Thursday, 3 November 2011

Task 16 Level Design

Level design and composition are two related subjects, they tie in just like the rest of the game does when you create a level. But composition is a child to the parent of Level design. Lets consider something like the human body. One could call the bones the level design, and the veins the tightening of that design and composition of the level. Without the bone structure in place, the muscles and veins have no where to wrap themselves around and the human form would be a puddle of goop. Quite like a Bad level design.

There are many ways some get around their ideas of level design.
Lets say the Copy Paste Method, which is probably what its actually called, where the level designer desides to literaly, copy one map and paste it in a nother location, or on the next floor of the same location.
Now this isnt a bad thing, there's a little thing called consistency, I mean, every room is usualy different, but in a game no ones going to care too much about two broom cupboards looking the same. Lets have a look at Persona 3!
10 to 25 floors that look exactly the same?! Than just change the textures!!! .
Now dont get me wrong, I love Persona 3, and Persona 4 too as it was also quite pretty. My problem with this game was its computer generated levels. Which to be honest, is cool! Basicaly, one floor is a randomly computer generated map, spliced together from room segments, so you can go back to the same floor you were just on, but it will never be the same map. Now thats a good design when it comes to repeating levels. Its copy paste, but never completely the same. One map is one floor, and you have to go through like 150 or so floors, which is like a billion repeated maps. But every 25 or so floors theres a cool boss, which prevents you from running up further, and you can unlock that level in the elevator. Who designs an elevator where you have to walk to that level first before you can use the elevator to get there? But in terms of a game level, its a pretty cool idea, I liked it, it was like an achievement and made me forget about the endless repetition. And after every boss the level's textures change! So its not a complete bore.
Its a corridor, but its different from the last one.
So when it comes to Persona, I like to consider that they have goods and bads. Yeah, they designed their dungeon to have computer generated maps which could be considered a bit lazy, but they managed to keep it interesting by jazzing things up a bit here and there. So its a mixed bag. You never realy feel lost in this game, but you have to find the stairs in a randomly generated room, which can be forever apart, or right in front of you, which at times makes the game feel easy, or makes the stairs being so close a god send.

Now lets look at a game that will forever be butchered and dragged trough the mud as  the disappointing series, that once was Sega's Mario to Nintendo. Sonic the Hedgehog. Now, back in the days when Sonic was on the Sega genisis, the levels were amazing, a cool fast paced plat former. It was fun, reminded me of setting up marball tracks as a kid, but a bit cooler. Each zone (or map,level) had a good 3-5 unique objects, like springs, loops, or fans, water and all other bits and bobs to keep one from remembering its going from left to right.
It was simple, you run to the right, but go back and forth, avoiding bits and bobs. Their level design was really good for the side scrolling age. Fun stuff, at no point did the game feel, blocky, it was loose. But side scrollers arn't what cause Sega's star child to look like he does. Its their choice to make every sonic game full 3d. The worst to blame is sonic heroes!

What the fuck is going on here? Can I call that a vista?
Sonic Heroes on the other hand decided to just use springs and rails everywhere! And not to mention, you've always going to fall into some stupid bottomless bit. Did you ever fall into a pit in the sega genisis versions, RARELY. This is also down to the bad controls, or lack there of. Often enough It felt like you were being thrown around the level, and you didnt really have to do anything. Its like the deisnger though " More long ass jumps here, lets put 2-no 3 loops here and than put another long jump at the end of all those loops ". This would be cool for a side scrolling game, but when it comes to 3D, is more like this : " What the fuck am I doing, oh god whats going on, I dont know what Im doing, what the fuck how did I die? ". It was all stupidly complicated for no reason at all. One of the many reasons I have never completed that game and never will.

Well, I may have to continue this at a later date. To sum it up:
A well deisgned level can immerse the player into the world. A bad level can take you out of that world, than make you turn off the computer and get on with your life.
The Only way I will play Sonic Heroes again.
Reading List:
Crimes agains level design

Review of sonic, which I dont completely agree with.

" Does anyone care about game designers" - Forum post

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