Bubbling Bog Brewery

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Banjo-Kazooie Substitute Level Design

8 weeks

Level Designer and Playtester

1

Finished

About the Project

The goal of this project was to learn how to re-design and improve an existent level. We were tasked with creating a replacement for level 4 of N64's Banjo-Kazooie. Special attention was paid to how we recreated the original metrics, usage of spaces, puzzles and gameplay styles.

I chose to work with Google SketchUp as a quick whiteboxing tool for this assignment.

Map Overview
Map Overview

Large centrepiece area with various niches around it

Bubblegloop Swamp
Bubblegloop Swamp

The original Banjo-Kazooie level to be replaced

Hidden Area
Hidden Area

Find an alternate route to reach this tempting area

Map Overview
Map Overview

Large centrepiece area with various niches around it

1/12

My Role and Responsibilities

 

In order to create a viable substitution level for the original game, I first had to get to know the game inside-out. I playtested the original Banjo-Kazooie on the N64 console in order to get a feel for the way in which the levels are structured and the objectives are signposted. I also carefully analysed the utilisation of Characters, Controls and Camera views in Banjo-Kazooie and wrote a Critical Analysis Document about my findings.

As we were tasked with substituting the fourth level of the game (The Bubblegloop Swamp), I paid special attention to the difficulty curve of the game through the first five levels while playtesting. I also tried to discover the pattern in the distribution and placement of pickups in the levels, like the 100 music notes, 10 jiggies, 5 jinjos, et cetera.

After having a clear vision of the game's core structure, it was time to start designing my level around the "Bubbling Bog Brewery" theme. Please see the explanatory video at the top of this page for more details about my level design decisions and its results.

Key Lessons Learned

 

The most valuable lessons I have learned from this assignment is the importance of designing a wide variety of meaningful challenges in a game or level. In order to prevent challenges and objectives from becoming repetitive or skills from becoming redundant, it is important to think ahead carefully when designing new game mechanics, enemies or level-bound challenges.

In order to keep the player in a state of flow, one of the most important things to pay attention to is the difficulty curve as they progress through the game. An easy game becomes boring quickly and frustration kicks in when it gets too difficult. 

 

Various challenges (like hidden exploration objectives and skill or time based tasks) can be layered on top of each other in multiple ways to increase difficulty or intensify meaningful gameplay. Studying the difficulty curve from the start up to the fifth level was really helpful in finding the right balance in difficulty when designing my replacement level.