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Puzzle Design

Follow the link to subscribe to my levels on Steam to play through them yourself!

Choose your own adventure by doing any combination of the following:

-              Playing the levels in your own time

-              Watching a playthrough of each level below

-              Perusing the handy images and notes provided

-              Scrolling until something catches your eye!

Made in the Portal 2: Level Editor

Project Specs

Project Overview

Objective: Create a series of five levels that build off one another

Skill Themes: Keep cohesive engagement and flow throughout the levels

Progression: Foster a natural difficulty growth as the levels progress

Constraints

Time: I only had three weeks to create a polished collection of levels

Engine: Working in a commercial engine means having to find interesting solves to tech problems. You can't change the system, so you have to get creative!

Design Goals

  1. Introduce a core set of skills

  2. Expand upon the skill set with new combinations and elements

  3. Repeatedly provide ways for players to practice and obtain mastery over the skills sets

  4. Keep players engaged by providing challenges in levels that build off knowledge obtained in previous encounters

  5. Use playtesting to track flow and engagement during puzzle sequences (and to find those pesky bugs!)

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Level 1

Methods Introduced

  • Single laser emitter with corresponding wall catcher

  • A reflection cube

  • A light bridge

Level Overview

As the introductory level, this puzzle sequence led players to discover how to use different elements in tandem with one another. It only had one requirement to open the door (pointing the laser towards the wall catcher) to avoid overwhelming players in their first encounter.

Level 2

Methods Introduced

  • Pedestal Button with corresponding cube depositor

  • Floating laser catcher

  • Triggering multiple laser catcher at once

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Level Overview

Now that the player has a handle on how lasers, reflection cubes, and light bridges work, we can test their knowledge while keeping things relatively straight forward. This level requires solving two core sequences:

  • Retrieving the reflection box

  • Hitting both the floating laser catcher and the wall catcher

While more complex than the first puzzle, these elements allow the player to practice what they’re already learned while discovering new ways to combine skills. Like the first puzzle, only one sequence is required to exit the room, so the player can still focus on that single, linear goal

Re-enforcing Methods

  • Providing multiple puzzles that rely on using the light bridge

  • Using a reflection cube to trigger a laser

  • Place light bridge to reach floating platforms

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Level 3

Methods Introduced

  • Laser field and fizzler

  • Faith plate & vertical progress

  • Evolving the use of the laser to activate a light bridge

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Re-enforcing Methods

  • Utilizing the light bride to reach floating platforms

  • Button and cube drop relationship

  • Using a reflection cube to trigger a laser

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Level Overview

For the middle level, I wanted to give the players a little bit of a mental break and encourage some silly features. In this level the, player can launch themselves (and other items) over a seemingly unscalable wall of lasers. This illusion of fear facilitates an exciting start to the level as the player defeats this bouncy puzzle.

Keeping the previous skill themes, the player continues to use lasers and light bridges to reach new heights, all while gleefully flinging themselves from one platform to another. As with the previous two levels, this puzzle is relatively linear, with one action leading directly to another.

Level 4

Re-enforcing Methods

  • Reflection cubes and lasers

  • Cube droppers

  • Using the light bridge to traverse the space

  • Triggering multiple laser catchers at once

  • Place light bridge to reach floating platforms

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Level Overview

After the cathartic relief of level 3, this level poses a much more complicated challenge for the player to tackle. Unlike previous encounters, this puzzle does not have a clear liner progression. This encourages the player to play with the elements they’re given, combing them in interesting ways until they find a solution.

While the other puzzles had slight differences in their solutions, this encounter saw a wide variety in player methods to obtain success. It took multiple rounds of iteration to ensure that all the pieces worked in tandem with one another, and the complexity resulted in players experiencing great pride when they worked each part together.

Methods Introduced

  • Expanding to include two reflection cubes in one sequence

  • Using the same reflection cube in multiple sequence puzzles

  • Expanding to include two cube buttons

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Level 5

Level Overview

As the grand finale to the level series, this encounter includes most of the skills seen so far. The level is meant to combine the joy and silliness of level 3 and the complexity of level 4. A natural progression from these experiences, this encounter asks the player to play in the space and build off of everything they have learned up until this point.

 

As a fun reward for finishing the more difficult first half of the level, the final room hearkens back to the simplicity the player saw in level 1. This little callback allows the player to come full circle and reminds them of how much they’re learned throughout the series.

Re-enforcing Methods

  • Faith plates

  • Vertical progress

  • Using lasers to activate/deactivate various items, etc.

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Methods Introduced

  • Switching between multiple laser catchers

  • Flip panel

  • Window

  • Button timer

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