Player One controls a creature that is trying to escape the sandbox. Their goal is to overcome the obstacles on the map in order to reach a final destination, the Beacon, before night falls. Player Two will have full control over the obstacles in the sandbox through use of a physical controller. These controls will affect the surrounding terrain allowing Player Two to move the various colored blocks around the world, popping them out of the ground or shaking them left and right to keep Player One from escaping.
This article has an interesting breakdown of level design and how to teach your audience about how to play a game without the use of lengthy dialog or heavily guided tutorial.
The author brings up how the entirety of the Super Mario Bros. series is centered around the verb “Jump.” By boiling the game down to its main action, a game designer can design levels to reinforce that while teaching the core concepts for the game. The beginning levels for Mario teach all of the most important points of the game, and they are all derived from his basic jump. Mario’s jump can kill enemies, break bricks, activate “?” blocks, etc. and the audience does not question it because it feels natural to the core of the game.
By introducing all the core concepts to the game early (avoid/jump on enemies, break bricks, get mushrooms, etc.) the game is able to introduce more difficult trials like jumping over pits and sequences with falling obstacles.
You can see this kind of introductory guidance in a lot of games of that era especially including Mega Man, Metroid, etc. The levels are designed around guiding you towards certain areas visually and teaching you about the core mechanics of the games. In Mega Man this is shown by for example, having certain enemies that spawn slightly above you, but who cannot hit you at first, allowing the player to get used to jumping and shooting. They also have levels designed around directing Mega Man to fall into certain corners of the stage to avoid enemies, which in turn teaches the player how to maneuver in mid-air. This combined with the jumping and shooting inherently builds a skill set for the player to allow them to maneuver around difficult bosses and complex levels just from combining the three main actions: Jumping, Shooting, and Moving in-air.
By teaching the audience to play your game without hand-holding them through a tutorial, the player often feels more comfortable in their own ability to play the game because they have better internalized the controls. In addition the players feel like they have really earned their place in later levels because they feel that they learned and developed their skills without being explicitly told what to do.
As the Crow Flies – (1+ Players) Next time you see a bird, follow it. Keep following it in exactly the direction it flies, over obstacles, roads, and bodies of water until it flies too far away from you. See how many birds it takes until you get lost.
Crit Talk – (4+ Players) Each person playing has 5 minutes to arrange things within the area they are in into some kind of “art piece” and think of a way to present it as a compelling work to a panel of judges. These judges are the people who aren’t presenting at the moment. The group collectively decides whose art is best based on how the judging sessions go. (The group can also decide on themes or categories for the pieces for more direction.)
Grotesquest – (2+ Players) Each player has to take turns saying the most unpleasant two-word phrase they can think of. If a player can not think of one worse than the previous player’s phrase, then that player is out. Last player remaining wins.
When One Door Opens – (1+ Players) Whenever a player is walking through a building they can only enter doors if someone is not holding the door open for them. Every time someone holds open a door for them, the player gets a point, provided they do not go through the door while the person is holding it. (Alternative Scoring Method: more points are awarded based on how long nonplayers hold the door open for the player.)
CraigsListential – (3+ Players) Each person playing takes turns picking an immaterial object (emotion, feeling, theory) and pitching it as if it was a CriagsList “for sale” entry. The rest of the players then take turns bidding.
Jerk of all Trades – (2+ Players) Find someone who is an expert in some area. All players do their best to try to explain the expert’s subject of expertise in a patronizing and condescending way. Expert decides which player is most accurate to people in their field and assigns points/rankings accordingly. (Get multiple experts for a more interesting scoring breakdown!)
Spotlight – (3+ Players) One person starts the game by yelling “spotlight” and pretending to aim a camera at some location. Everyone playing has to pretend to be a spotlight directed at the location. The last person to spotlight has to pose for their picture in the middle. (Playing with a real camera is highly recommended!)
I’m a senior getting a B.A. in Architecture and a minor in Animation and Special Effects as well as one in Physical Computing. I’ve done some interactive installations in the past and am ready to bring that experience into the world of game design!