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Wild Wild


Level Designer,

Tech Designer




Team Toadstools (DigiPen Institute of Technology)




  Wild Wild Wetlands is a 3D platformer inspired by the genre of spaghetti western. The player takes the role of a cowboy frog, embarking on a journey to defeat the evil bandits threatening the town. The game features a wide variety of platforming mechanics, from classic jumping challenges to tongue swings and physics-based puzzles.



  1. Production Pipeline

  2. Level Design Structure

  3. Other Design Polish

Production Pipeline

When I joined the project team as a level designer, the game already had established design pillars and was at the stage of a vertical slice demo. My job was to re-imagine the past level design direction and create 2 levels in replacement of the prototype ones.
My first target was to analyze the current prototype and figure out the tension points and the joy episodes present in the current level design. I did it through playtesting and personal expertise in the genre, creating a document that establishes the new level design directions and rules, yet incorporating the interests of the team into it. I paid additional attention to the under-used mechanics of the current prototype, to make the most out of the game’s playtime in terms of gameplay variety.
My second step was to draw out the level plans on a piece of line paper. This allowed me to present my ideas to other designers, figure out the level progression and dynamics, and discuss the possible level art with the art team. The next step was to block-mesh the levels using Unity Pro-Builder. After creating the blockmesh, I made a video-playthrough of it, where I explained the ideas behind the layout and challenges, and brought up questions and future possibilities. This allowed me to better communicate my idea to the art team and receive substantial feedback on what we can and can’t do in the next 13 weeks. We also established the location of the beauty corner and the narrative behind the level.

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After polishing the blockmesh to an acceptable level, I started decorating the level. Due to the small size of our art team and the many production tasks assigned to it, I had to decorate the level myself. I had extensive communication with my art team throughout the process, to know which props fit the location, which can be reused, and which elements of the level will require a unique prop. Outlining the list of unique props was the most prioritized task so that the art team could start the production of those elements as soon as possible. One such props was the tree trunk used for the Prison location. Some other decorations and interactive elements (Wall run platforms, falling platforms) that required a unique model were assembled by me using the pre-existing props, to save the production resources.
The following 3 weeks after decorating the level were dedicated to extensive debugging and playtesting of the levels created.

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Level Design

The two new levels I added to the game are the first level and the final level. The initial game concept required me to make more linear levels, concentrating on the challenge sequences and expansion/evolution dynamics more.

The first level teaches the player the basic platforming mechanics. The level 1 structure is:

  1. Jumpstart with a bouncy mushroom. Introduces the bouncy mushrooms and makes the level feel separate from the lobby area.

  2. First challenge. Introduction of basic platforming on the lily pads. Following is the introduction of basic enemies that jump between the lily pads, adding the timing element to the platforming.

  3. Bouncy mushroom transition to the next level section. Checkpoint. Narrative reward. Hidden collectible.

  4. Second challenge. Introduction of the tongue sweep puzzle mechanic. The player has to sweep the support part of a pillar structure to make it fall down and create a platform. Following is the addition of the timed enemies from the previous challenge.

  5. Bouncy mushroom transition to the next level section. Checkpoint. Narrative reward. Hidden collectible. Wallrun gets unlocked. This section of the level is a Western prison, from which the player has to rescue one of the plot characters. I wanted to reinforce the feeling of a jailbreak by adding prison bar doors that the player has to sweep away with their character’s tongue ability.

  6. Third challenge. Introduction of the wall-run obstacles. Gradual count expansion of those obstacles. Following is the combination of the wall-run challenges with the tongue sweep puzzles (The player has to perform the tongue sweep similar to the pillar puzzles, to remove the supporting element from the structure, creating a wall-run surface).

  7. Bouncy mushroom transition to the next level section. Checkpoint. Narrative reward. Hidden collectible.

Fourth challenge. Combination of all of the mechanics learned on this level. The player has to use the tongue sweep to open the wall-run walls, perform a wall-run, and land onto a bouncy mushroom that takes them to the next part of the challenge. After a couple of such segments, the challenge ends with landing on a big green mushroom that launches the player back to the lobby location. An expressive and satisfying ending for the level.

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The final level is supposed to be the battle with the bandits, during which the player destroys their camp and sweeps away a giant bottle of root beer. This level has the structure of a huge table, supported by 4 legs, with one of them being broken. The bandit’s camp is located under the table. The table has giant chairs around it that act as huge platforms the player can jump on. The gameplay concept behind this level is to test the player’s skill using all of the mechanics they learned while playing the game. The structure of the final level is:

  1. Jumpstart with a tongue swing, a new mechanic introduced in the second level. The player has to stand on a bottlecap and aim at a glowing hook to use their character’s tongue as a swing that gets them across a pit or an obstacle.

  2. First challenge platform. Enemy-based timing challenge. After beating it, the player is introduced to the structure of this level. Every table leg is connected to the main table body with a nail. Pulling out the nail makes the table leg fall off and reveals the swinging hook that was located inside of it. The challenge combines the sweeping mechanic and the swinging mechanic. The swing leads to the next challenge platform.

  3. Second challenge platform. A more difficult enemy-based timing challenge, followed by another table leg challenge that leads to the next platform.

  4. Third challenge platform. A more difficult enemy-based timing challenge, followed by another table leg challenge that leads to the next platform.

  5. Fourth challenge platform. The player lands right across the bandits’ camp, having only one table support left. Pulling it out makes the table collapse onto the enemy camp, squishing them. After doing so, a short transition plays, that leads to the game’s ending.

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Other Design Polish

The first thing I did after being assigned to re-design the level philosophy of the game was to seek and improve the weak elements in the current design. I decided to do the Improvements based on the playtesting feedback.

One of those elements that needed improvement was the jumping mushrooms. The jumping mushrooms are basically directional jump-pads decorated as mushrooms. The mushrooms were assigned an additional role in the level philosophy. Now they are not just challenge elements, but also a way of connecting the segments of the level, making it feel bigger and more open. The mushroom's top color was changed to signify how bouncy the mushroom is. The medium red mushrooms have a standard jump height, whereas the bigger green mushrooms are much bouncier, signifying a longer jump distance to the player. I also added “target” decals to where the player will land after bouncing off of the mushroom. This helped to give the players more sense of control over their jumping process, avoiding the landing ambiguity that persisted during the playtests, when the players didn’t know where they would land.

A similar signifier was added to the tongue swings. During the game, the player can use their character’s tongue to swing over pits if there is a special swing hook next to them. The swinging hook now has a UI pop-up once you look at it, and a small blue bottlecap that signifies where the player character has to be to start the swing.

Another signifier was added to the wall-run surfaces. I asked the artists for a unique prop that would be used for all of the wallruns in the game, to make the wallrun ability feel consistent and avoid any ambiguity on which surfaces are wallrun-able and which are not. I also added the toad paws decals to the wall-run surfaces to signify that the player can traverse these surfaces.

A design implementation I worked on a lot was the tongue “puzzles”. The original prototype had a mechanic where the player could hold certain objects with their tongue and then drag them around the level solving different physics-based puzzles. This mechanic was very complex and due to that was severely underused in the original prototype. I decided to simplify it, by making it a non-hold drag (the player just has to press a button to sweep an object towards them in a single action, instead of dragging it around as if it was connected to the player by a rope). This allowed me to find more ways to use this mechanic in the levels. For example, the pillar platforms and the wall-run surfaces described above.

Apart from that, all of the interactive elements in the game were marked emissive, with some of them having a slightly blue color to make them stand out in the primarily orange environment.

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