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1067431 Posts in 43591 Topics- by 35626 Members - Latest Member: Zimbres

November 28, 2014, 07:33:17 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesign2D platformer design studies
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Author Topic: 2D platformer design studies  (Read 12128 times)
dkoontz
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« on: October 18, 2010, 01:19:22 PM »

I'm interested in any semi-formal studies on 2D platformers people may know of.  Things like level design, the impact of the jump time vs gravity, air control, etc.  The only paper I've found is this http://users.soe.ucsc.edu/~gsmith/sandbox_examples/ which deals with the layout of levels and gives some terminology and a few interesting ideas about pacing and structure.  Is there a great treasure trove of awesome design knowledge that I've overlooked hiding out somewhere or is it all scattered amongst 1000 blog posts on various dev's blogs?

I don't really want to start a "post all your ideas about 2D platformers" thread unless people think it would be useful to have a single place with (hopefully) a lot of data about the topic.  For my own work I've gone and figured out the timings of various games, jump height to screen height ratios and such.  That's just one little tiny bit of information about platformers though and I'm sure it could all be formalized a bit better to explain why a certain jump speed or amount of air control is fun when combined with certain types of obstacles.  Is this all a hopeless endeavor?
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baconman
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2010, 11:11:07 PM »

That sounds very good and well-composed, but it appears to lack one element that I've noticed in practically every successful platformer series... the widget.

See, each level in a game has a distinctive feel about it, because usually there's a recurring thing or two within it, which I refer to as a "widget." Generally, each half of a MegaMan level uses one, along with the entirety of most levels on other games, and it works very similarly to your rhythms; the first appearance introduces you to what they are, there's a couple of places where you have to use them to solve paths, and generally at the very end of a level, it's often used in a very challenging sequence.

This often serves to give the level distinction in activity, and often to create a sense of atmosphere (like platforms in AirMan's level, laser mases in QuickMan's, or pinball/slot machine elements in Casino Night Zone), though occasionally it can be a recurring theme throughout a game as well (like DKC and it's barrel cannon sequences, or Super Mario 3's Pipe Mazes and Fortresses).
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jrjellybeans
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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2010, 10:33:22 AM »

If I recall correctly, there was someone doing some research about video games on the gamedev forums.  I remember it being some sort of large scale academic study.  I'm not entirely sure what the subject matter was, but you might want to check those forums.  It was either on the gamedev or indiegamer forums.

Hope that helps!
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Fallsburg
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2010, 10:41:23 AM »

I didn't read your 2d platformer rhythm based paper, but here is one that I found interesting:
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1536548
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Innerscope
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2010, 08:49:46 PM »

Interesting article. I'm with Baconman on the widget idea. (chaos emerald stages from Sonic?)
Very minor, pretty much pointless, gripe: It cites a screenshot from Megaman X's Spark Mandrill stage as a stage from Megaman X2. Apoplectic
Otherwise nicely written.  Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2010, 05:33:58 PM »

From what I'm finding in my studies, video-game design and video-game programming is just becoming taken seriously in the academic world, and since it hasn't been established (for example there's no standard way of writing research papers in software engineering, let alone game programming) it seems to be hard to find proper research other than some random algorithm explanations scattered over the internet.

Just my two cents. Also, I'm going to keep an eye on this thread and hopefully we'll find some cool resources. That paper you mentioned looks awesome and I'm definitely going to hold on it. It would be cool if someone started a page with a collection of stuff like this.
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Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2010, 07:43:42 PM »

http://www.smile.talktalk.net/sj_index/nss/nss_contents/index.htm
Just about sonic but analysis of momentum/speed gameplay in plateformer (along other things)
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2010, 08:45:40 PM »

I'd also be really interested in this.  I just started working on my first 2D platformer, and I'm a little uncertain about how to structure the landscape and stuff like that.
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ezuk
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2010, 09:20:45 PM »

Bumping because I ran across these this morning:

http://www.auntiepixelante.com/?p=465
http://www.significant-bits.com/what-made-those-old-2d-platformers-so-great

I’m actually surprised that someone hasn’t posted a breakdown of a few dozen Super Mario 3 levels, say, to try to figure out why they work.
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« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2010, 05:36:18 PM »

I wrote the above article (What Made 2D Platformers So Great), and I'm actually doing a post about some some of the level design lessons gleamed from SMB3. It's a little time consuming, but it should be worth it as the platforming articles always prove popular.
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ezuk
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2010, 10:30:39 AM »

I wrote the above article (What Made 2D Platformers So Great), and I'm actually doing a post about some some of the level design lessons gleamed from SMB3. It's a little time consuming, but it should be worth it as the platforming articles always prove popular.

That’s great to hear.  I really enjoyed the article on the 2D platformers – it was quite well written and informative.

I’ll certainly be interested in what you have to say about SMB3 when you post your thoughts.
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JustRadek
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2010, 09:14:31 AM »

Thanks for the compliments!

Last time I took a stab at it I played through all of SMB3 and captured a bunch of screenshots as visual aids, but when I returned a week later to write the actual post, I forgot what a lot of the screenshots represented. I'll probably do the same exercise again, except this time with a notepad in hand.
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2010, 02:59:14 PM »

Deconstructing SMB 3 is a huge task, but if anyone's interested, here's my first stab at it: http://www.significant-bits.com/super-mario-bros-3-level-design-lessons
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AuthenticKaizen
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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2010, 03:52:56 PM »

Nice articles! Smiley

Here is an additional one
Super Mario Bros. 101 - LESSONS IN 2D GAME DESIGN
http://8bithorse.blogspot.com/2010/11/super-mario-bros-101.html
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2011, 08:23:12 AM »

This is a pretty awesome thread.  That SMB3 article has popped up on slashdot and kotaku.  I've been playing a lot of 2d Castlevania games lately, and it's interesting how the light combat in those games plays into the rhythm groups of the platforming.

I didn't read your 2d platformer rhythm based paper, but here is one that I found interesting:
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1536548

I'd be interested in reading this article, but it looks like it's behind a paywall.  Is there anywhere else it's been published ?

Cheers!
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Fallsburg
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« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2011, 09:32:32 AM »


Yeah, I didn't realize it at the time, but I can view that because I'm at University that pays for it.  Anyway, if you've checked out all the stuff by Gillian Smith then it is nothing new, but for those that haven't, her list of publications is
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« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2011, 12:30:19 PM »

Yeah this is a cool article. I remember on IGN, Shigeru gave a psuedo-postmortem about what he almost put in SMB & one thing that stood out to me the most was the size of Mario opposed to the world itself. How players started off big (Super) & the size of the enemies & objects. Cool little thought.

Right now I'm researching 2D exploration titles such as Castlevania & Metroid. Anyone hav articles to spare?
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JustRadek
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« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2011, 01:50:58 PM »

In case anyone's interested, I posted a follow-up to the SMB3 article that goes over the remaining worlds: http://www.significant-bits.com/super-mario-bros-3-level-design-lessons-part-2
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« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2011, 02:50:22 PM »

In my experience, each platformer has a 'gimmick' unique to the whole game. Everything else is pretty much the same.

-Sonic has speed. If you were going slow, Sonic would be such a simple game.
-Most Kirby games have the sucking ability. Otherwise, it would be a generic platformer where you can't kill enemies.
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Danc
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« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2011, 09:26:47 PM »

If you want to get into the basics of how jumping feels, the current bible on the topic is Steve Swink's "Game Feel". 
http://www.amazon.com/Game-Feel-Designers-Virtual-Sensation/dp/0123743281/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212966374&sr=8-1

take care,
Danc.
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