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Locomotion is a cute train puzzle game, with an endearing aesthetic and fifty-two challenging levels, developed by Polyfox over the course of three years, first as a student project and then as an independent game. It was released on Steam in May 2019, and due for a Switch release later this year. I acted as the designer and level designer, while also writing the game’s dialogue and leading private beta testing.

A key principle of Locomotion was that basic movement should be smooth and satisfying, making the process of exploring and trying out complex levels as entertaining as possible.

I’ve written several blog posts about the process of designing Locomotion levels, which you can find at the links below.

Puzzle elements are introduced and then combined in unusual ways – this level takes collapsing blocks, previously used to prevent tracks from being traversed more than once, and uses them as a barrier that players need to strategically break.

Currently Locomotion has a Positive review rating on Steam, with no negative reviews. It was selected as one of the best games of Insomnia62 by both Redbrick Gaming and The Metro, praised for it’s challenging but enjoyable puzzles and cute aesthetic.

We extensively tested the game with both a broad team of QA testers, and a smaller team of experienced designers. This provided great information on which levels were working and which weren’t, and pain points where we could make the process of navigating the levels more enjoyable.
In the finale of the game, players are chased by a UFO as they attempt to steal a wagon of gold. This allows the final levels to be less complex than others, while applying a time limit to make them feel more stressful – supported by faster, more exciting music.
Later levels repeatedly return to the design pattern of the “half bridge” – players need to setup a specific combination of buttons to get themselves halfway across a bridge, and then, while the train itself remains in that position, use other mechanics to create the bridge in front of them at the cost of the bridge behind. This allows players to setup complicated interlocking systems, and then break those systems and enjoy watching the mechanics cascade to solve the level.
I tried to avoid hiding level elements – it was important to me that the levels should be clear, with “hidden” mechanics feeling like an unfair way to add difficulty. The exception was in levels like this where certain mechanics are simply unavailable or irrelevant to players until other tasks have been completed – like the wagons hidden in the water, which are unavailable to players at first, and so tucked out of the way until they are needed.