The Level Design of Quell


Across the entire Quell series, we’ve created over 300 levels. We don’t believe in ‘filler’ content, so we set out to make each level unique. However, we did have a set of design guidelines that helped us shape the puzzles.

 

Key Design Principles

 

  • Variety. Each level should be visually distinct in size, shape or contents.
Confined Space (Quell, 1937 shelf)

Confined Space (Quell, 1937 shelf)

 

Alliance (Quell Reflect, 1962 shelf)

Alliance (Quell Reflect, 1962 shelf)

 

Goldrush (Quell Memento)

Goldrush (Quell Memento)

 

For example, in this level from Quell Memento we combine two new features – ice cubes and light beams:

 

De-Icer (Quell Memento)

De-Icer (Quell Memento)

 

Remixing Levels

 

Sometimes, we’ve deliberately used an existing level as the starting point, with the intention of giving it a new lease of life….

 

Illusion of Choice (Quell, 1937 shelf)

Illusion of Choice (Quell, 1937 shelf)

 

This huge puzzle takes the Quell level ‘Illusion of Choice’ as its core, and expands outwards:

 

Grander Illusion (Quell Reflect, 1972 shelf)

Grander Illusion (Quell Reflect, 1972 shelf)

 

We’ve found that adding different types of object can completely change the required solution. To illustrate, here’s a simple layout from Quell:

 

Side to Side (Quell, 1928 shelf)

Side to Side (Quell, 1928 shelf)

 

The addition of light bulbs means a new approach is required of the player…

 

 Negativity (Quell Memento)

Negativity (Quell Memento)

 

…whilst the addition of gold pearls changes it even more:

 

In a China Shop (Quell Reflect, 1967 shelf)

In a China Shop (Quell Reflect, 1967 shelf)

 

The ‘Tricks’

 

During play-testing, we found that some levels were too simple. We used a few techniques to make them more challenging:

 

-The Red Herring: If we want to deliberately send players the wrong way we might lure them with some easy to reach pearls. Don’t fall for this!

-The First Move Trap: This is where the puzzle cannot be completed if the first move is incorrect. This can be frustrating if the player doesn’t realise, so we don’t use this often, especially on large levels.

-The Wrap Principle: We noticed that wrapping around the screen can interfere with a player’s natural ability to understand a layout, so we employ this to force a different way of thinking. It isn’t used in many games (although Pacman is a notable exception) and so routes are less obvious to players.

-The Spike Threat: Adding spikes to an otherwise straight-forward level adds an element of danger, even if the solution remains the same. Used sparingly for best effect!

 

Hiding the Jewel

 

As a rule, we put the jewel in the last place we think the player would look, so start there first! Some of the hardest jewels are in places you might not realise you can reach. Creative use of pushable blocks or spikes may be required here.

That about wraps up our design exposé for now. Thanks for your interest!

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15 Comments

Luke

about 10 months ago Reply

Hey guys, Love your games! They are far and away the most intelligent, elegant, ingeniously crafted puzzle games I've ever seen. Frankly, I don't understand why they're not more widely recognized as perfect puzzlers. Anyway, I'm emailing to tell you that your site seems to be taking a long time to load - or not at all. I was visiting to see if there are any upcoming editions of Quell. I eagerly await each release, purchase it immediately, and then spend the next week absorbed. There just aren't other games of this quality - so thank you. Take care and good luck, Luke

Lewis Boadle

about 10 months ago Reply

Hi Luke, thanks for being the first comment on our new website! I will look into why the site is being so slow. Thanks for pointing it out, and for your support of our games! It is appreciated! Lewis

Oonagh

about 10 months ago Reply

Thank you so much for these wonderful games. I have spent many happy hours completing them all. I am pining very much for my next encounter. :D

Lewis Boadle

about 10 months ago Reply

Thanks for your kind words, Oonagh!

Judith

about 10 months ago Reply

I love the Quell family of games -- they are beautifully designed, and a wonderful challenge to me (I tend to think more verbally than spatially). Is there any chance that the new Quell Candy version will be made available as an iPad app any time soon? I believe it's available only for PC at the moment. I'd love to give it a try on my new iPad Air!

fallentreegames

about 10 months ago Reply

Hi Judith, We would like to consider bring Candy Quell to mobile / tablet in the future. However, it would need more work and content before this could be considered, so it's not likely to happen anytime soon.

Johannes

about 9 months ago Reply

Hello guys, Quell is one of my all time favorite puzzle games. Sometimes I wonder how do you determine the minimum number of moves when designing levels? Just manually? Or do you have some kind of tool that brute forces all possible solutions? I think it might be interesting to have some version of the game with larger levels where you could spend a lot of time in one level and then compare your minimum number of moves online.

fallentreegames

about 7 months ago Reply

Hi Johannes, we work out the solution to all the levels manually.

Mike

about 8 months ago Reply

Great games. Thanks for creating them. I am a huge sokoban fan & these games remind me of that type of logic & thinking. I love to be able to walk away from my platformer & dungeon crawler games & take it slow & think. Love these games!!

mohsen

about 8 months ago Reply

I have a better record than you for one of your stages,less than 45 moves

Teresa

about 8 months ago Reply

I stumbled across Momento recently (love) so that made we wonder, what were the other games before and after it, and are the previous versions still available?

fallentreegames

about 7 months ago Reply

Hi Teresa, Before Quell Memento, there was Quell Reflect (2011) and Quell (2010). Both games are still available on Apple and Android appstores.

tilzesy

about 7 months ago Reply

I'm just starting Quell Momento, and I'm stumped already. "A Cold Heart" seems to be frozen/locked at the screen with the talking. I cannot get a response, no matter where I touch, so I cannot continue on with the game. Momento is running on my Kindle HDX 8.9. Help?

fallentreegames

about 7 months ago Reply

Hi Tilzesy, we haven't heard of this issue before. If you post the problem at www.getsatisfaction.com/quell, then someone in our fan community might have a solution.

Richard

about 7 months ago Reply

Love Quell in all its manifestations, any news on your next project?

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