News Archive for 'Game Making'
Ahh level design. It's a subject that makes you excited and want to cry at the very same time. When you've got everything done in your game except for the levels it feels scary. Sometimes enough to make you procrastinate. I should know, I'm a professional procrastinator. I should get a certificate or something!
The key thing with level design is to make it challenging but not frustrating to the players. It's not easy though. I've made something like 10-15 level based games each with say 20-40 levels. That's around 300 levels in total, give or take 50. It's insanity to even think that I've made that many over time. Even though I've had so much practice I still fall into the old guilty traps every single time. I make levels too frustrating or difficult. It's why the The Unfair Platformer was so great for me because all I had to do was design levels like an asshole and people loved it. Do that in a normal game however is bad :P
First of your first levels are always the easiest to make as you can introduce each new type of feature in your game and make that the focus of the level. After that is when it starts to get tricky. A general goal is to make the puzzle seem obvious to solve but they need to work out how. This gives people a sense of reward when they work out a goal from start to finish. If you make it so they need to guess too much they will feel they are doing something too random.
Stuck for level ideas? Try these tips
- Base an entire level on a particular feature
- Put the start and end close together and make them do a full circle of everything to get back
- Make them use a specific game feature in each area so it becomes more useful as time goes on
- Make the last level really hard, and the first level really easy. Then work in between for a difficulty curve.
- Make a big object in the middle the level focus's on that interacts with everything
- Get friends to have a go making a level, maybe make a level editor.
- Play level based games in the same genre to get ideas.
- Drink 99 cups of coffee till life seems like a level and draw it (just kidding... or am I)
- Filler levels can expand on earlier levels with adding in more enemies on the same puzzle
These are some general tips to pump out some levels. The more you make and the more games you play you'll start to see general patterns in game design on what levels are used often. It's when you're past the first 10 levels you really can show how smart you are as a game designer to come up with intricate traps that really make them think without pushing them to anger. It's not easy. What may seem easy to you, will be hard to someone else as they haven't made the game from scratch like you so it won't come naturally so be careful and have a lot of people test the game.
Good luck, level design is a science as much as an art. So experiment with lots of ideas.
This is still sort of AS2 I'm not sure the syntax translation to AS3 but the same principles can apply.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF _currentframe
This really saves a lot of coding, it's not always efficient or practical for something complicated, but if you're in a rush or need to make a work around for a bug then this is a huge solution for doing things.
For example if you want a door to unlock when a key is touched. Simply make the key disappear on the 2nd frame by deleting it and have the door check if the key is now on frame 2.
You can make nearly any action happen this way. Hit tests can be combined with what frame the character is on as well to solve problems.
I tend to make the movieclip do something on the 2nd frame then just refer to that with _currentframe whenever it starts to do something.
I use this a lot for cutting down complicated code in half the time. Very useful.
It's funny I made this Category so late, I barely talk about game making on my website and a lot of you are probably looking for some actual in-flash knowledge rather then me always babbling on about my life. I've never given direct tips because I feel like I'm learning myself as I go all the time and any advice I give may become outdated or just simply be a bad way of doing it. Though I figure why the hell not, I'll stick to some basic tips to start off with for game design in a general sense and hopefully someone gets something out of it. So I'll start with some random tips I can think of for now. More detailed articles can come later.
- Plans don't always make the best games : When you hear the term think outside the box, that goes for your own ideas as well. Think outside the box on the stuff you've written down later. Expand as you go. A plans a rough guide. Ever heard the expression "I'm reading the book as I write it"
- It's not a bug it's a feature! Instead of dealing with the problem, sometimes it's more creative and easier to just work on top of it and make it into something as long as it's not too tacky!
- Beware of filters, glows and drop shadows. They make it polishy, but also tacky. Find a balance.
- If you're unmotivated to work on the main engine that day, make the menu or some other random part instead, you'd be surprised how it motivates you to keep going on the rest of the game. No matter how small the task complete, it's always rewarding
- Make what you want to play. If you try make what you think people will like, it just won't work. You have to make what you will find fun yourself and the game will take on life of it's own.
- Programming doesn't have to always be complex, remember no ones going to see the behind the scenes but you unless you partner with someone. Shortcuts save time, this may sound cheap, but it's better to shortcut then to never finish it at all from bugs overload.
- Keep flash open and minimised and look at your game all the time. Sometimes you'll get an urge to just quickly fix one problem you see.. then all of a sudden a few hours have gone past.
- Procrastination is all in the head. Theres a million rules to beat it, but the best is always, do 5mins work and then decide wether to do a days work or stop for the entire day. All you say is ONLY 5MINS THATS IT. The rest will take care of itself naturally
- Stop trying to game make and just game make
- Make everything you want even if you think it will be stupid, my most stupidest ideas have turned into my biggest hits strangely enough, and the ideas I thought would be the best have only done okish.
- Don't try and make a big thing straight up or you'll fail and never come back. Build on each game one bit by bit. Each game I finished was another 20 lessons I learnt in programming things. Turn each lesson into a game. Some of the most popular guitar riffs in the world come from simply a famous guitarist learning a new scale and messing around with it, just like messing around with a new game engine.
- If the engines not fun, then it won't be fun with awesome graphics later
- Try condense ideas into smaller ones. Big ideas lead to big disasters unless you're a great planner
- Don't multi-task projects. One at a time. Pour your creativity into one thing and if you have a new game idea, put that idea into the games level instead. Don't feel like your creativity will "run out" it doesn't work like that. It will respark when you start that new idea later on.
- Stop procrastinating by reading this and go open Flash.