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.

  • 1st Person, 3D Puzzle Level
  • 5-10 minute experience
  • Created 7 page Level Design Document for level
  • Created initial whitebox using BSP
  • Constructed level using free assets from Epic Games Store
  • Conducted play tests and adapted level and puzzles to feedback
  • Used mixture of C++ and Blueprints to create all game features

Puzzle Design

I approached puzzle design using the MDA framework of thought, and first created a list of Dynamics that could be incorporated into puzzles.

  1. Jump on rock
  2. Jump on rock to reach higher elevation
  3. Move rock
  4. Move rock to jump on and reach higher elevation
  5. Construct stairs with multiple rocks
  6. Open door
  7. Use pressure plate to open door
  8. Find rocks behind door
  9. Find pressure plate behind door
  10. Bring rock from previous area

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.

Level Development Progression

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.

Level Documentation