Today’s blogpost is by Stian. And the result is what happens when you ask a designer to write a blogpost.
Ooh. Great… When the conversation topic at the morning meeting is the Blog, and you mention, as a joke mind you, that it could be about checkpoints for some reason: Keep quiet. That is my advice to you, unless you happen to want to write a blog post about checkpoints.
Which strangely enough I do. No regrets! Here we go:
In the beginning, the Shadow Puppeteer level design was short. But then the holy game designers hovered across the level and for irrelevant reasons decided to make them longer.
But making the levels longer naturally makes playtesting them to see if the level works longer as well. Especially if your level has a challenging part in the middle that you want to test, but you keep dying on it and having to play half of the level you already tested over and over again. This became both frustrating and not to mention time consuming.
Seeing as we, the creators of the game, found a part challenging, we thought others might as well. And thus the necessity of checkpoints was revealed to us.
And so the checkpoint was made, and it works in Shadow Puppeteer as this haiku states:
Once one player touch
the «check point activation»
The check point is live
Which means if they failed a challenge, they would both start at, or near the checkpoint.
We discovered quickly that players testing would take advantage of this mechanic. Where one, who had a simpler time getting past a challenging part for some irrelevant reason, would run towards a checkpoint located safely on the other side to get it «live» (activated). Then the other player could try the challenge without being afraid of failing, because if he did, they would both start after the challenge anyways.
The checkpoint was quickly changed after this realization. Now it is only «live» after both players have triggered the checkpoint activation.
Now most of the levels of Shadow Puppeteer have checkpoints. Their locations have been determined through playtesting and balance. We cannot include too many checkpoints as it would seem like we are holding your hand thought the level, making you feel too safe in a world you should not. But at the same time we cannot include too few checkpoints making you feel too frustrated if you die after completing a bunch of mind numbing tasks of which there are plenty!
One important aspect when designing a checkpoint is to make it not only stand out but also make it actually feel like it is a checkpoint. In Shadow Puppeteer, the checkpoint are kites laying in various locations around the level. Once a player touches the checkpoint activation the kite starts to glow, but as most of us know, kites are designed to fly, a glowing kite does not signal its full actuvation. It is only once both have touched it, it is released into the air, signaling its live status.
So there you have it. The story, mechanics and design of the checkpoints in Shadow Puppeteer.