV (or something like that). Since the protagonist is a cat, this might be something for you if you’ve got the furry thing going on. Prior to the course, I bought the game on Steam and later beat it. It’s actually very enjoyable, with nice graphics and sound, fun and varied gameplay with lots of cool gimmicks and I actually liked the narrative as well. It’s not the longest game around and it could definitely be polished a bit, but it’s well worth the few pennies it demands.

 

Now, onto the level then. We were supposed to make a DLC level for the game, with a set theme, a beginning and an end. The best level of the class would be awarded to be the DLC level. I got only the “approved” grade (you can also get the grades “not approved” and “very approved” – a lame three grade system typical of this socialist swamp I’m living in), so my level definitely won’t be selected to be DLC, but whatever.

 

The level was like the rest of the game made in Unreal Engine. Unfortunately, we had some technical problems due to a bug in it, which happened because the current Unreal Engine can’t handle a game which was made in an older version. But I still managed to make a level, and also made a level design document.

 

Like most times, I decided to underscope, because if I do the opposite I will just fail hard, something I’ve learned from experience. So my idea was to just take the combat of the game and put in a new light, in this case sneaking. The base game had mostly head-on combat situations, so I wanted to explore if they could be approached differently. I made two paths on the level, one where the player could sneak up on the enemies and attack them from positions which increase the chance of defeating them, and another one which is more head-on. The former is a bit longer and slower, while the latter is quicker and more risky.

Below, you can see the sneak path in one of the areas. It uses the set-piece, a protecting watch-spot I built myself with the assets available. It’s intent is to let the player take cover behind the glass while planning out a strategy to use against the many enemies. Excuse the lighting on the photos by the way, I had some technical troubles with it and didn’t build it before grabbing the screens.

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Here is the head-on path on one of the most intense parts. It is actually more interesting when you take the sneak path, because then the missile launcher you see on the left will shoot the four yellow gatling gunners just to the right of the furry. And thus, the player will have the work made for him/her by that enemy.

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Here are the pacing charts I made for the levels. As you can see, it’s a bit higher on the head-on path.

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And here is a map of the level. Made in M$ Paint of course. I’ll never stop using that program. NEVER!

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All in all, level design was a very fun course. Despite the shitty grade, I hope to specialize in this field next year and aim to work on something like it when I finish school.

 

About the project. Since the last blog post, I have made 3 monsters (all with one variation) and 1 tileset (also with a variation, linked to those three monsters, you’ll see). I’ve also taken two big new steps: I registered the trademark of the name of my upcoming company and the game. Lastly, I have spent many hours catching free to use (and some paid for) sound effects. They are samples, mainly for story events of the game, and quite plenty.

One more thing: I started reading the book Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell. It, and quite a few lectures I’ve had in school, has helped me re-design my project a bit to make it even better. Maybe I’ll mention it more in a future blog post. Anyway, I definitely recommend that book if you aim to be or already are a game designer! It gives a great understanding on what games are about.

 

Until next time, take care!

/Zebbe

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