Hi, I'm Blake. My first game was '89 Doors', a rage game where you escape mazes whilst being pursued by an insatiable creature of hunger, and now I'm working on a tower defence game called 'Forgive Me My Henchman', where you play as a typical head 'bad guy', deploying henchman and sabotaging a building in an effort to stop a one man army action hero.
I am learning the hard way that tower defence Level Design is difficult!
Even if all these elements come together, that does not necessarily mean that a level will be fun and engaging. With so many things to consider, designing great gameplay can sometimes feel like an impossible task.
That is why I was so fascinated by a quote I read this week by the creator of Braid: Jonathan Blow
So why was gameplay design such a zen process for him, and why is it such a difficult process for me? I decided to do some research and to figure out how his design principles differ from mine.
After watching an interview with him, I noticed he said “You don’t necessarily need to always have difficulty ramping up”
To many people, there is no distinction between those terms, but not to Blow. He says that “the answer [should be] right there if you know the right way to look at the world”. What I've learned from this is that I should make level progression a result of to the mastery of skills, not due to the memorisation of sequences or by trial and error.
He therefore takes out anything from a level that doesn’t focus on that level’s specific idea. It made me think of my game, and how it often feels very messy and haphazard. Often, even I don’t know what exactly a level is supposed to test – how can I expect that level to deliver meaningful epiphanies?
That is why I am going to start my level design once again from the beginning, following some of the design philosophy of Jonathan Blow. I think my game will be better because of this.
Wish me luck guys!
PS - a great introduction to Jonathan Blow's design philosophy was given to me by a video by Game Maker's Toolkit. I highly recommend it.
PSS - there are many youtube interviews with Jonathan Blow. Here is one, but there are many others. All of them are golden.