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Greetings subject 32763. Welcome to Shift Quantum, the latest version of our immersive experimentation system. SHIFT the world, twist your environment, bend your mind to unveil its secrets and solve each brain-drilling level while experimenting your own custom levels on other subjects.

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As level designers on Shift Quantum, when experimenting with newly designed blocks (even before they were implemented) we identified and listed the different micro problems they could generate. Complex puzzles are built later by combining them. Each micro problem has a micro resolution pattern that the player has to figure out and learn. I call those atomic blocks of puzzle resolution "solving patterns".

The puzzles are designed to increase in difficulty while the players develop their understanding of the different mechanics. A solving pattern is challenging when first encountered and then becomes an habit with practice. Identifying the "solving patterns" while designing each puzzle allowed us to make sure they are taught in order, and that there is only one new thing per puzzle.


In Shift Quantum, each branch focuses on a few "solving patterns" that are taught and combined in increasing difficulty. Here are a few examples with the movable block, a block that can be pushed and pulled and in which you can shift (if you are not familiar with the shifting mechanic, check the gameplay trailer).

SQ pattern 1

The first pattern is to push a block to jump on it and reach a higher ground.

SQ pattern 5

Players should also learn to identify situations where a block is stuck because there is no space from which to push it.

SQ pattern 6

A block can also be put on spikes to create a safe ground on which to land.

SQ pattern 2

Shifting inside the block comes later but quickly become an habit. The pattern here is to move the block next to a wall and shift inside the block to get into the wall.

SQ pattern 3

This pattern is different than the previous one because you do not shift directly on the block. Players have to think about how the block opens a path once the level is shifted.

SQ pattern 4

A combination of the previous patterns requires players to build their own path to shift into.


The tutorial level features only the new solving pattern and let players figure it out by themselves. Harder levels combine the previously learnt patterns with a macro layer of resolution. Now, the puzzle is the macro problem: determining in which order each part needs to be done and how they interact with each other.

SQ mov tuto 768x536

The third branch introduces the movable block. The only solving pattern required here is the first one shown above: pushing the block then jumping on it. The movable block is also placed on an elevated platform to show players how the block falls.

SQ mov hard 1024x828

The last puzzle of that branch combines all the patterns seen during the branch (the red circles), plus common navigation patterns with the shift mechanic (in blue). Each movable block is used for several solving patterns. Players will get stuck if push them without thinking of the macro problem.


You can also see that the tutorial stays visually clean, while the harder puzzle has a lot of visual clutter. The solving patterns are the same but it is more challenging to find them. The presentation of the puzzle is our last way to regulate difficulty. We can put the emphasize on the solution with clear shapes, or hide it behind misleading visual patterns.

SQ visual help 768x640

This early level has been modified after some playtests to make the long jump more visible. Jumps are very simple solving patterns, and the firsts to be taught, but the shape of that puzzle made players think the solution was elsewhere. A simple block (in the red circle) creates a springboard shape that hints at the jump.

In this article, I discussed level design focusing on the "solving patterns" because I think it is a useful concept. But it is not the only method we used and we did not actually make an exhaustive list of all Shift Quantum's patterns. It was more of a mental list we built up while designing puzzles and seeing playtests. A larger team could need a formalized list, but that did not make sense for us. Looking for "solving patterns" still gave us a more rational way of thinking our level design and helped us understand how players discover new patterns and learn to play our game.

Level Editor Challenge - NEW CONTENT! Round #1

Level Editor Challenge - NEW CONTENT! Round #1

News

Two new levels each day for a week :) And the first level from the community featured by the devs.

Shift Quantum is OUT!

Shift Quantum is OUT!

News

Our cyber-noir puzzle-platformer, Shift Quantum is now available on PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / Nintendo Switch & Steam PC. GET IT NOW!

Shift Quantum comes out 30th May

Shift Quantum comes out 30th May

News

Invert the world to escape a dystopian experiment in PS4, XBOX One, Steam and Nintendo Switch puzzle platformer Shift Quantum. Solve 117 campaign levels...

Connect to Shift Quantum This Spring On Nintendo Switch, Xbox One PlayStation®4 and PC!

Connect to Shift Quantum This Spring On Nintendo Switch, Xbox One PlayStation®4 and PC!

News

Platforms announcement and Story Trailer of Shift Quantum, the cyber-noir action-puzzle platformer in black and white.

Comments
nvmsy
nvmsy

Looks good. How similar is it to the 2010 game, Continuity?

Kongregate.com

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DOLBYdigital
DOLBYdigital

Excellent voice acting and background music with a good overall theme/mood to the video. I liked the glitching effects too since it gave off the vibe that things are not what they seem :)

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
VirginRedemption Creator
VirginRedemption

Thank you very much for the feedback. I am glad you noticed the intentions. We are currently working on the story trailer that will use the same codes.

Reply Good karma+1 vote
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Shift Quantum
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Aug 14 2018

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RT @Zhykos: Je suis souvent à la bourre sur mes tests et previews mais je finis toujours pas écrire un petit quelque chose dès… T.co

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Aug 8 2018

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