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infrmtn

People, people! Stop making large worlds!

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Quote:
Original post by perfectly_dark
Have a look at Zelda: Wind Waker on how to do this right. The world is huge but filled with treasures, games, hiden items and all sorts of things to do. It's a blast to explore and if you really don't want to you eventually gain the ability to instangly go to a point on the map.


It's a fifty-fifty case to me. Yes, the world was indeed fun to explore. But I think the designers should've made it 'easier' to figure out what each place had to offer. I mean, in the end, I probably finished only 60% of the game, only because it took too long. If the story lead me to at least half of the 'bonus area's' it would've been a much more exciting world.
I haven't finished the game, I got stuck at the pre-end where you have to collect 8 or 12 or so scrolls, which I find the most stupid part of the entire game. Don't get me wrong, the game was awesome. I love how it worked with the time (day-night, fullmoon-halfmoon etc.) and how the quests involved, sometimes, great stories.
Perhaps I'm a inpatient person. The sailing got boring, I wanted to travel on foot. Hydrophobia?

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Thanks infrmtn for an interesting topic of discussion. The first example that came to my mind was Operation Flashpoint (Bohemia Interactive) - granted, they were attemtping a large-scale, realistic war shooter, but there were quite a few levels that involved walking, walking, and more walking, to arrive at your objective. The levels certainly seemed larger than the content could support.

A more recent example could be the highway levels from Half Life 2. Lots of driving in that dune buggy on lone highways connected together by several tunnel/load pts, occasionally seeing a few scattered houses, and occasionally battling the roly-poly orbs. But perhaps this episode was necessary to maintain Valve's design law of having "seamless" level flow.

On the flipside, you have the alleged "shoe box" levels that seem small, cramped, and give the player a feeling of being led, or "dragged", from point A to point B. Even if these levels are content-laiden, they can still seem stifling.

So where is the happy middle-ground? :)

Quote:
Original post by engineeredvision
I'm currently working on a level in UnrealEd for a personal project that is less than 1 square mile in size, but because of its layout and in-game events the level will provide 40-60 minutes of gameplay when completed...I might post it for download when I'm completed...

Sound very interesting. I hope you do, indeed, decide to release this.

Thanks for reading,

-Razorguts

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but, but but...

Is'nt this where the market is going? I agree there are design reasons for not making worlds so large, but bad design should not be let out of the shed by publishers just because they need to keep product flowing through the pipeline.

my 2 cents

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I think it really depends on the person what map size makes the most sense when only a limited amount of content can be provided. Personally, I prefer somewhat larger levels, even if they are less dense in content, as long as there is some way of moving about them reasonably quickly. For example:
Quote:
Original post by Razorguts
A more recent example could be the highway levels from Half Life 2. Lots of driving in that dune buggy on lone highways connected together by several tunnel/load pts, occasionally seeing a few scattered houses, and occasionally battling the roly-poly orbs. But perhaps this episode was necessary to maintain Valve's design law of having "seamless" level flow.

The dune buggy section of HL2 is my favorite part of the game. Your description of it is somewhat misleading, as well, since you are forced to stop quite often during that section and you fight many dozens of combine, plus the occasional zombie or ant lion.

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There are pros and cons to btoh sides of this debate. Games won't benefit from game worlds that are too small OR too large. Here are a few examples:

GTA: San Andreas

This game generated a lot of hype about an expanded world to explore in. It was still small, but the game makers tried to cram as much as they could into every conceivable portion of the map possible. Even though the map was much bigger than the predecessors, it still felt claustraphobic. There's barely anyplace in the game to go lose yourself in the terrain without driving for two minutes and running into a highway. As for serious long-range travel, there's almost always a plane nearby to get you to your destination. I think this map could have used either a significant expansion or a reduction in features.

Ragnarok Online

"World Map" is a big of a misnomer, since pretty much the whole world is a map, but the important point is that it takes a long time to walk ANYWHERE in this game. Around five minutes to get from one town to the other, let alone looking for a far-away dungeon to find interesting enemies. Most of the terrain in-between is either filled with dull landscape with a maze-like conglomeration of cliffs and water or enemies waiting to bite your head off in order to get past them.

Final Fantasy IV

I think this game really hits the nail on the head. Towns, caves, and other assorted locals are carefully spaced to provide a very progressive feeling game. There are only a couple locations in the game that you really have to journey to, so you're never left feeling abandoned.

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Razorguts motivated me to post some WIP images of my demo level to illustrate how a level designer can use iterative elements in a large-scale level without the environment looking exactly the same everywhere. Like I said, this is a WIP that still has about 2+ months of work ahead so it probably will look somewhat repetitive at this point with no vegetation, architecture, enemies, varying textures, etc.

krailoscanyon010lo.th.jpg
krailoscanyon022qc.th.jpg
krailoscanyon049yr.th.jpg
krailoscanyon056fh.th.jpg

I don't have a website right now so I had to use ImageShack. Let me know if these thumbnails don't show up. BTW, I'm not trying to hijack this thread. I just thought I could show how similar elements when placed in different situations can create unique characteristics in landscape, even if the level is large in scale. There's a lot of exploring and traveling in this level, but I'm fairly confident that players won't confuse different areas of the map when its finished.

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Ok. So the thumbnails didn't work.

Here's the direct links:

http://img136.echo.cx/img136/4766/krailoscanyon056fh.jpg
http://img136.echo.cx/img136/4625/krailoscanyon049yr.jpg
http://img136.echo.cx/img136/2968/krailoscanyon022qc.jpg
http://img136.echo.cx/img136/4836/krailoscanyon010lo.jpg

These are just screenshots from the Unreal Editor.

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It hasn't been mentioned yet that you don't have to freeze your world after you're done with it. When you say it's just as bad seeing the same tree 40 times as it is seeing 40 trees that look the same, yes it's true but a single tree shouldn't look the same all the time. Flowers don't look the same all the time. Of course with plants any major changes don't happen that fast, but for example there are also the smaller changes that happen through the day/night cycle.

Now the thing is, it's not interesting for very long if for example again you have a day/night cycle that you apply to all plants of type x and q. A world isn't a world at all if there is no individualism. Also we're talking about games here, if something is boring in real life you can throw it away and invent something better.

So what I'm saying is, as a designer you should try to live in the world you're creating, not just from the perspective of a man but looking at it from all different viewpoints. I'm sure it was very novel (at first) in Diablo II when those chickens shuffled around the encampment in the first act, but there wasn't much point to it at all, much like the roaches you could walk over in the second act. This isn't really what you want to be doing when populating your world. Randomness is another thing you shouldn't be doing if you want to be interesting. That's why you can never make a large world that is truly detailed.

OK, maybe Diablo II didn't really need much depth there. And sometimes your world just has to be big. Then again if you make a big world and decide to put a little effort into it, creating some very nice things here and there, the result is still not very good. In fact it's exactly the same as in the "towns vs. lands" problem where you can clearly differentiate between active areas and static backdrop areas. I'd like to see a complete world for a change.

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The one thing that irritates me about most 'game worlds' is messed up scale. Designers have nothing to fill the oversized worlds with, so they 'cheat' filling it with oversized props... and in the end they have to allow people run around 24/7 because getting anywhere _walking_ takes way too long. And everyone constantly running in the world of oversized buildings... one hell of immersion breaker.

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