Level Design Document

This is for a potential level in Psychonauts!

Siggy’s parents are heralded as the best things to happen to the comics world since Alan Moore or Kate Beaton. Siggy is a gifted artist themselves, but the celebrity comics creator life just isn’t for them (especially with all the movies being made!). Their true love is the world of books! Siggy has always looked at librarians longingly – indexing! categories! books on policy! lack of deadlines!

Unwilling to let their parents down, and torn between their own desires and the desire to make their parents happy, Siggy sits alone in a library of the Asylum, unable to read, enjoy, or create. Siggy’s anxiety is palpable, and their sense of indirection is holding them hostage. Can Raz help?

Enter Siggy’s mind to discover rules and rigidity enforced by a creative job occupation, and the world bursting beneath it. These parallel worlds can’t exist without one-another, but they are not balanced. The only way to help Siggy will be to traverse their world and understand what is really enforcing those rules. The reward? The last piece of costume needed to enter the Asylum!

Anxiety is characterized by

  • A sense of urgency
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Control
  • Overdeveloped superego (read: authority)
  • Spiraling

Raz’s introduction into Siggy’s mind is defined by a sense of urgency and the necessity to slow things down. The level itself will be a gradual descent or spiral into a main arena, where Raz will face the distorted embodiment of the superego, Siggy’s Mom.

New Gameplay Mechanic

The Time Suck badge allows Raz to slow time without changing his own speed. This helps counter Siggy’s anxiety by making fast-moving obstacles more traversable. Time suck lasts 5 seconds.

As well, the badge improves focus so Raz can figure out which enemies to target first, move out of the way, move objects out of the way, or if there are key points of interest in the scene or weak points on enemies.

Level Summary

Diving into Siggy’s mind, Raz is immediately put into a corridor, running alongside the psychic projection of Siggy. Periodically, the walls shake and an animal-like roar can be heard. Raz turns to Siggy, while running: “So uh, what exactly IS that noise?!” Siggy: “It’s a monster!” Raz: “What do we do? Can we slow it down?” Siggy: “I don’t know how! I wish I could slow down, but there’s so many deadlines!” Ford pops out from Raz’s ear (they’re still running) and gives him instructions to look for a new badge – the Time Suck badge! Raz spots a door at the end of the corridor - “We can do it! Concentrate!” Siggy and Raz burst through the door. As that happens, we see a shot-by-shot of 3 panels – one of dark, shapeless monster at the back of the corridor, one of Raz and Siggy’s hands on the doorknob, and the final one as they spill out into the next panel with some comic-style sound effects like “BADOOSH!” as the door shuts.

From the game, Inside

You find yourself in a large printing-press / manufacturing plant where the goal is to put out as much creativity as possible. Except that, with so many deadlines, tasks, and pressure, it’s not the colourful and imaginative world that one might expect of a comics creator. Sound is punctuated by corresponding letters and a little bubble near where the sound is produced.

You’ll have to descend into the factory to find out what’s driving this machine. But first! You’ll have to find the Time Suck badge.

Though the building itself creates the main pathway and the descent into the final showdown, there are rooms and subsections where specific quests can be carried out and entrances to Siggy’s parallel world are accessed. In the first section, Raz can explore the main office or studio where orders are given out to find the Time Suck badge. As Raz explores the office, he finds breaches in the factory-style aesthetic. These breaches let Raz walk under the original level (sort of like the brain in the introduction to the game that you can run around). This parallel world is bright and calm and filled with books and little librarian tasks and quests to help uncover the true identity of the monster at the center.

The Time Suck badge and the time slow mechanic are introduced first in the parallel layer, allowing Raz to slow time and handle some rowdy library-goers. The rowdy library-goers are fast! Too fast to hit all at once with Raz’s psi blasts, so he’ll need to use time slow to target the leaders, or to topple a stack of books at just the right moment!

The librarian gives Raz a piece of comic book panel that will reveal what (or who) the monster really is. Raz will have to complete quests in order to gain access to the rest of the floors in the dungeon and help Siggy confront the monster.

Quests to get the comic panels will all follow after corridor sequences, which are timed challenges for the player to get to the next door before the monster reaches them. Quests need the Time Suck to be completed. In one example, Raz will use Time Suck for stealth to carefully maneuver around ink jets blasting from the ceiling like laser trip-wires with a piece of comic panel waiting in the center.

From the game, Amnesia

Each new door unlocks a new corridor where players will have to run from the mysterious monster. The factory’s descent will also introduce more of the library ingredients, showing how Siggy’s desires are poking up through the superimposed comics-creation world.

Anxiety Enemies

The crucial enemy of anxiety is the self! Projections of Siggy wearing comic-book hero masks (no copyright infringement, of course!) will attack Raz. The mind has also laid many traps and areas to protect itself. Watch out for projectiles that hurl horrifying time crunches and negative energy at Raz!

At the Center of it all: The Super Ego

After descending successfully down the spiral of Siggy’s mind, Raz finds himself in an open arena. The area is large, large enough for the colossal monster inside Siggy’s mind can lumber around. There are obstacles like dilapidated columns made of books that Raz can use to dodge or hide from the monster. Siggy is drawing frantically in the center of the arena, guarded by the monster. If Raz wants to help Siggy, he’ll need to find a way to bring the monster down!

From the game, Papo y Yo

Using the Time Suck badge, Raz can slow time down. The 5 second time slow lights up weaker areas on the monster that Raz can target with Psi blast. Raz will need to use the Thought Bubble to get in close enough and target.

From the game, Bound

The first shot that Raz lands successfully dislodges a part of the monster, like its arm, or a piece of its leg, or part of its head. There are 5 total pieces, each one in a slightly more difficult spot, and the final one being on the monster’s back, which requires Raz to be fast enough to get behind the monster without it turning.

With each hit, the monster’s garbled language starts to become more human. It coalesces into lines a parent might say about doing one’s best, and how wonderful Siggy is.

From the game, Shadow of the Colossus

When the monster’s shell has been damaged 5 times, its exterior crumbles off to reveal Siggy’s mom on the inside of the monster. Siggy stops drawing and approaches her now normally-proportioned parent. “I want to be a librarian.” “Love yourself and what you do. After all, I’m just a projection of your mom.” They hug and the level closes with the library and comics printing press becoming one level instead of two parallel levels.