Alice And Bunny Pro (ABPro) is a co-op stealth game set in a cyberpunk world where Alice, one of the protagonists, is on her journey to rescue her childhood toy, Mr. Bunny Pro, who is half-way transformed into a killer robot. It features co-op puzzle designs, complex AI behavior, and a high level of polish.
As the game designer, I was in charge of the design, grey box, and implementation of 9 levels (of 12), and the design and implementation of 2 types of stealth enemies.
The methodology I followed for the puzzle level design is the 4 steps:
1. Mechanics Introduction: Always teach the players the new mechanics in simpler levels before putting them into advanced levels.
2. Level Meaning: The level has to either teach the players a new mechanic, introduces new ways to use an older mechanic, providing an interesting new way of combining older mechanics, or does not need to exist at all. And big structure-wise, levels need to appear in that order.
3. 4 Steps Max or Create a Subgoal: Make sure one subgoal has at most 4 steps involved. I think it's a good design practice to keep the steps low to let the players be able to calculate in their heads. If ever need to exceed 4 steps, then achieve that by creating a subgoal, a place clear enough for the player to know to move to first.
4. Creating a catch: If possible, provide the players with a false but obvious solution first, then make them think about the correct one.
The above picture showcases an example level designed according to the design principles.
Several elements in the scene: control panel, spider robots, sound panels, movable blocks are all introduced in previous levels, this level does not include new mechanics, but instead introduces new ways to see/use existing mechanics. In this case, the moveable blocks.
The moveable blocks can be moved around freely by the bunny player, previously only used to block a stationary enemy's sight. In this level, the players will learn to use the block in a new way to block a moving enemy's line of sight.
The players start at the lower left, in front of a moveable block. Using the moveable block is mandatory to get past the first guard. Therefore this block creates catch, giving the player a false sense that the block is used to block the first guard, in reality, the block is also a crucial part in step 2.
Because the entire level exceeds four steps, a cover is created as a subgoal. Now players are able to calculate the steps entirely in their heads.
Stealth enemies are too complicated for our puzzle oriented design. The design is abstracted to having only 2 notice levels: alert and engaged. Also, having 3 types of distraction: sight of the players, corpse of other enemies, and sound, so that we can design interesting puzzle around the AI.