Not planned from the start, adding the Adventure Mode, basically a single player
campaign, served a few key purposes. It allowed me the chance learn how to structure an overarching story and gameplay progression, while at the same time teaching and inspiring the players on how to utilize the level editor. Since the primary purpose of the game was to generate community made content with the level editor, the campaign was created using the exact same tools we presented to the player.
Focusing on creativity, variation, experience and ways to 'exploit' the editor, I approached level creation with a very experimental mind. My goal wasn't to craft standard racing game levels, but to present players with experiences and scenarios where the optimal solution was not necessarily the most fun solution.
Adventure mode included 26 main levels, 15 bonus levels, 24 unlockable vanity items, 3 playable characters and 8 playable vehicles strewn over 3 worlds. Since modularity in the design had been a focus from the start, players could always go back and find secrets / replay levels with newly found vehicles.
The bread and butter of the game, our goal was always to create an easy-to-use editor that
inspired player to try out wacky stuff. Building materials can easily be dragged into the scene and modified. For additional behaviors, we added a component system that adds functionality to any material. Components are fully modular and all of them can be combined in any way. For the adept user we also added trigger boxes that can interact with any component or material property.
With these tools in hand, the editor functioned much like a light scripting system. All of the levels in the Adventure mode were built with these tools. If I needed additional functionality, we discussed the technical debt it would incur to add this to the editor so as not to use solutions not available to the end user.
User generated levels could easily be saved and shared to the cloud, where other players could play and rate them.
Levels in the cloud also featured a highscore system where players could compete against each other.
While intially set to produce all audio assets, adding the Adventure mode to my schedule
ate up most of my time. Instead, we opted to outsource all assets while managing scripting, implementation and mix in house. While a few audio assets were produced in-house, the vast majority were produced by the great Samuel Lidström.
With a game that revolves around physics and vehicles, a lot of time was spent tweaking acceleration samples and working sensitivity values on impact sounds between vehicles and objects of different material types. We wanted to minimize the potential audio bugs the end user could potentially incur in the editor, whatever unconventional ideas they wanted to try out.
The music was produced by amazingly talented local artists and friends Tom Mauritzon and David Lindvall. Working part-time, we had regular check ups in person, evaluating the work and how it fit into the atmosphere Adventure mode and/or Level editor.
Working with big brands can be tough. Having Disney leave midway through development amidst controversies was a tough pill to swallow. Incidents like this is something that all developers will face at some point in their career. Weathering the highs and lows of your company while still delivering on your promises is a great testament to you professionalism.
Company kerfuffle aside, this was my first project in a leading role of level design, progression and mechanics. Through harsh iteration of our design, I learned to appreciate both sides of the coin; design versus implementation. It is a lesson i dearly carry with me when moving on to more technical design work in the future.
All in all, I am extremely proud of the work we did. Working with such talented engineers and artists, every day was filled with joy. Enjoying what you do, your coworkers and your workplace is in the end what really makes your product sparkle.