top of page
Platformer with Lantern-Based Mechanics set in a Nightmare
I worked on Goodnight, Lily as the sole level and content designer on the project. The game presented quite a few level design challenges. Since one of our goals was to incorporate a horror aesthetic, we also wanted the gameplay to make the player feel intimidated. As a result, Lily was given no combat abilities and the game focused on avoidant platforming. This meant the enemy encounters really needed to shine and offer players an engaging obstacle to compete with. The lantern mechanics offered unique challenges as well.
This was a tutorial space at the start of the game where the player was given movement and jump button prompts. Then they had to use the move and jump buttons they were just taught to get over these platforms. I also made sure to provide lots of the environmental light sources like the glowing mushrooms so that players wouldn’t need to worry about managing their lantern resource until it was taught. This area is set up so it is impossible to die before you have shown you understand the move and jump buttons.
One of the challenges with the level design in Goodnight, Lily was that the team wanted the level to wind between moving right (like a standard sidescroller) and moving left. The idea was that moving players out of the comfortable right movement would create some added sense of tension as well as vary the experience. The game’s narrative also demanded that the levels work downward. So I ended up with these platforming sections that would twist down and switch between left and right. These sections were problematic as it was hard to avoid players skipping areas by dropping from the top onto lower platforms. In this particular area I mitigated this by using lots of moving platforms so dropping intentionally would be very risky.
One challenge I faced in designing the first level was that there were originally going to be vertically moving platforms available, but there were collision issues that prevented this. So, I ended up relying on a lot of horizontal platforms. After awhile I felt that the first level was getting repetitive with the horizontal platforms. To give some novel challenges to the player in the first level I played up the use of the wind obstacle. Placing wind between platforms like above made players either time their jumps between the wind or adjust for the updraft. They also made the lantern mechanics more interesting in this level.
I wanted to end the first level with a series of the worm enemies so that the player gets a good challenge that highlights the enemy before a new enemy is introduced in level 2. I lined up three consecutive enemies here (one is offscreen). Players struggled to space between the enemies properly, so we ended up adding these purple lights to signify where the worm enemies would attack.
Since the story was that Lily is delving deeper into her nightmare with each level, the levels ended by dropping into areas. Of course this was tricky to teach players because pits generally mean death not the next level. So, we added these glowing colors from the next level and centered the camera work on the pit as the player approached.
At the beginning of the second level I introduced the falling platforms. For the first falling platform, there is ground beneath it so that the player will not die as they are learning about the falling platform. Immediately afterward the player must cross gaps with the falling platforms.
This is the first place the spider enemy appeared. In order to make the experience of a giant spider feel more intimidating, the space was confined so that the player does not have much space to jump. The spider pops out of the ground and quickly chases the player down.
This area probably went through the most iterations of any in the game. The big challenge was getting the platforms to work with the character jump height. I needed to make sure Lily would not smash her head on the platforms above, but that she still had a route that let her get up on them. In most of the previous iterations, at some point the moving platforms would align in a way that blocked Lily’s jump. Ultimately, I addressed this by adding the two falling platforms so that the moving platforms were never crossing each other.
These mushrooms react to light. If the lantern is on, the yellow ones open up as platforms, green ones only open in shadows. This mechanic allowed for some interesting platforming segments. Here I taught the mechanic of the mushrooms in a place where the player could not die from platforming and where they could not progress until they figured out how to activate the mushroom. Unlike where I taught the green mushroom, it was important to add the little step behind Lily so that players could go back and refill their lantern if they ran out of fuel (otherwise this pit could trap the player when they are out of fuel).
One of the more interesting platforming challenges in the game occurs when wind is placed in front of a yellow mushroom like this. Hitting the wind will cause the lantern to extinguish, so it will also make the yellow mushrooms close. Since this is the first location you encounter it there is a floor below it, but later it can cause you to fall into to death pits or next to spiders.
In the final level, rather than having shadows encircle you when your lantern is out of fuel, shadows constantly chase you to the right. Since the spider enemies force the player to retreat backwards before progressing, I could only use the worm-like enemies in this level. They were set up to pop out right as you run to them so that the player must jump over them (the player in the screenshot has already been hit).
Most of the final level consists of mushroom platforms, falling platforms and wind separated by grounded segments that let the player get some distance from the chasing shadows. Moving platforms had to be used incredibly sparingly since they could slow the player and allow the shadows to catch up to the player. The whole level demands that the player maintain their momentum as challenges build on skills that are taught in the first two levels.
bottom of page