2D Stairwells

Hey everyone! If you’ve been following along lately, you’ll know that we’ve been having a bit of an issue with designing proper 2D stairwells. I’m happy to inform you all that the issue has been resolved, and I’m going to tell you how!

Our game is one that follows general physics, meaning that the PC (Player Character) cannot jump two stories high. While this works for creating a believable atmosphere and character, it restricts us in terms of architecture. We want the setting for the game, MN Towers, to be architecturally sound (to a degree). Games like IJI would solve the stairwell conundrum by simply having Iji jump between magically suspended pieces of ground in an elevator shaft. While that works for IJI, it doesn’t work for Ascension.

We ran into the problem of jump-through slopes midway through designing the stairwells. While they sound simple enough, jump-through slopes are a difficult thing to get working properly. I spent a couple days trying to A) find an existing example of them online and B) trying to make my own, to no success.

After giving up on the idea of jump-through slopes, we spent a few days toying with the idea of having the player press the action button (E) when at the foot/head of a set of stairs. Doing so would either jump-cut the player to the top/bottom, or send the player to a separate area (GameMaker-wise) holding the set of stairs and nothing else. Both these ideas were a compromise, however, and we needed something that wasn’t.

We also toyed with the idea of eradicating stairwells and instead having long, ominous stairways. We discarded that, however, because it removes the idea that MN Towers is massive and sprawling. It also makes the player feel like he or she is being herded in a particular direction, which we don’t want.

Two days ago, out of the blue, I had a sudden concept for a stairwell design that didn’t require jump-through slopes, but still maintained somewhat-proper architecture. I showed the design to Worthington and he gave it his magical thumbs up of approval (TM). I’ve spent the past day working on the design. Here are the fruits of my labour:

This is the design I came up with for stairwells. Using jump-through blocks (regular) and solid slopes, the design allows players to traverse the stairwells without having to learn any new complex game mechanics or tutorials.

The fruits of my efforts. Visually, it’s a bit bare. The mechanics work flawlessly, however, and that’s what we really needed. Now I can begin work on the sub-basement.

As a side note, the Ascension demo is now over 50% content complete! While I can’t promise the release date, especially now that school has started, I’m aiming for some time in the next couple of months! Yes, I know we originally said it would be before school. We’re getting there.

If you have any questions about the stairwell design and how to implement it into your game, feel free to drop a comment here or on Twitter!


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