I got to doing the Tower level yesterday. When I build a level, I generally start with a big blank page and do a quick sketch of the shape of the level if it has outer bounds. The Castle had the idea of a large central area and smaller towers for example. Then I go in and figure out how to connect the levels together, so I add little lines that show how the whole thing will connect. Once that’s done I draw out my grid into my notebook with graph paper in it and then go through the process of making my lines match on both maps.
Then, the real process starts with this basic layout finished. I’ve found that just going into ThiefEd all willy and/or nilly is a great way to end up with a long meandering level that kind of sucks. So with my layout finished I start drawing out each little screen. Knowing how the screens connect gives me a goal to work towards while providing focus to the puzzles themselves. Say if a room has the exit at the top and the player enters from the left, I have to design a puzzle that moves in that direction. So that’s basically how that works for me.
So yesterday I got into building The Tower, and was about halfway up the structure when I took a metaphorical step back (since I was sitting on my couch at the time) and realized that the level I had spent an hour working on, sucked and looked like a monkey designed it using his bloated blue ass to hold the crayon. I did as the title would lead you to believe.
However, the exercise wasn’t all worthless, for now I have a concept for the level itself. The first try was built around the idea that the character spends a lot of time on the outside of the Tower, and that doesn’t work as well as you’d think it would. Towers, and masonry in general, tend to be pretty smooth, which leads to some really lame platforming. So the conceit of the previous try was to add turrets. Click the link and you’ll see (assuming you’ve read this, which I assume nobody does) I’m talking (?) about the kind on castles and things, not the kind on tanks.
In any event the first abortion made too liberal a use of them and when looked at from a, “Could this big pile of shite exist in real life?” kind of way, the whole thing fell apart under a pile of its own overindulgent crapulence.
I think I found the problem though. It’s not that the outside of the Tower can’t be interesting, it just can’t be all. From a design standpoint I need to force the player onto the outside from within. I mean, nobody really wants to be on the outside of a bloody building, regardless of their acrobatic proclivities. So I’m thinking that the player will go inside and then outside of The Tower several times, traveling within and avoiding traps and enemies, before being forced outside by blocked passages and having to find an alternate (and likely – very dangerous) route. Drawing this thing out will be tricky, but I think the concept is sound. I’ll find out I guess.
– In not development news, I got my head into some Galactic Civilizations 2. I thought I would go ahead and load the demo and screw around a bit and see what I could see. So I picked a race and named my planet (Terra Prime by the way) and got exploring and sending out little colony ships. It was about then that I wandering into the “Build Awesome Ships” mode, and started making the slickest hot rod of a colony ship ever launched into digital space.
I’m enamored with it. It’s everything Master of Orion 3 was supposed to be and failed doing. I don’t understand the exclusion of multiplayer, even hotseat would be great. I’ll wander interwebs and see if somebody put a patch together. I mean, It’s a turn based 4X strategy game, how hard is multiplayer?
Once I had expanded my little empire to the far reaches of the admittedly small galaxy (really? 9 systems does not a galaxy make) with a collection of colony ships built the appeared to have been built by Aston Martin, I realized that 2 hours were gone and I felt guilty about it.
I don’t know why. I mean, I still do. Those were 2 hours I could and probably should have devoted to the Greater Good, and I played GalCiv2 instead. It’s okay, I can hold off buying or playing it until I’m done here. But November, post IGF, oh that’s all booked now.