I’ll be going over the gameplay of my prototype, and how each level in my Unreal Game is designed to help teach players the mechanics of the game.
Good level design is crucial for the prototype as it is a good way to introduce the the mechanics as straightforward as possible through player experience.
“Level design incorporates player capabilities, game mechanics, obstacles, and discoverable elements that create a positive user experience.”
Master Class, 2021
When making my prototype, I considered the best way to incorporate my mechanics would be to let the player discover them at their own pace once first introduced.
Many of the early levels have a fairly linear path which makes them easy to navigate, so the mechanics laid out are more obvious. In the first level the player starts directly in front of a locked door in a single room, and must find a way to a key.
The red key is accessed by a sliding block in a one-way gap that can be only pushed into one direction, the player will be lured to the left side by the glowing key and find the dark area.
After getting the key, the player should head towards the red door to get the blue key which opens the locked gate at the entrance – the idea this should convey is that each coloured key opens their counterpart doors (Figure 1).
After being taught the mechanics of the sliding blocks and keys, the next level further focuses on the sliding blocks and also introduces a new mechanic.
The player starts off in a one-way gap in front of a sliding block, being their only path they have no choice but to push this block. Afterwards they’ll then learn that they are able to push blocks downwards – players may also be lured to the exit and make another bridge with this new knowledge in mind (Figure 2).
However, once they try to form the second bridge, the block pushed off the platform reveals a pressure plate that requires a block to be pushed onto it for the door at the exit to keep open.
This means the player has failed the level, as it is impossible to get the block back up, their only option is to self-detonate as hinted under the level name (Figure 3).
On their second retry, the player would try to form the bridge on the lower path of the level instead to get more blocks. There’s enough blocks to form both bridges and also leave one to weight down the pressure plate (Figure 4).
The next level combines most of the mechanics learned from previous levels, these are formed into a much bigger scale level to further test the player’s knowledge on what they’ve learned.
This level requires the player to collect keys, slide blocks and to make use of the pressure plates to unlock their assigned doors (Figure 5).
The fourth level takes place in complete darkness, and requires the player to make paths around it using the sliding blocks much like the second level but much harder.
The main challenge here is to explore the level’s layout whilst making use out of the player’s passive ability: the light (Figure 6).
The final level of the prototype introduces the first enemy, who starts off in a square room. This is a basic representation of the enemy’s path and direction, as they move straight forward and turn 90 degrees left once they hit a wall.
If the player rushes, then they may come into contact with the enemy and initiate a chase sequence. If the player makes it to unlocking the door, there still will be a delay before it fully opens so there’s a high chance of the enemy catching up to the player by then.
The level teaches you to stay out of the enemy’s sight, and to be patient (Figure 7).
The game has also gone through playtesting, and much of the praise has gone towards how the levels are structured – albeit a couple of bugs as seen in Figure 8.
I’m glad to know that the levels I’ve designed were a success at teaching the game’s core mechanics in an engaging, and fun manner.
To improve upon this, I’d polish the current levels to iron out some bugs and also add in some new ones, though due to time constraints I can’t add more mechanics and further explore current ones as I would’ve liked to of done.
Next time, I may try to get some more play testers so that many more will be likely to uncover oversights like bugs.
Master Class. (2021) How to Become a Video Game Level Designer. [online] Available at: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-become-a-video-game-level-designer [Accessed 19 May 2021].