Yacht Club Games

Follow us on Twitter

Specter of Torment Level Design Deep Dive (5/5)

We’ve gone over our level design process from macro to micro – but what’s the final process to make a level feel polished and frictionless?  Well, it’s not just one thing, sometimes it feels like a thousand tiny things constantly buzzing around in our brains! But polishing levels isn’t done by “feel”, it’s done by establishing and adhering to a set of guidelines. Each level is once more analyzed as each element is adjusted into place using our Secret Techniques!

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should provide some insight into the more nuanced areas of our polish process.

Read

Specter of Torment Level Design Deep Dive (4/5)

Finalizing a level requires that it be considered in every way. To make sure that we didn’t forget anything, we’ll take “passes” at the whole level, and then the whole game, with a specific element in mind. Pickups like Health, Gems, Darkness, and Red Skulls all got thorough passes to make sure they were balanced, but there are some less obvious considerations too!

Read

Specter of Torment Level Design Deep Dive (3/5)

Once a level’s rooms are all in place, the game really starts coming together. Perhaps the level is playable from start to finish, and maybe it’s fun too! But we’re not done yet. It’s at this point that the team really starts scrutinizing the level as an organic unit, then revisit everything one sequence at a time as we block in more final placements and smooth out rough parts. The result should be a ‘done’ level where only final touches remain! For Specter of Torment, that process took about 4 intensive months.

Read

Specter of Torment Level Design Deep Dive (2/5)

In our last chapter, we developed a strategy and scope for creating levels in Specter of Torment. We also assigned objects and mechanics to each level. So, now that we’ve got a foundation of rules and ideas to build on and a rough plan for all the levels, it’s time to actually design the specific rooms that make up the gameplay of each level! Let’s talk about some of the things we consider when designing a small stretch of gameplay.

Read

Specter of Torment Level Design Deep Dive (1/5)

Welcome, knowledge seekers! Over the course of Shovel Knight’s development, Yacht Club Games has received many requests to document and describe our level design process. However, it’s been challenging enough to develop games, much less write about them in an understandable and interesting way! But now that we’ve just finished up with Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, we’ve had some time to collect our thoughts about our level design process and whip up a little article series! We hope to provide a little insight into the arcane mysteries of video game level design, and to codify some of the rules and practices we’ve come to value over the course of developing five Shovel Knight games.

Read