Date: This project is a work in progress!
Engine: Created in Unity with Sweet Sugar Math 3 Tool Kit.
(Note: Pictures may not show in the right order on phones)
With this project, I want to explore the level design of Match-3 games. My goal is to design levels with their own distinctive identity having the constrain of using only one of the main mechanics of the tool kit.
Designing a level for match games. Process and Breakdown.
1. Identifying tool kit possibilities (game elements, mechanics, etc):
Game Mechanics: Basic Swapping; Creating explosive candy; Getting points (To reach 3 starts)
Gameplay Elements: Candies; Power-Ups; Blockers.
Game Modes: Collect item; Ingredients; SugarSquare; JellyBlock; SolidBlack; Stars; Marshmello.
Blockers: Jelly; Sugar; Solid; Cage; Thriving; Spiral; Unbreakable; Teleports.
Modifiers: Multiple Screens; Teleports; Changeable directions.
2. Creating level concept:
When designing a level my starting point always comes from small micro-narratives. Something that I can use as a cohesive element that will give the piece some sort of identity. “What is this level about?” I will ask myself. In this case, I thought of a ‘time vortex’ as the hook for this level.
In this game, there are two pieces that when connecting them explode all the pieces of the board. What happens if this explosion creates a time vortex? How would I translate that into the levels?
3. Level Layout
With that in mind, I created several paper prototypes to get an idea of how the level would work out. I ended up with something like this (see the following picture):
The explosion of these “multicolor candies” sends the player to the next phase of the level where the explosion has created a void in the game field. This void is being held by the blockages so the player has to get rid of them to close it. In order to reinforce this idea of ‘time vortex’, the pieces in this phase are going up instead of down. Once the second phase is completed, the third and final phase of the level is a repetition of the first phase. The difference, in this case, is that the pieces creating the big explosion are blocked. With this little micro-narrative, I felt I was adding rhythm to the level, by varying the player’s experience a bit in each phase.
4. Level Creation
Translating this to the level editor I had to make some minor changes.
Destroying the candy cage could not be set to triggering a new phase so I changed that for the JellyBlocks mode (they have to fill the field). This actually helped to make the flow of the level more consistent, by making the players easily see how they progress.
Putting the two multicolor candies from the start was a bit boring so I created an extra step so the player creates one of the candies by having an easy 5 match combination from the start.
5. Balancing / Testing
The number of moves had to be increased from 32 to 45. Making the level: “easy but not without challenge”. In the second phase, I added special candies in the cages both to help the flow of the level and as a system of risk and reward for the level (Those spots are already covered with JellyBlocks so it’s not necessary for the player to look for combinations to break them but it will make the level more easily if they can find one).