Well, I've finished the first level more-0r-less to my satisfaction, making sure "both" games-- the One True Sequence and the Breaking Thereof-- are playable and intertwined enough that it won't drive the player too crazy.
This first level-- which, in a meta-joke that probably amuses only myself, I'm calling Mission Four-- is pretty short and schematic, with there only being one way to properly break the sequence, and the "first" game being chock-full of hints as to how you might go about playing the second one. It's more of an overt puzzle, this first level, and so in a way, it's cheating a little. After all, I'm not really asking the player to think outside the box, but rather presenting them with one box contained within another and daring them to find it.
This is the slippery slope that made Ultrageist lamentably straight-forward; that is, if you're going to beat Ultrageist, you had to do it the One True Secret Way that was hinted at by the One True (False) Sequence. As such, it wasn't very strategic and doesn't have quite the amount of replay value I want it to.
It's a trap I'm eager to avoid in Seq.Breaker. Certainly, the first level falls into that trap, because that first level, like all first levels (even if it's called number four!), needs to teach the player how to play the game. And presenting a fairly simple box-within-a-box, with ample hints, should indeed impart that information and the game's sensibility.
For the second level, however, I've decided to create two boxes-within-a-box; that is, I'm designing two specific ways in which you might break the One True Sequence and thus thwart the Ninja Looter. I'll give the player hints that apply to both of these boxes, and then it's up to them to do the rest of the mental work that leads them to a solution.
For the third and final level, I'm going to devise a general set of sequence breaking requirements that could be fulfilled any number of ways. My plan is to be just restrictive enough that it takes some thinking on the part of the player, but open enough to encourage creativity. In some ways, this final level might be easier to pull off than the other two, and that's fine; this third level, more than the others, is what the game is really about.
Length-wise, I intend to give it that weight. The first two levels are pretty short. The first stage, if you follow through the One True Sequence, will take you around seven or eight minutes to complete (provided you don't get clumsy). Breaking the sequence will get you through the level in less than two minutes, but that depends of course on how long it takes you to figure it out. The second level I anticipate being about twice the length of the first.
But the third level should run just under an hour to complete the One True Sequence at full-speed with no deaths or mistakes. Comprised of at least four interlocking areas with multiple boss fights, it is meant to function almost as a whole game by itself. Like I said, this is the level that the game is really about, the level that's intended to fulfill the potential of the concept.
Let's hope I'm up to the challenge.