Modularizing Lumote Part 1: History

When we initially set out to take our UE4 game jam entry Bump and extend it out to be Lumote, we knew we wanted to make it one giant map. The game is extremely dark and as you progress you illuminate the world. Because of this, we wanted to not only give you some larger sense of progress, but also offer some nice vistas to show where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished along the way.

The blue glow of discovered checkpoints and solved puzzles lingers in the distance

With that in mind, we started laying out the world. It’s made up of a central hub surrounded by towers; you go up one side of a tower and down the other where you exit into the hub and progress to the next tower. We began by roughing in the flow of the first tower, making sure you can’t reach places you shouldn’t, and winding around so that you can get some nice views of where you have been. As we progressed, we were also building the challenges (puzzles and platforming rooms) which fit nicely into the flow. However, we soon came to realize that constructing the world this way caused some problems.

Each coloured section is a different challenge in the tower.

First of all, the entire game world was in a single file. This meant that we could not iterate on the high level flow of the world and design new challenges at the same time. We knew this would be an issue in advance but made the concession that since there are only two main level builders, we could work around each others’ schedules.

Secondly, we have always had aspirations for Lumote to offer either user-generated challenges or procedural world assembly, or maybe even both. While this isn’t a feature on our road map for the initial release, it is something that we would love to see one day. That means, having the entire world as one massive asset really limits the possibilities.

The third, and most important, issue was adjusting difficulty and pacing. Each time we added a new challenge, there was often the realization that we had made something that would be more appropriate earlier or later in the game. Often this meant that all edits were destructive, replacing a challenge literally meant that the old one was gone. If it was really good we might save off a copy of the map so we could isolate it and reuse it later, but that wasn’t ideal and became quite time consuming.

Modular level sections can be swapped out and rearranged

After getting back from GDC 2016, we started discussing how we might overcome these problems as we continue to build out the game. The result was a fully modular version of the world, where we can snap challenges together and easily swap them out or reuse them to adjust the pacing and difficulty of any part of the game.

*Left an example of the hard to work with monolithic world. Right same area but in the modular world.*

As you can see in the above example, this area is roughly the same before and after modularization.

Check back next week for part 2! We’ll be discussing how the world is broken down and some of the technical problems we needed to solve.

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