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Reclamation

Team: Hat Hair Games // Role: Level Designer // Timeline: 1 Year

Reclamation is a 2.5D platformer sculpted out of real clay currently in development by Hat Hair Games. There are 18 playable creatures to control, each with a unique combination of abilities that offer variation to moment to moment gameplay as well as access to new map areas. Much of the details are still under NDA.

I contributed to

  • Level Design (Overworld, Rooms, Events, Mechanics)

  • Game Design (Abilities, Player Characters, AI Enemies)

Level Design

Overworld

During my time at Hat Hair I designed Reclamation's overworld and iterated upon it constantly. I used a Miro board to build out the map's structure, creating clusters of rooms for each region that all connected together. The board tracks all room connections, collectables, bosses and gate types. Given that the game has a unique take on the Metroidvania genre I was presented with some interesting design challenges.

  • As the world is meant to be explored none sequentially, I designed multiple "golden paths" and alterative routes that always reward exploration and experimentation

    • A big goal of mine was to craft a world that is highly replayable​

  • I spread out challenges and rewards proportionally so the player is always progressing their stats and abilities

  • I focused on a specific set of abilities per zone while also rewarding players that bring non-zone abilities

  • The connection of the rooms would always lead the player toward the next major unlockable by guiding them using traversal opportunities with their abilities

Rooms

I designed many individual rooms using Unity's tileset tools which were then crafted in clay after much iteration. Given the nature of Reclamation's player abilities and progression structure, I designed the rooms around some uncommon, though pleasantly challenging restrictions.

  • Many rooms must allow any creature type the player may use to traverse through

  • ​There are stretches of rooms where the player must bring a specific set of abilities, leading to a big reward or boss

    • These stretches have unlockable backtrack routes that allows any creature type to pass through​ after the required challenge is completed

  • I reward players that brought out of zone abilities​ such as fire in an ice zone, or double jump in a swimming area with hidden collectable and upgrade points

  • Since players get their abilities by taking over enemy bodies I had to place them strategically

    • This led to a lot of trial, error and iteration to make sure players would not become soft locked if an enemy body were to somehow be lost​

  • I designed the routes in the rooms to be easily readable and almost never exceeded 4 exits.

Player Creatures and Enemy AI

Working with the lead designer, I helped tune existing player abilities to improve the game feel, while remaining within the metrics of the traversal abilities. My knowledge of the overworld was also an asset for design discussions revolving around re-assigning abilities to other player creatures.

At the same time we were improving the player creatures I was designing new enemies and improving existing enemy behavior, and in some instances completely re-creating their brain logic.

  • My goal in creating new enemies was to face the player with reasons to use different abilities, such as armored areas or enemy movement and attacks that required the player to change their approach. 

  • The alterations to existing enemies sometimes included behaviors, but mostly consisted of improving their logic to be easier for the player to read and anticipate, while also smoothening out their traversal

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