Main ConceptLet's start right here. Nothing can truly be achieved if you do not have a good planning base. Firstly, we need to define the exact objective of the game. We've already determined that we should be able to get from point A to point B to complete the game, however that alone is just not very appealing. Let's say that our player is spawned at a certain point in the maze. From that point you would need to find a teleport in order to escape the current location you are in. Now ... in the current article we are talking about a very very small game, mostly due to the fact that this is all aimed towards beginners. We are going to design 5 such levels. However, the lack of quantity should never be a reason for neglecting the replay value. This is one of the most important elements of a good game and in turn - good Game Design. If you have good replay value, you have a good game (at least in the general number of cases). So how are we going to make this small game have any replay value at all? Well ... to start off, we are going to have different locations for the player and the teleporter inside the maze level itself. The number of random locations is not going to be too big in this example in order to avoid confusion but we'll get to that shortly. What I want to say here is that along the lines of this article we are going to implement other (more) elements that increase replay value in a vastly different way then having a random spawn position. Now, before we can get to actually do something more serious, I'm going to put in here the basic schema of the maze so we can take a look at what it's supposed to look like. Further chapters are going to deal with corridor design and other stuff along these lines. This schema is going to be that of the very first level.
Random Spawning pointsNow, let's take a look at a modified version of the first level of the maze crawler that we talked about in the previous section.
Enter the TrapsWhat's a good maze without some traps to make your life miserable? In our simple maze, we are going to define three types of traps - hidden pits on the floor, arrows shooting out of the walls and stalactites falling from the ceiling. Now, let's take a look at some trap placement in the following picture.
The All-mighty TimerLet's make things intense. A countdown timer. Not just a countdown timer but a best time as well. So how do we do this? Well, the timer has to have enough time to just find the teleporter at a regular gaming pace. However, the less time you spend in finding the teleporter, the more you would move up in high score. If you can't find the teleport in time, well, you kick the bucket and get a nice "Game Over" message. Now, a reasonable question would be how to choose your time? What exactly should your regular gaming pace be? Well, this is something that you are going to have to find out for yourself - by playing your own maze. A lot. A tip I can give you here is some reverse engineering. Before actually implementing the countdown timer, do a timer that counts up the time you need to complete the maze. After tracking your time, both normal paced and best time, you can calculate what you are going to have to put in your final product.
Corridors and Corridor LoopsNow ... an interesting question would be how to position your corridors and how to structure the maze itself. The first thing is, you have to make the corridors intersect with each other in such a way that it would confuse the player. You have to make him doubt if he's been through this path before or not. With the traps and the countdown, the player really doesn't have all that much time to think about what's going on. That's your chance to confuse him even further. A good thing to do here is to create a loop through the corridors with at least two similarly positioned exits. If you can manage to link at least one of the exiting corridors to the same loop again, then your players are in for a treat. This really is up to you and your creativity. You can do whatever you like with this.
Difficulty IncreaseAnd last but not least, we have a 5 level maze, yet we've only discussed how to make the first one. So ... how can we make things even harder? Well, here is a short list of some of the things you can do here:
- For level 2 we should do something simple. Remaster the corridors and add more traps.
- For level 3 we should add two more entry/teleport points. Remaster the corridors and add more traps.
- For level 4 we should remaster the corridors and add a lot more traps. We should decrease the countdown time as well, however it shouldn't be drastic.
- For level 5 we can try to only remaster the corridors and trap positions, yet decrease the countdown timer ... a lot. This should be made really hard.