I can’t believe it’s already February! I turn 30 this month (23rd), which is mildly scary, maybe I’ll write about that closer to the time. For now, let’s talk about the level design in Echo Terminal.
Last week I planned to work on level design, getting the flow of the levels worked out and designing the maps. I’ve spent as much time as I can on this task as it is crucial to the game, so of course I’m still not done. Here is a little preview of some of the maps:
With adventure or puzzle games like Echo Terminal, I don’t use any level design software to start off with. Pen and paper is by far the fastest method. You can see here that I’m using pretty transparent paper. The reason for that is that I like to trace and retrace levels while I refine them! Simple, but essential. You can also use this idea to map out progression, or other path like overlays, without destroying the original map. Layers could even represent height!
It is important to me that the research lab feels like a real place. I think horror needs touchstones to reality to make it easier to buy into it. There will be areas like the lab that aren’t realistic at all, but the building should feel like it could exist.
Where this gets hard is when I have to put together the puzzles and the design. In Echo Terminal, I started with individual levels, which was fine, but they didn’t feel connected. Artwork can go some way to fix this but I didn’t think it was enough. In the new design, some puzzles will use the same rooms, and should even show the impact of previous puzzles. Simple things like if you unlock a door in one puzzle, it will still be open next time you’re in that area. The game will feel more like a single adventure.
I’m sure you can imagine how much more complex this makes the design, which is why I’m not done yet! My plan is to get the maps completed this week. Once I have them I can do a paper dry run of Echo Terminal start to end. Then, I can start mapping them out in Unity, and I will have a complete game!
As ever, if you want to chat with me about the project, or see behind the scenes stuff as it happens, then join the Jamo Games Discord!