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Level and Story Design - Drop Dead Gorgeous

How things have changed

So a lot has happened since my last posting, our game has changed in a big way. We have cut some elements to allow ourselves more polish time.

  1. Narrative review took place got some good feedback on the story and what I should be focusing on

  2. I have been working on level design and creating a new test story for our new level

  3. Instead of having the player travel all over the galaxy our vertical slice will now contain one city that is broken down into three parts

Designing a Vertical Level

Our game is a 2D platformer and one of our main concerns was how fun the movement was going to be. We were worried that moving horizontally back and forth through a map would become tiresome and our game does require a fair amount of backtracking so we decided that while the player can still move horizontally, allowing for vertical movement would allow the players to traverse the world in a much more interesting way.

Going into this there were a few things that we had to keep in mind. Since the world we are creating is heavily influenced by capitalism we are trying to bring that into the level design by making it harder to ascend to the top of the city and easier to fall to the bottom.

My First rough sketch of the level

I started by looking at a game called Mandagon , It is a largely vertical 2D platformer and became a huge inspiration for me which I how I came up with the image above.

I decided to take the sketch that I had and put it into Photoshop so that I could start blocking out areas where buildings should be, but after doing that I found I was having a hard time imagining what the buildings would look like in the level and how the player would use them to move up. At this time I was working with another level designer on the team and we got the idea that the city was held together with giant spires (grey sections on map) that building would be located on.

The other level designer went through a playthrough of Guacamelee and pieced together a map to show the layout of one of the cities. This helped to really get things going.

From there we decided to focus on creating the middle section of the level so that we could work out any problems before tackling the upper and lower sections of the map.

I broke down what was required in each section (ex. Upper section has to be easy to traverse horizontally but easy for the player to fall to the lower sections).

This was a sketch I did of the middle section of the level that I then put in Photoshop.

I worked out a base for the middle level and added it to Unity with pathways to test it out.

This was the first grey boxed version of our middle level. I added some of the generic art and signs that had been provided for me.

To go with this new level I created a test story that we could potently use a side quest later on. This story would take the player through only the middle section of the level so that we can test the level itself and whether or not the player can come to the correct conclusions on their own with the systems we have provided.

I took a screen shot of our map and planned the story out directly over it.

Where we are now

Currently we are feature complete and have added in generic buildings with miscellaneous objects to provide an idea of what the level will look like in the end. The new story has also been added and now player can go through it in its entirety.

In game image of map and dialogue system so far.

The most current version of our level with NPCs and art.

Moving Forward

For the next could of weeks we will be testing for bugs and cleaning up the level hopefully having it finished by the time we have to present our Alpha Prototype in a couple of weeks.

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