Aug 12, 2016

Suzy Cube Update: Friday August 12, 2016

#suzycube #gamedev #indiedev #madewithunity 

This week, I, finally, completed the design of the World 4 boss level, fixed some more bugs and also started the paper design for my first regular level in a while, Level 3-1.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

You would think the completion of the design of Level 4-B would put me that much closer to wrapping things up, at least for boss levels, but alas,  Level 2-B is going to need quite the overhaul. I've gotten a lot of feedback that it's way too hard, especially as the second world boss level. I watched a friend who's adept at platform games, and proved it completing World 1 without breaking a sweat, attempt to beat the level to no avail. Granted, he only had 4 tries at it but still. I would have expected a player of his skill level to beat the boss in one or two tries, tops. Taking all of this feedback to heart, I'll be making some significant changes to the level and the boss fight at the end. This will, of course, set me back a bit, but it's all for the good of the game!

Overview of Level 4-B

Part of the impetus to make these changes has been my work on Level 4-B. I designed the level so much more deliberately and I'm really happy with how it turned out. It only further highlights the shortcomings of level 2-B and since these are the only two boss levels to require the use of power-ups to complete, there are certainly parallels to be drawn. I plan to write a Lessons From Suzy Cube post about it soon.

Tweaks, Fixes And Some Cryptic How-Tos

I made a couple of little changes that should have farther reaching consequences. I extended the glide time on the Double Jump to make it that little extra bit more effective and I also rigged it so the game timer stops while you're in a teleporter. 

Now you see me, now you don't!... and... now you see me again...

As you can see, when you step into a teleporter, there's some animation involved and you lose control of Suzy until she pops out the other end. I felt I was cheating players by having them watch the timer tick down while this was happening. It was totally possible to pop out of a teleporter only to die from running out of time while IN the teleporter. When in doubt, go with what will most benefit your players!

Finally, I also created a set of instructional panels to help players discover the use of the power-ups. The challenge here is that I don't want to use text, I want them to be platform agnostic and I still want players to get a sense of discovery. In other words, I don't want to simply play an instructional video which, straight up, shows folks how to use the power-ups. I was hoping to avoid putting any instructions in the game at all, but that was a lofty goal to say the least. I haven't made the level meant to introduce the Ground Pound power-up yet but what I've observed of players trying Level 1-3, which introduces the Double Jump, is that there's a huge gap between more experienced gamers and those less versed in gaming conventions when it comes to figuring out how to use the newly acquired ability.

What are these strange hieroglyphs?

This is the first of two, normally, insurmountable problems found in Level 1-3 requiring the use of the Double Jump. The problem some players seem to run into is that of not even trying to jump again in the air, which makes sense since it's not something Suzy can normally do. My hope is that the panel mounted on the very wall players must get over, will simply seed the idea in their mind that, maybe this new hat they just got could allow them to get up there, and maybe jumping twice is how they'll achieve that.

That's a long way across!

Players are then greeted by a large gap and a second instructional panel. The goal with this one is for players to realise that the second jump can be longer than the first and, again, it's up to them to figure out how to make that happen.

I've not had tester feedback on these yet so I'm curious of how effective they will be. Some players are. naturally. more currious than others and discover the use of the power-ups on their own, while other are too cautious to experiment. After being prompted or discovering the use of the Double Jump themselves, though, even the cautious players start experimenting with the new ability, so the important thing is to get them over that initial hurdle of discovery.

More to Come

Even though I've decided to address the issues in Level 2-B before moving on, I did make some progress on the paper design of Level 3-1.

The scratchings of a madman!

Pretty much all Suzy Cube levels start their life like this, as a series of scribbled notes and doodles outlining the elements that could work for the level or as reminders I can refer back to while drawing up the plans for the level.

Between scrawling these notes and actually sketching the blueprints for the level, I'll spend some time thinking about and simply listing my intentions for each section of the level as outlined in this piece I wrote about the breakdown of a Suzy Cube level.

Some Suzy Cube features I've implemented knowing they would eventually be useful, others I might have in my grab bag of nice-to-haves but won't actually implement unless I see a use for them in an upcoming level. I review this, grab bag list every time I start designing a new level to see if there's something on there that might fit and usually there is. Which brings us to this cheeky little bugger...

Nian nian!

This enemy can't be defeated by normal means and always rolls to block Suzy's path. As you can see, it'll even jump to stop her from getting over, which, as it turns out gives her a perfect opportunity to get around it. We've seen this kind of enemy before, sure, but it's a perfect fit for my plans for Level 3-1 and the blocky rolling animation makes it a perfect fit for the Suzy Cube style too.

Hopefully, the Blocker Block's cheeky smirk will leave you all with smiles of your own until the next update! See you then!


  1. whoa.. Great Job!
    I'm a medicine struggling student that was looking for something to get inspiration and motivation from.
    I found your post from back in 2013, I was wondering if I could be a beta-tester? I've always wanted to get into this kind of stuff!

    1. Please reply to this comment with your email address. I will not publish the comment but I will be able to see it to send you more information about beta testing.