As you might know, we're in the middle of designing levels for our 2D/3D platformer. Here's my top 5 of biggest frustrations when playing through some of the levels that may require some more work:
5. Are we there yet?
If I stop to get a cup of coffee before I reach the end, your level is too long! Watch other people play your level and keep track of how long they take to finish. It's easier to add a piece of level than to remove if it's too boring!
4. I'm lost!
Some levels have areas that are so generic that the player loses any sense of orientation. A good remedy for this is to avoid scattering enemies, obstacles or background elements too much across your level.
It's best to create groups of particular elements in one particular corner so that player will remember and recognize it. Also avoid multiple paths that lead to the same place if you find your test players going the wrong way. If you have to resort to the use of big flashing pink arrows or minimaps to point players in the right direction, you're in trouble.
3. Dead end? WTF?
Have you ever walked through a level and suddenly reached an unexpected dead end? You probably took a wrong turn somewhere without even knowing it. A player should be able to guess that a path is a sidetrack and that it will hopefully lead him to some extra goodies. Important is that the goodies are there of course. Not a ...
2. Surprise death. Again!
If I jump of a ledge because there's nowhere obvious to go next, I don't expect to land in some sort of death trap. In fact, make sure I always know and see where to go next!
1. Unfair punishing of mistakes.
If I don't make a jump because of bad timing and need to make some jumps to retry, that's okay. When I need to redo the entire level, I will get annoyed very very fast. Come to think of it, being able to skip to the end of the level by falling down a platform is a bit of a problem as well.
To wrap it up:
For some classic examples of bad level design (and some good laughs), try to make your may through some review videos of the Angry Video Game Nerd on http://www.cinemassacre.com/category/avgn/
For even more hilarious fun look at some videos of a game called 'I Wanne Be The Guy'. A legendary game that has multiple very surprizing deathtraps in each level.