Return to Wonderland
Level Editor
Ideas for Level Creations

If you enjoyed playing the Wonderland levels, you are probably itching to try out your own puzzle design skills and share your work with other players. However, the sheer volume of possible designs can be a little overwhelming at first. "Where do I begin?" might be your first question. Here are some general suggestions:

1. Read the Tutorials and Reference Pages
Make sure you familiarize yourself with the various editor options. You do not need to memorize it all at once, but if you for example wish to create a level involving Z-Bots, make sure you read the section on Z-Bots in the reference guide.

2. Decide on a Level Type
On of your first decisions should be about the type of skills required to complete your level. Should this be an action-oriented level for those with quick fingers? if so you'll want to use timers and monster aplenty. Should it be a slower more puzzle-oriented level? Give the player plenty of time, and avoid any situations involving speed or time. Of course, many level can combine these ideas, for example a puzzle based level that has a small action section surrounding a number of Bonus Coins.

3. Design a Level based on Gameplay Element Combinations
An easy way to start a puzzle is to say "I want a Level with Z-Bots and Flying Saucers." Then explore how they interact with other gameplay elements. Z-Bots can be used to press buttons. Flying Saucers can destroy Z-Bots, but also boxes that block hallways. How can these elements be placed so that, for example, Stinky guides a Z-Bot into a hallway to press an otherwise unreachable button, then tricks a Flying Saucer into the boxes and Z-Bot to allow you access into another part of the level? You might also approach a level asking "What gameplay elements have I not seen in combination before?", then experiment to learn how these elements might be combined to form an interesting level.

4. Design a Level based on a Theme
Many levels in Wonderland are based on very definite themes ("Robot City", "Haunted Castle") that automatically restrict what elements you will use. Often a specific theme will guide you in your level creation process. Suppose you wish to build a level situated in a giant factory setting. A factory might have a system of conveyor belts, perhaps transporting boxes. Now place Z-Bots (the 'workers') into corridors where they operate timer buttons that turn the conveyor belts on and off. This naturally leads to several design options. You could create an action level where Stinky and Loof need to time their steps in sync with the Z-Bots, in order not to get caught on a conveyor belt. Or you could create a puzzle level where Stinky and Loof need to find the right time and place to snatch one of the boxes off the conveyor belt to complete a bridge.

5. Design a Level based on a Challenge Type
There are many different types of puzzle and action challenges, and you might wish to build a level based on a particular type. For example, a "building puzzle" might require placing boxes in particular arrangements to open doors, build bridges, etc. An "information puzzle" might require getting to some well-placed signs in order to get a crucial hint for the completion of the level. An "exploration puzzle" might involve larger mazes, and well hidden objects (buttons under boxes, coins inside fake walls). A "cause and event puzzle" requires players to think through the chain reaction of events that a particular action might involve.

6. Design a Level based on an existing Level
Perhaps you have your own favourite Wonderland or Return to Wonderland level? Feel free to use its idea as a template and build out from there. The level "Here They Come" in Wonderland World 3 started with a need for a quick defense against approaching Coilys. How could you elaborate and expand on this idea? How about using Flying Saucers instead of Cannons (an extra element of timing and danger). How about Coilys coming from two sides, requiring the use of Reflectors to guide your fireballs into position?

7. Work Backwards
Many problems can be solved by working backwards (How do I open this door? I need to get to this point! What do I need to get to this point? A box! Where can I get a box? And so on.). The same process can be used to design very effective puzzles. Place a single Rainbow Coin surrounded by water. You'll need boxes to cross the water. Place the boxes inside a locked room. How will you get the player to open that door? And so on.

8. Other Design Ideas
Some further ideas for level design (don't overuse these!). Use symmetry - many puzzle arise naturally out of symmetrical arrangements. Avoid large empty rooms - by making corridors and rooms as small as possible, the simple task of navigating the level might evolve into a puzzle itself. Use different level sizes - a very long but skinny level might lead to a particular level "flow" to guide you in your puzzle design. Use 'red herrings' - objects that might not be needed to complete a puzzle. Do research - the web is full of great articles on "puzzle design". Have a look around - you never know what you might find.

9. Balance your Difficulty
Try to be fair to the player - remember that they will want to enjoy playing your level, not be frustrated by it. While it is often impossible to design a level that is fun for everyone, you should make sure the level hits the correct difficulty for the intended audience. If you're making a kids level, don't require any quick timing or elaborate puzzles. If you've designed an extremely complex puzzle, don't also involve an action sequence that might stop a player from completing the level close to the end - unless you want to make a level extremely difficult (there's nothing wrong with that, many people will enjoy an extreme challenge, but be aware of what you're doing).

10. Test, Test, Test
Make sure your level works. Work backwards from different positions to ensure that objects can't be used for unintended purposes. Have others play your levels, and watch how they approach them. Are they stuck? Are they frustrated? Did they see an easy solution that you missed? Use their comments and suggestions to improve your design.

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