Production II Dev Blog | Designing the Level

A long time ago, in a design meeting far, far away... the design team (Dakota Williams, Josh Forchheimer, Harry Goetz, and myself) met up to design the end-all-be-all level for our game Reboot! We had realized that rather than having a test-area, it was best to block out the level as soon as possible so that we could begin making design decisions around the level itself and have the artists make assets specific to what the level is. After all, Reboot is a game with a huge focus on physicality, so not doing so would have been detrimental in the long run.

Anyways, let's take a look at what we did within that meeting! After spending multiple hours talking, we decided that the best way to go was to lay out different areas/biomes of the bowl so that each different area had a unified theme, similar to the City Trial map in Kirby Air Ride. Going with this idea, we knew that we wanted to have a city area be the focus of the map. We then thought of adding in a dump to reflect the gross side of the city, a park to show the exact opposite, and then an over-look and favela area to be able to play with verticality in more areas than just the tall buildings of the city. With all of this combined we got... well, we made a map on a whiteboard that made sense to us in the moment, but looking at it now, it really doesn't make any sense. And that is why Dakota made a more coherent version of the map in illustrator for both the team and your viewing pleasure!

So, what exactly are all the different biomes? Well, I'll get into that right now, starting with the first area, the Park!

The very first area the player would drop into is the Park. The Park has a ton of open space, with the only real obstacles being some benches and the hilly landscape. In the middle of the park is a fountain which acts as a ramp to shoot the player into any single direction. There are also plans for powerlines to connect into the Favela area and having the playground include slides which act as ramps to be able to access the Overlook easily. Some of the other ideas we have for obstacles in this area are a merry go round which could be used to gain speed and turn a different direction or even a slalom to help guide players to certain areas. The Park also has a main path which leads straight into the next section I'll talk about, the City!

The City would be the main draw of the level, both visually and in terms of the options provided to the player. The city would be populated with buildings, each of which has their own certain height. Some buildings could have a 2nd floor that players could go to, or even have rooftops to jump between which would be mainly accessed via the Overlook. There would be streets between the buildings that the player could move between, where the player's ability to drift would really come into play. We also had plans to have a subway, but decided to cut it later on. The city also has immediate access to the Dump, the next area I'll be detailing.

All the dump is is a bunch of trash. Actually, kinda; the trash is shaped like a bunch of jagged ramps, allowing the player to shoot off into the air and travel to other areas. There would also be some key components like the crane that leads into the Overlook or the dump truck that lets the player go over the fence surrounding the Dump. We would also be dumping a lot of the general assets our artists have made into this area to act as both geometry and general embellishments! Inside of the dump, the player has a path directly leading into the Favela area.

The Favela is split up into three basic areas: the bottom alley, the top alley, and the cell tower. Cables and power lines would be connected to the cell tower which would allow for the player to grind easily from the Favela to the Park and to the top of some buildings in the City. The two alleys of the Favela would have a bunch of stacked buildings placed around to act as walls while also giving the player some interesting geometry to play around with. There's also one main path leading directly into the city, but the player can also use some ramps and metal sheets to fly onto the rooftops of buildings and make it all the way to the final area: the Overlook.

The Overlook may be the hardest area to reach, but it has a rather simple approach to its design. The core idea behind it is a bunch of platforms with support beams that sort of jut out of the side of the bowl, which give players multiple levels of verticality to play with. The main access points of the Overlook are through ramps in the Park, the rooftops of the City, and the crane in the Dump (but the player can also just ride up the sides of bowls). One of the main platforms is something we have dubbed 'Make Out Point', which makes fun of those cliff-points where people drive up to and park next to a billboard.

And there we have it! There's the basics of the layout we made for the level for Reboot, now it's just up to the level designers Dakota and Harry to implement it and make these changes as they see fit. Of course, Josh and I will still play a role in the creation of the level, but up until we are needed we have done our jobs for the basic level design. I'm excited to see how the level turns out by the end of this semester!

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