Tamlyn M and Ryan C make up our crack team of interns who are loaded with creativity, enthusiasm and non-alcoholic beer at all times. I decided to interview them to find out about some of their work on level design. I should point out that all level design is done with our totally awesome level editor that we hope to eventually make available to everyone who buys the game. (Check out the new demo that includes some of their levels - Moddb.com)
Question 1: Are you really studying game development? Is that really a major? How do I convince my folks to let me do that!!!
Tamlyn M: Yes, my major is Interactive Media and Game Development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). It was easy for me to convince my parents to let me do this because they are quite avid gamers themselves. As for anyone else, I would not recommend using threats and bribes (I tried that once and lost a couple fingers). Just play around with game making programs, take a computer or digital art class, and then tell your parents that this should be your decision and that you love game design with all your heart, whether that's true or not (but it better be!).
Ryan C: Well in my case it didn’t actually take much convincing. In fact, I didn’t even know I wanted to major in Interactive Media and Game Development before applying to schools. Essentially WPI kept spamming my email with offers of free applications, so upon closer investigation to the school I saw that they had a game dev program and I thought to myself, “Hey I like games and I like art, maybe it would be fun to combine them.” I decided to apply, got in, went to visit the school and just loved the place. Now here I am with an internship in the industry and realizing just how awesome game development can be. As for convincing your parents, well, the game industry is growing rapidly and always looking for new talent. If you’ve got the drive then I say go for it.
Question 2:Tell us about the inspiration for 3 levels you are most proud of designing
Tamlyn M: For my level, "Invasion," I thought of what it would be like if you were falling on a dark and cloudy night and you saw UFOs everywhere, and there was nothing you could do to warn people. So, I decided that in response, the player should just jump down and enjoy the ride. For my level "Claustrophiliacs Anonymous," I thought of city streets and alleyways and how tight they can be.
I wanted the player to experience what it would be like if they saw an apartment complex constructed by people who love tight spaces for the same type of people. In a level that I have yet to name, I wanted to make a couple hotels or structures that had patios upon which people could be partying.
I needed alot of patios because that made the level difficult, weaving between the patios of two parallel buildings. Then, I got bored of having the same kinds of patios everywhere, and I stopped the buildings and started an urban area with lots of smaller buildings scattered around. Such horrible city design, but so much fun to play!
Ryan C: When designing levels I usually try to come up with a name for it first. That way I can figure out a common theme for the level and design based on an overarching idea rather than just simply throwing things together and seeing what comes out. Inspiration for my levels usually comes from all different aspects of my life. Anyone who knows me knows that I love classic rock, especially bands that emphasize the guitar. As a guitarist I naturally gravitate towards bands like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. The level Stairway to Hell is of course a combination of the two hits Stairway to Heaven and Highway to Hell. From there it was simply a matter of arranging the colors of the level to gradually go from cool blue to a sizzling red, following the spiraling staircase into oblivion.
The Web is based on a more functional purpose. Provided that in the far future of 2011 people have not figured out how to sprout wings and fly, the masses are going to need ways to get around miles above the earth, and BASE jumping from building to building just doesn’t have the greatest mortality rate. So, they build walkways, and lots of them. When viewed from above, these complexes resemble a spider’s web and often jumpers end up strewn across its less than forgiving strands.
Ryan C: My favorite level would have to be Antennaville (We were hoping Ryan would tell us about one of his levels, but alas, badly worded question on our part). First of all, I enjoy any game that involves exploration and the starting point of this level allows for exactly that. Letting the player run around the top of the level gives the player a broader range of lines to explore while falling through the level itself.
The use of red data clouds obscures the view of the player and makes the level seem sectioned off. The clouds provide an aesthetically appealing transition from an expansive area to a more confined section.
The lower part of the level is much more restrictive than the more open upper sections. The level forms a sort of funnel through which the player navigates his or her own path, giving freedom and maneuverability yet still guiding the player to the landing zone.
The landing zone itself is more visually appealing not only because of the bonus rings, but also due to the varied elevation and setting of the landing zone. By placing the smaller pad on a building, it becomes a part of the level itself rather than simply an ending like in many other levels.
Tamlyn M: One level that I really liked was Antennaville. I think if there were cars coming in as you were skimming the side of the building, it'd add more obstacles and spice it up.
Ryan C: The level Passing Cars would be so awesome if only we added…more cars! Last time I checked, city streets were still packed with end to end cars on just about every main road, or maybe that was just that game of Frogger I played last night. Anyways, Aaaaa!!! is about fast action and death defying stunts, not avoiding a few old compacts that you could probably crush between two fingers.
Let’s see some high traffic motorways and some big rigs that wouldn’t even mind the occasional jumper splatting against its side. I mean, with this influx of death defying maniacs hurtling to their doom, I would assume that the cars of this not so distant future would have some kind of protection. I want to see a highway of vehicles that would make even Frogger proud.