Focused on consistent introduction of basic mechanics to provide a simple and fun 30-60 minute casual user experience. Play as a powerful mage that uses magic to move, destroy, and teleport boxes throughout rooms to solve puzzles of varying difficulties. Produced and developed in 5 weeks as a solo exercise.
Producing this experience from scratch I knew that I wanted to introduce the simple mechanics to the player frequently while giving them clear opportunities to use the learned mechanic while not getting bored. Each time a mechanic was introduced the difficulty decreased so the player could solve puzzles easily with the newly introduced feature. The ebb and flow of the difficulty until level 12 is fairly substantial providing both fun and satisfaction during the initial half of the play through.
By planning both limited and straight forward mechanics the player learned how gameplay worked and within only a few levels see the potential of the mechanic and the fun that it brings breeding curiosity for what is next. The creativity of the levels came out of the following five character mechanics coupled with limited level building assets keeping production straight forward and timely.
With a short and long push (teleport), players are able to move boxes throughout the the level quickly while also maintaining the ability to make precise movements when required by a puzzle. Keeping to a single space push would have resulted in frustration and a bad user experience.
When the player moves a push-able black box over the red trigger it will destroy a connected red box somewhere in the level. Visual indicators allowed the user to immediately understand that something needs to happen with the area.
Pushing a box to fall into a gap to create a bridge or provide access to another block is another mechanic in the tool chest. The falling and fit of the block is both visually pleasing and enjoyable for the player.
The gap teleport is one of the more subtle but required mechanics in the game. Players may not be immediately aware that they can long push a black box over a gap five grid spaces in length. This is one of the mechanics I did not try and beat players over the head with to allow for a more challenging user experience.
Finding a magic book gives the player the ability to destroy any single standard box in the level to provide access to an area that was previously blocked. This demands forward thinking, patience, and planning by the player. When used at the right time it provides a feeling satisfaction for the player knowing they held on to it until the right moment.
Building levels within the constraints of a self inflicted kit allowed for simple levels to be created easily while maintain a well paced and consistent player experience. Each level was constructed by using only a few buildings blocks including push-able block(s), standard orange blocks, red block, stairs, triggers, magic books, and the end of level door. Production and timeline was kept short by maintaining an easy to use level building kit. Watch time-lapse video of a level being built below.
With the goal of 19 different levels to create I needed the ability to keep level creation and play testing in the one to three hour range. As difficulty built later levels took more testing and creativity which increased creation time. Watching play test from family and friends was pivotal to being sure I had pacing correct as well as presented new mechanics in level design that made those mechanics painfully obvious. I didn't want to hand players an experience that was overly simple so I was careful with how much I handed them from level to level. When all was said and done I was able to create a 19 level prototype in around 50-60 hours over a five week period.