This week I delved into properly designing the first main level of the game.
The main idea for the level was already established a while ago by the team and I. The level sits within the foundations of the tower and is the area the Flop Shark creature inhabits. Over time, this region of the tower has become a bit of a trash dump. The small area the level comprises is based around a trash compacter-like machine. I like the idea that everything in the level is centered around this because it gives the level a good theme.
Designing The Level
Having previously attempted to create this level in Unity with the 2D Tilemap system, I decided to design it in Photoshop as I find it quicker. At first I made the level really large as I thought it would make things more interesting. It was only after I translated this into Unity that we realised it was too large. The vastness drew focus away from the main focus of the level which is the trash compactor and just wasn't fun to explore. So I reduced the size of it and tried to put more interest into it. It still needs tweaking but its good to have something more substantial to work with.
The Design System
So to take the image I made in Photoshop and turn it into an in-game level I had to meet several constraints. These constraints are set by me to be used by a script to 'translate' the image; each tile equates to one pixel, air/empty tiles must be drawn with a colour that has a red value of 255 and any pixel that doesn't will be solid. This means I can draw the level in black and white, where white is empty and black is solid. I can use other colours but if the red value is not 255 then it will be a solid tile. I then give the script the level image and the Unity Tilemap I want to use. When I hit play it translates the image into tiles by looking at each pixel of the image and converting it into a tile according to the constraints. This system means that in the future I can setup different colours to be used for different tiles.
While not exactly perfect, the system is easy for me to use and makes it much easier to create and edit large levels. Of course I will still fine tune the placement of tiles within Unity because I cannot tell what a level feels like to move around in Photoshop.
That's it for this week! If you have any questions or feedback please leave a comment. Thanks for reading!
I'm the game developer for Squillamorph. I'll post here on the devlog as often as I can.