Skylar & Plux
Adventure on Clover Island
LEVEL DESIGN/LEVEL ART/SCRIPTING
Skylar & Plux is a third-person platform game developed by Right Nice Games. I worked with them on several maps, mainly as a level designer. It was developed with Unreal Engine 4 and involved a lot of communication between different teams and people.
I was tasked with creating Valley, an open exploration level unlike most levels in the game which are very linear. My main goal was to guide the player in an open environment without having a set route. I was responsible for the level design, level art and some scripting. In short, Valley was almost entirely built by me.
The goal of the level is to press three buttons to open a gate, allowing the player to progress. Each button is protected by a unique platforming challenge and enemies. The platforming challenges revolve around a new mechanic called "the mushroom" that needs to be thoroughly introduced. I followed Nintendo's "4 step level design" to introduce the mushroom in a clear way.
The beginning of part
I frame the tree house with the cave wall and palm trees. This is a fairly open level which is why I need to give a goal in order for the player to never feels lost or without purpose.
I subconsciously try to show the buttons' locations in the background. Here I put a few boxes, luring the player towards them. This will lead to the player seeing the button in the far off distance. The buttons are not important yet, but the player will remember them once they know what their goal is. The button might be a bit hard to see in this gif.
Example of platforming tower challenge from part
Example of platforming challenge from part
To gradually increase the difficulty, I combine dangers one at a time. First the mushrooms in a safe environment. Then I added water, a killbox if you fall. Lastly I added the missile turrets to test the player's skills. I also use these elements to control the pacing of the level.
When a button is pressed, a red light on the gate turnes green. Seeing the gate from each button became a very important challenge.
I created a talking friendly npc template with a lot of behaviors, making sure it was easy to use for other developers. We decided to cut it as the character would require a lot of work on the art side. The robo-dog moves towards the player when he is within range. When talking, I loop through a public array of strings, making it easy to add and remove dialouge.
Even if the player isn't present the npc needed to feel alive. The robot will pick a random location close to its spawn location, making sure it does not wander away. It stops in between points, playing an idle animation.
I was tasked with creating a new type of platform for the desert area. Designing and scripting the platform were my main responsibilities, as well the level design of the map, Dunes, where the platform was introduced. I created the sinking platform, decending you to deadly quicksand when stood upon.
The speed at which the platform sinks and rises are different. This is to make sure that a player can't jump on the spot and keep the platform above the surface. The platform is designed put pressure on the player, forcing them to make a move.
Gate lamps functionality
I scripted the functionality of the gate's lamps and the buttons. Getting feedback from interacting with the buttons was needed to understand your goal. This system was replaced by another one later on.
The Ball Bumper
I was also tasked with scripting a gimmick for the level Foundry, the ball bumper. The "crushing ball" is a weapon that you can control with magnetism to fight hordes of enemies. To spice things up, I created the bumpers, making the ball feel more alive and dangerous. When the ball collides with a bouncer, it shoots the ball away, much like a pinball machine.
Level design/Puzzle design
I created the initial level design for "ruins". The level is fairly special as it is one of the few levels that is focused on puzzles. I designed the puzzles that revolved around a "time orb" that allows the player to go back in time, to when the ruins where new and sturdy. The player needs to manipulate time in different ways to progress the level. This area was made late in production and we had to cut a lot of it due to time constraints, making the level a lot shorter. My responsibilities ranged from paper planning, puzzle design to blockout.
I created the foundation for "dunes". My responsibilities were the paper plan, the blockout and scripting. The art assets were not finished when I worked on "dunes" which is why I moved on to another level. The level went through a couple of iterations when art was added, but I was not part of that procces. The original design I made is still there in broad strokes but details has been changed.
Most of the level design work I did on "foundry" was in early stages of the level. My responsibilities were paper planning and designing new gadgets and gimmicks, including scripting. My scripting work revolved around prototyping as many "fun" mechanics related to the two gadgets "the crushing ball" and "the magnetic glove".
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