My time at Meelfoy Games
When I started my internship at Meelfoy Games I got introduced to the game that they were currently working on. A free to play strategy puzzle game where physics are a huge aspect of the game.
The goal is to remove a total amount of bricks of different colors from a tower to save creatures called “Lightspawns” while keeping a team of heroes on top of the tower alive. But the player has to make sure the tower doesn’t collapse when removing the bricks or they have to start the stage over. Other than making sure the tower doesn’t collapse the player also have to withstand attacks from an enemy called “The Void”. The Void will attack the heroes while you are removing bricks from the tower, so making sure they stay alive is also a big aspect and task for the player on each stage. If you lose your whole team from the Voids attacks you have to start the stage over again. Each level has various thresholds for the amount of “Lightspawn” you save each level called star ranks, if you reach the first star rank you complete the level and receive a currency reward that can be used to buy playtime and upgrades in the shop. Every level have three star ranks where you receive more currency depending on your final score for the level.
Additional to the general gameplay, the game also have a gacha model in the store, which gives the player random opportunities to buy what the game can offer. These can variate from game time (energy) that is required to play the levels. New heroes and upgrades to these heroes are also a big part of the gacha store where you are offered a variation in currency and amount to be able to upgrade them.
The game has two currencies; Gold and Gems. Gold is the basic currency which the player always receive when they complete a level. The amount of gold the player receive varies depending on the final score they get on each level. The other currency the game game is called “Gems” and is a more rare currency that the player can obtain from playing special event stages in the game and buying with real money. Gems can be used just like gold to purchase “energy”, heroes and upgrades, but also a larger sums of gold.
My tasks at Meelfoy Games
Analyse for competitive games.
A big part of my time at Meelfoy Games I did research, analysis and played a lot of the competitive games for mobile, to get a good understanding on what the goal and final product we were striving for. This gave me a good understanding how to work with the game design and my thoughts on how to improve it.
Improvements to create a more progressive and balanced level design and gameplay design. (Heroes stat balance, Void power balance)
When I joined the team most of the games structure was done and a first draft of levels implemented. My task was to look over the balance of the game play and the levels to suit the final result they were looking for. My first big task for the game was to look over the progressive statline for the existing heroes, managing and balancing them to make sure the player feel that their leveling have such an impact strong enough to continue their journey through the campaign. My second big task was to play through all the existing levels and improving their balance by either doing changes to them or creating completely new once. Another big task I had to look over was the balance of the Void, which is the force that will attack the player as they make moves during the levels. This was one of the more difficult task to achieve the final result after a lot of analyze and testing in regard from my two previous tasks.
QA for the improved gameplay and newly created level.
During development I worked with making sure everything we created lived up to the quality that was strived for. Making sure the progressive feeling by playing the level is there and every level feel unique to the previous one. I also spent a lot of time making sure the store of our game was working as intended by doing store refreshes and data collecting to present the results from, with both positive results.
Ideal structure of a stable level
Bug searching for updated builds.
At the end of my time at Meelfoy Games when I had finished all of the final level design for the game, I worked with assisting in bug testing the updates and fixes that were done regularly on the game. Making sure it was free from game breaking bugs that could affect the whole gameplay, but also keep an eye out for small once that anyone could find annoying.
Working with creating levels for the game
Each level has a different ratio to the area where you create and place all the bricks the game currently have. When I was work with creating levels for the game there was some basic rules that I set for myself to make sure they were balanced and followed the progressive structure of the game design.
- Startup stability is everything. When you create a level and especially once with larger ratio, playtesting it to make sure it stands stable is a crucial step if you have to redo it from start or not. The errors you want to look out for is a tower without any small gaps between the bricks position when you start the level or bricks that have been affected more than they should by the general physics. If there are no errors in the level you do not have to worry about it anymore, and can focus on the balancing the other aspects of the level instead.
- Strive to have a good balance in the four brick colors for the normal levels. This is to make sure that the player can learn the more they play the levels to get a good understanding for which colors in the levels are risky to remove and which are easy to remove. If the level has an equal number between all the colors the favorable bricks are decided by their position in the tower rather than their quantity. This design philosophy can be broken to make the levels to stand out more when needed and in some case make the level more easier or even harder depending on your hero team setup.
- Try to avoid deep cuts between the columns of bricks. This is the best way to make sure that the structure for the level remains as stable as possible. To elaborate this design rule, a cut is when there is no bricks connecting between two or more columns, which means you could do a cut in between the stacked bricks. This is also an easy way to both make the level more difficult or make it easier depending on the outcome of the first play test of it.
- Gray bricks are a special type of bricks in the game that are not affected by any physics and are static on its position. These types of bricks can help to increase the stability of the level and reinforce weak spots. But working with these can be risky cause you can never predict the outcome for the hero platform, so the usage and position needs to be analyzed carefully, cause there will always be a small percentage that the hero platform can get stuck on it.