Storm8 is a casual game studio that, while I was there, made puzzle and invest and express games.

On Candy Blast Mania my focus was on level design and to help keep a healthy content cadence.

  Candy Blast Mania
A swipe match 3 game with a boss mode and unique obstacles. Check out the trailer below.

The was the flagship puzzle title of Storm8 at the time, the design team consisted of 4 designers and a design lead. The game had an aggressive cadence that saw us designing 10 to 15 levels every 2 weeks with weekly level reviews. The game had hundreds of levels when I joined and the team designed hundreds more.

The design team would challenge each other to see who could make the best 2 or 3 color level, or who could make the best level with obstacle X. These playful internal challenges pushed our creative limits and served to help us keep things interesting for players, as we did not have the engineering bandwidth to create new obstacles, yet still had to keep game play fresh and interesting.

Roles and Responsibilities:
  • Design engaging levels and obstacles
    • Design engaging levels
    • Provide constructive feedback on peer reviewed levels
    • Analyze level data and tune problematic or underperforming levels
  Level Design

Below are samples of some of the levels I designed for Candy Blast Mania.
  Level 500

A boss level where the player must defeat the boss in a given amount of moves. At the top of the screen are the level requirements, in the case of a boss level these are the pieces that will damage the boss, the boss visual, and the boss's health bar. Boss levels are interactive, meaning that the boss wil respond to the player damaging them. The designer can set the percent thresholds for when the boss will 'attack' the player by tossing obstacles onto the level. In this instance the boss tosses jawbreaker candies. The player must be mindful of doom candies in this level as well. If a doom candy reaches 0 and has not been removed from the level the player will lose the level.

There are a number of sprinkle canons in the level, more the farther down you go, so strategically the player wants to dig as deep into the level as they can allowing purple pieces to be hit by the sprinkle cannons. Sprinkle cannons increase the number of candies collected as indicated by the number on the piece. This will increase damage done to the boss when these pieces are matched.

While the player tries to dig down to maximize the sprinkle cannons the boss will periodically toss jawbreakers in the bottom middle of the board to block the player from matching in the bottom third of the level. The player must then expend turns to remove the jawbreakers to maximize use of the sprinkle cannons again.

  Level 1551

A 'standard' level in which the player needs to fulfill the level goals to win. The player must remove the goop from the gooped candies to open the level up to gain access to more space to make matches. The player must also make the strategic decision of when to ungoop the doom candies giving themselves the best chance of removing them from the level. Finally the jaw breakers are the potential pinch as they are placed across the bottom of the level and in corners. The holes are placed to control cascade, while the candy walls on the left side of the level are meant to restrict horizontal match movement until broken.

Placing multilayered obstacles in hard to reach corners was standard practice at this time, but has been something I have moved away from in my designs. Unless the player has clear agency in being able to remove obstacles like this, these types of obstacles tend to be grindy and frustrating for the player, leading to a frustrating experience. I've found that players are less likely to monetize at the end of a level if they are frustrated or do not see a clear path to victory.