Level Design Primer 5: Pacing Challenges

Up till now, we’ve talked about creating individual challenges. The next set of articles will be about putting those levels into context. We will start with linear level design (ie. Games where you progress through levels one after another in a set order). Eventually we’ll talk about more open-ended, non-linear level design, but for now let’s keep things simple so we have a foundation to build upon later.

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Level Design Primer 4: Mental Obstacles

So far we’ve talked about obstacles in very narrow terms. Things that require direct, tactile action: dodging, shooting, avoiding, ect… However, there are also mental skills that games can challenge: Verbs such as explore, plan, prepare, solve, manage (resources), ect… To put it another way, the obstacles so far have required action and reflexes. But a challenge could also require thinking and planning.

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Level Design Primer Part 3: Obstacles and Player Choice

Last chapter, I talked about obstacles in the most simple terms: Something that tests a specific player skill. However, you can also make a challenge that provides the player a choice between multiple skills. You’ve given them a problem and there are multiple (more or less equally challenging) ways to get around it. In fact, such choices are often implied by your game design.  Let’s look back at an example from the first part:

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Venusian Vengeance Epiosde 2 Released

The second episode of Venusian Vengeance is up:

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Level Design Primer Part 2: Fitting Challenges to Mechanics

I’ve released part 2 of my series on level design.

You can read it here:  http://renegadesector.com/level-design-primer-2-fitting-challenges-to-mechanics/

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Venusian Vengeance Epiosde 1 Released

I’ve decided to serialize my Run ‘n’ Gun game Venusian Vengeance into 5 in-browser episodes.  The episodes will be released once a week.  All of them after the first episode will contain a new into text cawl, but will otherwise be the same game.  Click the image below to play the first episode:

You can also still purchase the full game to play add-free and out of your browser here:


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Level Design Primer Series

I’ve decided to start a series of articles on level design and what goes into it. More specifically, level design as it pertains to single player (or coop) games, and not multiplayer competitive games (that’s a whole other topic). I’ll start with the basics of building a level out of discrete challenges, and move on to topics including teaching through level design, non-linear level design, verticality, and environmental storytelling. I will also break down levels from existing games to analyze what is going on from a design perspective. I will also have interactive examples to demonstrate the concepts I’m discussing.

You can read part 1 here:  http://renegadesector.com/level-design-primer-part-1-the-challenge



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Preview: Bandits and Bounties Combat System

I’ve been working quite a bit on the combat system for Bandits and Bounties as that’s (obviously) the most basic, action-centric part of the game, and I want to make it feel right before moving on to other things.  Combat in the game falls mostly into two categories:  Guns and Melee.

The things I had to keep in mind when developing both the ranged and melee combat were:

1) The combat feels good and has some nice, crunchy feedback to it.  The combat should feel like a 90s arcade/console game.

2) The combat should draw from your stats and thus tie in to the RPG elements of the game.  Ranged draws primarily from Accuracy and Dexterity, and Melee draws primarily from Strength and Dexterity. (Although I plan to have some attributes you can give your character that might make other stats involved.)

3) The combat has to fit in with the overall flow of the game.  Ie. there needed to be hooks in the combat that can play into other mechanics that are or will be in the game.  Drawing and holstering your gun, for instance, can effect how NPCs react to you, and thus situations can dictate whether a fist-fight or a gun-fight is a better option.

Guns are obviously a central part of any western, so I began with getting gun combat to work.  I’ve made very data-driven guns so that I can easily make new guns and tweak their stats.  You are able to holster and draw your gun, which takes a brief amount of time, which means other characters can react.  You can then run around and trade shots with your opponent, or you can wait and take a focus shot, which will be more accurate and deal much more damage (this will play into some other mechanics of the game which I’ll talk about later).

On the other side of the equation is the melee combat.  You’ll lunge forward at your opponent, and if your fist connects an if your Dexterity is high enough, you’ll be able to follow it up with a couple more quick attacks ultimately sending your opponent flying.  If you deal enough damage in a short enough amount of time, you can knock them down.

High Dexterity:

High Strength:

There are a few more things on top of that, for example being able to use melee to disarm opponents who are drawing their gun, and being able to dash out of the way of attacks, but this covers the basics of the combat in the game.

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Preview Gif: Emo McGothington

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Preview: Bandits and Bounties

Alright, this is a big one…

Bandits and Bounties is a Spaghetti Western themed Action-RPG that I’m currently working on, with Jared Cohen doing the art.  It is a game inspired by movies such as A Fistful of Dollars, Sartana and Sabata where you play as a gunslinger offering his services to the highest bidder.

This is a game I’ve been wanting to make for a while, and is a combination of some ideas that have been floating around in my head for even longer.  Finally decided to start making the thing a couple months back.

More info on the game after the jump…

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