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

On Jewel Mania my focus was on learning the fundamentals of match3 level design and to reboot and support the content cadence of the game.

  Jewel Mania
A swipe match 3 game with several modes and the ability to make matches during the cascade phase of the game. Check out the trailer below.

Where my level design career truly started. This was a fast paced match 3 that had multiple modes: objective collection, digging, and timed (which could be combined with the first two modes). Players could make moves during the cascade phase of the game which allowed players to set up crazy matches and combinations. Understanding how to control the board without a crazy amount of cascade was crucial for making successful levels on this title. Lessons learned about board control on this game would come in handy when I was working on Vineyard Valley at JamCity.

Roles and Responsibilities:
  • Design engaging levels and obstacles
    • Learn how to design engaging levels
    • Design engaging levels
    • Analyze level data and tune problematic or underperforming levels
  Level Design

Below are samples of some of the levels I designed for Jewel Mania.
  Level 649

An example of just how explosive a Jewel Mania level can get. Learning how to control the board and keep the cascade from ‘auto’ clearing most of the level was imperative to making levels for this game.

One of the ways to control the explosive cascade was to implement lock and chain groups as seen in this level. The ideas is that the player must clear the number of pieces shown on the colored locks, the pieces must be the same color as the lock, before unlocking the region and allowing the player access to the tiles affected by locks and chains. Non breakable horizontal walls can also be used to limit a players horizontal movement ability when making matches in the level. This does not affect the cascade but can restrict the players match making ability.

  Level 661

An example of a dig level with a scripted opening move to create more space for the player in the starting screen. Dig levels will automatically scroll once the player has removed all of the obstacles on screen.

There are two different types of 'dirt', dirt tiles and rock tiles. Dirt tiles can be cleared by matching adjacent to the dirt tile. Rock tiles can only be removed by being affected by a power up or a power ups AoE.

Fire is another obstacle that the designer can use to help control the board. Fire can only be 'put out' or removed by being matched adjencent too. It can also be removed by powerup. Fire, if not contained, will spread 1 tile in any direction each turn. Fire does not fall and will act as a blocker for new tiles falling into the level. Using the fire obstacle can be tricky as it can get out of control quickly if the player is not paying attention and managing it or if the player is unlucky.

Dig levels have two (2) different methods of completeion. One way, as in this example, is to clear X number of dirt tiles from the level before running out of moves. The other way is to dig to a certain depth, indicated by a 'finish' line, and clear a tile under the line before running out of time.