Dev Diaries: GRIM Project – Level Design (part 2)

Following up with Part 1 of GRIM Project – Level Design Dev Diaries, my previous post. For my lastest game project, G12-iM.

G12-iM synopsis:

An assembly robot that mysteriously gains self-awareness, and is thus curious to discover and explore his surroundings, which is in the factory he, and the other robots were created in. As he progresses, the robot will discover the ‘grim’ nature of his, and his fellow robots, existence. Through this narrative, the player will be indirectly invited to engage with the philosophical questions posed by the game in regards to the nature of life, self-reflection and the big questions of ‘Why?’.

Robots create robots, as it mirrors humans making humans. A factory, a hospital. 

More info about the game were addressed in earlier posts, here.

In Part 1, it was mentioned that players needed to acquire skills to advance in the game, by learning the game mechanics in the tutorial levels. I have covered 7 levels, each addresses a unique game mechanic or combines one or more mechanics.

The game mechanics are:

– Movement [how to move the main character],
– Simple Hacking [hacking into one robot],
– Movement Counter,
– Movement + Simple Hacking [how to hack the different robots, Mech, Spy and Janitor bot],
– Advanced Hacking [hacking into multiple robots, G12-iM to robot, robot to robot],
– Pressure Plates Switches,
– Proximity Sensor Switches.

A disclaimer: The screen shots in this and the previous post were taken in the free Unity version. So light casting is off, the shadow effects are nonexistent, the final build of the game though has much better lights/shadows, because it was built in the pro version of Unity 3D. 

Teaching Spy bot functions + Crushers, Level 9: 

Combining 3 mechanics, Spy bot, Proximity Sensor Switch and Crushers.

As my disclaimer states, the light casting in the crushers is off in this screen shot. It bothers me, but I’m overlooking it, because this post’s focus is level design.

G12-iM is positioned by the entry door, its light is suppose to be casting a long shadow of G12-iM to convey loneliness/self-reflection, which is not visible in this screen shot. The camera angle is overlooking the stage, visually aligning the hovering Spy bot, the switch and the white drapes exit door. The switch and its metal barred door are on about the same horizontal line, to make the connection to the player, lights color coordination helps too.

On this level, Spy bot, has more moves than it did on the previous level, and the 3-blocks space path is clearer, to reinforce the Spy bot’s unique movement style to the player. Crushers are reintroduced to the player, and they have more speed retracting. First 3 crushers, are set so the player has the choice of going through them or avoid their path, then they must time their movement to pass the other 4 crushers to get to the exit door. And there is only one possible way to solve this puzzle, quite simple when analyzed in pieces, but the whole scene, is bigger filled with more environmental elements, mostly repulsive, makes it appear like a “hard” one, in comparison to the previous smaller stages.

An early iteration of Level 9.

The above image was taken when I was designing/building the “Crushers + Spy bot” level. It has basic geometry, for the Spy bot, crushers, other environment elements. I decided to flip the level geometry, change the camera angle, with other modifications. Compare the the images, spot the changes, if you fancy doing that.

Teaching Advanced Hacking, Level 10: 

Combining the hacking mechanic, hacking from G12-iM to bot, hacking from bot-to-bot.

This level is, where the training wheels are wriggling to fall off, here we introduce all the bots to the player to hack and use skillfully to progress in the game.

G12-iM bot is only able to move in a small space, limiting its options of movement. Camera angle is placed to see the switch and its door clearly, connecting the dots of what the player should be able to do to exit, but how. Level geometry is designed so it leads the player to be opposite/close to the Spy bot. Janitor, and Mech bots are secluded, in space wise. Janitor bot has one move, which is just an extra safe step if they player fancied moving it, but they don’t need to to transfer the consciousness of G12-iM to hack the Mech bot and activate the Proximity Sensor Switch. But to use the Mech bot to hack back into G12-iM, the player will need to notice the level geometry, and premeditate their moves. The boxes are dense in the middle to block the Mech bot, the blue boxes are on the edges, the 2-blue boxes, left of the spy bot, and the 2-blue boxes right of the switch. These are to indicate to the player, you can hack here. So, by moving G12-iM once space forward, to the direction it is facing the screen shot, they can turn and hack the Spy bot, move to the right hack Janitor bot, then hack Mech bot, trigger the switch and back into G12-iM to exit.

An early iteration of Level 10. Basic geometry for bots and environment.

Note: the semi-transparent thin blocks/walls are meant to be glass windows, but those had to be eliminated, and small walls a.k.a blue boxes were used instead, to hack over them. Alterations to level geometry were implemented to work with the small walls (blue boxes). Mech bot position was changed, and the blocks around him, so his face gets more “camera time” while moving to the switch.

I believe this covers the tutorial levels. I just wanna point out key things, in the bot’s placement throughout the stages. I tried as much as possible to give each robot “camera face time”, a) to relate the players to characters seeing their face up close, b) to notice the lights on the robots, one of the idle state – amber colored, and hacked state – cyan colored. You may have noticed, from my Part 1, the Movement Counter GIF -seen below-, that demonstrated the particle system that comes out of G12-iM to hack the bots. Cyan color represents the self-aware condition of the bot. G12-iM bot light face illuminates him, and his environment by casting on the floor/and ahead of him. Guiding him through his journey. A metaphor to support the message of this game’s narrative.

A Movement Counter GIF

If you’re interested in knowing more information or if I wasn’t clear enough in some points, please don’t hesitate to contact me or drop a comment here. It’d be my pleasure.


3 thoughts on “Dev Diaries: GRIM Project – Level Design (part 2)

  1. Pingback: Dev Diaries: GRIM Project – Aesthetic Progression | Caramel Party w/ GLaDOS

  2. Pingback: G12-iM Playable Prototype | Caramel Party w/ GLaDOS

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