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 Post subject: 6 Lights of Enlightenment or How To Build Great Levels
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 7:17 pm 
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:43 pm
Posts: 87
So, with the influx of new players and designers, I thought I should break out a small how-to guide. After playing the last three days worth of levels, I feel this is needed much more than anything. Here's my list of things you should be doing with all of your levels. Just remember, this is just a guide and you can feel free to use any or all of the items I suggest in all of your levels.

Core Invincibility
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All the best levels have cores that cannot be hit no matter what you do. This is the easiest way to make your core completely invincible to attack. This is the best way of getting people to play your level again and again and again, ad infinitum. There are other ways of making your core invincible, however, this is simply the easiest way to do so.

Rocket Barrage
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You know you are doing something amazing when the player cannot hit anything because of the number of rockets coming at them. Mix it up and put rocket launchers all over the screen so your players will have to be constantly circling and shooting rockets. This will leave them no time to harass your core, and thus make them play for hours on end, just trying to keep up with the steady barrage of rockets.

Ship Following Lasers
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No level is complete without lasers that always points towards the ship. Add in as many lasers as you can so that there is always at least one laser firing at all times and your core will never get touched, no matter how many lives you give a player. This is the fastest way to get a player to restart a level: Ship Following Lasers and 1 life.

Larger Than Life
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Making your ship as huge as possible and taking up as much of the screen is another good way to make a level. Add it random rotation and random waypoints, and you are sure to have a hit on your hands. Not being able to move anywhere is huge with players. They love the feeling of being confined to one spot and having no way out.

Linking is for the Unenlightened
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Ah yes, the bane of the living. Make sure that none of your pieces link to anything except the core. This makes players have to shoot something 10 milion times because they thought taking out that arm full of lasers would destroy the lasers. Boy were they wrong! This is a great way to stop players from destroying your core.

The Cloud
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Perhaps my favorite of everything ever designed. This cloud is actually small compared to some that I have seen, as you can actually see the background of the level. A well-designed cloud will cover the entire playing field with bullets. This makes it so that even the hardiest of players will never get a shot off on your core.

Now, before you get any crazy ideas and reply without reading the entire thread, please remember, these are the types of things that players hate. While there are some notable exceptions to the above rules, especially when dealing with carefully scripted levels, most of this makes the regular players want to bang their heads into concrete walls while slamming their arms in car doors. Some of them can actually be perfected into a great level, like The Cloud due to the limits of objects the flash player can create being maxed out. Don't try this at home without first practicing until you get it perfected.

Remember, when you design a level for other players, no one wants to have zero chance of beating a level. That makes it boring and worthless. A highly challenging level which requires an extreme amount of skill is different from unbeatable.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:48 pm 
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:38 pm
Posts: 144
Hahahaha!

This is a great listing of most of my pet peeves in level design. Three more I'd add:

Slice'n'dice: (play it)
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Don't just make a few balls of lasers; make lots of them. Put them out on sticks so they cover more of the screen. If you've done it right, the gaps will be just the right size for a ship to fit if it doesn't move. Then make the whole thing rotate randomly so the player has to move just right to survive... and that's when those rocket launchers start firing. Everybody who plays this will know you are the greatest level designer of all time, and worship the ground you walk on. Especially if you only give them one life and name the level something totally awesome like "I take a dump on your corpse".


Tiny Core, Big Gun: (play it)
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This is such a kewl trick, it's a wonder nobody ever thought of it before. All you have to do is make your core really, reeeeally small. There's no way they can hit it unless they get right up next to it, and then they have no chance of dodging that badass twin rapidfire core gun you've oh-so-cleverly armed it with. Bonus points if you put this in the middle of a big complex level; just about the time they've fought their way through all the other stuff and think they are about to win, those little green darts come flying out and show them how hopelessly wrong they really are. Players love this and will come back time and again.


Russian Roulette: (play it)
(no mere still picture could convey the sheer awesomeness of this level)
If you rotate your core at about 300 mph and hang a few lasers off it, the player will have the ineffable joy of wondering whether each second is their last. They will cower in fear, knowing sooner or later they will die no matter what they do. Those poor unenlightened players need to learn uselessness of any attachment to life or feelings of control, after all the universe is a harsh and cold place. Of course, on some computers the game will never notice that a laser has hit the ship, so the player can just sit there and hose down your core until it blows up while lasers flicker harmlessly over them, but you can't win them all.


Now, I do agree with redsatori that in certain carefully designed levels, some strategies in this list can be used to good effect. But most of the time I see them, it looks like the designer just thought them up without realizing they've been done about 500 times before. Or worse, they seem to think that the goal of the game is to make impossible levels just to compensate for the size of some bodily organ or other. If a level is genuinely impossible, I rate it a big fat zero.


Last edited by swartzer on Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:50 pm 
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:43 pm
Posts: 87
Man, swartzer, I had that laser level down an orb of lasers before it got me. I'm gonna spend the rest of the night trying to beat it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:56 pm 
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:38 pm
Posts: 144
Was that when it still had a bunch of lives? If you did that with only one life, then I bow down to your Zeta-Fu! Once that thing starts rotating, I die within seconds.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:18 am 
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:43 pm
Posts: 87
I'm playing it now, with the one life thing. I can usually get both of the bottom orbs gone and the left side gone entirely. The main issue I have is when it reverses spin and I'm lagging a bit, cos I don't have a fast enough reaction time to switch directions. I think the level is beatable, but you need amazing reflexes and some damn good luck on the spins.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:28 am 
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:38 pm
Posts: 144
Heh, sounds like you're better at this than I am. I've tried it a few times more, and can now survive for a bit, but still not destroy even a single orb. That level was totally not meant to be playable, but I'm glad you're having fun with it!

BTW, I like the Twelve o'clock shuffle idea. Next time I make a level for real, I'll post it at noon. Mostly I've been messing around in the editor trying to figure out one certain trick, but I should give that up for now and actually post some levels.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:31 am 
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:43 pm
Posts: 87
Just an update for ya, mate:

Image

My god is that a hard level to beat. Also, it got the highest rating I have given out, simply because of the difficulty. If you want a run down of how I do it, I will get a screen of it before they all fire off.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:49 am 
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:38 pm
Posts: 144
I noticed when the success percent went above zero. Congrats! 8)

I do want to see how you did it. I can't seem to find a safe spot big enough to stay alive in.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:51 am 
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:43 pm
Posts: 87
Let me get a screenshot quick from before it fires and I'll go over my strat. Like I said tho, it's about 75% luck in getting the right rotations at the right times.

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The world keeps a balance, through mathematics, defined by whatever you've added and subtracted.
Atmosphere, Godlovesugly
It's better to be choking your chicken in hand than to be tossing your rocks off in a bush.
Shin Chan


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:06 am 
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:43 pm
Posts: 87
Image

The strat itself is a bit complicated, but it does work. Again, a lot depends on whether you don't get caught unawares with the rotation changes.

1) Take out the gun facing the bottom of the screen at position #1. Quickly, without doing so, you can't survive the first firing.

2) Take out the gun facing the bottom of the screen at position #2. This one isn't as important off the bat, but gives you room to work if the rotation changes and you get caught on the wrong side of the middle lasers.

3) Take out the entire orb at position #1. This, by itself, doesn't give you much room to play around in, but allows you easier access to the rest of the left side's lasers.

4) I usually take out a couple of the lasers at position #4. I kept the downward facing lasers until right at the end tho, cos its easier to see where it's pointed.

5) Take out the are at position #3. Also, take out the orb directly behind that arm as well. Doing this opens up a large area to move around in. It is maybe 6 ship widths across at that point. And destroy the orb at position #2 as quickly as possible. It gives about half a ship-width of breathing room.

6) Begin working on the arm and orb hiding behind it at position #5. once #3 and #5 are out of the way, you just need to be very careful about the rotation. My framerate jumped about 7 FPS after the second arm died.

7) Take out the smaller arms at positions #6 and #7.

8) If you make it this far, the rest is easy, just concentrate on killing the core and screw the lasers on it. They do tend to soak some damage up and end up getting killed as you go.

One last thing. Stay as close to the edge of the playing field as you can at all times. If you venture too close to anything on this level, you will be fried faster than bacon on a hot grill in Georgia. Keep at it, and hope you get some good rotations along the way. I got to step 7 about 6 times before I was finally able to kill the thing.

Definitely the hardest, beatable, level I have played in my short time here at Zeta Flow.

_________________
The world keeps a balance, through mathematics, defined by whatever you've added and subtracted.
Atmosphere, Godlovesugly
It's better to be choking your chicken in hand than to be tossing your rocks off in a bush.
Shin Chan


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:16 am 
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:38 pm
Posts: 144
Wow. I'll have to beat this thing - just not tonight. It's time to go sleep off some of that turkey.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:34 pm 
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 1:11 pm
Posts: 3
Hahahaha, great.

Quote:
ineffable joy


xP

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:19 pm 
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:52 am
Posts: 77
To this enlightenment we should add making weapons so tiny you can't find or destroy them.. like in this one: http://zetaflow.skylogic.ca/ZetaFlow.php?ID=3159

At least the core wasn't surrounded by shields or offscreen. I beat this one by staying close to the weaponfire to kept the shield up and got into one of its blindspots to attack the core directly. The missiles circled around me since I was so close to the launchers - I could destroy all of the projectiles because of their looping by aiming south at about the 5-6 o'clock position.

Image


Mass ammounts of weapons will never make a quality level...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:47 pm 
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:38 pm
Posts: 144
Yeah, this zero-size indestructible weapon business has been overdone lately. It seems to be mostly the work of one designer; I wish they'd try some different stuff.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:16 pm 
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:52 am
Posts: 77
Ya, it was old before even the first time imo. As long as there is no rotation and the core is open like the one I linked above then it can be beaten in the exact same way.


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