Author Topic: Brilliant Observations by My Brother  (Read 18735 times)

Holsety

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2013, 09:43:42 AM »
I posted the Zelda and Metroid analyses because I don't think we really have a firm grasp on what makes such hand-crafted level design good. I don't think the analyses are perfect but they are at least a start on the road to understanding the problem.
I think the art of level design might be to railroad a player down a path, but have him be completely oblivious to the fact that he's being railroaded. This falls apart if you look at sequence breaking in the metroid games, or maybe it's a testament to how solid the original path choice is that the game can still be completed if you forcefully go off the tracks.

Quite a bit of your rant is essentially you shouting NO BUT YOU'RE WRONG though. The Zelda analysis basically says that placing necessary items off the critical path is bad, which is a debatable point. No one is complaining about heart containers or other unnecessary upgrades being off the beaten track.

The metroid articles points out that 'dead-ends' always have items (optional upgrades) in there. Makes sense if you want to encourage exploration but it's also something that roguelikes don't really do except by random chance.
I tend to do that, yeah  :D You make a good point about whether or not having necessary items off the critical path is good or bad. I feel, for a game like Zelda 1, that it's perfectly fine. There being a critical path is nice, and finding out that enemy placement on it is a conscious choice is impressive, but they DID go through the trouble of making the rest of the dungeon too. That a critical path was discovered for the final dungeon of Zelda 1 is nice, but it doesn't sit well with me that he complains about the silver arrows being in an out-of-the-way location. For two reasons mostly:
1) The dungeon is shaped like a skull! You need to get the map and go through some rooms before that starts being apparent to the player. Some players will notice it sooner, others will notice it only after they've been in almost every room. But once you notice it (speaking from MY experience) you'll be filled with a small sense of awe at the detail. So that's one of the reasons it pays to explore the full dungeon.
2) The silver arrows are still IN the final dungeon itself. This is a key element, and I don't really feel it needs explaining.

As an aside, having rooms off the critical path also serves as a bit of a gesture towards the players. Not everyone has the skill to beat the game without taking damage, so these optional rooms allow you to encounter more monsters to kill for more rupees (arrows), bombs or hearts. This gives the player a bit more room for error ON the critical path itself, which is nice.

As for roguelikes, I feel that they actively discourage exploration if anything. Most have a clock of some kind running, whether it's a food clock, ADOM's corruption clock, or Crawl's monster respawn clock, that urges the player to MOVE ALONG. The resources you have and other informed decisions the player makes determine exactly how FAST you move along (ie whether you explore the current floor a BIT more before descending) but in general I don't think there's many roguelikes that encourage the player to full explore EVERY floor. And there CERTAINLY isn't  a roguelike that has random stairs UP! That would be the true form of exploration that is missing from roguelikes. Add: Dangit, I forgot completely that that's more or less exactly what Crawl does with its branches and mini-branches. So yeah, go Crawl!

Zelda 1 had far more free roaming than say Dark Souls or Super Metroid but LttP is pretty much on par with Dark Souls for openess. Also Dark Souls gives far more exploration opportunities than say Brogue. You can do the bells in either order (even missing out entirely on the Depths and Blighttown), then Sen's and Anor Londo then the 4 Lord's Souls in any order. One of the Lord's Souls can be obtained right at the start of the game.
Exactly so, but you still have to do both bells before Sen's, Sen's before Londo, and Londo before Lord Souls. Which is more or less exactly like how LttP paces the game, yeah.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 09:46:07 AM by Holsety »
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naughty

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2013, 11:23:45 AM »
I think the art of level design might be to railroad a player down a path, but have him be completely oblivious to the fact that he's being railroaded.

I think this is where badly designed games and poor procedural gen go wrong. In an ideal world we should be being lead around by delicious carrots and not beaten with arbitrary sticks like invisible collisions.

...
1) The dungeon is shaped like a skull!

Link's Awakening (probably the best Zelda from a Dungeon Design PoV) repeated the same trick of the dungeon shape matching the theme. I think this could bode well for procedural generation because it means that almost any overall shape can be made to work.

I think your points about rooms off the critical path is totally valid. If anything the problem with modern AAA games (especially corridor shooters) is that they don't have enough of them, they are critical path and nothing else. I think roguelikes fail in not properly handling such 'dead-ends' though.

Roguelikes and some Metroidvanias (I would count Dark Souls as a Metroidvania at least structurally) also add another interesting take on critical paths, there can be more than one.

I'd strongly believe that ideas like critical paths, dead-ends, necessary and optional items, abstract keys and doors (e.g. the hookshot is a 'key' and a chasm you can cross with it is a 'door') can be packaged together and used to make interesting level generators.

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #32 on: June 05, 2013, 07:55:41 PM »
I actually never played any of the Metroid games. So, if you people would recommend a single of them to play, which one would it be? Super Metroid seems to get mentioned a lot?

As always,
Minotauros
This matir, as laborintus, Dedalus hous, hath many halkes and hurnes ... wyndynges and wrynkelynges.

Vanguard

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #33 on: June 05, 2013, 08:20:27 PM »
I think the art of level design might be to railroad a player down a path, but have him be completely oblivious to the fact that he's being railroaded.

It's definitely a useful talent for a developer to have, but there's more to level design than just that.

There's making environments that are inherently fun to explore, and presenting new and varied challenges using the same familiar enemy types, and creating situations where players can teach themselves rather than spelling things out for them.  Level designers need to be able to maintain fairness while creating difficulty.

There's a lot to consider.

naughty

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #34 on: June 05, 2013, 08:29:24 PM »
I actually never played any of the Metroid games. So, if you people would recommend a single of them to play, which one would it be? Super Metroid seems to get mentioned a lot?

As always,
Minotauros

Super Metroid is definitely worth a go and probably the clearest example of the Metroidvania style. Whatever you do don't play The Other M, it's terrible.

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #35 on: June 05, 2013, 08:42:15 PM »
Suits me fine, as I'm just sitting on my crappy gaffa taped linux netbook, anyway :)

As always,
Minotauros
This matir, as laborintus, Dedalus hous, hath many halkes and hurnes ... wyndynges and wrynkelynges.

Vanguard

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #36 on: June 05, 2013, 08:56:06 PM »
Super Metroid is a great choice if you want an exploration game.

It's pretty easy though.

Paul Jeffries

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #37 on: June 28, 2013, 08:56:15 AM »
I think the art of level design might be to railroad a player down a path, but have him be completely oblivious to the fact that he's being railroaded.

I think a more generally applicable rule would be that a game shouldn't accidentally railroad the player down the wrong path.  Some of my most frustrating experiences with games have been when I'm doing the wrong thing, but the language of the game is leading me to believe that I'm doing the right thing, just not well enough.  Bosses that have blood splatter effects when you hit them, but don't actually take damage from it and need to be defeated in some other way are a good example of what I'm talking about.

Eben

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #38 on: June 28, 2013, 09:06:12 AM »
I think the art of level design might be to railroad a player down a path, but have him be completely oblivious to the fact that he's being railroaded.

I think a more generally applicable rule would be that a game shouldn't accidentally railroad the player down the wrong path.  Some of my most frustrating experiences with games have been when I'm doing the wrong thing, but the language of the game is leading me to believe that I'm doing the right thing, just not well enough.  Bosses that have blood splatter effects when you hit them, but don't actually take damage from it and need to be defeated in some other way are a good example of what I'm talking about.

I call that "Lying to the player" and it's pretty much the biggest sin a game can do. And some devs think it's a good idea to do it :(

Vanguard

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Re: Brilliant Observations by My Brother
« Reply #39 on: June 28, 2013, 03:07:27 PM »
I think a more generally applicable rule would be that a game shouldn't accidentally railroad the player down the wrong path.  Some of my most frustrating experiences with games have been when I'm doing the wrong thing, but the language of the game is leading me to believe that I'm doing the right thing, just not well enough.  Bosses that have blood splatter effects when you hit them, but don't actually take damage from it and need to be defeated in some other way are a good example of what I'm talking about.

Ooh, yeah!  Good point!