Unreal Puzzle Components
In Level Design (and other classes), as you begin to research, brainstorm, and concept your first ever simple mod project and adventure puzzle, there are a few core concerns you will want to address. First of all, you will want to consider your (target) audience, and their expectations for fun and gameplay. Everybody has a unique concept of fun and play - this can be a very complex subject, that warrants much reflection and discussion.
However, I recommend that for a first project, you should keep things simple, focussed, and goal-oriented. Goals are the simplest and most straight forward ways of providing players with a meaningful emotional experience, and most people will agree that meaningful emotional experience is the foundation of fun, particularly game fun.
Not only should your game mod have a goal, the player needs to be made aware of the goal as soon as possible. If the player is not aware that a goal exists, it is almost as though it doesn't.
- In some cases, particularly games that attempt to introduce innovative game mechanics, an intro game level will consist of a series of very simple, easily attainable goals. In which case,the first goal may be within immediate sight of the player.
- On the other hand, one of the easiest ways to make a goal known, is by telling the player with a message that is triggered when the game begins (or when the palyer takes their first step forward). You may not know how to set up a message now, but you will, soon enough.
- Another common way of showing the player the goal, is with a simple camera sequence. I also cover this in Level Design, toward to end of the quarter. Even if you don't know how to set up a simple camera sequence now, you can still design with this technique in mind. Just remember to keep it simple - a single zoom or simple flythrough should be enough.
- In fact, you don't have to use a camera sequence at all. Sometimes goals are depicted merely as pictures on walls - remember the slice of cake in Portal?
Puzzle Components Covered in Class:
- Lights: In order for most players to fully understand the game and game environment, they need to see it. You will therefor need to include lights. Morever, in Level Design, you will learn how to turn lights on and off. You can make this a part of your puzzle.
- Triggers: At the core of game design is interaction. You will be designing interactions. Interactions consist of two components - player input and player feedback. When a player inputs a command - presses a button - it becomes possible to "trigger" Events. A "trigger" is often clothed with a visual metaphor within the game environment - a button, a lever, a pull-chain, a console or kiosk. Feel free to include these in your puzzle.
- Movers/InterpActors: Once the player triggers an Event, something happens. This is player feedback. One example of player feedback is movement. When a player trips a switch, the door opens. The elevator moves. The platform shifts. The ancient statue tumbles. I will cover Movers (Moving Objects) in class this quarter. Feel free to include them in your puzzle.
- Particle Effects: Particle effects add magic to your level, particularly if they are ignited by player input. In the last few weeks of this class, I will cover the particle effects editor.
- Special Volumes: It is possible to create special areas in your level in which physics behave slightly different, or in which your player may have different physical experiences. For instance, you can create an area in which your player experiences damage, dies, swims, moves faster or jumps higher.
Once again, my most important advice is to keep things simple. If this is your first ever mod, you may be filled with excitement and ambition. You may dream of creating the ultimate game experience, and of showing the world your full potential. However, keep in mind that at the heart of game design is simplicity. You will reveal more professionalism by delivering a simple experience that is actually enjoyable, than a complex one that fustrates the player and provides no evident goal. Moreover, keep in mind that if you are delivering the results for a class, the more fun your teacher has playing your game, the better your grade will be. :)
However, you may want to explore a few techniques that are just a little beyond the scope of this class. If so, here are a few ideas:
- Moving Water Volumes
- Kactors (Objects with real-time physics)