110: Level and the Player


One of the most vital parts of any piece of narrative media is the setting. Where an event takes place can have a huge affect on how the story unfolds, and the mood the consumer feels while digesting. Just using the idea of “space” as the space for our scene to take place, you can use the emptiness of the void to evoke loneliness in films like Gravity or Interstellar, while the space station in that vast emptiness can bring fear and claustrophobia in the Aliens series. On a more positive note, picture the aww and wonder felt by a first time viewer the first time they see a fully fleshed out world in Star Wars or, giving credit where credit is due, Avatar.

All of this is interesting enough as a tool to use for most narrative story tellers, the idea of the setting is especially useful for video games as they are an interactive media. This is where level design comes in, and as game creators, we have to think about how the setting moves our story forward, the moods it gives our players as they play in the world, and how we can use that to create a unique experience.

Our textbook divides the structure of a level into 6 parts, however, I will speak on two specific points that stick out to me. I’m going to start off by talking about space again, but not in the sense of moons and stars, but more the physical space things occupy and more specifically how it is framed for the viewer. Depending on how you space the camera from the world it’s showing can wildly change the type of game/story you’re presenting. The top down god view present in RTS’s, tycoon simulators, certain turn based strategies, and games like Pac-man serves to separate the player from the action, giving them the player a large view of the world around them, encouraging informed decision making.

Also the book is the idea of flow, essentially, the carrot on the end of the stick that leads the player towards a goal. In a more recent episode of Extra Credit (Asymmetry in Overwatch), the concept of flow is brought up quite a bit as an example of designing maps for competitive multiplayer.


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