Yoshi’s Island Level Design Analysis “1-1: Make Eggs, Throw Eggs”

 

1-1 Make Eggs, Throw Eggs is the first true level of Yoshi’s Island. Prior, the player goes through a clear tutorial level that functions a bit different from the rest of the game and focuses to teach the player the familiar jumping mechanic. To differentiate itself even further, the tutorial stage is even excluded from the world map. I want to focus this analysis on 1-1, because this is the level that manages to teach the player what the game is really about, throwing eggs. This stage communicates the two fundamental mechanics and a lot of ideas surrounding them.

The first thing the level teaches is how to throw eggs in a variety of ways. There’s a signpost that is convientally surrounded by 3 coins to attract the player towards it, having it seem important. This sign tells the player about eating enemies to create eggs, and then simply saying, “Now try throwing the egg, press A!” It encourages the player to explore the throwing mechanic.

Now that the player has some familiarity with throwing eggs, they’ll soon learn about this mechanic’s versatility, since there are plenty of objects to interact with. The player can try to toss an egg at an object and miss by accidentally releasing towards the ground. This is important because it teaches the player that eggs will ricochet off the ground and solid surfaces. Question Mark Clouds, Shyguys, Piranha Plants, signposts, coins, and puzzle elements like the red flower in the optional section are other objects that can interact with the egg.  
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When the eggs collide with the Question mark cloud, a variety of behaviors can come about. The clouds can create bridges, drops seeds that grow into a giant plant for vertical ascension, and drop collectable stars. Attacking them with an egg is always driven by mystery. However only the final Question Mark cloud must be hit with an egg for completion of the level. The others are optional. If the player ignores all question mark clouds, and a signpost that explains the Question Mark Clouds, eventually they’ll progress near the end where they will face a road block, forcing them to interact with the Question Mark cloud. The cloud is at a jump’s distance, so the player can perhaps attempt to interact with it that way. They can try to eat it afterwards, however those ideas won’t work. The only thing the player has left to try is throwing an egg at it. Doing so causes the cloud to drop a seed, which then grows into a giant plant with leaves as platforms. Once the player sees this happening, they’ll possibly want to revisit the question mark clouds that they didn’t interact with.

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Shyguys in the hidden optional portion are holding coins and flying. Shyguys can be see walking, and hopping. Each one behaving differently. While they can all be hit with eggs, only the flying shuguys can solely be defeated by eggs, unless a platform is high enough for Yoshi to reach the shyguy and eat them.

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The piranha plants block a warp pipe, attracting the player to perhaps want to go through. Since the plants block the way, the player can try eating them, but they’ll fail since the piranhas can’t be eaten. The only other option would be to shoot an egg, the correct choice to vanishing the foe.

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Piranha Plants also teach the player patience. Since Yoshi must protect Baby Mario, being separated causes Mario to cry. You then have ten seconds to reunite with Baby Mario, otherwise you fail the level. Piranha Plants appear throughout the level and must be defeated by egg tosses. If you take your time and walk through the level, you’ll see the Piranha Plants emerge, giving you enough time to respond. However, if you decide to speed through the level, you are likely to be hit by the Piranha Plant, thus separating you from Baby Mario and dispersing some of your eggs. Then, when Baby Mario is separated from Yoshi, the player will be introduced to the soundtrack of cries, an alarm, and a blinking arrow pointing at Baby Mario. This creates a tense moment, a bit of panic in the player, and showing how important it is to protect the fragile baby. The blinking arrows pointing at Baby Mario, the descending timer, and the scary jarring sound is the game’s way of telling the player, “Get this baby before this timer runs out, or else you lose.” Through this very simple collision with the enemy, players learn how Piranha Plants behave, how they affect you and Baby Mario, how much time you can be apart from the baby, what happens to your inventory of eggs, how you must pick up your eggs that scattered, how you should choose taking your time over speeding through, and even giving you a clue as to how to defeat them. A lot of situations are covered by this single collision. Now, the player can be introduced to Baby Mario’s separation in the tutorial level, and by colliding with a Shyguy at any point. In my playthrough, I learned with the Piranha Plant. I find this enemy to be a likelier introduction to Baby Mario’s separation due to it’s tricky behavior and difficulty.

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The versatility of egg throwing allows interaction with a Baby Mario, the ground, walls, warp pipes, Piranha Plants, Shyguys, other enemies, flowers, Question Mark Clouds, coins, collectables, and of course bosses.

With the exception of bosses, all this is taught in the first level. 1-1 concludes with a break in the ground, going from a yellowish grassy and flowery surface, to a jarring green with white stripes, and a pulsing ring made of blue dots and flowers. With only a glance, players may be able to tell that this is the finish line. And for the players that don’t understand this, they can easily find out by simply walking forward into the finish ring.

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Mighty Switch Force Hyper Drive Edition: Level Design Analysis.

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Incident 1 opens with a cutscene that says so much in a very brief amount of time. A crashed police vehicle creates an opportunity for criminals to escape. One criminal summons a bunch of monsters and then laughs. This opening teaches us our objective, who the bad guys are, the narrative, and who our hero is, giving us our motivation. It’s simple but very effective.
Tied together with the character’s cry “Stop! In the name of the Law!” gives the player
their goal for the entire game, catch these baddies.

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The first level, called Incident 1 begins. A lot is taught by simply looking at the interface without even moving the character. We have a timer, 5 outlines for the escaped convicts, three hearts likely for health, an icon pointing towards the direction of the criminals, and three blocks underneath the player, with one being transparent.

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When the level starts, the character has a brief animation where she rolls from the left side of the screen. This is one of the few cues the player has to guide them in the correct direction. Additionally, she faces the right, and we see the escaped convict’s icon pointing towards the right as well. Lastly, if the player moves to the left, there’s nothing to explore. Without ever having played a 2D platformer, the player will very likely know which direction to go with these cues.

If the player experiments with the 4 face buttons on the WiiU Gamepad, they can teach themselves what the game’s core mechanics are; jumping, shooting, and switching. Jumping and shooting will be acted out by the character’s animation, but what about switching? At the start of the level, there are three blocks noticeably underneath the surface the character stands on. The centered block is transparent, and by pressing the A button, the solid and transparent blocks trade places. All solid blocks become transparent and vice versa. Additionally, there is a blue flash that appears from the character’s helmet and a mechanical movement sound to correspond with the action. This teaches the player the switching mechanic in a safe space. Once the player runs to the right, they will continue to see a couple more block sets underneath the surface that can be switched as well. Above the third set of switchable blocks, we see our first escaped convict. She is high above and offers us our first platforming challenge. There are three platforms that we must jump on before regaining convict number 1. The first platform stands above a pit of spikes. There are small gaps on the left and right side of the platform that can cause the player to fall into the spikes and die. If this happens, the players loses one heart, giving room for some error without a lot of pressure. The challenge is very small since the jump arc covers much more space than the gap. The second platform is small, and offers the player the first enemy to shoot. The third platform takes our character right into the first baddie. Shooting her doesn’t work, so we must walk up to her. As soon as she is collected, the main character says “Gotcha” and the screen displays the icon for the next character, pointing to the right.

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Here the player will encounter two more enemies blocking the path. This provides a brief shooting challenge, followed by the first switching challenge. Shooting the enemies can commonly release an extra heart in case the player died before.

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The second criminal sits on a platform that can’t be reached with jumping. There are a set of three switchable blocks, followed by another set of three switchable blocks. They are opposite to each other, so if the top set is solid, the bottom set is transparent. In between both sets of blocks, there is enough space for the player to stand. Making the top transparent allows the player to fall through, and then must make the bottom set transparent, landing the character on top of a cute dog-disguised-checkpoint.

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Understanding how the switching mechanic works, the player must now jump towards the second criminal by switching a block mid air, becoming a solid surface to land on. If the player accidentally switches the transparent block into a solid, while the character’s hit box collides with it, they will lose a heart, and have to start over from the checkpoint.


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Heading towards the third criminal introduces the player to the bomb enemies. With a shot, they stumble momentarily and then explode. A few more enemies, another checkpoint, and now the player has reached the next main switching challenge. Six switchable blocks serve as a bridge over a pit of spikes. The two left and two right blocks are solid, while the two centered blocks are transparent. The player must switch the blocks mid jump two times in this challenge; once to the reach the centered blocks, and once more to reach the right blocks. This is followed by a slightly bigger challenge. A much longer pit of spikes must now be jumped over with separated switchable blocks. There is a gap, 2 solid blocks on the left, another gap, a single transparent block in the center, another gap, 2 solid blocks on the right, and a final gap. The same solution can be applied here. There is one final transparent block above a spike pit, however the gap for this jump is slightly longer.

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This culminates with another checkpoint. The third criminal stands on a high platform that must be reached by jumping on two switchable blocks. This sequence exists to further challenge the player’s grasp on the switching mechanic.


An icon point upright towards the closest criminal, but at the moment this is unreachable. The player must move rightwards where the next icon points. A group of flying and bomb enemies stand in your way without putting up much of a fight. Two columns of 5 stacked solid blocks stands in the way, turning them transparent and walking through will reveal two more columns of 4 stacked solid blocks, then two columns of 3, then 2, and finally 1.

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After this, the player cannot go further right and must jump on these switchable blocks starting with the single ones, jumping and switching mid air to jump onto the column of 2, and so on, until reaching column of 5. Here the player will reach the 4th criminal.

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Trekking up left now where the icon points, will give the player a few more baddies to shoot while jumping on small platforms, serving as a final test for shooting. Since the main mechanic of the game is switching, this shooting challenge isn’t much to stress about. Shooting becomes more a tool in later levels. A final switchable block challenge that remains operates the same as the previous challenges prior to collecting a criminal. The 5th one is now collected and a robot vehicle arrives right in front of the character, opening his chest, and pointing at it. Jumping in concludes the level.

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Incident 1 manages to teach a large portion of the main mechanics in its first moments. The player learns how switching, jumping, and shooting works in a safe environment, how the enemies behave, and how to defeat them, all while having a clear narrative to motivate your actions.

A Game a Day Recap

When I first thought about tackling this challenge, I think I was a different person. I was negative and a prisoner to my depression. Sure, I wanted to devote this blog series to mental health awareness, and yes I love making games so I was expecting to have fun, but I had ulterior motives that I was blind to.

I was jealous and angry.

I didn’t know this going in until an incident on June 10th. I was upset with my stage in life, where I was career-wise, how overlooked I was at work, and how artists in my personal life didn’t take me serious. I wanted to show them what I was made of. I originally thought I’d prove my job that I was a worthy contender for a junior or associate game designer role, and I wanted the artists that I worked personally with to want to work with me even more. Deep down, and I didn’t realize this, I was letting my depression defeat me. It made me angry. I was viewing my self-worth as something only that job or those artists could give me. So, I worked extremely hard the first week and a half, losing an incredible amount of sleep to impress. I wanted validation. I didn’t know this, but that’s what I wanted most.

I was sleeping 2 hours a night for the first 10 days in order to finish a playable project, add art, sound, write the blog post, even make a video for non-readers, and finally I’d share on social media. I chose to neglect my health. I avoided the gym and I’d stuff myself with fast food. On the 10th day, I had maybe totaled 20 hours of sleep (I should have been at 80 hours), and I was out of my mind. I was obsessed with page views for my validation. My closest friend saw this and then realized how much of a mess I became. This friend stopped being my friend that day and left me to sit in the shit prison I made for myself. I lied to my friend prior to this project, and I lied to myself. I said I was doing it for awareness and for myself, to simply see if I could.

The day after, I decided to react. I got up, I bought a ton of vegetables, I grabbed my gym clothes, and I started a fitness plan. My depression had possessed me to push away the closest people in my life. It’s made me into a monster. I never do anything evil or criminal, but I’m a pain to be around. I decided to put my foot down and focus on my health. You are what you eat, so if my body is only taking in healthy foods, I’ll feel healthy. If I work out constantly, I’ll feel happier. If I sleep more, I won’t become the monster I’ve become in the past. I also decided to put my blog series in distant 2nd. I did always try to make a game a day, but rather than devoting 8-10 hours and no sleep to a project, I’d use 1-2. Often, I wouldn’t have art and sound, or I’d submit unfinished games. My blog entries all focused on my daily health accomplishments. And today, July 5th, I can say that my mission is working. I’ve lost 23 lbs, feel better, look better, and I got new glasses. I’m cooking more, making healthy meals for my family, and spending more time with my puppies. I’m trying my best to finally get rid of my depression, and in the process I’m creating the self-worth I lacked all along.

Shortly after doing this, I remembered what my blog series was supposed to be about. I was devoted to trying to challenge myself, learn new things, and have fun, while also making my happiness the number 1 priority. I mentioned this in every post. I want anyone who may come across the blog to understand how important mental health is. In the end, I was happy making games and I used the majority of my words to speak about mental health. I ended up doing what I should’ve been doing. I let go of the pain that I allowed my job or artists to give me, and I have been fighting as hard as I can to forever feel better.

I would consider it a success in that case. Maybe soon, “Anxiety Monster” will only be a name. I hope so.

Thank you all for reading. Please take care of yourselves. If you know anyone suffering from depression, know they can be helped. They can beat it. Sometimes you may not feel really helpful, but a simple “I’m here for you” goes a long way.

To any young designers out there battling depression, you CAN succeed. Keep making game after game until you get better. If you have questions, contact me. I’ll respond. I know the feeling. Things can feel overwhelming and impossible, but I know you can get through it like I’m doing.

Good Luck,
Edwin

A Game a Day: Final Day

Day 30 and Final Day

I spent the day devoted to my health and my happiness, but I managed to squeeze some time to make a game. I had plans to make something big, but I’d rather devote more time to that, without feeling the pressure of completing it tonight. Pressure isn’t always good. I have some great plans for July, so look for the games I’ll post then. Today, I ran with my puppies at the park, made breakfast and lunch for family, worked on the game, and I’m about to hit the gym and then celebrate the month. I saw a udemy tutorial about a skiing game. I gave it one glance and I felt I could try it out. I did manage to reproduce it within about an hour and a half. The game can be played with your mouse or even on a mobile device.

You have to drag your character (blue square) right and left to avoid obstacles as you ski down a mountain. You’re simply trying to gain a high score. The longer you last, the higher the score. The only difference my game has from the tutorial on udemy is that I’m lacking art.

That was the final project, but expect fully functional games WITH art in the coming weeks. I’m excited to reveal some projects that I hope you all play and maybe even download on your mobile devices. Please look forward to tomorrow for a recap of the A Game a Day project. It’s been a massive learning experience.

Thanks for reading these last 30 days.

Total time developing: 1.5 hours.

A Game a Day: Day 29

Day 29

Today I made a Flappy Bird clone. I honestly always wanted to, so I can check that off. I found an easy to follow tutorial on how to create one with art even provided. The game works well, although it can use some collision tuning. For those that never played Flappy Bird on a mobile device, the game is about tapping on a screen to keep your character in the air as long as possible while avoiding obstacles. In college, a lot of us would compete for high scores. I’d love to expand on this maybe at some point.

As for the rest of my day, I did a great job. My health was number 1 priority as always. I woke up and went for a 30 minute run. Then, I made breakfast for my family, went to therapy, got my new pairs of glasses, made my sister some sushi for lunch, went to see Incredibles 2, cooked chicken fajita burritos for my family, made my juice for the next two days, and ran for another hour. I’m spent! I’m only up late because I wanted to finish my game. Tomorrow is the LAST day of A Game a Day after all. I’ll do my best to end with a bang. But remember, HEALTH COMES FIRST.

Additionally, today is day 20 of my health/fitness program. I’m happy to announce that I’ve lost 20 lbs. I feel a lot better mentally and physically.

See you all tomorrow for the final A Game a Day blog posting.

Total Time Developing: 1.5 hours.

A Game a Day: Day 28

Today I worked on another Udemy tutorial with my free time. I actually had a lot of downtime at work so I figured I’d tackle something. I didn’t even watch the tutorial. I saw the final game and decided to just try to make it on my own. I did. The only thing that doesn’t match is that the creator has nice art, and a title screen. I wanted to solely focus on making the game. I was successful.

In this game, you’ll see a big red circle and big blue circle. Additionally, you’ll see small red, blue, and purples circles falling in the top center. You have to drag the falling objects to their rightful color. For example, when the small red circle falls, you must drag it to the big red circle. If you miss, you lose. The purple ones will make you lose points, so be careful there. The goal is to see how high your score can be. You drag the falling circles with either your mouse of finger (if you’re using a mobile device).

It’s pretty early, but I’ve got a lot planned today. There’s an event with my coworkers. We’re all going bowling, getting out early, and then I’m going to an indie all-women wrestling event in Southgate. I hope I can squeeze in some gym time. I’m feeling pretty good right now since I’ve been drinking a lot of green juice and I ran at the park as soon I woke up. That’s 4 days straight. Additionally, this is my 19th day working out and juice fasting, and I’ve dropped 19 lbs. I can’t wait to see 20 lbs hopefully tomorrow.

Again, thanks for reading. Check in tomorrow for another game.

Total Time Developing: 1.5 hours

A Game a Day: Day 27

Day 27

Today I focused on my health again. I ran in the park for some fasted cardio, I bought my veggies, completed my Japanese audio lesson, went to work, hit the gym during the lunch, back to work, made my juice for the next two days, and hit the gym hard one last time. I had very little extra time to spare, but I managed to do another Udemy tutorial to make a physics based blocks game.

The game looked colorful so I wanted to try it out. The rules are simple. You can either click anywhere on the screen (or tap via a mobile device) to create colorful blocks and earn points within 5 seconds. There are only 5 different colored blocks that spawn. Afterwards, the timer restarts, and a message appears to click a specific colored block, destroying it, and earning additional points. The game is actually only ten seconds long. Afterwards, it simply restarts.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll do my best to complete something tomorrow, although I have a very eventful day and night.

Total Time Developing: 1.5 hours.

A Game a Day: Day 25

Day 25

Today I won’t be submitting something, but I did get some cool work done. I was collaborating with my friend Allyssa, who was the artist for my first game. I developed a demo back in January for a game I also managed to make in a day. She was on board to be the artist for it. Today she sent some images and videos and it is looking pretty awesome. I did some editing to the controls, worked on a few bugs that I had ignored before, and helped write the menu screen. I’m going to be quiet about this game for now, but I expect to show it soon. I think it’ll be done a little bit after this blog series is over. I can’t wait to show it.

Today, I managed to once again focus on my health. I got a good night’s rest, woke up early, bought my veggies, went to the park and ran (yeah, I actually ran at 7am!), did my Japanese audio lesson, worked, went to the gym during lunch, back to work, made my juice for the next two days, and hit the gym again. Today I burned roughly 1600 alone on cardio and I feel really good and relaxed. Today is Day 16 of my workout program/juice fast and I’ve lost 15 lbs. It’s a bit freaky, but I’m happy.

Thanks for reading again. I hope to have something to show tomorrow. If not, I’ll definitely be working on a game.

A Game a Day: Day 24

Day 24

Today I woke up really early and got so much done before heading to work at 8:30. I worked out, did my Japanese audio lesson, drank some green juice, and completed a demo for the game that I wrote yesterday. It took only about an hour and half. I’m relieved that I managed to do so considering that I have a busy night tonight.

The game doesn’t have an official title, I simply called it Cleaner Racing Demo. The game is a multiplayer game where players try to clean more of the map than their opponents by driving over it. I wish I was an artist because I wanted to use sprites that represented maybe a mop or broom, or anything that fit the theme. This demo just showcases the mechanics I shared yesterday.

The first player moves with WASD, while the second player moves with the Arrow Keys. W and the Up arrow key work as acceleration, S and Down work as break and reverse, and A, D, Left, and Right arrow keys work as steering.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to stop by tomorrow and see if I managed to complete a game with my extremely low amount of spare time.