After a bunch of play-testing I’ve gathered some notes on what works in the current level and what doesn’t. Eventually these notes should turn into a sophisticated set of guidelines for Volo levels, but right now they are just little scribbles.
Here’s a shot of the island geometry used in the latest playtests:
Graphing flight paths over a top-down map of the island and rating them based on enjoyment helps. Nothing fancy, I just take a rough note of the path taken and whether it was a fun flight or not. This is all manually done in a photoshop file for now, but it’s already clear that an automated tool would be of great use here.
Some early conclusions:
- Long slopes that roughly match your glide ratio provide an engaging flight.
- Ridged terrain that presents you with all manner of creases and canyons to traverse are by far the most engaging.
- Short sections of really steep terrain, really flat terrain, or valleys can provide interesting contrast. When these sections get too long they quickly become boring. The give you a relatively calm flight, and because of the limitations of the terrain system they contain very little interesting detail to look at or fly through.
- There’s a huge steep cliff face and a prominent valley right in the middle of the island. While the valley is interesting enough in a visual sense, the cliff isn’t, and neither are particularly fun to actually fly near.
- There are additional cliffs that lack visual appeal, and are cast in way too much shadow to boot.
- Player’s usually to fly in parts of the island that are well-lit, avoiding the side of the island cast in shadow.
- The ocean sucks, but I knew this already. It’s not interactive in the way you would expect, and it reveals itself to be quite ugly when you get close.
Most of this common sense, but if I can formulate these rules clearly I might be able to bring them straight into World Machine. 🙂
P.S. The earlier title, “Level Design for Proximity Flight”, might’ve made it seem like this post discussed level design for Skydive: Proximity Flight. Sorry about that.