(Deity) Teaching Through Level Design – Level 1: “The Invasion”

(Level 1 Playthrough on “Look at That Free Game”)

The level design theory in Deity consisted of two major ideals: to create high-tension moments, even in a low threat environment, and to always have the player feel as if they are moving forward. These played a huge role in how we approached each and every level, and looked to add as many fearful or anxiety moments as possible, while still allowing for periods of rest between each major challenge. Additionally, I found that having the player start in a bottom left corner on the map and move to the top right corner provided the best sense of progression for the player. I found this to be especially true from the isometric perspective, seeing as the angle best promoted directional flow.

When it came to Level 1: “The Invasion”, the team and I recognized that this level would be the very first impression of the game for the player. This meant that we needed to make the level fun and engaging almost immediately, while still allowing for the player to learn how to play in a low threat environment. As a result, pacing became incredibly important, and took a few radically different approaches and iterations to get to the desired result. The biggest issue was making sure the timing between each new piece of information was a graceful transition in order for the player to not feel overwhelmed. This was solved through the concept of bundling key information with subset information with a time delay between each. For example, in Level 1, we teach the player how to use Chain Rift. We let the player experience how to use the ability, but then afterwards, during a period of rest, we explain that activating Chain Rift consumes all your chains. This proved to work because, after doing testing with other methods, we found that telling players how to do something, and at the same time tell them the consequences, caused a lot of confusion or lack of memory retention for the player. By doing a bundling method with a time delay, you allow for the player to experience what you’ve taught them, and after a moment of action, continue to teach. This allows the player to remember more key aspects to the game.

(Level 1 Player Experience – Learning & Intensity)

In terms of how pacing and intensity were handled, the graph line above roughly demonstrates what the player experiences as they progress through the level. Each time we went to teach the player something new, we created a period of rest where the player could take the time to learn and have an isolated experience with the new mechanic. Afterwards, we would increase the tension and general threat levels by adding enemies and more challenging paths. In this way, they could not only use what they just learned, but what they had learned in the past, and use everything together. This way, we created an isolated-collective pattern that we could utilize throughout the entire level, and by the end, the player would have a firm understanding of how the basics of the game are played.

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~ by rhickman-design on April 13, 2012.