It’s only seven more days until the release of block’d and today I’m going to talk a little bit about the level design process. But first, if you haven’t already, make sure to catch up on yesterday’s post here. block’d was basically born through the process of coming up with levels and deciding whether or not it would make a good game. Some of the first levels (which didn’t actually make it into the final game) were crude sketches in the margins of class notes. The level design process, like all the other processes during development, evolved, creating new and different levels with different approaches for how to beat them.
Like I said before, the first levels were sketched out in the margin of my notes trying to decide if the basic concept for the game would be puzzling and enjoyable. I originally started out thinking that we would have a single grid size designed to match the dimensions of the iPhone screen so I started with the five by eight grid. The first levels were basically built one tile at a time, sketching its location and the path it would take upon expansion. Then a second tile would be placed, and a third tile (some in the path of others to achieve the chain reaction effect), until the tiles and all their inevitable paths would fill the board. With this technique, levels were built that gave us an idea of what the game could be, and from there we were off and running. However there were some flaws in this technique that needed patching.
Austin was playing one of the levels I had drawn out on paper. Not only did he beat the level quite easily, but he also did it in less moves than I had originally thought it was going to take (this is another point of evolution that we came to a little later on in the process). It was clear that the level design process was going to take a little more thought if the levels were going to be challenging. To do this, I started thinking about ways in which the paths could intersect such that if one tile was tapped first, its path would block off a portion of the board causing the player to loose the level. This created a linear way in which the player must make their moves in order to make sure no part of the board is blocked (incase you were wondering, this is where the name comes from. Credit to Austin for being clever. Up until then we were just calling it Tile Puzzle, which didn’t have the same kind of ring. Anyway). With this new way of thinking about things there turned out to be only one way to solve some of the levels. . .
So this actually turned out to be a much, much, much longer post then I had originally intended so I decided to break it up into a part 1 and part 2. I hope you enjoyed part 1 and make sure to check back tomorrow for part 2!
As always, thanks for reading