Create Challenging Levels
Create Challenging Levels
There are an awful lot of features in TKG, and how to use them all together may not seem obvious
at first. This document tries to show how to use features to create levels which are challenging
for the player by being well-designed, not simply by having lots of aliens and no health packs!
1. Layout of the level
Before putting mouse to screen, draw out your level on paper. The worst way to do this is to
just draw a room, then a corridor, then another room with a couple of corridors, then another
room and so on. Levels drawn like this tend to be dull and samey. Instead, try one or more of
a) Designing to a purpose.
Think of a function the level might serve. It could be a hospital, or a training camp, or a sewage
system, or perhaps two areas linked together. Once you have an idea in mind, layout ideas will
usually follow. For example, the sewage system would have a lot of tunnels, with steps or lifts
leading up into various buildings, perhaps.
b) Designing to fit a space
Draw an outline on you paper, a 'perimeter wall' which your level must fit into. Make it excitingly
chunky and purposeful. I find this helps a lot; having to fit your level into the shape prevents
it sprawling like a very old bag of potatoes.
c) Designing to suit an alien
When you design your aliens you are probably going to have one or more big, tough critters that
are going to severely impede the player's progress. Such aliens should have levels custom-designed
to suit their abilities.
2. Useful level building blocks
a) Did I just step on something...?
A very useful thing to define is an 'invisible trigger'. This can be used to set off messages and
trigger doors and lifts, preferably with lots of aliens behind/on them. Simply place the trigger
somewhere the player has to go and arrange for it to dispense aliens at the most inconvenient
b) They're appearing out of thin air! AAARGGHH!
This is a good one. When the player picks up a gun, shoots a particular alien or whatever, this
can trigger several aliens to teleport from their 'homes' outside the level, into the room the
unlucky player is standing in. How to do it? Well, first of all, define several alien 'houses'.
An alien 'house' is a pair of zones not connected in any way to the rest of the level:
Define one zone as a lift and the other as a teleporter. Put your alien(s) on the lift, making
sure that their 'permanent calculation' flag is ON. Make sure the lift starts at the TOP of its
movement, and that at that height it is ABOVE the ceiling height of the teleporter (this prevents
flying aliens making their way into the teleporter before the lift is triggered).
Arrange the alien/gun/health pack/key or whatever so that it triggers the lift into falling to the
same height as the teleporter. Place a control point in each zone and link them together. This will
ensure the aliens will wander onto the teleporter as soon as they can.
c) Smithers, did you just press that big, red button?
Even more annoying to the player than tripping invisible triggers is when he voluntarily pulls a
large, inviting lever only to discover that it removes the only barrier between him and an alien
horde. Don't over-use this one.
d) We're going to need BIGGER guns.
The 'immensely powerful-looking gun' trick is so ludicrously annoying that it should only ever be
used once, if at all. Define a really really impressive looking weapon and place it somewhere
obvious but extremely difficult to reach. Only when the player, after hours of trying, finally
manages to pick it up, will he discover that it does, in fact, fire ping-pong balls. For real
humiliation make it trigger a horde of aliens which the player will confidently attempt to dispatch,
failing miserably and probably dying in the process.
e) Neighbourhood Watch.
You've all got one; a weird neighbour who 'keeps himself to himself' and watches people through
his bedroom window. These slightly disconcerting people can now be put to good use in TKG. Stick
one up in an alcove, preferably near a door the player will come through. Make him part of a team,
the rest of whom are waiting in a room down a side corridor. As soon as the watcher sees the player,
it will trigger the others. If the watcher can shoot, too, it will usefully distract the player
while the bulk of the squad come running. However, if the player is good (or has played the level
before), he will pop out and shoot the watcher before he is seen, then run down and lob a grenade
or seven into the room with all his mates in.
f) I'm gonna get my big brother on you *sniff*.
Fill a maze of corridors with small, useless aliens and one big, dangerous one, making them all part
of the same team. If the player is seen, all the little aliens will converge on him, reporting
his position to the big guy.
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