Bat Enemy Design

Design Log #3: Enemy Design and Development

In Development Blog by Tremaine Williams

On our last Design Log we talked about Tiles and Layers and their importance to Game Development. Now that you know more about how assets are placed in the engine, we’ll now focus on one of the most crucial topics in Game Development: Enemies.

Enemies are important because they will help to bring life to your game. For example, in BiT Evolution, if we had spent little time thinking about them, these enemies would wind up having shallow (and repetitive) behavior. This can be a big turn off for the players. Take a moment to think of your favorite platformer games. I’m sure that you’ll remember most of the enemies just as well as you remember the main character. Without more elaborate enemies, your character wouldn’t look as awesome while taking them out. Therefore, the main character and your enemy selection will directly help one another.

Enemy Quality

You may begin thinking:

– How do I know if this enemy is good enough?

– Does my enemy fit well with the style of game play I’m trying to achieve?

Well, the only way of really getting this answer is by bringing it to the game and testing it. The problem with this process is that it requires the enemy’s behavior to be prototyped properly in the game engine. This requires time that you, as a company, would certainly not want to waste. For reducing risks on wasting time, it’s the responsibility of the Designers to document it properly (remember Design Log #1?). This provides the programmers with as much information as possible on what’s being asked. With it, the programmer may be able to improve the initial design by adding some tweaks to make that enemy work. They may even find something that will make the enemy more interesting (gameplay-wise).

As you can see, this is a design page for the Spiderclam, an enemy seen frequently throughout the NES-Inspired world. Note the level of detail including size, behavior, and appearance.

As you can see, this is a design page for the Spiderclam. They are an enemy seen frequently throughout the NES-Inspired world. Note the level of detail including reference pictures, size, behavior, and appearance.

Enemy Prototyping

After the initial prototype, the designers test them as much as possible. This helps in discovering bugs and also other things that can be improved with them. These improvements may not have even been in the initial design! This brings me to another very important philosophy that each game developer, and specially designers, need to consider. “Less is More” (look up Subtractive Design, if interested on the topic). The quote is applicable here because having fewer enemy types, that can be used for multiple things, is always better than having multiple enemy types that can only be used for one thing. In other words, quality is better than quantity. Also, enemies of higher quality could create more of a challenge for players to overcome. It’s always satisfying to take out a tough enemy. Remember! Your game will only be as awesome as you make your players feel, so take your time when deciding the enemies you will use.

On Design Log #4 we will talk about Level Layout in 2D platformer games, unless you guys have any suggestions on what you would like to read about (or hear from us)!

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