Developed over 8 weeks, full time.
Action filled party game inspired by the game 'Lance A Lot'.
Team: 17 people
Engine: Metronome (Custom)
Level Editor: Unreal Engine 4
For our groups final game project as students at The Game Assembly we decided to make a local multiplayer party game heavily inspired by the indie title 'Lance A Lot'.
As the primary level designer on the team I was responsible for everything that had to do with the levels and make sure they reflected the vision our group had in mind. In such a small team this meant I worked very closely with every discipline. Graphics artists for concept art and general design regarding the visuals. Programmers to help with scripting and gameplay elements, for example which methods to use in our pipeline for their code to read our exported levels correctly.
DESIGNING THE LEVELS
Since our game so closely resembled 'Lance A Lot' I could begin making so called "napkin designs" almost immediately. Quick sketches of levels basically.
We had decided we wanted four different characters, each representing a different theme and that every level would showcase one of those themes. I made overviews for a few levels that me and my co-level designer liked for each theme and began blocking them out in Unreal.
Only two of these levels ever made it into the game however and I'll explain why in a later paragraph!
BLOCKOUT HALL OF FAME
I have a tendency to push blockouts too far with moody lights and stuff, don't be like me.
We reached a point where we were able to playtest a very basic version of the game.
It's an action filled party game, so it's a bit chaotic, however it was clear many things weren't working as intended from a level design perspective.
This is a good thing! It meant we were able to make relevant itterations early for a better player experience.
In some cases the playable ground was too small, sometimes it felt too big, some levels had weird collisions and some just weren't "fun" as players described it.
We got the feedback the game was fatiguing to play after a while and wasn't fun, in our case there were two main causes for this. In a multiplayer party game like this the players want to start the game up and get into the action quickly, unless they're given a fair chance to learn the core mechanics they'll keep dying and get frustrated. So we scraped many levels that had too much open areas.
Another reason would be the pacing between levels being too fast for them to keep up. There was no breathing room, since we had so many levels that were very distinct it meant that the player had to learn the new layouts and figure out the best strategies for every new stage. Incredibly draining as a player.
BALANCING THE LEVELS
There wasn't enough plain levels for the players to learn the game mechanics in a safe environment.
Up until this point I had only made very unique levels for each theme so we decided to add two new kinds of levels, "arena" and "basic" levels. These levels were made to give players more room to play around and weren't as punishing as the unique ones.
Identical to the 'Lance A Lot' player character, you can't spend much time outside the map area or you'll fall to your death.
With that in mind the only big change we made to any level was in the arena levels, where we added a big hole in the centre for added risk in moving around or being knocked around by other players.
We also wanted it to feel more like a gladiator arena so I gave it a more round shape as well.
We decided on the themes graveyard, pumpkin season, voodoo and a wizard's tower.
The Witch Doctor
It was important for us to make each theme very distinct and recognicable not only from the unique assets for each aesthetic, but also the atmosphere by using light.
I played around with different light settings in our engine and made sure the characters and the important items were still readable.
With scripting I was able to add small things in the levels that really added to the themes and made the world more alive and less static.
Some theme exclusive things like the turkey being grilled over a fireplace that's been placed in every pumpkin level.
Scripted movement for the audience that show up in some levels.
I also made a script to add on things i wanted to float, mainly bricks and books in the Wizard tower levels.
This was such an amazing end to my time at The Game Assembly. My teammates and I had fun the last weeks working on this project.
It might sound cheesy, but really, with every project you realise that the most important thing is to have fun and be passionate about making games. Those are the times we make the best games.
Even if most of them are broken when we turn them in to our educators
Love you Tommy ♡