Saturday Update 12.5.2020 | Non-linear level design


I made this fun puzzle where you go between two rotating islands and solve small puzzles to bridge the gap between them.  Completing a puzzle on one island will give you a way to complete a puzzle on the other island, and vice-versa.  Doing puzzles like this helps me think of level design in a non-linear fashion.

I've been getting into DOOM 2016 lately and I've been taking note of their non-linear level design.  DOOM does a good job of making players backtrack in levels, which can be annoying if done incorrectly, but DOOM pulls it off so well that it takes me a minute to realize that I'm in the same area I started in- except now a new door is opened.

In the 6 months of development that led up do the release of the demo, I wanted to avoid using an item system because I felt it would make things too complex, and take the focus away from interacting with the environment.  On the contrary, it was very difficult to create complex level layouts with non-linear paths for the player to take.  This is because items work as good "key objects".  "Key objects" don't literally need to be a key, but they serve a similar purpose.  Most point and click puzzle games are built around this idea, including my biggest inspiration for this game, Samorost 3 (you should definitely play this game if you haven't already, its incredible)

I decided to compromise and create a very simplified item system.  The functionality is as simple as possible to allow for "key object" puzzles to work.  You can pick up objects, and if there is another object you can interact with that requires that item, you can use it.

Even though I have this item system working fine, I try to center the gameplay around interesting puzzles before I resort to using "key objects".  I've found that my levels I create without using any items tends to be more creative and original, so I will keep that my main focus as I move forward.

If anyone is reading this, I hope you enjoyed this little gamedev rambling. 

Peace and much love,


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