Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Super Meat Boy 64 World 1-2 and Dark World 1-1: Using Dynamic Gameplay Elements and Play Testing to Create Obscene Difficulty

After finishing World 1-1, the exciting potential of this creation dawned upon me; I set forth to build World 1-2 with a new found spirit and attitude. In my previous experience, these two emotional modifiers are rather beneficial especially when one is tackling a difficult task whose completion requires focused passion. First, I actually sat down and planned out what I wanted out of this design this time instead of throwing myself into the project manically without purpose or reason. This served as some sort of meaningful improvement. Second, my attitude transformed into a healthy ambition; World 1-2 was to be larger and more elaborate than 1-1. While boring, World 1-1 was surprisingly not completely dismissed by our testers, some even said it was good. World 1-2 was destined to be of a significantly higher quality than this.

The idea was to follow in the footsteps of the Mario series and introduce a new gameplay element in every single stage. In further stages, this element would be used in new and interesting ways and new depth could be found in the combination of previous elements. World 1-2's new element was to be a giant floor fan that would give player's an aerial boost when standing above it. Since the model and animations already existed in a mod for Blockland, implementing this idea and turning it into a reality was easy.

Here is the beginning are of World 1-2. As one can see, the fans give players a boost up to high areas their jump ability can not get them to.

World 1-2's flow has a theme of ascent. Each fan moves the player higher and higher up the mountainous landscape.

Another view of World 1-2's opening segment.

While I worked joyfully on World 1-2, Rykuta was at work on introducing the first Dark World level, Dark World 1-1. Super Meat Boy has both light and dark world versions of its levels, with the latter being considerably more difficult than the former. We decided to follow this concept; after all, it was a relatively low cost way of creating extra high quality content that would challenge hardened players. Rykuta has a talent for making obtusely difficult gameplay experiences, twisting standards that I would normally honor as sacred. He uses the real time playtesting that Blockland provides to fine tune his creations to be a frustrating as possible. This feature of the game is almost revolutionary and I will continue to elaborate further on its use.

 The spikes in this twisted version of 1-1 definitely say to the player visually that they are in for a sadistic gameplay experience.

The color scheme was originally going to be monochrome; however, I decided that color was too important in its role of differentiating gameplay elements. Even here it can be seen that the contrast between the gray walls and dark teal floor helps the player read the environment more effectively. I also think that, subjectively, the dark blue trees evoke a nice "midnight forest" motif.

No comments:

Post a Comment