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« Blogs Index < Game Guides < HATPC Guides < Cave Design
« Jebby's Blog

What is a speed cave?

A speed cave is a trap or a collection of  traps that force you to act very quickly. You may be constantly running,  jumping and swimming while making awkward manoeuvres. They are popular in the  caving community due to their exciting intensity and the thrill of moving  quickly through a cave.

The Trailblazer

This is named after my own cave that I made  several years ago, spawning a new and interesting cave type. The basic idea is  to have Hannah start on a dynamite platform and having an arrow set the  dynamite off. Hannah has to run along the dynamite platform before it explodes  underneath her. Typically, there are spikes beneath the platform to prevent  Hannah from jumping off – keep them two tiles away to prevent the dynamite from  destroying them. Here is the most basic example:

The Trailblazer

Here, Hannah has no choice but to hit the  arrow that sets off the potentially fatal dynamite trail. She could hop back on  to the terrain to avoid the dynamite, but then it'd be impossible to get to the  door – the only way is to run hence the trap is called a trailblazer.

You can add great deals of complexity to  your trailblazers and personalise them to your style. A common design is to  make connected trailblazer platforms like this:

The Trailblazer

Hannah now has to jump from platform to  platform. We have, in effect, slowed the player down. Timing is crucial in  speed trap – you need to test them again and again and again to make sure that  the trap cannot be defeated too easily. Before I show you more speed traps, I'm  going to talk about timing as that is the most important thing in this area of  cavemaking.

Timing - Too Easy or Too Hard?

Let's use an example speed trap in this  part:

Timing Example

I'm sure you've gathered that the goal is  to reach the end of the right-hand platform before the boulder lands on it  while avoiding death on the other platforms as well. A novice cavemaker might  produce this trap and think that it appears quite reasonable to play. It's not  â€“ it's too easy. The more arrows that fill in a gap between two others, the  longer it takes for one end of the line to reach the other. Arrows are not  released instantly and putting more arrows in is a way of slowing it down,  which usually means that the trap is too easy. The above example is how you  should start off a trap (you'll start off with fewer arrows as you gain  experience). You should now think to yourself: how difficult do I want this  trap to be? If you want a masterpiece of a trap, then you'd want the player to  be getting through by the skin of their teeth. If you want the player to be  challenged, but not frustrated, give them a bit of leeway.

Here are three versions of the last part of  this trap. Each one shows where the boulder is by the time Hannah gets to the  end of the right-and platform:

Timing Comparison

In the left section, it is far too easy –  Hannah reaches the platform before the boulder has even been released. In the  right section, it is too hard to be enjoyable – you have to time it to  perfection. The middle section is ideal – you have to get to the platform in  good time, but the model caters for mistakes.

So how can you slow a trap down or speed it  up? Here's the example trap sped up (made more difficult):

Timing Example

The filler arrows have been removed,  meaning that the boulders are released sooner. Another way of speeding a trap  up is by slowing the player down. The usual way of doing this is putting wooden  crates in the way (they briefly push the player away) or making a distraction  such as forcing the player to go to another platform to pick up a treasure  chest. If your trap is impossible or too hard, increase the arrows in the  chain:

Note that I've made a gap between the upper  layers of arrows because sometimes they don't go off when an arrow facing  upwards hits another arrow directly above it. This addition of arrows, of  course, slows the trap down.

A final thing you should think about when  timing your speed traps is that you should always search for and test the  fastest possible route (FPR). This is talked about in 'Cave Design/Basic  Traps/Shortcuts'. Make sure the player has a chance of figuring out this FPR  unless you want the cave to be extremely difficult. If you don't find the FPR  and the player does, your traps will be taken advantage of and you will lose  marks on design.


These speed traps simply involve you being  pushed along by the threat of arrows, boulders or crates. To prevent a player  from backtracking, an incentive is given. The example in the timing section  features a pusher – the threat of boulders falling on your platforms encourages  you to get a move on. Here's one that features arrows:

Pusher Example

The incentive in this one is that if you  turn back, you get crushed by steel crates. Despite this, good players can find  gaps in between the speeding arrows to jump on top of the steel crates – things  like this should be investigated when testing your cave.

Vertical Trailblazers

Although these feature trailblazers, the  player doesn't really get in contact with them, but has to keep ahead of them  for fear of the next platform being destroyed – leaving the player to drop to  their death:

Vertical Trailblazers

The Exit Blocker

Now let's revisit the cave that we first  saw in Basic Traps. This is a very difficult trap to play as it isn't obvious  as to what is going to happen – it can lead you into a false sense of security.  Here is a very difficult one indeed (from Bribe and Massacre by jebby444):

Exit Blocker Speed Trap

The player starts at the secret area on the  left-hand side and has to get to the drop at the bottom-right hand side in good  time so that they can reach the next trap before it gets too far ahead. The  path to the dynamite has some spike pits so the player has to push the boulders  into them while performing some difficult manoeuvres. This is an example of how  complex caves can become – in this case a very difficult trap forces you right  into another difficult trap… after it's been set off! This gives you an idea of  how high the ceiling is in the level of cavemaking in our community.

Here ends the cave design section of the  manual. This section has been heavily cut down for simplicity and  may be reduced or expanded in future versions. The material in this section is  quite raw and unchecked so errors may be present. Despite this, I feel that it  should give you a lot of ideas on how to make a cave.


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