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.
Today, I wanted to continue writing about Tower Defence Level Design. This is my third blog entry on this topic. I am still learning a lot about effective level design for this genre, so am happy to share what I'm learning and how it is impacting my game.
Not long ago, I was struggling with the concept of progression - how do you make a player feel that they are progressing at the correct rate? This is an important concept to understand because if a player is progressing too slowly, they will get bored. On the other hand, if a player progresses too quickly, they will feel overwhelmed. How do you hit that progression sweet spot so that players can experience flow?
To help with this, there is a fantastic GamaSutra article by Mike Lopez that breaks down the key elements of gameplay progression. They are:
To get a deep understanding of these elements, I suggest looking at the original article. What I will be writing about is what I have done to ensure that my game progresses along these elements.
1) Introduction of an ‘area’ system – Just like Plants vs Zombies 2 has different worlds, I decided to split my game into three different areas. Each area will consist of around 20 different levels.
2) Each level slightly bigger - As just mentioned, each area will consist of around 20 levels. Every one of those levels will be slightly longer than the one before it; therefore, each level will (in general) take slightly longer for the player to complete. Why this was important to do was because – even if I introduced new elements – nothing impacted the feeling of progression like having to put in more time to complete a level. All in all, what effect increasingly level length will have is that the player will always feel like they are facing slightly bigger challenges, and thus always progressing.
3) New Game Mode and Practical Rewards linked – My game is going to have a ‘time trial mode’ that can be unlocked. In this mode, players will get to see how long they can last against an unrelenting wave of enemies. However, (and I think this is genius), the units available to you in this mode will completely depend on how many of them you have unlocked in the main game. This gives an added incentive to unlock practical awards, and will also lead to greater joy when they are unlocked.
To conclude, thanks to Mike Lopez for writing that amazing Gamasutra article. It really helped me to understand the progression process a lot better, and my game will be better as a result.
I think this will be my last blog entry on level design for a while because I want to start blogging about other topics. Is there something in particular you would like me to blog about? let me know in the comments.
Hope you have had a successful start to 2016, and will write again next week.