So the point that I have come to realize is this: don't mislead the player!!! Rah.
Great level design can only get you halfway to a complete level. If the player gets hung up on a feature of the level that is simply part of the scenery, the level design needs to fix that problem. I don't mind when games use a little flash on important objects in the room, or useable objects are well-lit, in the point of view of the player, or useable objects all have a similar visual format. I think the player should spend more time figuring out the solution to the level or puzzle, instead of figuring out where/what the puzzle actually IS.
Well with ICO almost finished, I know some of the do's for design:
- character interaction is key, not speech
- puzzles are awesome, especially ones with multiple ways for a solution
- HUGE levels really create a great atmosphere for an epic adventure
- Do not decieve the player with scenery
- If actions are to be repeated to solve problems, design the level to remove discrepencies
- Didn't mention this before, but give the player a sword early in the game:)
Next is Shadow of the Colossus, the next "chapter." ohhhwoowowooowoooooo....:)