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Pit of 100 Tiles Developer's Commentary, Part 10 (FINAL) (Levels 91-100)

ajmiam

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Level 91

"Pipe Maze"

The atmosphere and name of this level is meant to evoke an underground pipe maze from the Super Mario Bros. series, and I'm quite pleased with how it turns out. There are a few places where you have to push a block and not follow it, but I always allow the player to look ahead and see that. The hint is meant to remind you that there's a water tile at the end of the slide leading out of the southmost section; I probably could have worded it better.

 

I didn't notice until much later that you can't actually see the water at (10, 9) before you step into that slide, but I'm sure 99% of players pushed the block ahead anyway. At least if I had to accidentally leave an unforeseeable deathtrap in a level, I put it right near the beginning!

 

Level 92

"Square Dancing"

(CCLP1 Level 18!)

I was getting close to the end of the set. I needed another level. I didn't have many blob levels. And so I constructed this level in approximately 2 minutes. At least for a blob level, it's not really stressful or frustrating, so I think it's fine for CCLP1. I wouldn't be surprised if this level had the shortest design time out of all CCLP1 levels.

 

The name is a reference to Blobdance from CC1.

 

Level 93

"Progress Ball"

The name is a pun on "progress bar", which I later found out was also a custom level title. As this is a late level in the set, it includes a bit more trickiness than usual, such as the fact that you have to enter the glider/fireball room through a recessed wall the first time and through the force floors the second time, as well as the fact that stepping on the button at (30, 26) will get you stuck unless the ball is in the proper position. Of course, these details are probably still pretty easy to figure out for experienced players. Another one I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, and though it might've had a chance at CCLP1.

 

You can pretty easily run through the big line of tanks in the southwest without using the blocks to block any of them off. Didn't feel like changing it since it's not really an important part of the level.

 

I added the force floor at (19, 1) in an update. My reasoning for that was that if someone had astronomically unlucky timing, they could step on the (30, 26) toggle button while the ball was on the (18, 1) toggle wall and get it stuck on the left of that wall. But oh wait, if that wall's closed, then the ones next to the button are open, so no cook. Silly unnecessary fix :P (just realized that now)

 

Level 94

"Bridges for Bugs"

You know what the set really lacked, I thought? A long block-pushing level. Why did I think that? No idea, especially when Level 86 is already kind of the same thing. But as far as block-pushing levels go, at least this one is somewhat interesting since you're building paths for a bug and not just for Chip. It could also have been a lot worse; note that I limited it to about 1/3 of the map.

 

This level introduces reuses (from Level 30) a mechanism I call "double cloning". Note that the clone button doesn't directly clone a bug; instead, it clones a ball which clones a bug and promptly dies. This way, the ball acts as the bug's controller boss and forces it to exit the clone machine to the north in MS, no matter what any previously cloned bug might be doing.

 

Level 95

"Chomping Swarm"

Remember Jumping Swarm and Slimy Swarm? This is like those, but with Teeth. I made a version of this in Levelset 1 that didn't quite work because if Chip was too far left, the Teeth wouldn't enter the force slide. I fixed that issue by designing it so that the entire playing field is several spaces right of the cloner, except for the path from the socket to the exit since the Teeth cloner is moot at that point. Also, the use of traps instead of walls to help keep back the swarm is kind of neat, I suppose. Using traps this way is a coincidentally similar concept to "The Grass is Greener on the Other Side", a Josh Lee level in CCLP1.

 

Level 96

"Chip Away"

The title is a pun I was surprised never got into an official set. The concept is based on the part of "Oh-Ho!" from CCLP3 where you have to clear some dirt and make a ball's bounce cycle longer, letting you sneak in behind it. In this case, you have to "chip away" at the dirt, locked doors, or chips to increase the bounce cycles and get the rewards at the ends. I think the level had some neat ideas, such as the multiple uses for the ball at (1, 22), but the core concept dragged at times. The chip line right before the chip socket didn't need to be that long.

 

The hint is meant to get you past a couple of tricky decisions with your keys. You have to unlock the blue door at (3, 17) before the one at (13, 13), and at the end of the level, you have to unlock the yellow door at (17, 2) (which you can reach earlier, though it's farther from the yellow key) before the one at (6, 2), though in that case you can clearly see which choice is correct. I'm not sure the hint wording is quite as clear as it could have been.

 

This level saw a couple of updates. First, I added force floors between the toggle walls in the bug line because I was having trouble with the bugs getting turned around in Lynx. Second, I changed the ball at (14, 18) into a fireball and added a water tile at (7, 17) so you could drown it and not get surprised by it when you're coming back through the (20, 17) force floor.

 

Level 97

"Guardians"

In Levelset 1, I made an extremely generic dodging level called "Guardians" that just consisted of concentric squares of monster paths, separated by full-tile walls, with chips in between the paths. Something like this:

 

3PZAuE6.jpg

 

Well, I wanted to make it more interesting this time, so I compressed the old "Guardians", so there was no longer safe space between the paths, and put it in the middle, with four unique dodging challenges around the outside. I decided to have the monsters in those four areas be released when you grab the keys because that reminded me of the trope in various other video games or movies where a character grabs treasure in an ancient temple or something, and some monsters/spirits/golems come to life and start chasing him or her....

 

The first three dodging rooms look trickier than they are; in each of them, there's a spot in the middle where you can stand and the monsters won't get to you before you have a clear path to the exit (in the walkers' case, this is usually true). The Teeth room surprised me by being harder than I expected, but it's still doable.

 

Depending on how you unlock the locks in the middle, you can make a swastika, but if you do that, you have no one to blame but yourself! :P

 

Level 98

"Rube Goldberg"

Whoo, boy. This is one of the hardest--if not the hardest--levels in the set. Tricky because you need to think ahead and keep track of what parity toggle walls and tanks will be in as things happen....

 

It includes a couple of concepts inspired by CCLP3. First of all, the level idea as a whole, where you need to set up an elaborate path for a monster to go through while Chip is stuck in a trap, is totally inspired by You Can't Teach an Old Frog New Tricks. Also, the key section in the west was inspired by Vulcan. Of course, a massive difference between this level and Old Frog is that in Old Frog, you have to make a lot of decisions that could cook the level before you can see the whole thing. In this level, I let the player see nearly all of it, enough that they can make the correct decisions without guesswork. For example, I even let you walk through the fireball/trap mechanism in the east yourself so you can see what will happen to the glider there. In an update, I added chips and chip sockets to the level, forcing you to explore the northeast before you start unlocking doors in the west. This way, you can see what positions the toggle walls and tanks are in, and therefore know how many times to hit each button. As a bit of trickiness, the only solution for the key section (as far as I know) involves making the glider pass over 1 green button...and 3 blue buttons.

 

One annoying thing about the level is that once you clone a glider and hop into the trap, you have to wait quite a while to see if it releases you or not. To alleviate this, I tried to add some sound cues to the level that would play as the glider went through. The string of balls exploding bombs in the northwest is unmistakable to the ear when it happens. Also, in the same update where I added the chips, I added a toggle wall in front of the fireball cloner so it would shut off (and shut up) a short while after it had done its thing.

 

Level 99

"I Wanna Be the Bit Buster"

This level takes everything the set is about--friendly, intuitive, fair design--and throws it all out the window for one level of sheer evil fun on the part of the designer. It's only fitting for a level named after I Wanna Be the Guy, a game infamous for its extreme difficulty and traps that are unfair, creative, and made to do the opposite of everything the player expects. This was incredibly amusing to design, and apparently some players thought the traps were amusing to fall for, too, since a few people gave the level positive reviews. (And some gave it negative reviews, as I expected.) Just how many traps are there in this level? I'll count them below. Please don't look in there until you've tried the level for yourself!

 

 

 

The ones marked with "Foreseeable" can be checked for if you're really careful.

  1. Sliding any direction but up at the start leads to a watery grave.
  2. Sliding up immediately as the level starts will kill you. You need to wait for the ball to get out of the way.
  3. (Foreseeable) Trying to get a chip behind the recessed walls on either side of the suction boots will get you stuck due to a hidden wall. You can check for this by stepping on the recessed wall that's not below the chip and trying to step up.
  4. Out of the 5 blocks in the X, the 4 on the edges have fire. :fireblock: This is the same pattern of fire as in Leave No Stone Unturned. (Remember that level?) Also, the reason for the walls, and the solid blue wall under the center block, is to prevent block slapping in Lynx.
  5. You can only fill in one water space here. If you don't pick the one with the thief, you'll get stuck with the suction boots on a force slide later on and won't be able to outrun cloned balls.
  6. Once you pass through the recessed wall, if you make a right, you'll run into a hidden wall and then get flattened by a long line of pink balls.
  7. Similarly, going for either red key will get you flattened by that same line of pink balls. There aren't even any red doors in the level :P
  8. (Foreseeable) You can enter the teleport by going left, or up. Go left, and you teleport into a bomb. This can be seen in advance from (19, 30).
  9. (Anti-foreseeable) After escaping the stream of cloned balls, you can choose to go onto a force floor slide above you or to your right. You can see that the one to your right leads to water; however, that's a trick. Taking the up slide results in drowning; taking the right slide is safe as a Teeth will clone a block to fill the water in before you reach it.
  10. After hitting the blue button and heading into the blue wall section, failing to clear out the blue walls and extricate the cloned block in time will leave you stuck when the next block clones.
  11. (Foreseeable) The balls guarding the chip to the right of the blue wall section are bouncing off hidden walls, so they may rebound onto you unexpectedly if you're not careful. You can observe their bouncing from the blue wall section, though.
  12. In the line of block cloners creating blocks on the ice, the second-to-last button is connected to the cloner one row down instead of the cloner on the same row. If you're running full speed and don't stop, the cloned block will hit you.
  13. (Foreseeable) After you get the ice skates and come through the thief, there are 3 blocks in a row and an X of ice spaces above them. If you push the left or center block up, it will rebound off an invisible wall and kill you. Can be checked for by trying to step onto those spaces yourself.
  14. If you run towards the exit and don't stop after hitting the toggle button, then the toggle door next to the exit will close, trapping you as a glider swoops in to end you. You instead have to stay behind on the toggle button or the recessed wall until the glider goes back up, at which point the exit opens for real. This final trap (killing the player just before--or in some cases, just after--the level goal) is called a "Kaizo Trap" after the stage "Special Stage 2" from Kaizo Mario World. Look up ProtonJon's Let's Play of that level for more details, but be warned that the language is very family unfriendly.

 

 

 

The hint for this level says "EASY" in all caps because, well, I figured some people might not like this level, so "EASY" is the password for the next level!

 

Level 100

"Boss Battle"

Even though this is the last level, I designed it pretty early...around 12th or 15th. It was supposed to be the midway point of Tiles 200 back when that was a thing, but I figured it also served fine as a finale for this set. The password is EASY because I think this level really is easy--much easier than #99 and miles easier than the previous action level (Water Slide). Fine by me; I generally dislike boss battles in video games, so the easier, the better.

 

This is based on danmaku (bullet dodging) games. Since Chip can't really kill things in this game (other than by directing them into water or bombs), the "story" is that you're trying to infiltrate and sabotage a spaceship, so you have to dodge a barrage from its guns (which are shooting monsters at you) and press buttons to turn them off, then go inside, dodge the crew members, and bridge to the exit (simultaneously clogging its engine coolant tank and dooming it to overheat and break down). I intentionally made the patterns of the balls and the tanks pretty easy to discern and dodge. The fireballs are a bit trickier, as they're cloned randomly by blobs. The inside should be relatively simple.

 

I'm slightly disappointed because when I built this level in Tiles 200, the spaceship actually looked vaguely spaceship-shaped. But that version was lost to the bit bucket along with the rest of that set. Try as I might, I couldn't pull off the same look here. At least the gameplay turned out the same.

 

Conclusion

What do I think of this levelset as a whole? I was quite pleased with the levels in terms of how fun they are to play, and I was especially happy to see the generally positive feedback from most of you who played the set! I'm also incredibly proud of getting 26 levels from this set into CCLP1 (and possibly some into CCLP4). One thing that I think of as a shortcoming of the set is that most of the levels are very easy to medium in terms of difficulty, and the difficulty curve is pretty flat until the last 15 or so. It's possible that, as the designer, the levels seem easier to me than they do to others. Still, there aren't any I would consider a challenge on the level of CCLP3 Level 100 or onward. (I've learned to appreciate difficult levels like the ones in late CCLP3 after playing them, though I didn't much like them initially.) Part of the reason for this is that I find it hard to design levels that are extremely difficult while also making them fair (giving the player all the information they need to solve them). I would try my hand at making a few more difficult levels in the sequel set, The Other 100 Tiles. I also think I tended to "play it safe" with the design in this set, not really toying with the player's expectations very much (level 99 nonwithstanding). Again, I would aim to change that a bit in To100T.

 

Thank you to everyone who viewed my commentary! I hope it was at least a little interesting and taught you things you might not have known about my thinking and level design processes. I'll be starting the Developer's Commentary for To100T soon. Have a happy holiday season, everyone! :)



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