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your opinions on 2D platformer levels

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by gamekitteh, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. gamekitteh


    Aug 24, 2018
    I am currently working on a 2D platformer, and have a map of the kind of levels I want to do (water, forest, etc.). I'm trying to decide how to break it up though ...what sizes to make each one and if there are enough.

    How long do you think a level should be in a platformer? How much minimum should you get to play if you just speedrun? What is a good amount of them to have in a game? Also, I'm assuming that nowadays you can actually include a new level later in a PC game that is already published like they do on mobile games, so is it a good idea to do this?

    Do you think it changes based on the game being on mobile vs. PC ... I was thinking about breaking and grouping the levels as smaller games to be released individually on mobile, then having the much larger full release that you can install as a PC game. That may mess up the level of difficulty though.
  2. LMan


    Jun 1, 2013
    level "settings" or themes are usually more or less window dressing.

    Think about it in terms of what mechanics fit together well in a particular level and then introduce and combine them at different times during the level.

    For instance...

    Take the ice penguin stage of megaman X. Remembering that megaman is a game about jumping and shooting, Lets break down the areas.
    • Snowy slopes, 3 enemy types introduced together. Each occupies a different vertical domain. got flying dudes, hopping dudes, and standing dudes. (Jumpin, shootin.)
    • Cave, bats. descending for a bit...
      • Then longer hallways that zigzag upwards, with an enemy that charges the player on straightaways. Take note of those little "pauses" where there aren't any immediate threats- those are important.
      • At the top we get a story beat. how long into the level are we? after like 2 minutes, we stop jumpin and shootin and read a little text and get an upgrade. Aw cool! what's it do?
      • Rest of the cave is big long horizontal hallways so we can use the new dash. some tall enemies, some flying dudes.
    • Outside, there's a robot suit! Aw yeah! Now you're jumpin, punchin, dashin, it's awesome. What's this? Another dude in a robot suit?! We go rock em, sock em for a bit (how many hits does he take compared to the other stuff? He feels beefy even though you're in the overpowered suit.) and then hit a wall the suit can't get past. oh well. jump jump jump.
    • Then we're climbing a big slope- snowballs rolling down that get bigger as they roll! Then we see the snowball-throwing dudes. They stand above on the slope and throw snowballs downward. The snowball thing gets combined with gaps to jump OVER and walls to jump UP.
    • Hit the door and there's a pause you FEEL as the camera pans dramatically to the indoor space. Then a claustrophobic room with just the boss. Whole place looks icy.
      • He does belly slides that bounce off walls. Gotta jump over those. He ends up a different place from where he started.
      • He can freeze you in place.
      • He can make ice sculptures and then trigger a windstorm that pins you against the wall, crushing the sculptures against you.
      • He can shoot ice bullets at you that slide on the floor, but also break if they hit ice sculptures.
      • Your bullets bounce off his head, gotta time the shots right.

    Now read back through and take out all the enemies and attacks that you could put in any other level. What are you left with? The snowballs, snowball throwers, and the boss. Theming makes levels look visually different from each other, but when a mechanic can be dressed up to fit the theme, all the better.

    Whole level takes 5.5 minutes for a skilled player, or maybe almost 10 for an unskilled player?

    Extra study:
    Differences in Scale vs Differences in Kind
    Awesome Per Second
  3. BrandyStarbrite


    Aug 4, 2013
    It depends.

    In DK Tropical Freeze, I wish some of the cooler looking levels
    eg. The Forest stages, were longer. Like way longer.:p

    For me, if the platformer game is fun, I'd say 20 levels, is a good amount.
    Or if you want to go a bit higher, probably about 40 levels at least.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
  4. Volcanicus


    Jan 6, 2018
    3-5 mins of casual play if you're looking at Mario or Sonic Levels. Afterwards it feels tedious. You can lower that bar if the difficulty is raised.

    Let the speed-run community decide. Don't assume unless you did it yourself. You can always put a speed run mode and put up your personal score and have players beat it.

    Depends on story content or amounts of mechanics you want to test the player on. If your levels are driving the story, put just about enough to make the story work and then add a few bonus stages. If you make your game mechanics based, enough so you test the player on easy/medium/hard difficulties and a mish-mash of mechanics.

    Please do not do this. This has been spoiled by the big companies into being perceived as selling half a game. Terrible marketing and does not draw in or keep players. If you want to release a DLC or the "lost levels" sure, but not actual content.

    Test and see ;)
  5. newjerseyrunner


    Jul 20, 2017
    I think the best thing to do is to figure out the level design, then care about the theme. It doesn't matter what the level looks like, what matters more is how it plays. Grey boxes are just as useful and way easier to make when it comes to designing levels.

    I like levels to take no more than 20 minutes to beat the first time through and only 4 or 5 once I know what to do. You have to take difficulty into the equation here though. The first time I played SMW after not playing it for years, I struggled to get through the first few worlds, but now I can blast through the Valley of Bowser like it's nothing and players will quickly increase in skill.