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Pit of 100 Tiles Developer's Commentary, part 3 (Levels 21-30)



Level 21

"Through the Looking Glass"



I came up with this level's title, and from there the concept. It does, of course, reference the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, a sequel in which Alice goes through a mirror. Thus, the idea is that the ice (because it's smooth and reflective like a mirror!) splits the level in half, and everything on the right is a mirror image of the left, but with invisible walls. This even goes so far as to put the exit on the right side, opposite the start. I realized it was a bit too much to expect the player to memorize the whole layout, so my goal with designing the maze was to make some distinctive shapes that could be remembered easily. I think this succeeded with the sideways ?-shaped wall formations near the top and the "single wall with 8 chips around it" area. Maybe the wide upside-down "T"s at the bottom, too. The rest of the level, not so much, though at least keeping track of which spiral opens from the top and which from the bottom helps immensely when trying to get those two chips at (26, 20) and (26, 22) on the right side.


Since CCEdit doesn't have a copy-and-paste function that mirrors the copied area, I had to make the right side by hand, trying very hard not to miss anything...and since no one has pointed out a mistake in this level after nearly 3 years since the set's release, I daresay I succeeded.




Level 22

"Assembly Line"



I think this level may be a bit tough for its slot, but I haven't heard many complaints about it, so maybe not? Anyway, I designed this level for Tiles 200 before I made Laser Sweep in Po100T, so this is the true originator of the "warning click". I figured the players would not appreciate having to dodge sliding blocks with no indication they were coming!


The lake (whose shape and islands were drawn pretty much randomly) and the fireball/bomb puzzle at the top were the first elements made, but I threw in the lower-left bomb puzzle and the trap buttons later for a little variety, and because the multiple avenues of advancement meant that the player could switch between using blocks on things "close to home" (good for clearing out backups) and using them further away (good when there aren't too many blocks left on the slides). The ice slide to the exit lets you see a part of the cloning mechanism (specifically, the bug path) as a sort of "reward" for beating the level.


The hardest part of the design was actually finding a good cloning interval. I started with having only one cloner, but no amount of time could help the level from being kind of dull in that case, so I added two more. I think I shuttled between 15 and 20 seconds before settling on 18. 18 seconds between blocks means that there's a small amount of downtime for the first couple rounds of cloning, but as you build farther away from the start, things pick up, and you need to act fast; sometimes sinking a bunch of blocks in useless water spaces to keep them out of the way is a good idea.




Level 23

"Rat Race"

(CCLP1 Level 98!)



I've always thought this level was really fun! I came up with the concept in Tiles 200 (it was Level 23 there, too...there was always something I liked about the number 23 and I liked this level, so I put it in that slot). I recreated it here relatively faithfully. It took a mistake or two before I realized that in order to keep each pair of gliders the same distance apart, I have to count two ice spaces' worth of distance between gliders the same as one regular space.


A couple changes from the original version were: I moved the chip socket/exit down a small bit so the player wouldn't have to react so quickly and turn right immediately after exiting the teleport. Also, there was a water space 1 space down-left of the socket, which was unnecessary since the gliders already prevented backtracking there and there was no reason to punish the player for missing chips like that. Thus, I removed the water space, making it possible to loop around again if you miss any chips.


Do notice that the twisty-looking final ice slide leading to the teleport never crosses itself--if it did, you'd need to have lucky timing to avoid the gliders! :P




Level 24


(CCLP1 Level 71!)



I'm happy with this level. It's not super-special, mainly a variety level, but I like the path-choosing mechanism that also asks the player to do just a tad of memorization. Also, I thought it was clever that the challenge is not getting TO the chips but getting BACK after taking one. I thought of the tree because I was taking a Data Structures class for Computer Science at the time and binary trees were on my mind....


The thief at the start of the "tree" is unnecessary, since no blocks or boots can be taken out of their respective challenge rooms. However, I left it in because it serves as a signal to the player that they won't be needing to take items between rooms.


Amusingly, the first Po100T version I released had several busts in this level: there were no recessed walls on the left side, so a player could take any key, go through its room, and then just go through that room again and again after taking each of the other keys. It was a simple thing but something I never thought to try myself while testing.... :facepalm: Oh, and the block/water room initially didn't have the column of 2 waters next to the 2 columns of 4, which was a mistake because only 6 of those 8 waters needed to be filled in, thus leaving extra blocks. The current version fixes both of those mistakes.




Level 25

"Maze Maker"



Well, this one didn't take long to make! It took longer to come up with a decent chip count (not too easy, not too hard) than to actually put down the tiles. The idea behind the name is that you should avoid the walkers by creating a "maze" of twisty passages through the chips since they usually won't take all the turns correctly to keep up with you. This level is timed, unlike every other level with randomness, because I'm guessing the bold route just keeps moving without any danger of getting hit by a walker. (I've never bolded the level, but according to JB, who did, my assumption was correct.)




Level 26

"Monster Sorter"



This is basically a minigame. Instead of playing CC, we're going to be playing this game where we flip the walls to make sure each monster goes in the correct direction for its type. This level would have been borderline unplayable without tons of memorization, I think, if I hadn't put that "preview" window up top so you can see the incoming monsters. I hope it was clear enough to the player what that upper window meant, since the hint didn't mention it, and it wasn't placed near where the monsters actually enter the room.... I think I got lucky with how far apart I chose to place the monsters--the level seemed reliably beatable on the first try when I tested it, but I did have an advantage since I knew the monster lineup I'd picked out. I'm not sure what others think of its difficulty.


Upon reflection, I think this better fits the "action" category (it's more similar to levels like 10 and 20) than "Froggy!" which is the upcoming Level 30. I guess I put Monster Sorter here because I didn't want the multiple-of-10 levels to feel too similar to each other.




Level 27

"Hornet's Nest"



A pretty straightforward realization of an idea I came up with based on the phrase "stirring up a hornet's nest". The maze is initially calm until the player picks up an item, which forces them to start a repeated cloning sequence. The biggest change is that in my mind the level would be laid out more horizontally as opposed to vertically and it would have more walls, less gravel.


It took a couple tries to get the time between consecutive clones to be long enough for reasonable dodging. When I initially built this level in Po100T, it just had the chips where the keys are now and no locked doors, but I added the keys/doors because otherwise it was too easy--I was able to finish too quickly for the swarming to really become noticeable. The weird ring of force floors around the cloners is to ensure that no matter which way their controller points, they'll always successfully clone in MS and the cloned monsters will be funneled towards the exit.


I was worried that the monsters might somehow clone in a pattern that constantly blocks the path to the chip socket, but in many test runs I've never had that happen. I have had times where each paramecium hits a bug and does a U-turn back towards the force floor before crawling out of the upper area, but there's always an opportunity to get to the exit. I think if I hadn't added the gravel in the upper wall and instead required the player to walk through the (15, 8) choke point, this would have been a problem.




Level 28

"Easier Than It Looks"

(CCLP1 Level 131!)



Pretty much an easy "joke" level...that somehow got into CCLP1! I'm pretty sure I made this because after playing CCLP3 and some custom sets, I was so sick of levels like Suspended Animation that look easy but actually require you to jump through lots of hoops to get things done--especially when an invisible or hidden wall is what blocks you from getting something the "easy" way. It's not nice to taunt the player too much! (After my first attempt at Suspended Animation, I briefly considered deleting the invisible wall blocking the exit and pretending it was never there *whistles* :rolleyes:)


So to counterbalance that annoying trend, I came up with the idea where invisible walls work FOR you--you're surrounded by teeth, but the invisible walls protect you from them! Next was the idea of the fireball cloner that you beat by just running towards it ahd hitting a green button to divert the flow before it reaches you. At that point I made the theme of the level be "just run through without stopping or thinking". Thus, I came up with the tank section that you could pass by just holding right, the key section where you just keep moving right to the wall and then up, and the bug section with irrelevant chips.


The bug section, in particular, was a small homage to Tossed Salad and the (skippable) bug and chip section at the beginning. (Young Me felt like a genius when I initially finished Tossed Salad and discovered there was a yellow door but no chip socket guarding the exit--"Ha! Wonder if anyone else noticed they don't actually need the chips?!") Here I changed things up by actually having a chip socket but making 0 chips required.


The final bit of unexpected easiness consists of a water maze that can be totally stomped on with the flippers from way back at the beginning, and an ice slide that looks like it'll send you into either a bomb or sliding teeth but is set up so that the teeth clears the bomb for you instead!


I'm quite honored that this got the Level 131 slot of CCLP1, with the infamous "Totally unfair!" decade message. I was surprised at the non-triviality of the bold route--it required an easy-to-overlook and slightly-difficult (for a novice optimizer)-to-execute timesaving maneuver, taking me a few dozen tries to get. So I guess the bold was Harder Than It Looked! :D




Level 29

"Mining for Gold Keys"

(CCLP1 Level 84!)



Mining for Gold Keys seems to be a favorite among players who have finished my set, and I can see why--the way it looks and plays was quite unusual for its time. Interestingly, I didn't come up with the subterranean/mining aesthetic at first. During a car ride, I was thinking about CC and realized that a block in the middle of a "T" intersection can only be pushed if you came from the left or right, but once it moved, you could travel through the intersection in any of the three directions. My only plan when I started the level was to create a maze using that concept. I think I decided to put an item under the block, and somehow this evolved into the level you all know. (I don't remember the exact thought process.)


I think I added the blocks that can't be pushed (because they are in corners, etc.) because I wanted more visual variety--it wouldn't look natural if blocks only existed where they could be pushed. Originally, every movable block was going to have a key under it, but I decided to add some blocks to be used for filling in water so the level wouldn't be too simple and repetitive. I added the red and blue doors primarily to make it so you couldn't just immediately walk around one of the aforementioned "T" intersections to one of the directions that you could push the block from. I think it also serves as a nice way to reward the player for finding the red/blue keys, giving them more level to explore, instead of giving them access to everything from the start.


Oh, in case you were wondering, I don't really play Minecraft, so that wasn't the inspiration for this level.




Level 30




I guess this level stemmed from how many Chipsters call Teeth "frogs" since they pretty much are mutant frogs in the MS version! :teeth: At least, this explains why I decided you have to lead some Teeth across the level to the five goals instead of just walking to them yourself, which would more closely parallel the gameplay of Frogger. Anyway, I didn't do that great a job representing the obstacles Frogger faces. I mean, bombs represent traffic? Solid paths through water represent flowing logs? But moving monsters wouldn't kill a Teeth on contact (didn't stop me from adding a pink ball to represent the snake :P), and CC doesn't do moving platforms over water, so....


You may notice that when you clone a Teeth, you actually hear two button clicks. That's because the clone button you can reach actually clones a pink ball in a faraway corner of the level, which travels up to clone a Teeth. This ensures there will always be a proper controller so the Teeth don't fail to clone. I had to add the mechanism after I released the first version of Po100T, which had problems with this level, and the second version failed to completely fix them. The "controller cloning" mechanism is quite useful; I used it in a later level in Po100T.




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