The Making of Continuity 2: Level Editing

The Making of Continuity 2: Level Editing

So one thing people seem to ask us a lot is, “How do you make the levels?”

Well, we made our own level editor for Continuity 1 than runs using the Adobe Flash Player. It worked competently. For Continuity 2, we modified the editor to allow us to use the new elements we’ve added in Continuity 2, like coins, wires, gates, levers and spikes. The levels are saved as XML property lists, which can be parsed automatically on iOS.

It’s not great. It’s a pretty abstracted view of what the levels actually look like. Coins and keys are just yellow and red dots, respectively. I loathe myself for having written it each time I accidentally delete something and remember that there’s no Undo function. However, for the most part, it works out pretty well.

Here’s a sped up video (10x speed) of me making a level for Continuity 2.

In Continuity 1, we’d simply sit down to create levels without any concrete objective in mind. It’s pretty easy to just arbitrarily draw some ground onto some tiles and make something that is pretty hard to beat. This led to some really challenging levels, but they lacked a sense of uniqueness. For Continuity 2, most of the levels were designed around a specific sub-puzzle or concept. This makes creating levels more challenging, but the feel more distinct.

Creating the levels is difficult because of the spacial confines we have to work within. In a level in most other 2D platformers, the designer is free to sprawl the level vertically or horizontally as much as he or she wants in order to fit in whatever he or she wants. In Continuity, each level is confined to what we can fit on a few measly tiles. For Continuity 2, due to the iPhone’s relatively small screen, we have even less space to work with than the original Continuity as each tile is smaller. Trying to fit all of stuff we want to get into each level is a quite the spacial puzzle itself. However, I think the levels are better due to the constraints as it forces us, as designers, to really consider what needs to be in each level.

For the level in the video, I wanted a smaller level that provided the player multiple paths through it. It also has coins scattered along the multiple routes, so it’s deceptively tricky to find an optimal path that will allow the player to collect them all. It’s not very hard to simply collect the key and unlock the door, but you’ll have to sit back and think if you want go collect all the coins fast enough to earn the achievement.

I really believe we’ve struck a better balance in Continuity 2 between complex mazes and simpler, varied levels. Making levels to fulfill a specific need rather than just arbitrarily has made the level progression much smoother and seems to make players more eager to keep playing than they were in Continuity 1. Hopefully, Continuity 2 is a much better and more focussed as a result.

Continuity 2: The Continuation comes to iPhone and iPad on June 23rd.

2 Responses

  1. John says:

    Appreciate the dev insights, always the most interesting part for me!

    Did you use an engine? Cocos2D, Sparrow etc?

    • glimajr says:

      We used Objective-C, Cocos2D and Box2D for the game.

      The editor is a Flex application written using Actionscript.

      Hopefully I’ll get a blog post up next week that digs a bit more into some more technical aspects of making the game.