Designed around the concept of a simple but expandable mechanic, Backwoods incorporates linear level design and evolving puzzle mechanics. The level creates a smooth difficulty curve for gameplay, while ensuring the player doesn’t become lost. The core mechanic for this game was created in C++, with all supplemental functionality created instead with Blueprints.
Since Backwoods is the second puzzle-based game I’ve created, I took the lessons learned from Reflector to create a smooth difficulty curve that slowly increases difficulty using mechanics that the player is already familiar with.
I approached puzzle design using the MDA framework of thought, and first created a list of Dynamics that could be incorporated into puzzles.
Now that I had a list of Mechanics and Dynamics, I began creating simple puzzles that introduced list items to the player; later puzzles challenged the player using several of the listed Dynamics.
The below image gallery shows the development of the level from the original whitebox phase, to the architectural asset pass, and finally to the environmental asset pass completed after playtesting. The top left image is the whitebox, the top right image is the architectural pass, and the bottom left image is the environmental art pass and playtesting adjustments.