Flashback was the first ever fully completed video game I ever made. This was a 2D platformer with an emphasis on unique level design. It is a 10 level game where the player only explores 5 unique level. In Flashback, the level design is focused around the player having to complete the levels forwards and backwards. When completing the levels forwards, the player is in a “Flashback” to the past, and when playing the level backwards, they’re in the present moment.
March 2020 – May 2020
The Design Process
During this game, I used a specific process for when I was designing the game mechanics, something that I was taught and still use to this day.
This is an iterative design process, starting at the first stage of Problem. In this stage identifies the different problems the designer has in relation to the current piece of work. For example, a problem I had when it came to the level design was “should level 5 become easier?”.
After this is the Research step where I gather all the research I can get for that specific problem – For this example, my research was getting playtesters to test out the gameplay in level 5.
This leads onto the synthesised solution to the problem where I take the research and evaluate how it could be used to fix the problem. In the current example, the synthesis was understanding that the level was too difficult and needed to be changed.
The final stage is the refinement, where the iteration process starts. You take that synthesis stage and refine it by discovering new problems, using more research or even by synthesising more ideas based upon research.
While I don’t follow this to a tee, I still use it as a guideline for my design process today.
The Level Design
Even though the levels in this game were designed with the intent of being able to play them forwards and backwards, I didn’t plan them out very much, which is still a main takeaway for me to this day – plan the levels! It’s definitely a slip-up in this project but it’s something I’ve been able to reflect on and use in future productions. When I first started the project, I did plan out some of the levels, an example of this on the right.
An early demo
I was in fact able to find one of the old videos of Flashback in its initial stages of the first level. Including when the player had the mechanic of being able to place down bombs – This was ultimately scrapped for multiple reasons but I thought it would be interesting to share some of the older gameplay.
Other parts of the gameplay
One of the bigger parts of the creation of this game was implementing different extra win conditions for the player, small challenges that they can complete if they want to add some extra gameplay. For Flashback, these three were:
- All Gems Collected
- Flawless Level
- No Slowdown*
*Slowdown was the major gameplay mechanic for the player – being able to slow down time when they wanted.
Music was another core part of the gameplay because I always believe that even if something is a tech demo, music is almost mandatory, I also felt like I couldn’t find the right music for the game, so the music for the game was something I personally composed myself. An example of the one of the songs on the right.
Other parts of the module submission
As this was another project for university, this did require other parts of submission, including once again a wiki-style document showcasing:
- The design process
- Meta critical analysis
- Project Management Methodologies
As well as a finished reflective presentation using both Driscoll’s Model of Reflection (1994) once again, but also including Gibbs’ reflective cycle (1988).