October 16, 2011

Alien Spidy (Level Designer Test)

After I applied Enigma for a Level Designer position, I was asked to do an aptitude test. The test consisted in a complete level design, for the game they were developing: Alien Spidy.

The test:
Using this video as reference, I had to design a 2 minute level, sketch it and write a complete walkthrough document describing it. I had two days to complete the task.

Initial steps:
I watched the video, carefully studying it and writing down all the elements I could use in the level. Then I figured out the extension a 2 minute level would have. I started with some sketches, and drawing an interest curve.

I also decided some elements I would include in the level: 
  - A interesting engaging start.
  - New enemies.
  - Some kind of puzzle, perhaps involving some object moving to make the way.
  - A final part where there would be a lot of perils.

The level structure:
To decide how to set up these elements and design the level structure, I first decided that the level would be divided into three parts: The first one would be the entrance of a forest, the second would be set on a cave, and the final stage would be where the character would make his way to the surface.

With this in mind, it occurred to me it would be a nice idea start with a cliff descent, to make the way to the forest. I would use a tree to enter the ground level (the cave), where I would put the new enemies, and the puzzle. Then on the surface again, the character would have to climb up to the trees in a difficult ascent.

Then I started to draw a sketch in Photoshop of the level structure, that I would polish gradually.

The puzzle:
To design the puzzle, I watched some videos of similar puzzles on platform games, such as Little big planet. I decided I would use two kinds of boxes, a little one and a big one, and I used Lego bricks to set up a playground. Some tests and iterations after, I decided to change the boxes with balls, so that they will not get stuck at the end of a corridor: if the corridor had a small slope the gravity would take the balls into a convenient stable position.

New enemies:
Looking for references I found this camouflaged brick enemy in Super Mario Bros 3:

I turned it into a black bug, that would open his eyes when the character became near and jump, surprising the player. It fitted perfectly into the cave stage, since the color of the scenery would be black and it could pretend to be a rock.

The theme:
Since the new enemy would be black, I thought that it could be a dung beetle. This would fit with the balls puzzle, since the balls could be formed by rolled dung. And so then the cave became the Dung Beetles' cave.

Final result:
After a lot of drawing and writing, I came up with this final result:

Here you can download the walkthrough document: English Español