Skylar & Plux: Adventure On Clover Island is an adventure platformer developed by Right Nice Games. As a part of a Level Design Course, I created the custom level Cosy Islands during three weeks using Unreal Engine 4.
DESIGN OBJECTIVES/PLAYER EXPERIENCE
I wanted to create an easy level were just traversing the level not only felt good, but also offered great visuals. I sought to make the player feel as a part of the world where their actions had meaning, without ruining the laidback, light-hearted experience which the game offered. To achieve this, i made sure that the level looked like something which might be found in the game, and added “Loa children” which would be rescued upon beating small pack of enemies, offering a bit more meaningful combat experiences.
As the player turn around the very first corner of the game, they are presented the end of the level, framed in front of them. To make it stand out from the rest, it’s got red vegetation instead of green, making it easier to understand that it is different from the rest.
As the player grabs the swing-hook, they are lead into the next area of the game, where we use a small space to make sure that the player does not miss the event which introduces the “Loa children” which may be saved thought the level. The player is required to double jump to get past.
As the player leaves the area where they saved the Loa child, they are presented another child which will have to be saved, This time from two enemies. The main path is shown to the left, using crystals to help with guiding. Observant players will see the second path, to the right.
As the enemies are defeated the child is saved. All around the level crates can be found which may be destroyed to gain crystals. I took advantage of this as i knew where the player was facing if they destroyed the crates. Here, i show them the bonus area, together with a cage. I show a glimpse of the ending to remind them of where they are going.
Explorative players found another child to be freed from the evil enemies, together with a prisoner, which may be freed in exchange for crystals (This was a part of the main game, and therefore already an established rule). A small ramp provide affordance, and crystals show the path ahead, where it converged with the main path. The swing node reveals the are ahead of the player gradually, where we also see a missile enemy. The distance allows our players to plan the attack, and the momentum of the mechanics allow for a small memorable encounter.
The machine-gun enemy can be a tricky fellow. However, we have put him in a rather big area allowing for players to easily navigate the space. The enemy is slightly rotated away from the player to give even the inexperienced a nice advantage, without them noticing. Crates once again show the ending in the background, as to remind the player of where they are going.
On their way forward, observant players may see through the gate another area which may be explored and might hold secrets.
I created a small ramp as affordance to convice the player to jump, i also used houses to guide the player and to block of view as to not invite hessitation. The sound of someone crying, hints at another prisoner, following the yellow path. This is the area we foreshadowed before.
We want the players to perform a leap of faith to get to the other island. To convince the player to jump measures had to be taken. I used crystals to highlight the way, I made sure that the swing-node was neatly framed. The area where the player jumps from looks like a ramp. I blocked of view with the houses as to not invite hesitation. When the player is in the air, I use crystals in an Arch to guide the player and help them get to the platform on the other side.
As we’ve landed we’re shown a nice view of the Cosy Island. Here the player may breathe after navigating through the air, while planning how to approach this next area.
They may go to the left, free the prisoner and fight the swarm-bots, or ignore that side entirely, and instead charge right into the missile-turret. The main path is highlighted with red vegetation, same as the ending to help players understand that they are on the right path.
Explorative players may notice another suggested path. In the river i use a broken bridge as affordance, pointing towards a rock (platform) show on the other side of the fishing net. Going through the small hole will reward the player with crystals and a vista of the ending, foreshadowing what to come.
The mushrooms lead up to another leap of faith like moment. This time we do not show where the player is going when they grab the swing-node, but instead reveal it once they are in the air, forcing them to react quickly and to make things a bit more tense toward the ending.
The players may then jump from mushroom to mushroom in their own pace in victory stretch. As they reach the top, a happy checkpoint greets them and before them the entire level lay as to show them the progress which they have made!
Finally, before them the doors which have been shown from the beginning lay before them. Partly open, as a call to new adventures.