a Skylar and Plux challenge level
Faster route that rewards players who have mastered the movement with a shortcut through the mountains.
Go Fast & Have Fun
Get the most out of the game's traversal system, specifically the interaction of rocket jumping onto bounce pads and and chaining jumps for added momentum.
While also not being terribly punishing, leaving room for mistakes and improvisation.
It's a Challenge Level
Instructions were to keep a playthrough to around 0.5-2 minutes, make it challenging to some degree and to try and focus on one or a few specific mechanics.
Capture the feelings of wonder and freedom that I associate with the platformers that inspired Skylar and Plux.
HOW I WENT ABOUT ACHIEVING THOSE GOALS
Make it feel good.
What matters most for a level like this is that it to feels good to play and replay.
What makes it feel good is rhythm and flow.
When I say flow, I mean that players move intuitively and continuously through the level.
A landmark at the start means players always know which general direction they are supposed to be going in.
I am careful to foreshadow changes in direction through framing, set dressing and controlling the angle players approach from.
And of course, avoiding terribly sharp turns if possible.
Cloud breaks off this line. Makes it clear that this isn't the way forward.
Eyes are drawn to the depth and the swing-node. Platforms naturally lead player in this direction.
When I say rhythm, I mean the pattern of player inputs.
To achieve a pleasant rhythm I experimented with different sequences and spaces between inputs until it felt good to play.
Listening to music during this process helped a lot.
Like a movie.
To give the the level both some character and satisfying pacing, I use a 3-act-structure and map the levels tempo along the curve.
Tempo is the speed at which the rhythm is executed. So low tempo means less frequent player input.
For the first part of the level, or "act 1" the tempo is slow.
For the middle part, tempo continuously gets faster throughout.
Tempo reaches it's climax in "act 3" and then slows down as the level wraps up.
What makes the game good and how do I recreate and empower that.
The conclusions I drew were that:
Going fast is fun, there are sweet-spots in terms of distance, rhythm and angles for jumping and traversal.
For my first iteration I thought an open branching layout allowing the player to improvise would feel fun and free, but in reality the layout just got messy, player momentum and rhythm was bad.
Conclusion: Have a set paths where I could better control the rhythm and flow.
This gave me solid leads for references. Especially in terms of the feelings I was after — wonder, adventure, freedom.
Favelas staggered descending rooftops — stairs basically.
Wing-suit diving and how the divers hug the sides of mountains.
The next iteration got me much closer to the finished product. More thoughtful paths and placement of bounce pads made everything feel better. After that I got more detail oriented and got to focus on sanding down rough edges.