Now you can die
The Garden of Gravity, a sandbox level were players are free to experiment and have fun with the Gravity Fields.
Introducing players to death in the game, and its consequences.
Introducing players to "travelling" on top of boxes or Box Surfing.
Teaching players that boxes can help them get to areas blocked by lasers.
Lasers are bad for them
If lasers are blocking an area, the best approach is to look for a box to block them or surf over them.
Introducing death without introducing frustration
We knew we had to be careful when introducing death, so that players did not feel like dying in Gravitas was unfair. To address this issue, we made simple rules to apply in all levels: players should never fall of a box when box-surfing, they should never die if they know the solution to the puzzle, and they should never be in a situation where they have to kill themselves.
The level starts with a full view of the goal room...and hundreds of lasers.
The first area offers a simple challenge where players need to traverse several laser barriers with the help of a box.
The Laser Pool
In the second area, players surf for the first time. The layout of the puzzle leads to a situation where a box is in front of the players, standing over a laser pool. Thanks to this layout, players come up with the "box-surfing" solution in a natural way.
How we learned that the smallest changes matter
Players learn how to surf on top of boxes in the Laser Pool. In one of the iterations, we moved the floor down by a few inches, and new players started having trouble solving the puzzle. We realized that due to the floor change, players could not see the box that they had to use to box-surf. As a consequence it never occurred to them that box-surfing was even a possibility.
Lowering the floor resulted in the box being out of sight, confusing players and making the puzzle a lot harder than it should be.
The Laser Ocean
The Laser Ocean is the culmination of the laser tutorial, where players have to prove their mastery by combining box surfing with laser blocking and movement inside fields.
This last room is visible from the beginning of the level, as well as from the Laser Pool, which keeps the players' goals in sight at all times.
Keep the goal on sight at all times
In Gravitas, we wanted players to see their goal as soon as they entered a puzzle. In Level 3, players see the final room from almost every other room. As soon as they walk into the level, a scripted sequence shows them the last door, standing over the ocean of lasers. Later on, windows in the other puzzles let players see the final room from different angles.
The final goal is visible from almost every room in the level.