Hey! Sam here to talk to you about how we are designing the level for our vertical slice. As you can see above, we are dividing the demo into two major parts: the observatory and then the other half of the map is devoted to the main 5 puzzles of the game. The observatory serves as the tutorial of the game, where the player learns the main mechanics of the game in a more constrained and safe space. It also serves as a means to teach the player about their objective in the game (to find and collect the pieces of the Corvus constellation). We chose an observatory to act as a tutorial because it feels natural in terms of the fiction of our game and also allows us to create an excellent framing device for showing off the player’s progress (as the observatory will be broken down and allow the player a perfect view of the sky). After ascending to the top of the observatory and learning about their objective (which will be done using environmental storytelling, as stone slabs of the broken down observatory will serve to show the player their objective), the level then opens up to a much more open environment which features the main 5 puzzles of the level. We are designing the puzzles to be able to completed in any order, so they are all balanced to all be relatively equal in difficulty and are all twists on the main mechanic introduced in the tutorial. While we could have made the game more linear and have a series of more difficult  puzzles, we feel that going for that would feel not invoke the feeling of somber tranquility we are shooting for and feel constrained. A game like the Witness is a great example of this though process, as exploring helps the player be more immersed and they do not feel rushed or constrained to complete the game. Completing each puzzle rewards the player with a star of Corvus and returns the player to the middle of the map (to eliminate player frustration from backtracking). After collecting all 5 stars, the constellation comes to life (lines are connected from the stars and an outline of Corvus appears) and the vertical slice then fades to black. While this is obviously a basic layout that needs to be textured and filled in with environmental objects, it gives you a good idea of how we are designing the general flow of the game.

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