Platformer: Level Breakdown

This time around, I wanted to do a level breakdown for a different game genre than I’ve done in the past. One of the projects I have been working on for contract level design work is Bad Dude, a run-and-gun platformer that is very reminiscent of the Metal Slug series. Bad Dude is a mobile game in which you shoot and jump your way past various enemies and obstacles to reach the goal. After completing the level, you will receive a score based on how quickly you finished, how many enemies you defeated, how many coins you collected along the way, and how much health you have remaining. It is also the first game of this kind that I have worked on, so I thought it would be a great experience designing levels.


Since this is a mobile game rather than one played on a console or a computer, the mechanics and levels have been altered to best suit the platform. A single level takes on average 30 seconds to a minute to complete, assuming you don’t make any serious mistakes and don’t need attempt it multiple times. Since the overall level time is much shorter, the second-to-second tension as you progress through the level is increased. For this stage, I designed it in the form of a spiral that gets more difficult as you progress further towards the center. Unfortunately, I was unable to get screenshots of the game running on an iPhone, so I had to make do with images of the level as it appears in the Tiled level editor.


At the top floor of the level, the player faces no obstacles or enemies. I thought it would be fun to have the first section be a bit of a “safe zone” with a large number of coins for the player to collect at the beginning. As they dash through collecting all of the coins, they soon arrive at the first roadblock of this level.


At the end of the top floor, the player comes up to a large empty shaft. Spiked platforms are hanging in the air at various, making the trip down more treacherous. In Bad Dude, the player has a parachute that they can activate mid-air to slow their descent, which makes avoiding the spikes easier. However, doing so will cost the player precious time needed to achieve a high score. It will be up to them decide how they tackle this obstacle, and they won’t have all day to think about it!


At the bottom of the drop (the next floor in the spiral), the player will find another trail of coins along the ground. However, this trail is being guarded by two soldiers who are patrolling the hallway. Depending on where along their path the player engages these enemies, they will either deal with these enemies separately or both at once. At the opposite end of this hall is a moving platform that will take the player up to the next section of the spiral. How long they have to wait for the platform will depend on how much time they spent on falling down the shaft and dealing with the soldiers.


While riding the platform up, the player will again encounter spikes impeding their path. This time, they will be avoiding them on the way up a shaft instead of falling. There is no way to adjust the speed of the platform, so the time spent in this section will be constant throughout various playthroughs. This part was really meant to throw a curve-ball on the falling section that the player made through earlier in the levels.


Once the platform reaches the top, the player starts down the next section of the spiral. This floor replaces some of the coins with mines that explode on contact. From this point onward, the cycle of running section, falling section, running section, and rising section continues. The time between each section decreases as the player moves further into the spiral, and obstacles faced change up. In addition, the platform speed in the raising sections move faster the closer they are to the center, further adding to the tension as the player works their way closer towards the goal.

I personally am happy with how this level turned out. I think it stands out well among some of the others in the game, and does a good job of letting the player use all of their abilities in interesting ways as they make their way through it. It fits with the game’s overall theme of run-n-gun platformer, and is definitely a level that the player is going to want to retry to try and obtain a better score.

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