This talk breaks down the design of the mechanics and levels of Tana’s S.H.A.P.E. (2021). It will cover the inception of the core mechanic, how it grew into a vertical slice, then how the core pillars of the design (Encouraging Experimentation and Wuselfaktor) drove the rest of the game. This includes discussion of mechanics that were cut or significantly altered (e.g. scoring systems and “portal tool” usefulness), how levels are designed to fit the pillars (such as accounting for gravity and experimentation), and how some mechanics were introduced to alleviate issues with level design (like colliding shapes and trails), but ended up becoming important mechanics. Lastly, this talk will include a discussion on the tutorialisation and the problems faced in the conflicts between encouraging creativity, while still guiding the player through the introduction to the game.
The takeaways of this talk include several tools and techniques to apply to their own puzzle games, such as analysing step counts and play space, comparing a mechanic against the game’s pillars, and teaching mechanics as easily as possible.