7 Weeks Production
2 Weeks Pre-Production
ALTIIA AND THE TRIAL ISLANDS
This project was part of a course where we had 9 weeks to create a game which could fill the criteria of being open world and sandbox. This game is about Altiia, an explorer who has found an island formation with some abandoned and destroyed temples scattered around the isles. Inside some of these temples Altiia can find a staff which she can use to pole vault to cross large distances and a part from that she can find a glider which allows her to soar through the sky towards her next target location. Along the way, players can search and find treasures which allow them to customize the colour of Altiia’s clothes and the colour of the glider.
During this project I wanted to focus on Level Design and World Building, so me and another team member who wanted to do the same took that responsibility together. From the start we were working on a small part of the world and later had that built into the workflow for how we worked with the levels. Since the level was a quite large area we proposed to keep different sections of the world in different levels and have them all be loaded through a persistent level. This let us work on different parts of the map at the same time and cut down waiting time.
My responsibilities for this project were tied to Level Design and Game Design.
I was involved in all decisions regarding game play, features and how we would achieve our different objectives.
I designed and created the mountain as well as the surrounding smaller islands, including a smaller temple in the north part of the level.
Communicated with the rest of the group and tweaked parts of levels according to given valuable feedback.
SANDBOX Players could create their own challenges wherever they wanted and traverse the world in whichever order they liked.
CUSTOMIZATION Players could find treasures in the shape of hats and different colours they could use to change their appearances with.
AUDIENCE AWARENESS Due to our audience being younger players we adapted certain features to correspond well with the specifications of PG ratings for said audience. An example is that the piranhas in the game aren’t that graphic when they attack.
HOW DID WE PLAN THE LEVELS?
This is the Map Overview showing the main route which allows for two different ways to play the level. The player can choose which island between islands 2 and 3 they want to go to first after learning the basic mechanics. I was responsible for creating a part of the world where the player would find the glider and islands around that area where the player can explore and find treasures.
I wanted to have the glider be placed at a high mountain from which the players can glide out to the rest of the world. So I focused on creating the northern and eastern areas (islands 3 – 4 and the smaller islands around them) and made them with the glider in mind. Both me and the other level designer in the group impacted each others levels by giving feedback and having regular discussions about how we can make the different parts of the level feel more cohesive.
This is how we show the player the two different ways they can choose from. However, during most play test sessions we found that most people tend to go the left way and rarely ever use the right one.
GETTING THE GLIDER
Here in this temple is where the player gets their glider. The temple is designed in a way that lets them try the glider in a quite safe environment. It also features jump pads to let the player explore how they interact with the glider.
Looking back, the glider didn’t really stand out too well from the background and we would need some background to create contrast between the glider and the rest of the environment.
Why is the level formed the way it is?
During the first few iterations we had a big island in the middle which was supposed to be powered up by connecting energy lines which were disconnected from each big island. Connecting them all would make that part of the level rise and add another big platform to the level which would be more of a playground with floating platforms and jump pads to allow players to gain more altitude and glide around more.
Due to time restrictions we had to remove a few things and since we had left the middle of the map for the last phase of the production it was cut due to the aforementioned restriction.
What would I change and why?
I learned that it would have been better for the game if we decided to drastically change the layout after removing some of the planned content. Right now, although the reveal of the world after the tutorial is great, however it comes with some downsides. The player no longer had a sense of progression and the world no longer had any real objectives, which is fine if it’s built that way.
A suggestion I would make now is to move the big mountain and have the player directly progress through that and get the glider before they can actually move away from the tutorial parts and have the rest of the landmasses be spread around in a somewhat circular shape like in the image above.