A tale of ascension
LEVEL DESIGN/GAME DESIGN/PUZZLE DESIGN
Ygg is a third person immersive puzzle game that was developed as a school project during 7 weeks in unity. In ygg the player uses a flute to solve puzzle in the form of runes to be able to progress and find out what happend to his lost tribe.
I was responsible for the level design in the game. The game was very level design heavy and required that the level worked well with the puzzles. The goal of the game is to reach the mystic mountain far of in the distance.
The goal of the game is to reach the mountain in the distance. This level is only one part of the game, and the goal of the level is to reach a temple. The level is designed in such a way that the player has a lot of freedom to explore but at the same time making sure the player understands the rules of the puzzles.
(The gifs became a bit grainy when I optimized them to load faster)
We wanted everything to tell a story, even the menu. This is why we had a walking loop in a snowstorm, making it feel like this is not the beginning of the journey. Right away the player is greeted with the mountain, the goal of the game, straight ahead. Your companion (the wisp) instantly starts flying towards the mountain, further intriguing you to move forward.
After moving towards the mountain for a little while, allowing the player to get an understanding of the controls, the puzzles first appear. The door has the first puzzle on it. This is also the only place we show any tutorial in terms of UI, displaying the controls. The gate has two puzzles, one lock and a second that opens the gate. This is to make sure the player understands the rules, by eliminating other ways to interpret the rules, preventing misunderstandings.
A rune can have up to four lines. Each line represent a button. If the line is to the left of the dot, the corresponding button would be X, and so on. This is easily understood as the "line" will light up when the corresponding button is pressed.
The first gate puzzle only has 1 line, above the dot. This corresponds to the Y button. The player will try all buttons, but the puzzle will light up red if incorrect and glow green if correct. The player will be able to draw a conclusion from this.
The second puzzle on the door shows 2 lines, on the left and right side on the dot which corresponds to X and B. X and B can be pressed in any order to complete the puzzle.
I created a large open area, allowing some exploration and optional puzzles. I use flags and the wisp to guide the player, making sure that the player is never lost. This also gives some time to experiment with the flute and see how it can be used with the environment.
A side path has a puzzle in it that uses the same mechanic from the door again, in a different way to make sure the player has understood. This repetition is there to make sure the player will remember the rules and be able to apply them in different scenarios.
We used a lot of dynamic cameras to guide the player and convey different feelings. The first time you play the tune, you get stuck at the bridge. This is to make sure the player understands that some runes can be played twice, which is needed in order to progress.
A lot of the story comes from the environment but we also have cave paintings that show the player just enough story so that they can speculate about the lore of this world and what is going on.
The wisp and flags leads to your goal and add life and movement to the environment. We used custom animations, vfx and sounds to make it feel like there is a storm and make the player feel exposed.
Gates are used throughout the game to show that you have progressed to the next "section" of the game. The gate contains a mechanic/rule which the next area is going to be themed with. Around the gate some bushes are placed and they grow leaves if you play your flute close to them. They are placed all around the level to enforce the feeling that you bring life to the world.
This area allows for a lot of optional puzzles around the place, but I will skip them to shorten the walkthrough. Even though there are a lot of optional puzzles the player will know where to go, because a runestone with a puzzle is framed by the bridge. It also stands out because of the negative space against the skybox.
We got a concept picture before we had figured out exactly what the game was. This piece of concept became our primary vision for the environment. We only had a concept artist at the beginning of the game project, meaning that most areas skipped the concept step when being created.
A blockout was created, trying to capture the feeling of the game. I added the waterfall to make the area more intresting. Layout and puzzles were iterated multiple times. It was important for me that the blockout felt like a place and not abstract cubes placed in a random order. This helped when the level was being set dressed.
Finally we added art assets when we felt that the layout was mostly finished and no major changes needed to be done. We also got the feedback that our game was very colourless which is why we tinted the world blue.
The stairs lead up to a fairly open area with a puzzle. This puzzle is intresting because the player needs to play two puzzles at the same time. The reward for this is releasing two wisps, not a reward that gives progress but one that gives emotion.
The double puzzles increases in difficulty. This time the pillars with braziers raise from the ground, guiding the way. This creates a lot of mystery and questions. The player will follow them to discover where they lead.
There is a broken bridge that the player needs to cross. Most player walk up on the bridge before discovering that it is broken. I used flags and colours to guide the player and make sure that they find the puzzle. It is a bit hidden on purpose, but the flags leads the player to the puzzle.
To repair the bridge the player has to solve multiple puzzles, chained together. Each time they complete a puzzle I add another one, increasing the complexity. This is a test to make sure the player has understood the rules. If they fail, the bridge resets.
The player is being guided by the red cloth. The gate is clearly visible and has already been seen throughout the level, building up to this moment.
The player has reached the gate that has had a lot of build up. This is the final puzzle of the level. We chain the puzzles together to create a longer and more complex puzzle. This combinds all rules learned into a show off for the player.
A final magic painting appears and explains some more story. The gate then opens and it fades to black.
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