Designing the difficult traversal of physics platformer Deepest Sword



Problem is woven all through the dungeon delving and dragon slaying world ofDeepest Sword. The novel physics platformer places gamers within the position of a younger knight armed with an unwieldy sword on a quest to take down a draconic foe. Solely the sword is not purely for dragon slaying. The heft and momentum of that swinging blade performs a key half within the Deepest Sword’s difficult platforming as gamers use should practiced swings to propel their knight throughout hazardous terrain and towards their aim.
Recreation Developer spoke with Vu Ha, Rose Peng, and Johan Soriao, builders of the difficult recreation, to speak about how they got here up with the thought of traversing ranges by swinging a sword, the ideas that went into designing a world that might pressure gamers to make use of these swings in intelligent methods, and the challenges of constructing the sword-swinging mechanic.
What impressed you to tie motion to swinging a sword round?
Ha: I knew we wished to make the sword get longer and longer as you performed the sport, so I wished to have a mechanic that took benefit of that side in some way. As I used to be prototyping the motion I assumed, “What if we are able to use the sword to bridge gaps and attain additional platforms? It’s straightforward sufficient to make the sword attain the opposite aspect of the hole, however how does the knight truly use that to get throughout?” Since we had been working in 2D, I figured rotating the sword across the participant made essentially the most sense and this naturally led to this sort of round swinging movement that permits the knight to vault over distances. It took loads of tuning and taking part in with physics to truly make it so the sword might grip surfaces and climb the best way it does. As soon as I obtained it working, I knew it felt distinctive and enjoyable to execute.
Initially, the knight was truly in a position to leap, however I made a decision to take away leaping in order that the sport might be extra centered on puzzle platforming. By eradicating the power to leap, we narrowed the participant’s motion set and made it so the participant needed to interact with our core mechanic somewhat than depend on conventional platforming data. This additionally made it simpler for me to design totally different levels since I might focus purely on designing puzzles that used the sword climbing mechanic and lowered the variety of variables I’d have to tune to make the puzzles really feel satisfying.
What ideas went into creating the sword-swinging transfer mechanic? In creating the finer particulars of dropping out in mid-swing, utilizing the pivot for momentum, and many others? In giving gamers choices inside their swing?
Ha: Deepest Sword’s sword-swinging mechanic is closely physics primarily based. The knight and their sword are linked and have totally different weights related to them. Transferring the knight strikes the sword, and shifting the sword strikes the knight. I needed to rigorously tune totally different weights, sizes, friction forces, bounce elements, and rotational torque to create the present mechanics really feel. Every sword shouldn’t be solely longer than the earlier sword, but additionally feels heavier, affecting your heart of steadiness and the way a lot it impacts the knight’s actions.
I believe the sensation of weight is what actually makes the mechanics stand out. Early on, I experimented with having the sword rotation tied to mouse place, just like Getting Over It, however to me, that made the sport lack a way of weight and made the controls too finicky. Utilizing buttons for rotating clockwise and counterclockwise introduced again that feeling of heaviness, particularly with the longer swords. Watching folks play, you’ll be able to see them press bodily tougher on keys and really feel the knight’s battle as they elevate themselves up onto ledges. I believe this stage of immersion makes the sport way more partaking and extra enjoyable to grasp.
What ideas go into creating the sport’s numerous areas in order that they supply challenges for gamers by means of the mechanics? In making platforms that can push the participant’s means to make use of the sword motion mechanic?
Ha: Every space of the sport is related to a selected sword size, so I first had to ensure there is a clear path for that sword size to get by means of. From there, every space focuses on 2 issues: a motion mechanic and an environmental theme. The primary sword focuses on the fundamental motion controls and the dragon’s lair, the second sword focuses on climbing and the theme of tunnels, the third sword focuses on mastering momentum and the theme of platforms, the fourth sword focuses on mastering pivots and vaulting and the theme of zig zags, and the fifth sword focuses on attain and the theme of verticality. For the final stage, I additionally wished the participant to make use of all the abilities they’ve discovered up to now and actually present mastery of the mechanics.
Moreover, I additionally wished to make it possible for gamers would really feel the variations within the sword lengths by means of the surroundings design. I wished gamers to must method outdated areas barely otherwise with every sword. One instance of that is on the very starting whenever you get the second size sword, you understand it’s arduous to leap the hole so you’re taking the decrease route, however whenever you get the third size sword now you can take the higher path since your sword is longer.
One other instance of that is when the participant will get the size 4 sword, most gamers at this level may have been dragging their swords behind the knight, however on the entrance to the cave the participant will understand they will not be capable to swing their sword round to climb the preliminary platform. As a substitute, the participant must learn to transfer with their sword positioned in entrance of them with a purpose to enter the cave extra simply.
I’d replay the totally different levels time and again with every sword size and alter the extent to offer totally different challenges, block sure paths, and open up others. I additionally obtained different folks to play the areas and observe how they method issues, see the place they obtained caught, and alter the extent primarily based on what I noticed.
What drew you so as to add the totally different lengths of the sword? What do you are feeling they added to the sport?
Ha: Deepest Sword was initially made for the Ludum Dare 48 recreation jam the place the theme was “Deeper and Deeper”. We wished to include the theme in our recreation’s mechanics, surroundings design, goal, and lore. We brainstormed loads of concepts, however the thought of a knight making an attempt to kill a dragon by stabbing it within the coronary heart actually caught out to us. We thought: what if the knight can’t kill the dragon as a result of they’ll’t stab their sword deep sufficient. What if, with a purpose to stab it deeper and deeper, the knight needed to attempt once more with an extended and longer sword, and what if the dungeon additionally grew to become deeper and deeper as effectively?
From there, we had to determine what it even meant to traverse a dungeon with a extremely lengthy sword and that’s how we even got here up with the core recreation mechanic. We figured the totally different sword lengths might be used to create fascinating puzzles and slowly educate gamers increasingly superior mechanics.
Peng: We had loads of enjoyable with interpretations of the “Deeper and Deeper” theme, and the explanation for the longer sword tied to a central narrative we had of just a little knight having bother stabbing an enormous dragon, having to increase their sword with a purpose to stab the sword in deeper the subsequent run. It was hilarious so we saved it going, extending the size of the sword to ridiculous lengths and arising with suggestive phrases for the dragon to touch upon the sword with
Deepest Sword requires nice experience with its programs to play effectively. What do you are feeling attracts gamers to video games with very difficult mechanics?
Soriao: I believe when gamers really feel the problem of mechanics as extra towards themselves (“if I can simply do that proper, I can completely pull this off”), it turns into extra motivating and rewarding to attempt to grasp them. It’s sort of a special feeling than the problem of a puzzle, the place as soon as you understand what to do, you’ve defeated the designer. Difficult mechanics are each a puzzle you clear up (“how do I do that?”) in addition to one thing it’s important to repeat the efficiency of each time you get to that time. Mastering one thing that you simply used to battle with feels good.
Peng: Our staff has created over a dozen recreation jam video games through the years, and all the time wished to push for extra replayability to encourage gamers to return again over and over. Within the early days of testing the sword-swinging mechanic, I assumed it’d be fascinating so as to add a gameplay timer so we might compete with each other internally since we’d must play it quite a bit for testing functions, but it surely rapidly caught on. There’s a pleasant sense of accomplishment and mastery that comes with working into an issue time and again till you aren’t simply overcome it, however you grasp it and gloat to everybody else about your expertise.
The mechanics of sword motion may also encourage some artistic options to its platforming options. Have gamers discovered some technique of utilizing the weapon to maneuver in methods you did not anticipate? What creativity have you ever seen from the participant base to cope with your challenges?
Soriao: Sure. One of many ones that actually impressed me was a decrease path skip on Sword 4. Watching gamers swing upwards to catch top and catch ledges in midair actually impressed me! Working with the speedrunning neighborhood, we’ve even needed to provide you with a “No skip” class to comply with our “meant path” by means of the sport since gamers had discovered some fairly artistic locations to jump over ledges.
Did the sport’s design shift a lot over improvement? How did Deepest Sword change from its inception to the top product?
Ha: Initially, we considered making the sport extra like a standard motion platformer with enemies and environmental hazards. After we prototyped the core mechanic, we realized that simply traversing the surroundings was actually enjoyable, so we determined to refocus the sport to be extra of a puzzle platformer.
Moreover, I had printed the sport early in the course of the recreation jam and surprisingly it went pretty viral on Twitter. Individuals actually latched onto the dragon’s design and the sort of suggestive dialogue within the recreation. As a substitute of being scared away by the response, we determined to lean into it. We had a while earlier than the top of the sport jam, so Rose was in a position to create a extremely superior finish display screen that tied every little thing collectively.
The sport appears to have some similarities to Getting Over It. Was it an inspiration? In that case, how did you attempt to construct upon the idea and make it your individual?
Ha: None of us have truly performed Getting Over It, however we knew about it and had seen YouTubers taking part in it earlier than. I’ve loads of respect for Bennet Foddy and his video games, although, and was positively impressed by the style of difficult-to-master platformers.
After touchdown on the final mechanic for Deepest Sword, I did watch a number of movies of Getting Over It to see how they approached a few of its platforming issues, however in the end the mechanics are literally fairly totally different. We needed to method designing Deepest Sword in distinctive methods to suit the specifics of our mechanic.
In Getting Over It, the participant can’t transfer with out utilizing their hammer; they’ll push off surfaces with the hammer to basically leap round, and so they can latch on to surfaces utilizing the top of the hammer to fling themselves round. The hammer’s deal with truly doesn’t have any collision, making it straightforward to hook it onto various things. The sport controls are purely mouse-based.
In Deepest Sword, you’ll be able to transfer your character freely left and proper, the sword feels stable and heavy and will get in the best way as you traverse areas, and also you’re extra making the most of the sword’s size and friction to pivot and vault your self to maneuver round. The button-based mechanics make it really feel nearer to traditional 2D platformers.
Moreover, Getting Over It’s deliberately punishing as a manner of creating an announcement. We wished Deepest Sword to be troublesome, however way more approachable and really feel like a puzzle platformer, so we made positive that gamers all the time felt like they had been progressing and we offered checkpoints to melt the issue and frustration a bit.
Peng: After we initially got here up with the thought for the sport, the mechanics had been very totally different. We had leaping and shifting, whereas the sword-swinging got here in a bit later. Because the mechanics developed, it began to really feel increasingly acquainted and we thought “Oh, that is beginning to really feel like Getting Over It!”. Though none of us have truly performed it, we had been acquainted sufficient with the sport to know we’d be getting comparisons. However the mechanic we had felt actually enjoyable and fairly totally different, as Vu identified above. The truth is, we really feel fairly honored to be in comparison with such a beloved recreation.