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Salynrad talks about his thoughts on Loot It!'s Level Design and how to improve the replayability of the game

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Hello Folks! As I am currently very busy with studies and the Level Design of the Project I do not have much time to create and show off new Art Assets. Instead I will try to give you a small update on how Level Design for the upcoming Alpha goes, and some of my thoughts on the Level Design and re playability of the game in general.

After now two weeks of trying to build high quality levels I realized that Loot It! was heading to become one of those games you would play trough once or at maximum twice as it is a pretty linear game. Of course there is often more than only one way to complete a level, avoid an annoying guard or to find a secret, but I have to admit that I've got bored from my Level design very soon and lost the motivation to test the Levels I've built.

As I'm writing a Paper about procedural generation (of weapons) in Video games for my Bachelor degree I came up with some Ideas of how I could use those methods to freshen up the Levels, but as our Tilesets are not meant for such things and I neither have the time nor the knowledge how to code real procedurally generated Levels I decided to go a very similar way:

The Current Idea is that some very specific parts of Levels, for example Warehouses, Parks or Market Places consist of one or more varying pieces, meaning that maybe the warehouse is full of crates and barrels – building some kind of labyrinth with varying layout, or that in certain places "Secret passages and their respective Activation "buttons" are placed in different locations.

As mentioned before I think complete procedural generation of this Level parts would be an Overkill for me alone as I'm not a very good programmer and more of an Artist, but I had the Idea to prepare between 3 or 5 entirely different variations of this Places / Layouts / whatever and pick one at random at the Start of the Level. This principle will most likely make it into the game as it is economic and might just confront you with an additional approach to a Level you might have solved in an entirely different way before, or even failed. I see a lot of different possibilities regarding this system and I am currently playing around with the Ideas mentioned above and there will be examples in the Alpha!

An Important part of this is the question how it will effect my overall Level design, what measures must be taken to ensure that there won't be problems with the level Progression or important Plot parts? When designing a Level I usually start out with a very rough Idea of what I want the Player to encounter in the Level. How difficult the level should be and how I can introduce a new Perspective or gameplay Element into the Level. Another important factor is that I think it is important to use a very open approach on the Level design itself, giving the Player the ability to study the Level before he decides on how to approach the challenges ahead, or how he gets around them, making exploration and observation a very important part of the gameplay of Loot It!. Usually after I've written down what I want to have in the Level and some sketches related to it I start creating a Plot for the Level that fits into the Lore and Main Plot of the game, drawing some early overview maps of the Level at the same time.
This is a very time consuming process (especially the "putting encounters into the Plot and Level Layout" part) and that I have to do this on my own doesn't make it any better. The worst part of the game will most likely be the Plot, which, regarding the two Levels prepared for the alpha is really really ridiculous at the moment... Hopefully I'll be able to change this for future releases but as I want to give you a playable Alpha this will have to do it for now.

Another thing I wanted to talk about is Events, as currently the ways the Player interacts with the world are limited to the two factors that influence how easy he is detected, and a small number of Objects you can Pick up, climb on, talk to, read or open. Personally I'd like to create some very distinctive and fancy Events the Player can Trigger during Missions to freshen the whole gameplay up. For example at one point we've played with the thought that the Player could be able to use a throwable ball of Wool to attract Cats which again would help to distract guards, (guards love cats) or use explosives to set off a Box filled with Rockets what would also have a very distracting Effect on Guards. Another option would be Random Events the Player doesn't have control over like, Shift change – completely messing up the Guards Patrol habits or a Thunderstorm hanging over the Level, but these are just Ideas I'd really like to integrate into the game as I think they would make the Levels even more fun to Play but I don't know yet if I'll find time for.

I Hope you enjoyed this DevLog, Have a nice day!

Comments
Fib
Fib

So is the whole point of every level to avoid being caught by guards?

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Salynrad Author
Salynrad

Currently we plan to have a very specific task for each Level, like locate and acquire a very special Loot Object, smuggle another NPC out of an Area full of guards (not sure if this will make it into the game, as it is very hard to time stuff correctly), or get into a secured Area, acquire Information by sneaking up to talking NPCs and listening to what they have to say or read books lying around.
You could also have to solve a specific puzzle, but in the end you will always have to "escape" from the Level.
Another objective could be to loot as many objects in an Area as possible, This could be an optional secondary win condition as well (collect a certain amount of profane Loot Objects) or just some kind of "Score" for other Levels. Our primary "Fail Condition" is that you get caught if you remain to long inside the field of view of a guard.

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