It's time for another Dev Diary! We'll give you some sneak peeks at our levels and explain how we iterate them from paper to whiteboxing and from the preliminary mesh to a finished level. Later we'll take a look at last week when we went to Helsinki to Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2018! So let's get right into it!
The current group of characters: Dash, our unnamed companion and Ste!
Level design is the passion of our lead designer Toni. When he creates levels for Dash to explore, there are many things he takes into consideration. Playtime, player's viewpoints, enemy placement, difficulty curves and pacing. But many of these things can't be done before there is a level to iterate. So, he starts on paper.
Toni shared this image of the first level on his Twitter page
From here, he brings it to Unity and starts whiteboxing. Since the addition of ProBuilder, this process has gotten quicker and quick changes are easy. At the beginning of the project, Toni made accurate measures of Dash's platforming capabilities, so he knows what's easy, difficult or actually impossible. From here, playtests tell him what parts need some TLC. Some basic textures are added to give the team a feel of what the level looks like.
Once the level feels good, it's passed to Antti, one of our artists. He takes the whiteboxed level and makes it look and feel more natural. They discuss what areas should look like, where things need to be exactly like the whitebox and where artistic freedom is allowed. When the mesh is ready, textured and tested, the level is filled with aaaaall the small things that make it look alive, like trees and petals of grass.
After that, the level is "done"! Additional playtests reveal possible breaks in geometry, things that need to be smoothed and made more pretty, how lighting affects the gameplay and possible bugs. All in all, the whole of "Bay Six", up to it's newest version took about 6 weeks. This was the first level designed and was actually split into two, hence the long work time. The other part became the "Bay Six" we know now, the other becoming the second level in the game. The third level has taken about 2 weeks so far, and it's now at the "whiteboxed and tested" part.
That's how we make the islands in Captain's Tail. For more looks into the first iterations on levels, go check out Toni's Twitter @turboherne.
Now, let's look at something more recent and IRL. We visited Pocket Gamer Helsinki 2018 and had a booth at the Big Indie Zone, filled with amazingly fun games made by fellow indies. We went to the event to showcase our game and talk to gamers, indies and publishers. We were happy to see everyone's face turn into a smile when they saw Dash, grabbed the controller and went for a run on Bay Six. We got so much encouragement, feedback and business talk that we were tuckered out when we got on the bus home. But the event was a great time and we'll be going to other events in the near future. So if you are going to Northern Game Summit or Nordic Game Arena, give us a holler on social media!
And before I show you the gameplay video, don't forget to follow us on social media! We have a sticker giveaway coming when we hit 100 followers on our Twitter!
Thanks for reading! We'll see you again in a couple of weeks. Until then, hope you enjoy this short gameplay video we made for PGC Helsinki!