Week 48: Looking into level design

I took a quick break from writing my guide and coding to take a look into how designing my level. There were a few things I had to keep in mind while doing this that I learned while talking to my interviewees about their experiences with 3D platformers to try and understand the essence that made these games so special, one of the most interesting observations I collected was about how the level design helps the flow of the game.

In case you are unaware, the objective of most 3D platformers is to get from point A to point B in a 3D space, while having to “beat” challenges related to controlling your character (jumping, beating an enemy, dodging an obstacle). Once you get to your objective, you collect an object and you’re then booted back into some kind of overworld where another level can be chosen.

In my interviews I collected to key insights regarding levels:

  1. Players liked that the levels were not one and done. In many games in the genre they levels were used again and again with the starting point remaining the same, but the final destination changing. This meant that as the players progressed through the game and played levels, they would become more and more familiar with the levels itself, being able to complete it better and faster.
  2. Quick gratification and instantly quantifiable progress made the players feel accomplished. By finishing a level and collecting whatever object the game tasked them to collect, they game would make it clear that they had done verifiable progress. By keeping challenges original and interesting and without making them particularly long to complete, players would become addicted to making small increments of constant progress. This keeps the game fun and interesting.

I’ll try to bring these insights forward while trying to build the level.