This level was my submission, and the winner, of an official Sports-themed level design competition arranged by Curve Digital and No Brake Games.
The winner would see their level added to the official game as well as $10,000 cash.
About my level
•Developed over 4 weeks half-time
•Unity, Probuilder, Maya, Photoshop
•Project Settings provided by developers
•All assets made by me except for a handful of decoration props.
About Human: fall flat
•Third Person Puzzle / Platformer
•Supports local and online multiplayer
•Low Poly artstyle
My goal with this piece was to make an official level for a game that already has a set design archetype and player metrics. I couldn't go crazy with my own gameplay, so I had to analyze and adapt to what was given to me.
I also had to learn a completely new visual scripting language and blockout tool while under a hard deadline.
The initial idea
Going in to this project, I wanted my level to be focused around one sport in which I could build an interesting level around its core.
I boiled it down to Snowboarding, Skateboarding or Golf. They're all sports with interesting playspaces with potential for puzzle/platforming challenges.
After much thought I settled on Golf and began sketching ideas.
Sketches from first day of development
Initially, I imagined a great open ended level with Golf challenges scattered around so far between that the player would have to use a Golf Cart to drive around the fields to each challenge.
This idea was scrapped after realizing that driving in Human: Fall Flat just wasn't fun.
Driving vehicles in HFF can feel frustrating
A lot of inspiration came from games with similar mechanics of getting a ball into a hole in creative ways. For instance, I looked into the shrines of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as they would sometimes feature puzzles that could be compared to Golf.
Puzzle in BOTW solved by getting a ball into a hole
Timelapse of me building the level
Working with new tools
This was my first Human: Fall Flat level ever, so a lot of time during the first week was spent just learning the ropes of their custom node scripting system in Unity.
I opened a lot of existing prefabs and analyzed how they were built before attempting to recreate similar scripts for my level.
The Human Fall Flat node scripting window
Before this project I had not yet used Probuilder, however I was very experienced with blockouting with BSP's. Probuilder was very comfortable, as I could export sections into Maya and clean them up while keeping the correct scale.
I use Probuilder for quick iterations
When I design my levels, I like to look at them from both a macro- and micro-perspective, usually starting with the former. This allows me to get a feel for the space as a whole before getting down into the nitty gritty.
For instance, I design specific choke points with extra focus on composition. These vistas might foreshadow the next short term goal, or perhaps give a reminder of the long term goal.
My vistas are planned out in the paper design phase
The japanese level design philosophy Ki-sho-ten-ketsu is something I take into great account with all of my levels. It gradually teaches players by separating the level into spaces that introduce, develop, twist and conclude its mechanics. However, I do believe that following this template too strictly creates boring and predictable experiences.
In this level I try to juggle several different mechanics that weave in and out to create an all together interesting experience with satisfying pacing.
In the core Human: Fall Flat game, most players will bypass obstacles in ways that feel unintended. I believe this feeling of "cheating the system" is a core part of the game, and that keeping the level too constrained and monotonous leaves a bad impression.
Speedrunner skipping huge parts of the level
I made sure that almost every obstacle in my level could be "cheated" past, for speedrunners or for players who just don't feel like doing the puzzles in the intended fashion.
Players can skip huge parts of my level too!
Right as the competition was over, I got lots of people who played my level on the Steam Workshop. It grew even more popular as streamers and youtubers played it, and it has once again spiked in views after it was announced as the winner. I haven't really published any of my own levels before, so seeing this response has been overwhelming and beyond my imagination. I have no further plans of making HFF levels, but I'm staying active on the official Discord server to assist young designers with their work.
What I would've done differently today
Although my level was the winner of the competition, I would be crazy to not see its flaws (besides the apparent bugfixes). For instance, there's a lot of unused space in the middle of the map, I could definitely see the level's final segment twist and turn to take up all that space. Moreover, I also think certain assets are reaching a bit to keep the theme. Moving platforms and the volcano are at the top of my mind. I would've liked to keep the Golf aesthetic more thoroughly and really push its potential.