MEMO: BUREAU OF SHIPPING NEW EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK
RE: LEVELHEAD DIVISION NEW HIRES
TO: The New Employee
CC: "EntireCustomerMailingList.csv", "Turn off mailing list", "Deactivate mailing list", "Jamal how do I turn off this mailing list?"
Welcome to the BUREAU OF SHIPPING!
The Bureau of Shipping is the Galaxy’s premier package delivery corporation. For hundreds of years, our customers have trusted us to deliver their goods real good. And now, you get to be part of that delivery magic! You will be at the forefront of an exciting new department in the Bureau: The Levelhead Division. It will be your job to train your very own GR-18 Delivery Robot to get goods to our customers, no matter the circumstance.
But before you get started, you’ll need to read our Corporate Enthusiasm Preparedness Course to ensure you are maximally primed to earn that unpaid salary. Let’s jump right in!
The History of the Levelhead Division
Many years ago, we at the Bureau thought that we had lost one of our best interstellar couriers, Flux Dabes, to the dangerous depths of space. Losing employees is always tragic, because then we have to hire new ones. So we felt this loss right down to the 3rd floor of the accounting department.
But things were not as they seemed! Many days later, we discovered that not only was Flux alive and well, but she had crash-landed on a planet called Woanope, rescued its denizens from a rogue Veeru named Hewgodooko, secured valuable political alliances, and managed to finish her delivery by creating an inter-dimensional wormhole.
No human is capable of such feats, obviously, so we needed answers. How did she do it? How was she able to complete her delivery in the face of such impossible odds? After months of analysis, we realized that the most likely explanation for Flux’s achievement was that her robot companion, Juicebox, was instrumental in completing the deliveries.
Inspired by Juicebox’s success, we created a new division dedicated to Robotics Engineering, or Roboneering. Our goal: to replace nearly all of our employees with robots, thereby saving upwards of 7% on overhead costs, which would of course go directly into the pockets of our wonderful team of Corporate Executives. This prospect thrilled our customers and our shareholders, who knew that one day, those savings would trickle down to them.
Our venture into Roboneering started modestly enough with our first attempt at developing a useful, general-purpose robot, which we called the GR-1. GR-1 could do almost nothing at all except bang into walls, spill drinks, pout, and end up in places where it didn’t belong. Our marketing department realized that this set of traits made GR-1 interchangeable with most house pets. So we slapped some pointy ears on it and began marketing it as a Home Companion.
We funneled the profits from our GR-1 sales right back into R&D to keep evolving the product line. The GR Series of Home Companion Robos went all the way up to GR-7, and every generation was a little sturdier and slightly less dumb than the last. Still, GR-7s were warned to never leave the house, because our programmers just couldn’t figure out how to make them smart enough to handle the complexities (and dangers) of the real world.
It was about that time when one of our best unpaid interns, Chief Roboneer Wilma, attached a Tow Cable to her GR-7 to give it more skills at playing fetch. Her GR-7 adapted to the Tow Cable so effectively that Wilma began experimenting with using the GR-7 to help her carry things around the house. And despite the fact that it dropped and broke almost everything it tried to carry, Wilma saw... potential.
Pretty soon, the first generation of Warehouse Utility Robots, GR-8, was born. Using Wilma’s Tow cable upgrade, the GR-8s became somewhat competent at moving, stacking, sorting, and carrying packages. The GR Series continued to grow, evolve, and thrive in the standardized confines of the Bureau’s warehouses, and they also developed a deep reverence and affinity for packages.
But over the years, the GR Series never grew beyond basic warehouse work, and innovation stagnated. Our GR robots seemed destined to be forever trapped, never to become the general purpose employee-replacers that we dreamed them to be. That is, until we invented the DIRP -- or Dispatch via Intergalactic Railgun Power.
The DIRP was supposed to be a game changer -- it was to dramatically speed up our deliveries by firing packages directly into our customers’ homes at the speed of light. This didn’t pan out at first, because we always missed. But our aim got better, and eventually we could land a package at light speed right into someone’s second-story bedroom window. This, unfortunately, would destroy the customer, but they did pay for shipping in advance, so it wasn’t a complete loss. We knew there was potential there, so we kept firing while hoping that a solution to our “customer destruction” problem would come along.
That solution came in the form of a rogue GR-13 with a faulty Curiosity Chip. One day, a GR-13 was loading a package into the DIRP, and this particular GR-13 decided that it wanted to see what was inside the DIRP. It climbed in alongside the package, and both the package and the GR-13 were fired at once. Because of the added weight, the DIRP’s aim was off, and the package landed 2,583 miles from the customer’s home. We wrote this off as a failed shipment and were preparing to send a replacement delivery, when we got a call from the customer, who said that, after 8 months, their package had finally shown up, carried by a broken-down, barely-functioning GR-13 with a very determined look on its face.
It was then that we learned the true purpose of the GR Series. These robos loved packages, and they were very determined to get them where they needed to go. With the right combination of Automation, Courage, Ingenuity, and Dependability, we could fire packages a safe distance from our customers’ homes, and fire a GR Series Delivery Robot to solve that pesky "last mile problem". With this strategy, we could reduce our legal fees for criminal negligence by up to 3%!
Our best Roboneers got to work immediately creating the GR-14 Delivery Robot, but they accidentally used the core of a dying Neutron star as its power source. While powerful, it was a bit too heavy, and we couldn’t fire it out of the DIRP fast enough.
So we made the GR-15. We gave it wheels and an aggressive personality, but we forgot to give it brakes, so it kept crashing through people’s homes.
So we made the GR-16. We took away its wheels and calmed it down, but it became too introverted and just wanted to read a good book.
So we made the GR-17. It was perfect in all respects, except that it was just too big and kept getting stuck in nooks and crannies.
So finally, after years of work, we landed on delivery robot perfection: the GR-18. GR-18 had it all. It was small and compact, yet fast and tough. It could engage in evasive combat in hostile environments, it had the longest and strongest tow cable yet, and its chassis had an undercarriage that could store up to five emergency burritos.
We began mass-production immediately. We quickly produced one billion GR-18s for our first batch, and once they were all done, we started putting them to work. Except... something was wrong. None of them could complete even the most basic of deliveries. We had produced a billion tiny, useless idiots!
It turned out that when we shrunk the GR-18 down from the previous generation, we had to cut some things. And wouldn’t you know it, we accidentally wiped out all of their programming, knowledge, and understanding of the world around them. Fortunately, they still retained their ability to learn. So instead of scrapping all these freshly-made GR-18s and starting over, we decided to just figure out how to teach them all the skills they had lost.
And that, Employee, is where you come in!
Here at the Levelhead Division, each Employee gets assigned a GR-18 which they must train to deliver packages in any scenario or environment. We’ve given you access to a robust and powerful Workshop, where you can craft the most diabolical of scenarios and then teach your GR-18 how to navigate them. We call these scenarios LEVELS, or Limited Exercises for eValuating employEe Limitations.
To speed up the training process, we’ve allowed all of our Employees to upload their Levels to a centralized database. That’s right: you can train your GR-18 on Levels made by your fellow Employees, and your fellow Employees can run their GR-18s through your Levels, too!
Now that you’ve learned the history of the Levelhead Division, we can get into the Real Good stuff. In this Handbook, we’ll cover the basics of becoming a stellar Employee, share some tips on building successful Levels, and provide you with resources to connect with your fellow Levelheads.
How to Design Great Levels
Keep It Simple!
The Levelhead Workshop will give you unfettered access to a dizzying array of elements that you can use to build your Levels. We have Popjaws, Blasters that launch GR-18s across the world, Keys, Sensors, Switches, Bumpers, Sproings, Toe Sliders... And yes, before you ask, we obviously have Sky Wigglers.
All these options can be overwhelming, and if you try to use them all at once, you may end up making a Level that is truly, truly terrible. Like this!
I can’t believe you have done this.
Especially as you build your first few Levels, we recommend picking just a handful of elements and trying to come up with a coherent Level design using just those things.
Simple, but effective!
If you’re not sure what elements to pick, don’t worry! We’ve already done the picking for you. Just check the Daily Build in the top-right corner of the Workshop, where we hand-select a fresh batch of items every day!
Write It Out!
Levelheads have a wide variety of approaches to building Levels. One we’ve found that works quite well is to write out your Level design like a story. Instead of thinking of your Level as a structure or a place, think about it as a series of experiences. Once you know what the player is going to do and what you want them to experience, the shape of the Level will reveal itself as if by magic!
For example, maybe you have this as your Experience Sequence:
- The player sees the package behind a Golden Key Gate, with the Goal right above it. They’re intrigued, but they can’t get in!
- The player must make a Sprint Jump over a Spiketron pit. If they aren’t sprinting, they won’t make it!
- The player has to keep sprinting to jump up and backwards onto the next platform, which is made of Slippy Goo.
- The Slippy Goo platform has a checkpoint for safety.
- The player has to make two narrow spike jumps.
- After the spike jumps, there’s a Tiptow powerup and a checkpoint.
- The player has to immediately perform a ceiling hang, and missing the ceiling hang is SPIKE DEATH!
- The golden key is after the Ceiling Hang segment.
- The player has to bring the key back by going through all the obstacles... in reverse!
As you read through the list, you can begin to imagine what the Level might look like, and all you have to do is lay it out! Here’s an example of how that list turned into a Level:
It’s surprisingly simple!
You may notice that a few new elements snuck their way in, like that Blaster there. That's okay! As you start to build the Level, you'll undoubtedly think of other interesting things to insert along the way. That's just part of the iteration process!
Steal From Your Heroes
Here at the Bureau, we believe that Creativity is 2% Ingenuity, 8% Marketing, and 91% Theft. That adds up to 101%, and that’s how our R&D team gets an edge on the competition.
When you’re playing other Employees’ Levels, make sure to write down all the cool and interesting things you see, so you can be Creative by using those ideas in your own Levels! But remember, you have to get that 2% Ingenuity in there, otherwise it doesn’t count. So be sure to put your own spin on it!
Give me a Break
Although it may be tempting and even hilarious to subject your GR-18 to a never-ending, infinite torment of spikes, fireballs, and pain, always remember that even the best delivery robots have a psychological breaking point. Our Roboneers have found that the best way to keep your GR-18 engaged and hopeful without fully breaking its digital spirit is to create “Rest Stops” in your Levels. After subjecting your GR-18 to a difficult trial, give it some free Jems and a nice little, hazard-free area to run around in!
This is fine.
This lets your GR-18 return from the brink of a true emotional breakdown, so it can continue on its fun delivery adventure!
Use The BUDD-E System
Something that really distinguishes the best Level builders is the strategic use of BUDD-Es. BUDD-Es are able to distort space and time itself, returning GR-18 to their location if GR-18 ever gets into trouble. Our Levelheads have taken to calling these “Checkpoints,” for some reason that we can’t explain.
But one thing we do know is that the best Levels always have plenty of BUDD-Es. Whenever you subject a GR-18 to an arduous trial of skill, always drop a BUDD-E afterwards. Because nothing causes a GR-18 to quit out of frustration more than having to redo something that’s extremely difficult or time-consuming!
Thank you for not making me do that twice.
Our research has shown that when GR18s quit your Level out of frustration, fewer Levelheads will see your Level overall. So be sure to use those BUDD-Es!
37 Pieces of Flair
When you build your Levels, sure, you could go with the bare minimum and just make your Level mechanically interesting. But your fellow Employees can play mechanically interesting Levels made by just about anyone. They’ll play your Levels if you express yourself by creating Levels that have atmosphere and attitude! And here at the Bureau, we want to encourage that. You do want to express yourself, don’t you? Great!
At the Levelhead division, we give you lots of ways to spice up your Level and make it visually interesting, so you can go above and beyond the bare minimum!
For starters, be sure to place Backdrops in your Level, These can help denote a sense of space, create indoorsy areas, or even just add contrast with foreground elements!
After Backdrops! SUCH CONTRAST!
You can even use Enclosure tiles to create secret areas that GR-18 can only see once it enters!
For added flair, you can mix and match different kinds of tile sets to create structures, buildings, bridges, and more!
LOOK! A STRUCTURE!
Once you have your Level looking beautiful, put on the finishing touches by laying out paths to create some interesting visual indicators or flair, like this!
Such majestic grace!
Test Those Levels!
Once you’ve built your Level, it can be helpful to test it out on other players. Levelhead makes this easy to do with the Reversion system. You can publish your Level into the Marketing Department, and then share the Level’s Share Code with other players for feedback. If you end up needing to change some things about your Level, you can Revert the Level back to the Workshop, which unpublishes it. Once you’ve made the necessary changes, you can publish the Level again as a fresh Level!
Just be aware that reverting a Level will remove all of its playtime, stats, Exposure Bucks -- everything! For all purposes, it’s a totally new Level after you revert it and re-publish it. So be sure not to spend Exposure Bucks on a Level that you are publishing just for testing!
Advanced Level Building Tips
All right, so you’ve got the basics. But what if you want to take your Level building to the next... step? Here are some quick and easy recipes that you can do at home with just a few simple ingredients!
If you want to set up a door so that it turns on or off with switches on either side, that’s easy! Set up a Powered Gate and put a Flippy Longswitch on either side. Then, set the Powered Gate’s “Switch Requirement” property to “One Active.” This means any time you flip either switch, the door will open or close!
Flip it. FLIP IT REAL GOOD!
Forge a Path!
Want to make a Level with lots of moving parts? Perhaps you want moving platforms, moving fireballs, or... moving JEMS? No problem! Just use the Path Editor to configure your path however you want!
Paths add a lot of life to your Level, and they can be used to grant GR-18 access to new areas, bring enemies into a room, summon Rifts to teleport the player, and tons more! You can even make paths that change directions or stop and start in response to switches. Or better yet...
Camera Anchors + Paths = Autoscroller!
Levelhead has a powerful Camera Anchor system that you can use to force a certain view of the world. You can have as many camera anchors in your Level as you want, and you can use them to create unique experiences by hooking them up to Switches, so they become active or inactive in response to things that happen in the Level. You can even lock the camera in only one axis if you want, so you can, for example, create a “climbing” segment of your Level where the camera can only move up or down!
Even better, Camera Anchors can be attached to Paths, which allows you to create a fully customizable autoscrolling experience, where the view will go wherever you want it to. And since both Paths and Camera Anchors can be hooked up to switches, you can make multiple different Autoscroller segments inside the same Level, or have a normal Level that becomes an autoscroller partway through!
Let’s kick this Level off with a little Autoscroll action!
Want to trap the player in a room with a giant, evil enemy? No problem! Just follow these steps.
- Create the space for the boss fight, and put a big Enemy in there, like a Lizumi.
- Put an Eye Switch in the center of the room, and change its range to cover the whole boss room. This Eye Switch will then activate when GR-18 enters the room!
- Place a Baddie Eyeswitch in the room as well, and have its range cover the same area. This switch will flip depending on whether the Boss enemy is still alive.
- Place Powered Gates on both sides of the room, and set their Switch Requirement to “Any Inactive.” These will lock the player inside the room while the boss is still alive!
- Place a Camera Anchor in the center of the room, and set its Switch Requirement to “All Active.” This will lock the camera in the center of the room during the boss fight!
Don’t really... want to go in there...
With this setup, as soon as GR-18 enters the room, they’ll be locked in with the boss, and the camera will focus on the center of the room. Once the boss is defeated, the camera is released and the doors will open! If you want to kick it up two more notches, you can experiment with adding a change in music or weather during the boss fight!
Block Those Areas!
One last bit of advanced Level building advice is that GR-18 is a slippery robot. It can do a lot of things that might not be obvious at first, like the Super Jump: a move that involves throwing the Package or a Throw Block into the air, then jumping off of it in midair. It’s an elite move that’s hard to learn, but many GR-18s can perform it consistently.
Many novice Level builders underestimate GR-18’s abilities, and they end up leaving accidental shortcuts in their Levels. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t want GR-18 to go somewhere, block that area off with solid tiles or gates! With Levelhead’s Switch system, you can easily open up new areas to the player once they have performed certain actions or reached a certain point in the Level, so you can even make those barricades temporary. Like this!
However you choose to trap GR-18, always be wary of GR-18’s slipperiness!
Finding Great Levels to Train Your GR-18
There are lots of ways to find Levels, and you can pick and choose where to go, depending on what you want to get... out of life!
The Training Levels
Training Levels are hand-crafted by the Bureau of Shipping and are meant to create a specific, guided experience for our Employees to learn the ropes. Not all the ropes, mind you -- just the low-hanging ropes. So if you’re hoping to learn the fundamentals before jumping into the deep end of space, the Training Levels are a great place to start!
Once you’ve cleared the first couple Training Levels, you’ll be able to play the Levels created by your fellow Employees, which you can find in a whole bunch of places! We'll run through just a few of them.
The Marketing Department
The Marketing Department is where all newly-created Levels start their lives. We don’t know anything about these Levels. Are they good or bad? Are they long or short? Are they easy or hard? Who knows? All we know about these Levels is that they’re new. And that’s why we have to keep them in the Marketing Department -- so we can collect data about them, and figure out what their deal is!
All the Levels in the Marketing Department are sorted by Exposure Bucks. You will accumulate Exposure Bucks in your Exposure Wallet over time as you train your GR-18 on community-built Levels, and playing Levels in the Marketing Department will earn you Exposure Bucks faster than anywhere else!
You can save up lots of Exposure Bucks and dunk them all into your own Levels to push them up the list, or you can “Tip” Exposure Bucks to your fellow Employees’ Levels that you really like.
Once a Level has been played by enough of your fellow Employees, it will leave the Marketing Department and graduate to the Tower.
The Tower is a searchable, permanent archive of all of the Levels that have graduated from the Marketing Department. By default, the Tower will show you a “Featured” list of Levels, which is a constantly-shifting list of Levels that our Data Engineers believe to be Real Good.
If you’re looking for a specific experience, like easy Levels, Levels that contain boss fights, or Multiplayer Levels, you can update the Search Filters across the top and create your own curated list!
If you’re feeling spicy, you can even click the “Random Playlist” button, which will grab a completely random batch of Levels based on your Search Criteria.
And last, the Tower features a daily “Tower Trial”, which is a collection of Levels that your fellow Employees can compete on for top score and top time to earn coveted Time Trophies. Who knows, maybe some day one of your Levels will be selected for the Tower Trial!
Following Other Levelheads
While it’s fun to jump into a big list of Levels made by your fellow Employees, every now and then you come across a Level and you think, “Dang. I want more of whatever this person makes!” For that, we have a “Follow” feature that lets you subscribe to all the new Levels made by anyone you like!
And if you’re not sure who to follow but want to get some good Levels delivered to your doorstep, we offer a Creator Browser that lets you check out some of Levelhead’s most prolific and popular creators.
Best of all, these features are also available on the Web! Visit the Creator Browser right now to find other Levelheads to follow, or stop by the Marketing Department and Tower to see the hottest new levels and Bookmark them for later.
Once you’re following someone, every new Level they make will be delivered right to your Level Feed, so you can be among the first to see their newest creations!
Over time, if you make really good Levels, you’ll be able to accumulate a following of your own, and your Levels will be played by all!
The Levelhead Community
The Levelhead Division is all about building and sharing Levels with your fellow Employees. But what if you want to connect with your fellow Employees outside of Levelhead? No problem! There are plenty of community resources for you to dive into.
- The Community Discord is active and contains lots of channels for sharing information, sharing Levels, competing for top scores and times, requesting feedback and playtests, and just general chat about Levelhead.
- The Levelhead Subreddit is a great online community for sharing Levels, finding good Levels to play, and otherwise just talking shop.
- If you're the knowledge-building type, check out the Levelhead Wiki, where our users compile knowledge about the game!
- And last, every Friday we highlight interesting Levels made by the community in our Community Spotlight blog posts. Although we can’t catch them all because there are just so many, we make sure to take note of the most interesting ones we come across and write about them!
Spice up your Life
Before we leave you to your Level building, here are a few more freebies you can use to spruce up your new office here at the Levelhead Division!
- Ugh, what are those horribly bare WALLS in here? Put some LEVELHEAD WALLPAPA on there!
- The Butterscotch Shenanigans Youtube Channel contains a series of “Building Levels with Sam” videos from before Levelhead went into Early Access over a year ago! Although the game has evolved a lot since then, it’s a fun glimpse into the past, and Sam’s Level building tips are quite soothing and informative.
- Want to jam to the Levelhead soundtrack, even when you're not playing levelhead? We've got you covered! You can stream the Levelhead soundtrack directly from Spotify!
Delivered Real Good
And with that, you’re ready to begin your journey as a new member of the Levelhead Division!
Always remember that teaching a GR-18 is a great honor. The Levelhead Division is extremely selective. Only 93% of our applicants were chosen, while the other 7% were too busy doing other things to accept our job offer.
This job will be unlike any you have ever had. It will be long. It will be dangerous. You will see amazing things, and you will see terrible things. You will find joy and happiness, but also immense pain. Much like life, you won’t know what’s coming next. But the most important thing... is to deliver goods real good.
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