JamCity is a casual game studio that has makes puzzle games that also have strong narrative components.

I joined Snoopy Pop as a level designer. My focus was level and obstacle design. Leveraging my UI/UX background I also helped support the UI/UX Lead on various features as well.

  Snoopy Pop
A bubble shooter based on the Snoopy IP with different level modes.

Check out the trailer below.

I joined Snoopy Pop shortly after its release. This was an exciting time to be on the project as the team was still designing new obstacles for players to engage with. The game had 3 different modes: a normal mode, a ‘ropes’ mode which introduced physics to bubbles attached to ropes, and a boss mode with the Red Baron. The boss mode consisted of several single screen sections one after each other with the goal being to hit the Red Baron with a bubble to advance screens and win.

Unlike Bubble Mania the bubble queue in Snoopy Pop was deterministic, meaning each color would appear once before cycling through the colors again. This led to significantly less grindy levels and allowed the designer to better anticipate how a player might progress through a level. Additionally the characters of the Snoopy universe had powers and could be summoned during a level when their corresponding meter was filled.

One of the design pillars, established in pre production, was to have set pieces that players could identify and use their ‘kid’ powers on when the power meters were full. We found that this did not translate well when presented to players. Some players would not recognize the shapes we had designed for the kid powers, some players did not like the idea of being told when and where to use their powers, while some players would either use them individually and not combine them as was the intention. It was something the design team was mindful of and did our best to design around and limit player frustration.

Roles and Responsibilities:
  • Design engaging levels and obstacles
    • Collaborate with art and engineering on new obstacle design and functionality
    • Test obstacles and share best practices with design team
    • Provide constructive feedback on peer reviewed levels
    • Analyze level data and tune problematic or underperforming levels
  • Leverage past UI/UX experience to assist UI/UX lead with low level tasks
  Level Design

Below are samples of some of the levels I designed for Snoopy Pop.
  Level 402

This level was designed to make players assess each part of the level structure and use bubbles to remove colorless bubbles (clouds, bubbles, puffs) to progress instead of the usual color match to progress. The player does a good job of identifying the anchor points of each structure, the clouds, and elminating them. They also are very efficient in how they approach each section opting, correctly, to remove puffs and bubbles in favor of always making colored matches. The player could have used two (2) Charlie Brown power ups but instead opted to only use the one where it was expected to be used. The last section of the level gets noticably more dense which could potentially hurt a player that was not being frugal with their bubble shots.

  Level 413

The player does a great job of traversing the level and making several high skill shots to drop large portions of the level. They also correctly recognize and use their kid powers, even going so far as to squeeze an extra line or two out of it based on previous set up shots.

  Level 432

The level has generally good pacing with nice releases followed by a little bit of pinch / grind. The player does a good job of using the kid powers at the appropriate time, even though the level shape might not telegraph this as strongly as it could. They also use Lucy at the end to clear the level which is a nice move.

Additionally you will notice Snoopy Pop is less grindy than Bubble Mania. That is due, in part, to becoming a more mature level designer, but also due to the design decisons made for the obstacles and underlying gameplay systems. The colorless bubbles of Snoopy Pop are easier to work through than the more cumbersome ice bubbles from Bubble Mania, that needed to have an adjacent match made next to in order to change ice bubbles to a color then an additional match made to clear.

  Level 540

A Red Baron Boss level. The bubbles with propellors act as the pins for the underlying structure. The Red Baron meter at the top of the UI indicates how many different level sections there are to beat the level. It also acts as an abstracted health bar for the Red Baron, as each hit also represents the player removing one (1) hit point from the boss.

Designers had control over how the Red Baron would path in each level section. There was always a balancing act between making the shot to hit the Red Baron a skill shot but also not making the player wait for the boss to cycle through its pathing. This was also something designers could use to give players agency in how they wanted to clear the bubble structure to give them the best shot to hit the Red Baron.

  Level 550

In the first section the player illustrates the potential frustration with missing the Red Baron and having to wait for it to go through its full path before returning and allowing the player another shot. This level also has 'party poppers' that rotate 180 degrees from their facing the previous turn. This obstacle can be used to strategically remove sections of level structure or in this case to hit the Red Baron and save a bubble or two (2). The player uses the kids powers to great effect when they become available.

If I were to design this level again I think I would change the structure of the final section such that there would be an alternate way to remove the layer of jacks around the red baron. Working up each side to hit the poppers is fine but repetitive.

  Level 580

The player shows off their ability to recognize that brut forcing through the puffs in the second stage is the optimal move and also makes good use of the kid powers and makes some fairly high skill shots to beat the level.