Level design. If not the Holy Grail of videogames, something close enough. Together with gameplay proper, good level design is the spark of life able to enthrall players for more than a couple of quick sessions. Our aim with Furmins is triggering the “one-more-game-and-then-I-stop” kind of reaction. Will we succeed? That’s of course for you to decide: meanwhile, we can tell you why we believe the answer is going to be Yes.
In the first part of this interview, we introduced David Navarro and Tomi Turunen, the Level Designers working on Furmins, and addressed issues such as the criteria used to decide when a level is good enough to be included in the game and how the mechanics worked when combined with all the other elements of Furmins.
Today we explore more personal matters, such as our Designers favourite levels: “I’m particularly fond of all the levels that involve vehicles”, says David, “those were generally fun to design and implement, although they can be frustrating when the vehicle doesn’t behave in a predictable fashion.” Tomi likes many, unfortunately “A couple of my favorites have been cut, but in the end you have to pick what works best. I usually go for “close call” levels, the ones that put together real-time action with the puzzle elements of Furmins.”
The planning phase of levels is where the magic – supposedly – happens. “Generally speaking”, David points out, “the hardest thing is to make sure the challenge comes from figuring out the correct flow around the level’s elements, and not from extra-precise positioning of the tools at player’s disposal or timing. We don’t want the player to be chasing pixels, and that requires careful planning from our side.” Tomi’s creative process is very much based on intuition: “There have been days when nothing seemed to work as I wanted. But I like to experiment with the editor, and I always recognise the moment when all the elements “click” together. So the creation process is very much about experimentation and gut feeling.”
Watching non-Housemarque people playing the game turned out to be a learning experience. “It’s not uncommon that a level that looks obvious and easy to the designer baffles everybody else”, tells David, “Killing your babies is the first and foremost skill a game designer needs”.
Tomi concludes with an anecdote: “Even inside the studio, at times you see somebody solving a level in unexpected ways. In those occasions we have to stop and figure out if that’s what we intended, if it’s actually cool, or if we need to fix something in the structure of the level”.
Hoping you enjoyed our overview on the level design of Furmins, we invite you to stay tuned for the release of the game: it’s happening sooner than you think!