When we came to game map realization, we thought of making it big and nonlinear. The point is we have a system core, a Cybercenter (hi, Dan Simmons!), surrounded by the net of unrelated levels. Player can go inside the level connected with the passed one, thus making its way through the system.
The map consists of 3 parts by level types:
Why is it important for player to pass all levels and further branches? — needs a motivation. There may be some additional bonuses. So, the full access isn’t necessary, but gives additional capabilities to play.
Player may choose the part of the system he wants to hack, after he had passed several training levels, and map unlocked new ways. For hacking every segment of the net player gathers a key (a square, a circle or a triangle). Combining these keys, he could open the harder levels, that consist of combinations of geometrical figures, corresponding to the key types.
Excerpts from the Design Doc:
«To open the levels you need to use keys. Wherein the first levels require the same type of keys as the level is, next – one key of other type, next – two different keys, the last ones – 3 types.
The point is to reach the core, by passing all the levels of every type of branch.»
On the level ending the player gains the information of a key he got (the animation) — the screen is getting dark, the central element is rotating and turns into a key. A sign “You got a triangle key”. The total number of keys on the top. Go to map button in the bottom.
The map button is available from the main screen. He may go there and choose another level, if the current is too hard for now. A representation of a cybercenter is communicating to him, when he is inside the map, a monster, that annoying, motivating or intriguing him. Calling the full range of emotions and feelings. At the same time the player can always see the most difficult level, which consists of all types of non-standard properties and protective modules (non-destructible, gravity, portal, etc.). After accumulating a sufficient number of the most powerful hyperbonuses he could destroy the concentration of complex protection objects and beat the system.
Then we decided to simplify the system and reduce the number of keys to nine. We come up with the Cyberbox, that appeared after destroying all the protection objects on the last level and opened the access to the secret level – The real system core, that we represented with a 3D face, consists of spikes and red eyes (llike a Shrike from Hyperion). Here is the best moment, to begin the final battle. As the player pass the game he collects a specific key type at the certain points (single of double). But he could always go to a level with the box and insert the keys into it. There were so many transformations of this idea. It seemed to us an interesting solution. But we didn’t think that casual mobile gameplay doesn’t like this kind of complications.
Everything has become too complicated and we started to get confused imagining how we immerse ourselves in the labyrinth of software code to implement this idea. The idea acquired new idea and we decided to stop it until it’s too late. The decision came after two weeks of debate. Make a linear map without keys and cyberboxes. The idea of the Shrike was also rejected – after building this level we realized, that it all looks no good. It was necessary to redo everything and start to describe the world and the universe. Then came the idea to form a Cybercenter into a defenders and produce the story narration through them.