Cotton Valley is a top-down sheep herding tablet game.
In it, you control Farmer Brown’s sheep dog, Missy, as they herd cotton candy sheep into fruity colored syrups to change their color and into pens around the farm, all while avoiding obstacles.
Role: Level Designer
Team Size: 5
Level Designer: As a Level Designer for Cotton Valley, I was responsible for designing, implementing, testing, and iterating on levels for the game.
Production: For this project, there was no one who was directly assigned to Production. This means that in addition to level design responsibilities I was also responsible for all production tasks.
Level 2: Keep on Rollin'
Missy must gather sheep and deal with the newest obstacle, the Tractor. This obstacle pushes whatever is in its path wherever it is moving. Normally this obstacle is relatively harmless, but in this level, it is combined with Rivers. If a sheep gets caught in the Tractor's path, it'll be pushed into the river and have its color reverted to pink.
Level 3: Synchronized Sprinkling
Missy now contends with the newest obstacle, the Sprinkler. This rotating obstacle moves 360 degrees around a point, spraying water and changing the colored sheep to the default pink color. Another challenge of this level is that Missy has to herd 10 sheep into the pen.
For this level, I wanted to utilize the rotating nature of the sprinkler. Have the play space be both dangerous and safe depending on the position of the sprinkler adds a level of complexity. The player now needs to time gathering, coloring, and herding sheep out from the central area before the sprinklers rotate around again.
This I feel is a very strong level. It introduces the sprinkler in a controlled setting; the play space is small and there’s only one color to worry about. All the player needs to focus on is the timing of the 4 sprinklers. This, as opposed to the previous level, has a strong identity. It’s the only level where the player needs to collect a large amount of the same colored sheep in such a small space and while the sprinklers offer a challenge it is a pattern that can be learned and mastered.
What Went Well?
Leadership and Cooperation: Being on this project also allowed me to practice and better hone my abilities as a leader. Communication, delegation, and trusting others to complete tasks independent of me were all leadership traits I was able to better improve while working on this team.
What Went Wrong?
Level 2: Because I was also leading the overarching project, I think the attention to detail I normally have for my levels slipped. This means that, while the level is still enjoyable, it could still have used more prototyping and iteration.
What did I learn?
Leading Diverse Teams: Having come from a theatrical background, most people working on projects had the same general disposition. They were all very talkative and not shy about their opinions. However, in the game development industry, not everyone is like this. Something that I had to learn was how to make space for people who are not as comfortable speaking to be able to give their opinion. Changing my approach/disposition from unbridled enthusiasm to something more subdued when dealing with people who are nervous around others was something I was glad I was able to work on during this project.