With Skyrim, GTA V, and Assassin’s creed 4, Triple A gaming has finally managed to Open up the Open World (Sand Box) game design.
I feel it’s time to quantify how games can encourage a more open play environment, and divine a standard for the future.
Scenery Vs Interactive sets
Of the many things that plague open world games, their love of scenery over playable locations can really lessen map quality.
Video games are toys at heart and every locked door or invisible wall is really just wasted 3D dev time. Players are similar to children while gaming; Gamers will climb any tree and play cowboys and Indians where ever you let them, and it is the duty of the designers to predict those activities (within reason).
No part of a map or game should serve just one purpose.
An Office building, for example, isn’t just one character’s home. Riddled with desks, halls, hidden rooms, and valuable secrets. Quests, competitions, and exploration could extend the life of just one building nearly infinitely.
When parts of a game or map become singular in purpose they lose their ability to be recycled or revisited. Also, they become generic by virtue of their, “single use,” nature.
In single player it’s often important to encourage couch climbing activities. Years of single-minded level designed have convinced most players that even if they find money in the cushions, it’s just a prop and not meant for their use.
Take Me to Disney Land
Put simply, assume your gamers are ten-year-old’s and will go everywhere, even the places you tell them they can’t.
Let us have a car chase through a closed mall, play paintball across a cancer ward, and install elevators in the taller buildings because, we will jump off them ( our friends are doing it already). It’s not about level design as much as it is about making a fun house.