Flow theory

Example from Celeste

Jeffrey Chou
Mar 29, 2018 · 3 min read

Celestel, the first perfect score game in IGN this year

That’s right! The first perfect game this year from IGN is Celestel, a 2D pixel scroll game available in multiple platforms. It seems that 2D scroll games are returning to the mainstream market. (Do you remember Cuphead last year? It also won countless awards last year.)

What do I like most…

You could see IGN’s review here (link). It talks about music, level design, story and etc. The game mechanic is unique but not that innovative. Every element is necessary to construct this perfect game. However, what I like most is that the level design perfectly fits into the flow theory.

Flow Theory (Ideal / Real)

What is flow theory?

Flow theory(wiki) implies that when game designers work on level design, they should consider the balance between skills and challenges to form to flow channel so that players will keep engaging the game.

Game mechanics in Celestel

Before we talk about the flow, let me briefly explain the mechanics in Celestel. The mechanics are simple. Madeline, the main character, is able to jump and then perform another dash jump in the air. The ability of dash jump will only restore when Madeline stands on the ground. Furthermore, there are no life points for Madeline, the main character. When you touch something fatal, you die.

Flow in Celestel

In general, the game is hard because Madeline is so easy to die. She revives on the beginning of stage very very quick (See GIF below). Then the player could take the challenge again. But I want to mention two important mechanics

  1. The strawberry is not mandatory which means that if it is too difficult for the player, he could just ignore it. The number of strawberry will also show as info when player finishes the whole stage.

Jeffrey Chou

Written by

Master in Design for Interactions

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