The original design for the tower level was simply to climb the hill towards the tower and then simply enter the tower and engage with the mechanic however this wasn’t engaging enough the the level didn’t last long enough. I constructed a white box with instructions from the team with a centra climb that then transitions to an external tower climb. The level wasn’t overly visually stimulating but it was an upgrade from the original layout. I wasn’t happy with this level upon completion and I decided to restart the design.
The tower is a very large level with much of the gameplay being the player simply climbing the level, this is to install an atmosphere that prepares the player for the end of the game, we want to add a subtle echoing piano music to the level reverberating through the tower and the sounds of wind and snow surrounding the tower. We also want to add snow and wind around the tower to create a cold and wintery ambience.
What I learned
The tower level was a logistical nightmare to design, over several iterations and still not being happy with a layout is challenging, as the final area of the game I wanted the level to be something that players are excited to reach, the level had to be large, long visually exciting and set the tension for the final level, I learned how to drop ideas that weren’t working and keep trying new ideas until a breakthough, I also learnt that taking a step back and looking objectively at the work helps get a better grip for direction
I wanted to work with the idea of a multi-level tower that players would navigate in rings, in practice this turned out to be significantly more difficult to execute that originally planned, the level either didn’t work from a traversal perspective and players couldn’t make their way up the tower or the tower looked awful and structurally questionable, I designed 8 iterations of level using a ring basis that players would spiral upward. These didn’t work either and I was starting to consider reverting to an earlier design. My last attempt was using a 3 ring design that had spiral staircases upward, the rings could be crossed over onto different staircases to allow the player to progress higher. The final version of this, the player starts on the outer ring and then crosses through the center of the tower moving to an inner staircase that brings them to the very top of the tower. This level was significantly larger that the whitebox or previous layout designs and the level certainly has more substance to it. In regards to aesthetic, I designed each ring as part of the tower wall that had crumbled over time, the out ring is the lowest and then steadily getting higher as the rings get smaller as if the weather had worn them away from the outside.
Above, tower collider maps, below the final tower level with the hill climb
First iteration whitebox level vs the final iteration of the tower level