Spirit of the totem - puzzle platformer with duo character mechanic

Project overview

Platform: PC

Engine and tool: Unreal Engine 4

Role: Level designer, world design

Duration: 2 weeks

Team size: 9 


  • Sketch and design puzzle ideas

  • Parameterize the puzzle's difficulties

  • Create the whitebox level

  • Cooperate with the visual artists and assist them with making the art passes for the levels

Design puzzles

Due to the very short duration of the project (only 2 weeks, aprox 8 working days) we have to quickly set upon a very simple set of mechanics which can be categories into level mechanics (levers, gates, pressure plates,...) and character mechanic (Jumping, throwing clone, ....) 

Design puzzle using"atomic parameterization"

Knowing what mechanics we have set down upon and knowing all the level design metric (character height and jump height, speed,...), we mix and match them together to create a set of challenges. After that, we use this method to sort out which set of challenges is easy, which is medium and which is hard. 

Sketching puzzle ideas and convert them into the game

After locking down all the mechanics and use "atomic parameterlization" to determine what kind of challenge would fit in which difficulties, we went ahead into sketching level idea and build the level base on the sketches we've made 

Challenge 1 - sketch

The Red boxes are platform/gate that can be activated by the lever in the middle of the level

Collaborate with visual artist and design the level art

The harder the game, the more hostile the environment

 In the course of two weeks with a rather limited team size, the game have no narrative at all. However that does not mean the environment cannot tell a story. The game itself is very short, only took 15 minutes to finish, however, I know, the further the players progress, the more challenging it is. What is a better way to communicate to the player that the game difficulty has increased by subtly making the environment seems more intense and dangerous toward them.

Tutorial area

Consist mostly of trees and tents

Adding depth to the world

In order to make the level feel more alive and to give the player the illusion of a bigger world, we decided to use multiple layers for our level.


The game used a 2,5D side way camera angle, base on that camera placement, we decided to have 3 layers, the fore-layer (green line), closest to the camera, the middle layer (blue line), where all the gameplay will take place and the background layer (purple line), furthest away from the camera. 

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