I made this level as part of a school assignment of the level design course. The game itself was a school project made by a few students who studied at the school a few years prior to me, who later made it into a commercial project.
Having played and beaten the game, I found the combat of it to be quite hectic, with aggressive enemies which demanded quick reflexes from the player. With this in mind, I decided to design the level with a different approach for combat. The player is given a chance to take an often longer, but safer route, which allows them to sneak upon the enemies and attack from a advantageous position. The other option is a quicker, but harder route, where the enemies are bigger in numbers and will spot you from a greater distance. The result worked as intended, but it was a bit rough around the edges. I hadn’t worked with 3D prior to this, and I don’t play many 3D games, so to create a level with the right flow was harder than expected. There were also some technical difficulties, such as enemy bullets shooting through walls, which I found out way too late I could adjust. But I’m still pleased with the result, as I as a player love having options when approaching levels and managed to bring two distinct paths in the level.
Level design document
Level name: Sneak and destroy!
Target audience: Experienced player who have completed the game and want a moderate challenge.
Main mechanics: Buttons which activate moving platforms.
Design intent: Guide the player towards locations which bring an advantage when attacking enemies. If the player is confident in his/her skills, its possible to take faster but more difficult paths throughout the level. The paths are close to each other so the player can switch between them as (s)he likes when traversing through the level.
Paths: Sneak (easier) and Head-on (harder)
Start and Area 1: The low and calm start presents the player with a vast mountain to explore. Snow is sparce, setting a joyful mood for now. As the player immediately sees a platform and a button on one side, and enemies on the other, it’s obvious (s)he has a choice on what path to take. The early button and platform establishes the main mechanic of the level. This path leads to a more sneaky experience, outsmarting the enemy, while the other lets the player show off his/her reflexes in head-on combat.
Platform 2 and Area 2: As the level gets higher, snowing increases and the combat follows it. The theme continues as the player can jump up and risk getting hit, or move on to two mushrooms to attack from above. The player feels rewarded by taking the longer route as (s)he finds a box. As the gatling turret fires fast, the player feels the urgency to strike even quicker, but the difficulty is lower due to fewer enemies from just 1-2 directions.
Platform 3: A short transport section which prepares the player for an increase in pacing.
Area 3: Even more intense combat and snowing! With warning signs and many enemies ahead, the player is feels threatened to approach the area quickly. It brings a disadvantage in battle, but also reveals a hidden path with goodies, which feels rewarding. If the player instead went to the set-piece, a watch-spot, a breather combined with an opportunity to set up a strategy appears.
Area 4: Wherever the player came from, this part is a breather between two harder sections. Looking around awards some welcome gems. The player with scrutinous eyes can see two forthcoming enemies, and behind is the ever-visible ending.
Area 5 and end: Another two routes, again giving the player the choice of intense combat or sneaking. Having been hinted several times sneaking brings an advantage, the player may take the gems route to let one enemy destroy four others. The player triumphs, and can easily press the guarded button with only one enemy left. The courageous player can probably defeat all enemies if (s)he is fast and skillful enough, but it won’t be easy. It’s a risk and reward system. With the button pressed, a final platform starts moving. After a lot of sneaking and/or head-on combat, the player is rewarded by reaching the enticing end.