So, this week I decided get back to work on another level instance. These instances are suppose to be simple and small levels that focus on a single aspect or idea. I really wanted to keep this instance in that mind set, being extremely simple and focused. So I decided to create a nice flanking space.
I also wanted to avoid doing the thing I really like to do, which is adding on more to the level as I go. Whenever I work on a personal project I tend to find a lot of cool extras to add into the level on top of the original plan, mostly because all of my personal projects have no deadlines. However, I want to get a lot of these level instances out quickly, so I am working on avoiding the extras and sticking to the original plan.
For this level I choose to use the Adam’s House packages to create a nice interior. An upscale hotel worked well for this and I gave the players a simple objective or just moving through the area and meeting up with the rest of their squad.
The level turned out pretty well for being a simple arena with a flanking position. Both the players and the enemy Locusts are given clear cover fronts to sit and duke it out. Between the two fronts is a large killzone and it creates a nice point in which players understand they only have 2 options. One is to sit and fight it out from there, which could work if players are patient and slowly pick off the Locust one by one. Or two, flank the enemy position through the right hallway, which forces them to scatter and making them easy targets.
Creating these player choices is never easy, and making them clear to the player is even harder. Including things like chatter from Dom and a Point of Interest makes sure the player is aware of the possibility. However, a designer can never force the player to see something or choose to do what they want. We really only can create a clear path or puzzle and hope that the player will move the way we need them to or be able to understand how to solve the current puzzle.
It’s a tightrope walk between the designer and player, in which we want everyone to understand how to succeed but also not give them too much help. Holding their hand too much makes it too easy or makes them feel like they aren’t making their own choices.
Normally, I don’t like forcing a specific action for the players to take. I like giving a lot of choices to them as they fight or move around an area. But I’ve found that for these smaller instances, creating a single prime path isn’t a bad way to go. It allows the designer to focus on creating the specific path and get something that can be really fun if the player makes that choice.
For a full level, creating a nice array of choices would be the way to go, resulting in a lot of emergent gameplay or choices that, we the designers, didn’t completely plan for, which is what we want!
For now, I want to continue creating simple and focused level ideas for the players to move through. The more focused the level instance the better. I also have a nice solution for the ideas that I come up with while working on something, and that is to put them in a list to work on later. Creating another completely separate instance for each of those cool ideas.
One that I wanted to do for this level was creating a sinkhole in the center of the main lobby that would be triggered by the player in some way. The sinkhole would drag any locusts and the piano down with it in a cool explosion of dust and camera shakes. But for now, that idea is on hold for another level.