Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jumping Into Platformers

For our Game Design III class, we'll be working on creating our own side-scrolling platformer throughout the semester. But before jumping into our own crazy ideas and inventions, we've been given the task of studying and breaking down an already-existing platformer. Here I'll be breaking down the first level of a game called Cave Story?

Cave Story, a platformer-adventure game created by Daisuke Amaya "Pixel" in 2004, does a fantastic work at keeping players entertained by constantly challenging their problem-solving and coordination skills. From the start of the game, the player is given no instructions, no controls, no target location. Its the layout of the level that pushes the player to learn all the skills they'll need through the game. Whether its understanding the length of your jump while dodging enemies, using a weapon to destroy obstacles and enemies, leaving a body of water before your oxygen reaches 0 or hitting spikes that can one-hit K.O, all the small events that take place in the starting level serve as the main building blocks for all the other tasks the player will be executing as they progress through the game.

When the player falls into a body of water, their oxygen meter starts to drop. When it hits 0, its game over.

Players who are not familiar with the platforming genre may find that the game will require a certain amount of coordination to move around, as there are tons of ways to lose health or die in every level

I guess I died a few times...

When you combine this with shooting through a dozen of enemy creatures and projectiles, keeping track of all the information on the screen can get a bit hectic. But it's that kind of complexity and challenge that keeps this game fresh and alive, even in our current year. When it comes to Cave Story, nothing feels as satisfying as speedily finishing a level and booming through enemy swarms unscathed and unharmed.

The following images are a visual layout of the first level and a video playthrough of the level brought to you by ZDS Group.

And if you're REALLY curious about Cave Story, here's a full one-hour talk by Daisuke Amaya "Pixel" about his ideas and challenges faced while developing this gem of a game. It's a bundle of sweet sweet knowledge, and I encourage you to watch it if you have the time. Thanks for reading~