What kind of impact did the introduction of the glitch mechanic have on level design?
Well, it made a big difference when it came to considering the width of every wall…
Was it among the biggest challenges?
Actually, even before you get to the glitching, the biggest [task] is making sure everything you want the player to reach can be reached. In game design terms, the way I went about that was to assign every ability a number, and on my game design map I would write down the number of the item you needed to get past each part, because it was just so complicated to have to keep track of it all. I didn’t want players to inadvertently get some later item or get stuck in some super-hard area without first getting the easier item you needed to reach it. That was definitely not easy. Multiple times I had to go back and change everything because I didn’t have all the abilities programmed at the outset. And things like distances between tiles all had to be factored in there. I’d be manually counting them, saying, “OK, when I draw this platform it has to be at least 11 tiles higher than the other one, otherwise it’s going to break this other ability.” That kind of thing.
Some enemies have their own glitch form, one of which is a familiar reverse-L shape. Is that a kind of homage to the famous glitch Pokémon, MissingNo?
Yeah. I forget exactly how it works but if you capture MissingNo, then the sixth item in your inventory gets multiplied by 128. I hadn’t played Pokémon, but there was a similar thing in Final Fantasy VI [the sketch bug], where you’d maybe get 255 Atma weapons or something in your inventory. And I just really liked that idea. Axiom Verge doesn’t have consumable items, so I was just trying to think of ideas that would stoke people’s memories, or give players a new experience.