Author Topic: Holistic level design  (Read 332 times)

Offline seanthechinaman

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Holistic level design
« on: March 22, 2019, 07:24 pm »
Holistic level design describes the design of levels as wholes.

Coherence and patterns play into the nature of human learning, being able to make informed choices about our levels not only makes our player FEEL smarter, it makes them practically smarter as they play. By designing our levels as concrete wholes, patterns are exaggerated and players can always draw from a central idea that they are guaranteed to have picked up on to make informed choices about the level. Levels with no coherence are unlearnable and often misguide players through lack of motif.

Creating a level wherein every figure contributes to some greater theme can be daunting, so I instead suggest that you add lighter motifs to a level to create coherent wholes. These ideas will periodically surface to lend ' holisticity ' to your level, and while the level isn't wholly themed around some single idea, lightweight motifs tie a level together with subtlety. This can be as simple as the recurrence of a specific enemy or powerup.

Through the lens of holistic level design there are very few intrinsically flawed sequences, your level's logic and theme govern the quality of each encounter more than dogmatic Sploder theory.

  For example...

  Spy Motives by Yugioh77

Here in Spy Motives we are trapped without recourse for guessing the incorrect switch. We have no way to make an informed choice as to which switch will or will not trap us. This is unfair and has no connection to the game as a whole. We could easily fix this by adding subtle patterns around traps to suggest their lethality, giving the level a brand new set of motifs, or even removing lethal traps entirely, consolidating our current whole. Alternatively ( and more interestingly ), we could recontextualize this trap by using unfairness itself as the level's tie-together theme.

In this wholly unfair level, a new playstyle is born. Life is no longer precious, it is a currency that we exchange at every turn for new knowledge of the level's tricks. What might have caused frustration in an incoherent level has now become a source of experimentation and casino-esque fun.

I hope that you keep my thesis on holistic level design in mind when creating Sploder games, and that you take advantage of patterns both to guide and misguide your player. Thank you for reading.

« Last Edit: March 22, 2019, 07:27 pm by seanthechinaman »