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The Other 100 Tiles Developer's Commentary, Part 1 (Intro, Levels 1-10)



Hello, everyone, and thanks for taking some time to read the commentary for my second levelset, The Other 100 Tiles! (To100T for short.) I had fun reminiscing and typing up the history of Pit of 100 Tiles, and am looking forward to doing the same here.

Set History & Design Philosophy



As before, let's start with some history of the set itself. Note that some more history, including definitions of "Levelset 1" and "Tiles 200", can be found in my Po100T developer's commentary. But to review: in the days between the release of CCLP3 and the start of the CCLP1 process, before I had formally joined CCZone, I began building many of my CC ideas into a levelset. I originally intended the levelset to be 200 levels and act as two halves of a whole, with a beginner half and an advanced half. The difficulty curve would reset at Level 101, the start of the advanced half, but ramp up faster, eventually reaching heights far beyond the hardest levels of the beginner half. Further, the advanced half would contain a few harder versions of levels in the beginner half. Some levels that appeared in Po100T were originally intended to appear in the advanced half of the set, such as I Wanna Be the Bit Buster, which would have been Level 131 to match the "Totally Unfair" decade message.


In any case, that didn't happen. By the time I had nearly 100 levels done, the community finalized the decision to begin making CCLP1, and the level submission deadline was fast approaching. Further, I had gotten some good feedback on the level "Clog" which made me excited to release more levels to the CCZone community and get more feedback. Also, I was running low on ideas. So I decided to bundle 100 levels into a levelset--Pit of 100 Tiles--and make a new levelset to hold the remaining 100. That became The Other 100 Tiles.


(The name doesn't reference anything directly, and I didn't come up with it immediately, but it's inspired by Super Paper Mario. In that game, there's an easy Pit of 100 Trials in Flipside, and a much harder one in Flopside. Po100T was the first pit--the easy one--and now it's time for the other pit--the hard one.)


Also, it's worth noting that a few of the levels ARE re-creations of levels from Levelset 1 or Tiles 200, but not as many as in Po100T. In addition, many of the levels were ideas I got during Po100T's construction, but didn't actually build then. So it contains old and new ideas alike.



This levelset was a long process to build, partly because it happened over the course of my college years, where I didn't always have a lot of free time. I managed to build 14 levels before the CCLP1 submission cutoff and submitted 13 of them (I left out Swapgates because I didn't think it was good enough) on June 29, 2012--just one day before the submission deadline! I continued making levels before and after CCLP1's release, releasing preview sets containing 33 levels on May 1, 2013, and 63 levels on September 6, 2014. I released the complete 100-level finished product on April 14, 2015, which was coincidentally just a few days before my graduation from college!


As I was working on the set, Michael Warner (a former Skype friend I sadly broke off with about a year ago) kept asking me if I'd made any new levels, as he was eager to play them. The instant feedback definitely helped me out and kept me motivated, so I am forever thankful to him for that! A few other Chipsters were interested in testing my created levels as well, so I formed a test group on Skype consisting of Michael, J.B. Lewis, Tyler Sontag, Ryan J, and Josh Lee. I'm extremely grateful for you guys--you kept a lot of busts and mistakes out of the released product through your efforts, and it was fun to hear your thoughts and opinions!


Design Philosophy & Outcome


When making Po100T, I tried to capture what I thought were the best elements of CCLP3 design (creative puzzles and action concepts) while avoiding the ones I don't like (mainly guesswork and extreme difficulty). Trevor Hedges' Let's Play of CCLP3 also guided me. With To100T, I decided to "throw away the filter" a little bit and experiment with some unusual ideas, tougher dodging and puzzles, and advanced techniques like nails and partial posts. (I wasn't assuming the player was a beginner any more, so I could expect them to know those techniques.) Also, I allowed a tiny bit of guesswork to creep in--but not much, and only in a couple of levels that are built to minimize the frustration it causes. And finally, I would worry less about whether an idea was "good enough" or not for inclusion in the set until I had actually finished building it.


I think "throwing out the filter" was a good thing. Compared to Po100T, this set contains more levels that I consider "below par" in terms of quality, but also more that I'm really proud of. Experiments fail sometimes, so I don't see the "below par" levels as personal failures by any means. I do think they may drag down certain stretches of the set, unfortunately, but I'll get to that later.


Focusing on advanced levels made it difficult to order the levels, as not a lot seemed fitting for the introductory 10 levels of the set. But I think I managed to come up with a fairly good ordering. It's not perfect--I think there are a few stretches of too many long levels in a row--but I think the difficulty curve is smoother than Po100T's, which had a few spikes early on (like #32 Combinations and #38 Keyrithmetic).




Now, on to the levels themselves!


Level 1

"A (Slightly) More Complicated Maze"



After designing "A (Mostly) Simple Maze" for my 200-level set, before I cut it down to 100 levels, I planned for a level with this title to go in the #101 slot as a parallel and a difficulty reset. It would require all items to exit--not just one--and contain some simple dodging and puzzles. Since To100T is basically the second half of the set that never was, this had to go in the Level 1 slot.


And yet, it wasn't the first To100T level I designed! In fact, it wouldn't appear until the 63-level preview set! I think I just wanted to design my more interesting ideas first.




Level 2

"Gravity Falls"



I know this level name is the name of a TV show, but I didn't choose the name for that reason, I chose it because it fits the level concept. In fact, while I knew the show existed when I chose the name, I had never (and still have never) seen a single episode of it.


Anyway, it's inspired by the aesthetic of creeks and multi-tiered waterfalls, which I've always found beautiful in real life. I also enjoy parts in video games where you have to travel with a current through branching paths of water. This was designed around the midpoint of the set's construction, and wasn't originally intended to be Level 2, but I put it there because it was fairly easy.




Level 3




This is meant to be a callback to Brickwalled from Po100T, except with the walls and floor reversed. (Therefore, you're not moving through the bricks--you're moving through the mortar.) I like the aesthetic of this level, but the gameplay is nothing spectacular, just a chip-collecting maze with some dodging. It was pretty simple, so into the beginning of the set it went.




Level 4


(CCLP1 Level 87!)



This was the second level I designed for this set, and one of the original 13 submitted for CCLP1. It was made in the honor of the dwarf planet Pluto, which lost its full planetary status in 2006 after several decades of being considered the 9th planet in our solar system. Anyway, since Pluto is a cold and icy spherical object, the center of this level is a round but irregular ice patch to slide across. The gliders around the outside are meant to represent spaceships.


The original version of this level submitted for CCLP1 had a couple more water tiles to fill in, but the staff removed them to shorten the block-cloning section. I copied the change into To100T before releasing the full set.




Level 5

"Hammered Into Place"



Since this was an advanced set, I didn't think I should put many tutorials in it. Late in the process of building the set, however, I realized I'd designed a lot of levels that involve nails, and nails weren't really explained in Po100T, so a new player might not know about them. Therefore, I designed this level specifically to explain nails and show off several varieties. I'm happy with how it worked out. It also has the effect of reminding advanced players to look out for places where nails can be used, which is very much intended.




Level 6

"Tool Shed"



The concept is partly inspired by Combinations from Po100T, and the name is inspired by Tool Box from CCLP3. When I originally thought of this idea, I thought of making a strictly ordered puzzle: every section would include every element, but there'd be a section that requires only 1 tool to get the chip and red key, another that requires the first tool plus a new tool, and so on until a section that requires every tool. In addition, the blue and green buttons were going to be unlockable "tools" in the shed. However, I simplified things because the original concept was going to be tight on space and I needed more easy levels.


It's intended for there to be multiple correct orders in which to unlock the tools, and for the ice skates to always be the tool you shouldn't unlock.




Level 7

"Encased in Carbonite"



The name and concept are a reference to Star Wars, as in one of the films, a certain character gets immobilized in a block of material called carbonite. Like Monster Swapper from Po100T, this level consists of two corresponding "worlds" that you travel between by teleport, where the worlds have the same layout but with one feature changed. In this case, there's one world where monsters move as normal, and another where they're immobilized by gravel (representing the carbonite).


I had the idea for this level way back in Po100T design, but didn't actually build it until fairly late in To100T design! I was originally going to use the concept in two ways:

1) A looping monster stream that's too dense to enter while it's moving, requiring you to pass between them when they're stopped (for example: the bugs guarding the green key);

2) A looping monster stream with walls on both sides of it most of the way through, such that you can only follow it when it's moving (this didn't make it into the actual level). Think something like this:




Instead of Idea #2, I simply placed some of the balls and fireballs so that they'd permanently block certain chips while still and allow access while moving.


Anyway, I'm very pleasantly surprised with the amount of positive feedback this has gotten considering how simple it is to solve!


Also, Jeffrey made an optimization video about it, which I really enjoyed watching:

Note that I did not consciously pick to make nearly all the ball cycles [8] long--it just happened that way.




Level 8




I've been fascinated by boomerangs in video games for a while, so I made a level about them, represented by the groups of balls and the cloned groups of fireballs. My original idea didn't involve crisscrossing the paths like in the beginning area here, but it's more interesting than simple bouncing back and forth.




Level 9

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar"

(CCLP1 Level 123!)



I think when I came up with secret hints, which I describe in the next level's commentary, I decided that they would go in every 10th slot from 10 to 40, and the "action" levels (remember those from Po100T?) would go in the level slots ending in 9. I ended up not making action levels a consistent thing in this set, but I still put this one (which requires you to move fast to grab chips before a hungry caterpillar of paramecia catches up to you and eats you) in slot 9. Yes, this level is one of the few whose placements I decided on very early into the set.


The level's shape is meant to resemble the stereotypical cartoon drawing of a tree where the leaves are at the end of branches in a "cloud" shape instead of a bunch of individual leaf shapes. But there are two areas so it's a rather awkward looking tree. Kind of makes it look like the "cut" tree from Pokemon, now that I think about it. The level is, of course, named after the children's book.




Level 10




This is actually the first level I designed from scratch for To100T (not counting lost levels from Levelset 1 or Tiles 200 that I eventually re-created for To100T). It's meant to be a CC representation of where a chute splits into two chutes, and a gate swaps back and forth so that out of all the objects entering the chute, every other one gets sent into one of the chutes and the ones between them get sent into the other chute. You may have seen this concept if you played with plastic marble track tower sets as a kid, or in the pie machine in Chicken Run, or in the door transportation track in Monsters, Inc.


The reason there are green buttons only on one side of the "gates" is so that you can't just spam clone fireballs and hit all the bombs; you have to control the gates yourself a bit.


Also, this level is the one that inspired the secret hint idea. It was for a really silly reason, though: I had a lot of leftover space when building the force floor tracks to/from the upper section, so I put a bunch of them down randomly and realized I could make a force-floor-stepping challenge to reach some sort of reward. A chip didn't seem right since it would clash with the theme of the level if it were required. So I made it a hint instead. (Yes, it still has nothing to do with the rest of the level.) I could just give away a password in the hint, but skipping levels instead of playing them didn't seem like a reward, so I added a clue as well. I'll say more about the clues when I comment on Level 50....


All that said, this level isn't super fun to play in my opinion, so I didn't submit it for CCLP1. But I left it in this set since it's a unique concept.




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