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Pit of 100 Tiles Developer's Commentary, part 2 (Levels 11-20)

ajmiam

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Level 11

"Four Corners"

This is a bit of a bump up in difficulty, I think, though it's still very easy for experienced players. The hardest part is probably the second room in the bug corner, where it takes a bit of timing to get rid of the bug inside the blocks and the one outside. One tiny issue I have with the level is that the player will cook the level if they teleport to the right after clearing the bug area once, since they will lose their fire boots when they leave the first time. I realized this when I made it, but only realized way later that the thief could have been a gravel tile, preventing this issue, since there are no fire tiles outside of that corner. Oops...maybe I'll update it with a change someday.

 

The ice/toggle wall area ended up inspiring a somewhat contentious level mechanic of mine. When I playtested this, I enjoyed the challenge of timing a step onto the ice so Chip would slide onto a flipping toggle wall while it was open (necessary to get the chip in the upper-left corner). I ended up using this concept later in more difficult ways (longer slides, moving from one toggle wall to another) in later levels, which annoyed some of the players, and I can see where their complaints are coming from. So, proof that not all ideas are as good as they seem, or at least don't need to be taken to the extreme.

 

 

 

Level 12

"Repair the Maze"

(CCLP1 Level 22!)

I can't remember what inspired this concept, but I do know that I originally made it in Levelset 1. Maybe I was just thinking about how I like that in speedruns you generally have a limited number of tools at your disposal to make things easier or take shortcuts, and you have to make the most of it. Or maybe I was just annoyed at having to retrace my steps through a long non-branching passage after getting a chip in some other maze. Or maybe I was thinking about Strange Maze from CC1 and how I liked breaking through the socket maze at the end. I definitely had creating a challenge for optimizers in mind when I put in the 2 extra keys.

 

The "Levelset 1" version of this level was named "Cheat" and had yellow doors instead of red. I didn't really plan out "Cheat", just kinda threw doors and chips down all over the place and gave out three keys, hoping some of them were necessary (and I'm pretty sure at least one was, though I wasn't the greatest playtester back then). By contrast, I planned this version a lot more, placing the required doors to unlock in obvious places like the middle of a 4-way intersection. True, that made it very easy, but I wanted a gentle introduction to the concept, both for the sake of first-time players and because I planned to bring it back as a harder version later. (This was back when Po100T was still Tiles 200, and part of my plan was that there would be some pairs of Level x and Level 100+x with the latter level being a harder version of the former. Repair the Maze was a level I had planned to do this with, and I do have a harder version in my sequel levelset "The Other 100 Tiles".)

 

As with level 7, this one doesn't take up the entire map. It was when taking a look back at this level that I realized how much of a difference moving the borders in towards the center of the map makes. Moving each border in by 5 tiles on every side reduces the perimeter of the level by 1/3...but it reduces the area by over half! (30*30 = 900 tiles, and 20*20 = only 400.) With this level, as with many others, I decided before building it that the concept would probably become a bit tiresome if the level was too long, so I drew the borders 5 tiles in and constructed the maze inside.

 

One final point of interest is what I did with the exit. Instead of having walls all around it, it's just kind of sitting there right outside the border; I wanted the feel to be that Chip had exited by breaking out of the level instead of just entering an arbitrary dead-end. The aesthetic is certainly not like most CC1 exits.

 

 

Level 13

"Dig and Dig"

(CCLP1 Level 39!)

Yay, Dig Dug reference! Right down to the upside-down-T-shaped tunnel in the dirt that each level starts with. Only I didn't use the name exactly, because, well, it's not really Dig Dug, it just looks and plays somewhat like it. I think most players got the reference anyway. I used bombs in place of falling rocks because both can kill enemies. The blue walls at the top are meant to represent the flowers in Dig Dug's garden, but they don't really look like much of anything because drawing flowers with only 3 "pixels" of vertical space to work with is a bit difficult :P

 

Random fact: I haven't played more than about 5 minutes total of Dig Dug in my entire life. Second random fact: This was the first CC level I ever scored bold on.

 

 

Level 14

"Pinball"

I've always liked pinball, but haven't played it very much in recent years, sadly. Anyway, everything here represents a part of a table; the regularly spaced single walls that the pink balls bounce off of are supposed to represent bumpers; the ice slides leading to the green button and exit are meant to represent short ramps leading to those "locks" that the ball falls into to get shot back out of after awarding some bonus; the left side is meant to represent one of those twisty wireframe ramps that I like so much; and the pair of force floors in the bottom-right is meant to represent the flippers.

 

The logic behind the hint is that in a real pinball game, whenever the ball drains, it goes back to the plunger lane to be launched again for the next ball (or credit). Hence the teleport leading there. I guess it could be interpreted, however, as saying "If you missed any chips, then you cooked the level, so better restart/commit suicide to try again" since draining a ball in pinball is somewhat analogous to losing a life in other video games. Oh well, if the player explores they'll find the teleport, so I never considered it a problem worthy of fixing.

 

 

Level 15

"Nitroglycerin"

(CCLP1 Level 32!)

This level was an idea that I thought was clever: Press a brown button, and look for what changed! Of course, you can see the whole mechanism, so it's just a matter of progressing down that central column, but I still like the idea of discovering what all's in the new area opened up by the removal of a bomb.

 

When I first made this level, the maze was pretty much all bombs and no walls, except for one wall to make the 5th and 6th fireballs turn. I added the walls because back then I was still kind of nervous wandering around in mazes of death tiles, so I set up the walls as "guardrails", preventing Chip from dying due to turning too soon or late at various spots. I'm quite happy with the current look of the level (walls + bombs) because it adds a bit of visual variety over just bombs. I'm especially happy that this level got into CCLP1.

 

 

Level 16

"The Forever Belt"

This one's been around since Levelset 1, and it's one of the few levels that I'm slightly disappointed missed out on a CCLP1 slot. It was just designed to be a fun zip-around-the-slide-and-step-off-to-do-stuff level, possibly inspired by Go With the Flow from CC1. (Note: the word "itemswapper" wasn't in my vocabulary back then). It was at level 16 in all 3 sets because, well I don't really know, it just seemed to belong with that number. One thing that stayed constant in all 3 sets was the "don't enter the block/water room from the wrong recessed wall" puzzle because I thought it was really clever back then. Most of the rest was added in Tiles 200, but I added the giant spiral (or, as JB called it in his Let's Play, the "Spinning Vortex of Terror" :D) in Po100T because I had much more room left over than I'd planned for when I remade the level.

 

The title's kind of odd...it was inspired by a book in the Pendragon series called "The Never War". I just thought that the usage of an adverb as an adjective gave the title of that book a unique and mysterious quality...I've always been a sucker for that kind of thing, and chose to replicate that wording style here.

 

 

Level 17

"Laser Sweep"

This level was actually inspired by an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Called "Starship Mine", it features Captain Picard trying to avoid a team of intruders on the starship Enterpise and find a way off the ship before a baryon sweep, which acts as a deadly advancing ship-wide wall, reaches him. I decided to emulate that with a deadly hallway-wide wall of fireballs, but with cubbyholes to hide in so you could actually make progress. This level introduced a couple of concepts--the theme of using fireballs to represent lasers, and the idea of a "warning click". I use the warning click for whenever a button's about to be automatically pressed by a monster and such a press could cause an unpleasant surprise, such as a fireball cloning onto Chip's head. Here, the click sound is caused by a tank button that doesn't affect anything because there are no tanks in the level. (A trap button without any connections would have worked equally well, but I didn't think of that back then... :\)

 

 

Level 18

"Cross-Eyed"

Here, my idea was to teach beginners very specifically how teleports work while presenting at least a slight challenge for experts. Okay, there's a little puzzle here in that you need to take at least 2 trips going up-down-up-down-up-down... through the grid to get everything, and what chips you end up getting depends on which teleport you go up into each time you appear on the right side. But the level didn't have to be so large...and even with the hint, I'm not sure new players will be able to figure out that pattern, or how partial posts work (and one is required to reach the exit). So, honestly, I think this level was a bit of a failure (though I personally liked the concept). The puzzle could have been shrunk and put into another level, and the hint could have been paired with a smaller level that's more explicit in the lessons it's teaching.

 

The level is untimed because it's relatively complex and I didn't want anyone to die by time out because they were having trouble reaching a few chips. It's one of only 2 levels in Po100T to be untimed without

 

There's actually a funny story behind this level, though...In Levelset 1, I made a level that was like a checkerboard alternating between teleports and chips, kinda like in the image below this paragraph. Unfortunately, I didn't know how exactly teleports worked back then, and so when I playtested I only ever managed to get half the chips; the other half were between teleports that I could figure out how to enter but never pop out of. (After some testing I'm now almost entirely sure all the chips were obtainable, but not with Younger Me's strategy of "left left left left left ad nauseum".) Not quite understanding the problem, Younger Me was just like, "Whelp, that's the way it is, then" and lowered the chip requirement to whatever the highest amount was that I managed to collect. I tried remaking that level in Tiles 200 and figured out how to fix the "issue", replacing the teleports on every other row with a South-East thin wall. I then copied this fixed design into Po100T. At least now I know if I ever want to revisit that original tele-chip-checkerboard structure, I should probably make it a tiny bit smaller... :P

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The highly elaborate design in Levelset 1 that would go on to inspire Cross-Eyed.

 

 

Level 19

"Descending Ceiling"

(CCLP1 Level 41!)

This one's inspired by Mario games, particularly sections like the second room in the first fortress of Super Mario Bros 3, which features a rising and falling spiked ceiling with small cut-out safe areas. The way you exit is similar to a part in Super Paper Mario where you have to let the ceiling fall, then get on top of it and ride it back up. I'm happy with how the entire concept translated to CC. Admittedly, I'm not sure why I put flippers and water on the right side instead of just another chip in place of the flippers...I guess for variety's sake? Or maybe to prevent MS players from taking that chip and escaping to the exit there instead of going back to the "correct" place to escape from, though I don't specifically recall thinking that.

 

 

Level 20

"Chip Kart 64"

(CCLP1 Level 64! How appropriate!)

This is quite clearly inspired by Mario Kart 64, a game I always enjoyed during the few opportunities I had to play it (Never did own an N64 myself). Chip has to run over booster pads (force floors) and collect items (chips, keys, boots) to take shortcuts while avoiding hazards (bombs). This appeared in Tiles 200, where it was just one lap, but I thought it would be more interesting and true to the series to have multiple laps, so I made you get a green key and go around again. The focus was racing the clock, so I didn't add any monsters, though on second thought a couple balls bouncing back and forth could have been interesting, as well as true to Mario Kart's penchant for horizontally-moving obstacles the player must drive past....

 

There's quite a bit of spare time on the clock. I wanted the level to be solvable in time even if the user didn't take any shortcuts (because they're shortcuts, not required paths), so it kinda turned out to be just a fun gimme level. However, apparently it's no gimme to optimize, something I'm happy to hear!

 

 



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