Most players when traversing carefully designed levels never realise just how carefully that level was put together. With Lethal Deal, from the very first block out, I wanted to make sure the player never felt overwhelmed, confused, or lost. And on the flip side, I always wanted the player to feel powerful and in charge of their movement. The core design pillar of Lethal Deal is to make the player feel like a badass, and being overwhelmed by decisions isn't a great way to achieve that.
Example 1: So many jumpads!!!
Problem: I noticed after finishing the first pass of the block out for the opening arena level that I was getting overwhelmed by the amount of glowing jumpads in my immediate view when I spawned in. My first instinct was to just remove some of the jumpads, but I knew that it would mess up the flow of movement that I had designed into the level. I've always found that it's better to try and make an aspect of a game work first before deciding to remove it.
Solution: Moving and adding some of the geometry to the level, namely the pillars and boxes, in front of all but one of the jumpads achieved the result that I wanted. This didn't drastically effect the flow of the movement, and it didn't upset any artists either, so result!
Result: The screenshot above is taken from the exact same position as the first screenshot. As you can tell, the player will now be much less overwhelmed (hopefully not underwhelmed :O) and should make the natural decision to move left, teaching them about jumpads as well as ammo pickups in the first few seconds of entering the level. After testing, if this isn't achieved, the addition of an enemy coming from the right of the screen should fix that.
Example 2: Promoting fluid movement
Here is an example of how jumpad placement can really change so much about how players will traverse the level. This will be further explored later in the vertical slice, and hypothetically later in the final game as well, but everywhere possible, I want to reward players for taking full advantage of the movement in the game.
If players move faster and more fluidly through the level, I want them to uncover new areas, gain new advantages, and experience the full extent of what the game has to offer.
Example 3: Don't make them cover like a coward!
Problem: The map felt way too open and the player way too exposed. Sightlines are obviously important in online PvP FPS games, but they are just as important in PvE single player FPS games too. As we plan to add multiple varieties of projectile enemies, having places for the player to be in cover whilst on the move is key. Being exposed will make the player feel vulnerable (so not like a badass) but having cover which promotes players staying still is equally detrimental to that goal.
Solution: Adding thin walls along the central elevated walkway in an alternated fashion keeps sightlines concentrated but doesn't remove them. It also allows players to quickly dash between them without feeling exposed for too long. More importantly, it doesn't make them feel like they are running for cover either. As the cover is placed in a very natural, somewhat high traffic area of the map, it's always available for the player to run to subconsciously.
Result: Pocket spaces to take advantage of your elevated position above grounded enemies, cover to protect yourself from projectile enemies, and the ability to naturally run across the central walkway with this protection around you, blasting away enemies left and right as you do so.
For now that's all for these subtle design decisions... well there are heaps more to show but my aim with these posts is to always keep them condensed and very readable, so I will probably wait a few weeks and do another post on this topic. And with that, I'll end this one for now, keep engaged with the blog to see more posts about the development of Lethal Deal.
Hello, my name is Niall Crabtree, and this is my comprehensive blog showcasing all of my game development
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