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  • Lessons From World 1-1: How To Design An Introductory Level

    - Louis-Nicolas Dozois
  • What makes a good first level? What sets my first level apart from every other level in my game? If your game follows a mostly linear structure, its first level will need to be designed around very different goals than the other levels. In this Lessons from Suzy Cube article, we will break down those goals as they apply to Suzy Cube and how the game's first level strives to achieve them.

    The Goals of a Game's First Level

    Before jumping into the particularities of Suzy Cube, I want to explore some of the common goals shared by the first levels in many games.

    A first level is the player's introduction to your game. It shapes the player's first impression and will frame the rest of the game experience. Often, your first level will serve as an introduction to your game's story and its gameplay mechanisms. You may use the opportunity to reinforce lessons learned in the game's tutorial or use the level itself as a platform for teaching basic skills.

    In addition to serving as an introduction, your first level also sets expectations and gives a taste of what's to come. Players may make up their minds about your game as early as the first level, so put your best foot forward.

    Not Your Average Level

    In order to better understand what sets Suzy Cube's first level apart from the game's other levels, it's important to understand the goals of a typical level.

    A typical Suzy Cube level is built on the idea of introducing a gameplay concept, building upon that concept, then challenging the player on their mastery of that concept. This structure is explored in closer detail in this level breakdown from a previous article.

    Though not all levels in the game adhere quite so closely to this structure, they are all built around a concept, a design pillar if you will, which makes the level unique. What makes the game's first level different is that it is not built around a singular concept or gameplay hook but, instead, around the idea of teaching players while drawing them in.

    Suzy Cube, Level 1-1

    Suzy Cube is not a story driven game. The flimsy premise is totally incidental, so the first level concentrates on being an introduction to what makes Suzy Cube fun, its gameplay. In broad terms, the overarching goal of Level 1-1 is to give players a feel for the fun they can look forward to throughout the game's five upcoming worlds.

    The opening moments of the game

    The game opens with Suzy, the player character, standing on a small stone riser. Notice how the slight angle of the camera, the guardrails to the left, the line of coins to the right and framing Suzy such that more of the path ahead of her is visible all work together to give players a sense that their adventure awaits, to the right.

    The start area offers a lot of room to explore

    The goal of the level's opening area is to allow players to experiment and familiarize themselves with the controls and the feel of the character. Though players must move to the right in order to progress, they are given a lot of room to explore widthwise and are rewarded with coins. Players, thus, have an opportunity to learn how to control Suzy while learning the value of venturing off the main path.

    Gift Boxes often contain Power-Ups

    Progressing to the right, players will come across the game's first Gift Box. There are a fixture of Suzy Cube and can contain a variety of prizes. This one contains the game's most basic Power-Up, the Heart Hat. Gift Boxes are opened by jumping on, or "bopping", them. The coin, suspended above this gift box, helps to entice players to attempt this rather than simply avoiding the Gift Box altogether. 


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