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Posted by Josh Klint, 14 February 2017 · 0 views

Previously, I laid out a pretty complete design of the racing game template I want to build.  There's definitely enough there to build out the concept with very little left unanswered.

We are going to have a marble game template, because of its simplicity and ease of learning.  However, unless the template really looks like a game people would want to play, it doesn't offer enough "carrot" to inspire people.  This idea is less well-defined than the racing game, so I am only in the idea stage right now.  There's two big aspects of this I want to figure out: level design and game mechanics.  

Level Design

If you look at a lot of this type of game on Steam, they pretty much all just use some random blocks or generic levels and place a ball in it.  This is what I do not want:

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A game of this type should have a highly ordered repeating geometry.

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These examples are more orthogonal than I would like, but it's a start.  I definitely want the base of it to be a checkered pattern.  I do not want random blocks.  See how the Sonic level design uses some trim along the edges to make it look nicer?

Here's an example of some more organic elements mixed into the design:

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Here's a nice curve.  Not exactly what I want, but it provides some ideas:

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I like the curving plastic pieces here:

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It should look like a toy kit you put together.  The wooden elements are also pretty cool.

So here's my quick summary of what I want in the level design:
  • Mostly orthogonal and diagonal brushes with a checkboard pattern.
  • Lush vegetation to break up edges and make the world less boxy.
  • Curved pre-formed pieces that look like plastic and wooden toys.

Overall I want the world to feel like an old Nintendo fantasy world with an adventurous feel.  The music might not be 8-bit, but should have some of that style:
http://www.playonloop.com/2017-music-loops/doctor-gadget/

The marble itself should have a distinctive look.  Maybe a reflective silver ball-bearing, using the SSG effect to reflect the world around it?

Mechanics

I am pretty foggy on this because I don't play this type of game.  Fans?  Moving platforms? Loop-de-loops?  Got any suggestions or examples from other games you would like to see me implement?  If you have a video of gameplay, that's even better.

The idea is to implement a few reusable mechanics that can be recombined in interesting ways, so that someone can make a finished game just by recombining them and making additional levels.  I also favor mechanics that are associated with a specific model so that they are easily recognizable, like fans, magnets, saws, etc.

Tell me your ideas in the comments below.



Sounds good, maybe have a jump/bounce to hop over gaps and obstacles. And teleports to other parts of level.
We can also do jump pads, and buttons / floor plates that make something move.  I'd like to have a standard object that moves or some repeating mechanism, not just a block.
Rope / log bridge..not really a mechanic, but would be fun.  Mario pipes or those glass tubes like in Sonic 2 - chemical zone.  Magnets...not sure how these would work.
I also think there should be flowers that dance to the music.
I would suggest you portals in style "Portal"... ;-)
When you first mentioned "simplicity and ease of learning," I thought you were talking about using this as an entryway to learn Leadwerks from a different perspective.  But obviously there will be too many features and pieces for that so you'll need a separate, simpler template for beginners to not overwhelm them and keep things simple.
Maybe a turnstile/roundabout where you have to time your exit carefully. And some rubber walls that bounce you more. Didn't realize so many things could be added to a marble game. :)
I'm not seeing a lot of games on Steam like this actually.  The marble games on their are either "racing" games or involve a lot of really complex power-ups.  There's not much where it's just a test of dexterity against the environment.  We can definitely have a few "fast" sequences for fun, but I feel like those should just be something you ride out, more of a reward than a challenge.

Some of the moving parts I had in the original were good, but those need to be turned into actual objects, not just blocks suspended in the air.

I think the primary goal of the game is to get through the map without falling off, and there may be some other environmental hazards.
Hidden traps and different paths to go forward
Then some kind of time travel mechanic, time travel in future play the game by choosing a path for some seconds then go back in time where you started.
Now you know where some of the traps are, this probably needs some kind of limitation to not use all time.
Bear traps would be highly visual and scary.  Maybe those could be combined with fans to make a danger?

I definitely want a buzzsaw that goes back and forth in a groove in the ground, along with a loud saw noise.  Everythiing good in the world should be happy, organic, lush, and everything bad in the world that hurts you should be high tech or industrial.
Here's some pinball bumpers.  You touch one of these and it lights up and knocks you off course:
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Evil marbles that roll towards you if you get within a certain range, and explode.  Maybe they are bombs?
I don't want ours to really be a race, but some of the ideas here are cool:


I want ours to be more a frustrating thing you play over and over to get through the map.
I definitely want more of a puzzle feel, where you have to stop and think how to get through the map.
Check out the round moving thing at 1:07:
The mechanic at 2:24 is awesome:
Ohhh, what if the "enemies" were just smiley-face balls and they would just aggressively roll towards you and try to push you off?  Simple and effective.
With lots of mechanics might need to introduce them gradually over multiple levels. First level(s) should be easy, not too hard on the difficulty curve/frustration. Maybe checkpoints. I like the way that video has red barriers on some of the ends making the level not too difficult. What about a putty ball that splits in half if a saw hits it, or powerups that change from soft to hard ball to beat certain enemies or puzzles. So much you could do.
I would recommend a playthrough of the game marble blast ultra. That is the game that got me looking in to game engines. Levels start of with some easy CSG brush jumping and rolling. Later on things get more advanced.
Not really a marble game, but I think the level design and the power ups in this game is very fun and addicting.

February 2017

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