Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ten Principles of Good Level Design + Cognitive Flow

After reading Dan Taylor's "Ten Principles of Good Level Design", I decided to make my own ranking for these principles.

  • 25% Creates Emotion 
  • 15% Driven by your game's mechanics 
  • 15% Fun to Navigate 
  • 10% Efficient 
  • 9.5% Constantly teaches the player something new 
  • 8% Empowers the player 
  • 7.5% Tells the player what to do, but now how to do it 
  • 5% Does not rely on words to tell the story 
  • 3% Surprising 
  • 2% Allows player to control the difficulty 
I’m pretty sure we have all realized by now that the weight of these factors is heavily dependent on the intent of the game. It is important to keep in mind why do players play and what do they want? Generally speaking, it’s a mix of seeking challenges, dynamic experiences, bragging rights, emotional payoffs, exploration, and fantasizing. All games create emotion-- whether or not they intend to-- so I’m putting a heavier weight on that. I also feel that the emotion created tends to tie into just how empowered a player feels. Actions are driven by emotions, most often than not.

Level design being driven by mechanics makes overall sense-- even when the game is more of a story-driven one, such as The Walking Dead Game. This should have an impact on how fun it is to navigate a level. Whether this is because of the layout itself, the way in which mechanics are implemented around the map, or even the amount of enemy encounters and their difficulty levels; it is important to note that players expect direction to positively influence immersion.

It’s a bit difficult to categorize some things but I think maybe more emphasis should be placed on teaching players something new. While I believe that empowering the player is important-- empowering them too much can be plain awful and make for a boring gaming experience. Take the Assassin’s Creed series, for example. I often found myself becoming too OP semi-early in the game...which only made for a tedious experience once I got to Revelations and it was already too much of the same thing (usually once you master counter-kills in an AC game, the game is instantly 60% easier in terms of combat). Part of this could definitely also be attributed to playing as Ezio for 3 straight games. Again, too much of the same thing-- especially in a game where I’m expecting to play as different ancestors and was marketed as a triquel. But that’s another thing entirely, I guess.


Now let's do the same for Sean Baron's article on "Cognitive Flow"

  • 35% Have concrete goals with manageable rules 
  • 30% Only demand Actions that fit within a player’s capabilities 
  • 25% Give clear and timely feedback on player performance 
  • 10% Remove any extraneous information that inhibits concentration 
I’m basing my rankings on player expectation. Players expect direction inside a consistent world. They expect to understand the boundaries of the game world, and sufficient direction in order to accomplish a task incrementally. Players expect to be given fair chance at survival, although they will always expect setbacks (otherwise their want to be challenged is not met). In accordance to that-- players also expect to not have to repeat themselves needlessly or get hopelessly stuck. Players’ expectations of their gaming experience is practically never-ending, but it is important to note that they don’t always know what they want, but they WILL know when it’s missing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Moving Forward - Fool's Journey

I'm quite happy that I get to move forward with Fool's Journey of all things! I like Rhythm Rider too but this one is calling to me.

Here's some current work for it:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Animatic Update

This is what I had for final faculty crit on my second pitch: Fool's Journey

Friday, March 7, 2014

Key Moments Update

Death Solving the Cryptex

Death Runs away from flooding hallway

Death Returns to Torture Chamber, which is now covered with fresh blood

Operator's Command Console Glitching Out

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Boss - UDK Test

Ran into some odd issues while importing my boss into UDK...

the non-regular checkered parts show up with no texture, as follows

....but was eventually fixed by importing it as a skeletal mesh rather than a static one...not sure why

but here he is, Miss America

Boss - Rigging Time

Just got him attached to the rig. Posed him around without any changes to the weights and um:

Not bad, to be honest. I expected more funky things happening.

...Maybe it's better with the tail curled in one direction...

I think I'll go with this one...

Boss - Texture Update

Updating texture for this dude, trying to make his flesh look somewhat more decaying rather than...fresh meat, I guess?