The Making of
..........,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,....... (Part 3)
Welcome to the final installment in our “Making Of Wonderland Adventures” Series. For Part 1, click here. To read Part 2, click here. To download the Wonderland Adventures demo, click here.
Of Thwarts and Crystal Shards
With player controls ironed out, graphics and sound well into production, and most of the major gameplay features finally in place, it was time to begin shaping the world of Wonderland and its many, many levels.
Originally, the game’s story was to have a much stronger environmental theme. In this original version, the Thwarts (the game’s main antagonists) were basically trying to industrialize Wonderland by force, creating huge machines along with huge amounts of waste. The “Forest’s End” storyline, for example, was to revolve around “gloop” from the Thwart’s Lonely Top Fortress seeping into the community’s lakes and rivers, threatening the health of the entire area.
In the end, however, we decided to streamline the story, bring in an already established story element (the “Void” from Wonderland Secret Worlds) and make the goal in each area the same (finding the crystal shard). We also changed the motivation of the Thwarts, making them somewhat unaware of the consequences of their actions, rather than giving them classic "bad guy" motives.
A First Adventure
Up to this point we had only created test levels to try out various features (bridges, gates, monsters, magic, etc). Our first goal was to create a short selection of levels/adventures that combined these elements and were fun enough to be included into the final game. Our very first complete level that fit this description was the “Swamps of Solitude” adventure (see image - this adventure did in fact make it into the final game). "Swamps of Solitude" combined several features (NPCs, Wee Stinkers, Bridges, Keys, ...) in a multi-level adventure. More importantly, it had a good underlying puzzle and was definitely fun to play. Satisfied in our knowledge that we could successfully combine gameplay elements, we started work on the game's hundred-plus adventures.
From the Beginning
Usually we create levels for our games in an almost random order. As an idea comes to mind, we create the level, store it, and only later decide where it best fits the game. This was different in Wonderland Adventures. Once a few adventures were established, we basically began at the very beginning, creating the introductory area around west of Wondertown, the first challenge (rescuing the Wee Stinkers), the introduction of the first crystal shard, and the introduction of the magic gloves. This process continued throughout the entire game - we designed the levels and created the story world as the player would encounter them, all the way through Wondertown, the Foggy Mountains, Forest’s End, and into the Void. While this process was very unusual for us, it did help keep the storyline focused and coherent.
The entire level creation process took several months, with more time added to play and test not only each adventure, but also the underlying world levels that needed to connect each adventure. This second layer of levels added tremendously to the level design time of the game, compared to the classic Wonderland games that only required the actual puzzle levels to be created.
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