Revisiting Puzzle Layout

One aspect of my current game is little platformer puzzles. They usually involve jumping and climbing some things, burrowing in tunnels, and crossing ziplines. My original puzzles had been blocked out and were functional but I decided it was time to go back and fix them up.

underground puzzle

This meant several things:

  • Removing parts that seemed too clunky.
  • Fixing up some mechanics based on what I’ve learned this last year.
  • Unifying the puzzle art assets so that they all have a (vaguely) similar appearance.

Clunky Stuff

To start with, there were a few puzzle elements where the platform mechanics worked but it looked awful. One puzzle just a few blocks thrown together with a zipline on top. Another was just a big hill with some rocks arranged around it. Those had to go.

So I rearranged many of the puzzles and with new meshes and shaders. To save time I made a few constructs and used them in many places with different sizes and orientations. This also gave a common appearance and “language” for all the puzzles. Adding leaves to the ziplines made them look like bizarre mutant vines which added to the Cool Factor.

puzzle with some zipline vines

New Mechanics

The old puzzles had a few simple climbing parts and zipline parts. With the refurbishing I added more elaborate ziplines and connecting platforms. Another “new” mechanic are blocks that you can push AND climb. To progress in the puzzle you need to push the block to certain location and then climb the block to reach a higher spot. I experimented with pushable/climbable blocks last year and they worked well, so I added them in several other places. In one place you can push the block, clumb it, and then leap onto a zip line.

push some blocks around puzzle

More Unified Art Vision

This sounds fancy but it really just means that all the puzzles have a similar look and feel. Previously I made puzzles by cobbling together whatever art assets I had laying around. This time around I intentionally made a few specific shapes and used them everywhere. Specifically, the large structures and platforms are based on the crystal structure of Bismuth, which makes these wierd pyramid/staircase shapes. When the player is wandering around and sees a big magenta pyramid poking out of the ground they know that is where they need to go to reach the next puzzle.