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A Detailed Cross-Examination of Yesterday and Today's Best-Selling Platform Games

August 4, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 27 of 31 Next
 

5 - Short-Term Challenge Design

In crude definition, a game level designed for a traditional gaming audience is a series of many small challenges strung together to form a sequence or set of sequences.

How closely they’re packed together obviously determines how much immediate variety is presented to the player and the breadth of choices available to them at any one time. The best successful example of this is the multi-million success; Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on PS2.

GTA:VC’s backbone is freedom of choice, which in turn presents the player with a variety of things they can choose to do. Anything from taking on the game’s main crime missions, to ignoring them completely and becoming a fireman, putting out fires in the city, or becoming a taxi driver.

Additionally, the aforementioned game is in a completely different genre from the one we’re exploring, but it’s core is the same; a fully realized game world with characters, goals to achieve and places to explore. The only ‘real’ differences are the scale, narrative spirit and world structure, though those are significant differences.

The list below shows how many different types of mini-challenge are present within the first five to ten minutes of gameplay. Bear in mind that the number of times a listed challenge is available within those minutes is not counted. Variety of gameplay is what we’re looking for here.

Task types present in first five to ten minutes – optional and mandatory

32 types:

  • Collect finance
  • Hit un-marked containers to find finance or pick-ups.
  • Smash breakable areas of environment – brick material - for hidden bonuses and addition to score.
  • Blitz through enemies with invincibility power-up.
  • Pick-up and throw enemy onto multiple enemies in succession.
  • Hit marked containers for pick-ups/finance.
  • Skilfully throw an enemy shell into the side of a marked container for pick-up.
  • Bounce-kill a succession of enemies before landing for score bonus.
  • Jump over Kill-Zone.
  • Jump over horizontally moving floor hazard.
  • Jump on, then kick an enemy shell.
    Jump on, then pick up an enemy shell.
  • Jump-kill hazard by a jumping on top of it.
    Jump-hit base of container for pick-up.
  • Avoid pop-up sentry projectile and get past.
    Avoid being hit by a ricocheting enemy shell.
  • Secretly drop behind in-game backdrop.
    Kill sentry with power-up, without getting hit by projectile.
  • Aim and throw enemy shell into side of container for pick-up reveal.
  • Close-range attack hazards with power-up.
  • Close-range attack enemies with power-up mid-inertia.
  • Clear area of hazards to make a safe path for long run-up.
  • Accelerate and meet speed quota then fly to hidden area.
  • Explore for hidden areas in HTR areas out of plain site
  • Navigate under and past hazards descending from above in an arc formation.
  • Take cover from sentry hazard projectiles from behind object.
  • Find hidden environment deformer.
  • Aim and throw shell into destructible area until it ricochets through enough blocks to reveal path to secret.
  • Collect finance within deformer’s time limit.
  • Accelerate enough to be able to duck and slide off your inertia to the other side of a low ceiling.
  • Hit roulette bonus container at right time to receive bonus Quota token for Extra life.
  • Catch power-up that runs away.

28 types:

  • Collect finance.
  • Blitz through enemies with invincibility power-up.
  • Bounce of container and jump attack enemy hazard without landing.
  • Smash containers for pick-ups/finance.
  • Avoid projectile attack.
  • Smash pick-up container hidden behind backdrop.
  • Jump over horizontally moving floor hazard.
  • Bounce-kill enemies in succession without landing.
  • Use power-up to reach checkpoint/Bonus area.
  • Enter subtly hidden area for finance bonus.
  • Collect finance for check-point/Bonus area entry.
  • Navigate and jump to HTR area for Extra life.
  • Spring-jump to HTR area for finance and checkpoint/bonus entry.
  • Break inertia to reach moving platform to access HTR area.
  • Jump over Kill-Zone.
  • Keep momentum going to collect all finance on loops and twists.
  • Break inertia from speeding along slope and control jump within the altered trajectory to reach vertical moving platform on a beat.
  • Skill-jump over object forcing your movement direction while at speed.
  • Jump over object forcing your movement direction to avoid being pushed in undesired direction.
  • Navigate from one object forcing your movement direction to another to keep momentum going.
  • Add inertia to object forcing your movement direction to a spring to jump over and land past a hazard.
  • Use object forcing your movement upward to spring and land on moving horizontal platform.
  • Navigate across moving horizontal platforms to checkpoint/Bonus area.
  • Kill enemies mid-momentum and mid-inertia.
  • Guide supporting avatar to extra finance/health when hurt.
  • Bonus level: Learn new mechanics for new area.
  • Avoid hazards that come toward you.
  • Guide supporting avatar to finance and safety.
  • Collect finance to meet round-end quota to earn Token Quota.

21 types:

  • Learn behaviour of unusual platform.
  • Navigate across three vines for pick-up.
  • Meet finance quota to enter bonus level.
  • Bonus level: Collect finance quota before time-out.
  • Navigate up and across platforms.
  • Jump from the edge of a platform at the last second to reach a HTR area.
  • Jump over Kill-zones.
  • Jump navigate along platforms in an upward direction.
  • Navigate off unusual platform to reach high-vine.
  • Navigate vines in a horizontal direction over Kill-Zone.
  • Navigate vine and wait for horizontal-moving floor hazard to pass before landing.
  • Use new power up to free Quota Token from container at a distance.
  • Jump over horizontally moving enemies on a beat.
  • Use new power-up to free special bouncing platform and jump off special platform to reach HTR area.
  • Avoid airborne horizontally moving hazards coming from static enemy.
  • Hit airborne hazard launching enemy during vulnerable frames.
  • Navigate on special platform onto enemy head and use as a platform to gain power-up from HTR area.
  • Navigate special platform into water and ride special platform to Quota Token.
  • Navigate special platform over Kill-zones to reach bonus.
  • Charge attack to kill HTR enemy.
  • Navigate special platform over kill-zone and jump to acquire power-up.

13 types:

  • Collect finance.
  • Smash containers for pick-ups.
  • Jump over Kill-Zone.
  • Jump on top of enemy.
  • Bonus token quota navigate.
  • Blitz through enemies by moving into them when invincible.
  • Bonus area: Smash all containers.
  • Navigate between two containers to bounce between them and maximise your financial income.
  • Jump up platform-rich wall in non-hostile area.
  • Bounce across a row of containers over a Kill-Zone.
  • Meet container smash quotient.
  • Meet token collect quotient to reach bonus level.
  • Skill-hit enemy into another enemy

17 types:

  • Finance collect.
  • Run from boss hazard’s attacks.
  • Avoid projectile line of fire.
  • Jump-hit enemy in vulnerable spot.
  • Jump away from targeted charging floor-based enemy.
  • Navigate up a sequence of springs to a high level.
  • Jump attack succession of enemies without landing.
  • Keep momentum going when running a loop-the-loop.
  • Build up momentum on curved wall to reach hidden shortcut.
  • Run up curved wall whilst still in speed-up power-up time limit to reach hidden short-cut area.
  • Deviate from standard route to find hidden area.
  • Deviate from standard route to find bonus finance.
  • Use special object forcing your movement direction to progress to next part of level.
  • Break-off halfway through object forcing your movement direction to enter a transport network to access Bonus area.
  • Jump-attack to bonus item platform over Kill-zone.
  • Move PC onto object forcing your movement direction to jump over Kill-zone.
  • Navigate entire level in fast time to gain three Quota tokens.

10 types:

  • Reach destination within power-up time limit to activate special object.
  • Reach next power-up within power-up time limit for more power-up.
  • Double-jump to higher area.
  • Jump across horizontally placed platforms.
  • Break containers for hit-point finance.
  • Collect finance.
  • Collect quota token.
  • Collect seven sub-Quota tokens.
  • Attack static décor.
  • Jump-attack static décor.

20 types:

  • Jump past floor hazard whilst avoiding the hurt-hazard at the centre.
  • Collect permanent upgrade.
  • Skill spray hazard marks on floor to avoid slipping.
  • Refill ammo in Water-Zones.
  • Wall bounce to higher area.
  • Skill spray hazard marks on wall.
  • Skill spray marked character for story hint.
  • Spray villagers for comedy reaction.
  • Bounce off canopies.
  • Bounce off one enemy onto another in succession.
  • Bounce off tight ropes.
  • Spray special graphics for finance bonuses.
  • Jump-kill enemies emerging from floor hazard.
  • Smash containers for practice.
  • Climb poles/trees for practice.
  • Kick fruit.
  • Reveal boss through skill-spraying hurt hazard at centre of floor hazard.
  • Kill boss before time limit or he’ll disappear and you have to reveal him again.
  • Avoid hazard marks on floor – hurt zone – while trying to achieve goal of killing boss.
  • Collect Quota Token.

39 types:

  • Collect finance.
  • Hit un-marked containers to find finance or pick-ups.
  • Smash breakable areas of environment – brick material - for hidden bonuses and addition to score.
  • Hit block directly under floating finance to collect floating finance.
  • Hit block directly under enemy to kill enemy.
  • Search for hidden/invisible pick-up/finance containers by jumping in random or suspicious areas.
  • Blitz through enemies with invincibility power-up for score bonus and Extra lives if enough are killed in succession.
  • Blitz through as many enemies and objects as possible within bonus mini-game power-up for Extra lives.
  • Pick-up and throw enemy onto multiple enemies in succession for score bonus and Extra life if enough are killed in succession.
  • Bounce-kill a succession of enemies before landing for multiplied score bonus and Extra life if enough are killed.
  • Jump over Kill-Zones.
  • Aim and throw enemy into floating finance to collect it.
  • Kill enemy hazard by jumping on top of it.
  • Avoid falling off seesaw platforms by standing on one side for too long.
  • Use seesaw platform to reach HTR area.
  • Explore for hidden areas.
  • Use power-ups from external levels to enter hidden areas in others.
  • Kill enemy hazards with projectiles for finance and score.
  • Kill x enemy hazards in a row for an Extra life.
  • Jump on, then kick an enemy hazard.
  • Jump on, then pick up an enemy hazard.
  • Avoid being hit by a ricocheting enemy shell.
  • Skilfully throw an enemy shell into the side of a marked container for pick-up.
  • Skilfully throw an enemy shell into the side of an unmarked container for pick-up.
  • Navigate through unconventional HTR areas – somewhat out of sight – to find hidden bonuses/exits
  • Break through bricks using specialised downward attack to reach hidden areas and coins (can only be done while powered-up).
  • Aim specialised downward attack to kill enemy.
  • Catch finance while floating down from upon high.
  • Collect finance at speed while diving from special float move.
  • Catch power-up that runs away.
  • Find level-unlocking Quota Tokens hidden in the level.
  • Clear area of hazards to clear path for triple jump combo.
  • Find hidden ‘easy route’ to beat level.
  • Aim for high points on end level goal for score and Extra life bonuses
  • Accelerate enough to be able to duck and slide off your inertia to the other side of a low ceiling.
  • Upon activated bonus icon, collect x quota tokens before time runs out to earn Extra life.
  • Skilfully double jump between walls to escape death in a kill-zone.
  • Skilfully double jump between walls to reach high sections.

Article Start Previous Page 27 of 31 Next

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