Lasermageddon

laz1

My first professional experience, Lasermageddon is a game I worked on during a two months long internship in a company called 3Dduo.

I worked on the pre-production of the game. I had to program a prototype to test the playability of several gameplay features. I did some UI design (mainly signs and feedbacks), and level design.

I designed the signs and feedbacks for the game, depending on what kind of information they should provide to the player (how urgent or important it would be, how precise it needed to be), and where the player was more likely to be looking when the need for this information would arise. I learned several things doing this, for example the fact that to draw attention to an element when the player is focused on something else, a variation of shape is much more efficient than a variation of texture or color, which will be nearly invisible. Then, I integrated those signs and feedbacks in my prototype to test them with placeholder graphics.

laser_2

I also did some level design. The main challenge here was to make 3 different game modes, each containing 15 levels, with an extremely simple « one-touch » gameplay. I had to bring variety and a progression in difficulty, while keeping the game as accessible as it was in the base concept.

The rest of the company was busy with other projects, so I worked on my own, organizing my work on a day-to-day basis. In his report to my school, my tutor praised my autonomy and versatility.

One of the most interesting (and challenging !) things in this internship was also starting “from scratch”. There was zero levels done on the game, and I realized how hard it was to start with no reference. To use the full potential of the simple mechanics that were already there (instead of adding new ones and make the game more complex and less focused), I decided to do an analysis of the game based on the skills that those mechanics required of the player (I was inspired by Ubisoft’s Rational Game Design methods). I then defined parameters for each of those skills, and used variations and combinations of those parameters to make varied levels, 3 game modes that would really feel distinct from one another, and create a progression in difficulty.

laser_3

To create levels, I decided to proceed as follows : First, I made a lot of different level design situations (that I could quickly test thanks to the prototype I had made) and “measured” them using my parameters, keeping track of all of them in a document. Then, once I had made a lot of levels, I had a better overview of what could be done in level design with this game. I was able to choose which levels should come first to make an interesting difficulty curve and provide variety, and which ones could be put together and made into one of the 3 different modes that I was required to create (and which ones should be thrown away…).

To help getting a better overview of all my different levels and keeping track of them in a document, I thought up a simple way to visually represent a level. Using color bars, it was easy to tell at a single glance how hard a level was, which parameters made it hard, which skills it used to challenge the player, and how it compared to another level.

laser_4

This representation also makes it easier to see how a challenge relates to other challenges. For example, here you can see scaled down versions of the list of challenges I made for the first mode (on the left), and the ones I made for the second mode (on the right). Even though the lists are too scaled down to make any text readable, only with the colors it’s still quite obvious that the levels on the left will challenge you mainly on observation, whereas the levels on the right are a lot more based on precision and timing.

laser_5