Would an almost seven year old be happy with some promotional material for his favorite game? We didn't think so either!
Zias, a then six year old boy who loves to play EDGE and build his own levels in Lego, was about to become seven. His father, Martin, thought it would be a nice birthday present if he could arrange some EDGE swag for the little boy. He contacted us asking if we had any EDGE marketing material to share. This was our response:
I don’t have much marketing material except for some digital flyers. But I thought it would be nice if Zias could make a Lego level for us, which we would rebuild and put back in the actual game. The level will have his name and be put on Steam.
Not sure if this can be arranged, but would that be a nice present?
Martin was thrilled with this news and we created an EDGE themed invitation he could give to Zias on his birthday. The invite asked him if he'd like to come by and show us his best Lego EDGE level so we could add it in the game:
That day was magical, Zias had an extremely detailed picture in his head about when which parts of his level should move and why those parts moved in the first place. He’d often pick up a specific colored block from his Lego level and while moving it around enthusiastically, tell me why and when that block should move. The music and graphics theme were decided even before he’d set foot in our offices.
We spent a good portion of the day sitting behind our level editor and pair designing his level. Due to some setup issues we could not run the level at the time, but Zias had no problem seeing how his level came to life even in the editor and he’d often correct me when I misplaced collision or didn’t copy his Lego level correctly. Overall, seeing the mind of a seven year old level designer at work was a very fun and interesting experience:
“How far up should this platform go, Zias?”
“How far can it go?”
“Eeeehm, there is no real actual limit, but...”
“Make it go to the maximum height possible. That’s cool!”**
It’s not the way we normally design levels and it might not be the best experience for the average player but to me it is fascinating. It also reminded me of my past self fiddling with levels for Wrecking Crew or filling pages and pages of grid paper with my own overworld for the original Legend of Zelda on the NES. These were the humble beginnings of Hessel as a level designer and this level might become Zias’ first steps so I decided to change as little as possible.
It took a little longer than we’d expected, mostly due to the GDC and a daughter, but the level should be available in the updated Steam version today!***
We really like Zias’ level and we hope you will enjoy it too!
* Fun fact: She is Two Tribes’ first production baby ever.
** I compromised.
*** The other platforms will follow in the near future.