While researching what makes a great and more importantly enjoyable platformer, I came across this interesting post on Folded Level Design by Richard Hakem Terrell. Intrigued, I read on I encourage you to do the same.
Firstly, folded level design is NOT going back to a previously visited area presenting the same or slightly different challenges (this includes higher level NPCs) or nothing that surprises the player changing the rules of the game. It is also NOT reusing an environment to create a “new” area.
Folded level design is where the player character progresses through an area an additional time. During this next run through, an additional task is presented to the player making this route now more challenging and interesting to play through.
This article also highlights the use of folded level design in current games and walks you through an every day example to help you understand and apply this gameplay to your own game. Like so…
Angela has to climb up the side of a mountain avoiding the falling boulders in order to rescue a baby mountain goat that had hurt its leg at the top. Once Angela has progressed to the top and picked up the goat she must carry it to safety down below. But because she is now carrying a goat her speed is now slightly decreased so she cannot maneuver as fast around the falling boulders. Hence the additional level of difficulty now added. The player has to adapt what they previously learned about the boulders (where they fall, how fast they are falling etc) and compensate for Angela’s decreased speed to safely get her to the bottom.