Cracking the Code to Level Design in Rubber Bandits, coming to Xbox on December 2nd

With the upcoming party brawler soon to be launched on Xbox Game Pass, we’re going behind the scenes Rubber bandits with gameplay and level designers Bo Strandby and Noel Toivio, into the world of game level design at Flashbulb Games.

How did you decide on the concept? Rubber bandits?

Rubber bandits began as a ragdoll controller similar to QWOP“, Says Strandby. “Players had to move their arms and legs independently to clear each level.”

“We evolved in various stages, from heady Godzilla style through a small town shelled by tanks, to a physics-based fight where characters smashed environments and fought with the right weapons.”

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“It was originally supposed to be a knight-themed fighter Just a flesh wound, like Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’ movie, ”adds Toivio.

“It’s right,” laughs Strandby, “Then Lasse (Middelbo Outzen, Lead Artist at Flashbulb Games) came into the office really excited one day and announced:” We will call it Rubber bandits, and it’s about cops and robbers. ‘ He came up with the idea of ​​collecting prey, and we built it from there. ”

How did you start designing the levels in Rubber bandits?

“We had five levels to start with,” Strandby begins. “We had a dodgeball level, a hedge level and one where players had to rush gold bars from a tank to a truck.”

“The level is supposed to be a canvas for the gameplay,” says Toivio. “Even though we already had some plan design ideas, we wanted the themes to come second to the gameplay.

“The team decided it would be more fun if you could interact with environmental elements in the game, like cars. So we created the ‘Streets’ city level with high-speed obstacles we need to avoid.”

“We have to be careful Rubber banditsBut, “Toivio continues,” as many popular games have these large shifting levels, like factories that did not work with the theme of bandits. “

“I mean, who’s trying to rob a factory?” laughs Strandby.

“Exactly!” agrees Toivio. “If it’s not strongly related to the theme, we just did not use it. Instead, we adapted this to an airport level, which instead uses conveyor belts, luggage and jet engines as obstacles. ”

airport screenshot

Which level design aspects changed the most during the development?

“Previously, we used a countdown for remaining players when a player escaped the level,” Strandby explains. “Then Mikkel (Thorsted, creative director at Flashbulb Games) got the idea to reintroduce players as officers to defeat other bandits.”

“Noel was skeptical,” Strandby continues, “but then it helped enforce the police-and-robbers theme. Sometimes you imagine it differently in the prototype, and then it makes more sense when you play it.”

“The police aspect also plays into the players’ instinct to protect their own victory and take their friends down,” Toivio explains. “People really want to win and they do not realize how much. “

What were the biggest obstacles in creating Rubber bandits Levels? “We struggled to tell people that they’re still playing, even though they think they’re done,” Toivio says of the players’ transition from bandit to cop. “We tried to keep the attention with the user interface, text elements, countdowns and other ways to keep the attention on the character.”

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We learned to create a fun design that does not ‘take over’. If your character swings a weapon, you will not have too many tight spaces. Otherwise, the weapon collides with the environment, rather than the opponent. Frustrating! “

“And we did not want to tire players,” Toivio continues. “There are a few ‘fresh air’ levels for the gameplay per theme. The cracking floor level in the museum is ambitious and needs lots of new things, but also keeps the players on their toes.”

What were some of your favorite levels that did not turn into the whole game?

“We got rid of the obstacles,” says Strandby. “It was one of the hardest levels to kill for me.”

“It’s hard to know when to stop as a developer,” declares Toivio. “Hardler was there before Rubber bandits idea came even. But it did not fit the theme. “

“Some lanes are carved remnants of the old hedge level,” Strandby continues, “so it at least lives on.”

What was your favorite level to design?

“The trucks are level,” says Strandby. “Movement is an illusion – only the trees move properly, so you are forced to throw things at other players or catch what they are throwing.” “I liked the bouncy castle level,” laughs Toivio, “but all 25 of them were fun to make.

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“My favorite is the Bank hatch level. You flip a switch to flip the bridge and make players fall. It uses interesting interactive mechanics that feel unique too Rubber bandits.

“Plus a super secret spicy level at the end of Arcade mode …”

Rubber bandits launches December 2, 2021 for Xbox consoles and Xbox Game Pass.

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