Week 12: Game Design Document – Levels

As I was sick with the flu this week, I was not able to come in to the games lab at QUT to work with game mechanics in Unreal this week. Thankfully there was not much in the way of Unreal assigned to me this week in any case, as I have had work that needed to be done on the Game Design Document for a while now.

I worked mainly on the levels section after brainstorming detailed step-by-step mechanics for each level. This section had been at least begun for each level so I simply fleshed out each one to make them into game mechanic sequences for a complete player experience from start to finish. The significance of each level, the synopsis and a description of the environment were all filled in.


4.1 Levels

4.1.1 Treachery

Synopsis

This tutorial level as Treachery, the lowest circle of hell, is where Lucifer resides. Treacherous as he is, he may be Lil’ Death’s only chance to get out of the pit of hell and reunite with his father, so Lil’ Death begins his quest by attempting to free him from his prison in the ice.

Goals and objectives

  • Free Lucifer
  • Gain Lucifer as an ally to:
    • Empower your attacks for the rest of the game.
    • Grant access to the Hellevator for him to escort you to the top.

Level gameplay overview

  • Simple gameplay
  • Reliance on learning the mechanics of the game
  • Dodge rocks that fall from above and other environmental hindrances
  • Dialogue from Lucifer teach mechanics as level progresses.
  • To free Lucifer from his prison, you need to use your tiny scythe (with an unempowered attack).
    • This is the only thing (explained in-level by Lucifer) small enough to hit tiny pressure points in the ice that will eventually shatter it.
  • Player slips on ice, and the more pressure points the player hits the more rocks will fall (with greater difficulty to avoid).
  • When player frees lucifer, a cutscene with a proper introduction and allegience to Lil’ Death’s character plays, before the first Hellevator sequence.

Ties to story (as applicable)

The symbolism of treachery, the sin of the lowest circle of hell is (secretly) represented by Lucifer himself, as cooperating with Lucifer will always lead to misfortune. It is hoped, however, that the player overlooks this due to the level’s function as a tutorial of sorts.

Sketch / physical description / map

  • Arena is a pentagonal chamber with rocky walls and an icy floor.
  • A giant pentagram will be drawn on the icy floor, with “pressure points” being located at various intersections in this pentagram
  • Rocks that fall from above (with a similar texture to the wall), provide the main environmental hazard.

4.1.2 Heresy

Synopsis

The sin of Heresy is portrayed in its own circle as a frog made from stitched together parts in the style of Frankenstein. It appears as if it is the remains of a failed science experiment, in a twisted science-themed room.

Goals and objectives

Defeat the frog and progress to the next stage. He cannot be harmed normally so the player will need to use the environment in a specific way to make him vulnerable (sharing a common theme with other levels).

Level gameplay overview

  • Player takes damage from making physical contact with enemy.
  • To deal damage to frog, player must make him walk over acid puddles. These puddles are created when the player breaks scientific vials that appear at random intervals around the arena.
  • Enemy “evolves” as he takes damage at various intervals, gaining various abilities and an increase in difficulty with each “phase”.
    • Phase 1: Chases player idly, hop attack
    • Phase 2: Same as Phase 1, added projectile attack
    • Phase 3: Same as Phase 2, added Ground Shockwave attack

Ties to story (as applicable)

One simple and very prevalent form of Heresy from a religious perspective can be the faith in science over God. As such, the science theme of this level with a dissected and stitched back together frog from a science experiment is seen to accurately capture the childish view of what Heresy as a sin manifests itself as.

Sketch / physical description / map

  • Environment appears as a twisted science laboratory themed arena.
  • Boss is located in the middle and different acid vials appear in sets of threes at different intervals during the boss fight, spaced evenly around the boss arena.
  • Cover can be taken behind breakable desks that form part of the environment.

4.1.3 Greed

Synopsis

The sin of greed, through Lil’ Death’s eyes, takes the form of a giant baby with a tendency for temper tantrums. The player needs to find a way to defeat it in order to progress to the next circle.

Goals and objectives

The goal is to defeat the baby to progress to the next stage. Players will need to be able to solve basic problems while fighting the boss in real time to succeed.

Level gameplay overview

  • Player is damaged from making physical contact with enemy.
  • Normally, the baby moves slowly but covers great distance with a hard to dodge tracking melee attack.
  • To deal damage to baby, player must play the baby’s “game” which is triggered periodically during the boss fight.
  • The game involves solving a math problem displayed on a wall by destroying the correct number block in the environment.
  • Each equation has a set time limit for solution by this method.
  • If player is correct, baby goes into a tantrum, then gets tired, allowing an opening for the player to attack.
  • If player is wrong, baby performs an unavoidable area-of-effect attack which deals great damage.

Ties to story (as applicable)

The sin of greed is represented by an impatient and tantrum-prone baby. Those who are greedy are used to always having their way, hence why this giant baby is prone to tantrums and dangerous attacks to the player who tries to best it.

Sketch / physical description / map

  • The environment will be set as the inside of a square-shaped child’s playpen.
  • Triggerable toy number blocks will be scattered in close proximity around one part of the level.
  • The boss’s arithmetic challenges will be displayed on a board (fairly tall/large for the scale of the environment).

4.1.4 Hellevator (between different levels)

The Hellevator is one of the consistent themes of the game and is seen as an area of respite for the player, as Lil’ Death travels between different the different circles of hell.

In the hellevator Lucifer can be found in a human sized form, and player dialogue with him is enabled, providing some comic relief and possibly useful information about the game or future levels.

This level is first accessed after the Treachery circle that serves as a tutorial level, made available to the player as part of the story when Lil’ Death gains Lucifer as an ally.


 

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