Over the past week, I’ve been working on Alpha Playground 1. These are levels designed to test one or two elements of the game. AP1 is designed to test the grappling mechanics or, more specifically, the level designs which accommodate them. I’ll be releasing this publicly to give people a taste of the grappling and, hopefully, to get some feedback about what works and what doesn’t.
To that end, I’ve divided the level into a few areas, each demonstrating a different possibility for a grappling level design.
There is an area filled with CitTrees. These are the large structures from which new Cits spawn in the primary game (although no AI will be featured in AP1. It is just a playground to swing around in). These are featured pretty heavily in my first video. Because they have so much overhead surface area, and so little underneath to block the player, they make for very easy swinging. An entire level full of these wouldn’t provide much of a challenge (or much to look at), but they have their place in the full game.
In the center of the level are a number of large platforms connected by ramps, as well as many smaller, free-floating platforms. Obviously, these really lend themselves to old-school platforming. The ramp areas are a lot more interesting to design and to look at, but they tend to be more difficult to navigate. I’m really curious to know how well players are able to get around these areas when AP1 is released. As for the floating platforms, they aren’t much to look at, but swinging to gain altitude, using a little thrust, and sticking a landing is really satisfying. Like the CitTrees, they are something I think needs to be used sparingly, but can add a lot in the right places.
Finally, big buildings! I’m guessing when some people (or most people, or all people) first see COZ in action, they’ll wonder what it’s like to swing from the rooftops like a superhero. As deeply ingrained as that visual is for most of us, I’m really not yet convinced it works well with this type of physics-modeled grappling. Without a lot of forward momentum, you will tend to swing right towards the building you’ve latched onto. If you can get moving forward fast enough, or time your second rope-firing just right, you can manage to stay aloft a while. This type of design is really the biggest unknown for me at the moment. There are three streets in AP1, each with slightly different layouts, distance between buildings, and overhead obstacles (to provide more grappling options). Hopefully I’ll receive some player feedback indicating how well or not this works when AP1 is released.
That’s all for now! I’ve added some new features I’ll discuss in future posts. Some fun stuff on its way!