How Mega Man 11's Levels Do More With Less

View link › October 24, 2018

Game Maker’s Toolkit by Mark Brown is one of my favorite channels about game design. This most recent episode is about the level design of the latest installment of the beloved Mega Man game franchise. Per usual, I think good game design can be applied to the web to help shape ideas about good web design.

In some ways I’m jealous of Game Design and Game Dev. They’re so far ahead as an industry in creating component-ized, modular, reusable design patterns. The model + material + component architecture which can be baked in to “prefab” objects that have an “update once, update everywhere” behavior is a piece of thought technology I wish the Web had. The games industry has more or less standardized on this methodology which means most tools and libraries function the same, but have slightly different approaches.

It’s one thing to have reusable components, it’s another to design a system that actually reuses those components. As pointed out in the video, levels in Mega Man 11 consist of 7 types of rooms with a few unique enemies and obstacles scattered and interwoven throughout the stage. Brown calls refers to it as a “tiny handful of unique elements”. I love this and it fits my custom tiny bootstraps ethos. Older games were forced to do this due to memory and CPU limitations, so I find it noteworthy that reusing mechanics, components, and obstacles are still the hallmark of good Game Design even though the original reasoning behind those limitations doesn’t exist anymore.

Discussing this with my coworker Trent, he wondered (and I’m paraphrasing) if video games do better than websites at reusing design patterns because the unit of delivery is a complete level, not only a room. A wider scope of planning allows you to plan how elements can be reused. Translating that to the web, maybe consolidating designs in to flows creates more reusability than just page-by-page design. That’s something to think about when cracking open the next project.