Non-Linear Level Progression

I had some thoughts on level design and environment. To craft a convincing environment true to our thematics and game mechanics, the way the level is presented to the player has to happen in a non linear fashion. In a sense, navigating the environment is informed by the core thematic as the rest of the game. This sticks to the core belief that every single interaction of the game has some meaning and isn’t done just for the sake that “all other games do it so ours should too.” Originally we were thinking in terms of “metroidvania” which was creatively constraining and lacking in originality.

An example of non-linear level progression: the character is moving in a spiral cavern, and when they reach the center the walls of the spiral transform into the next game environment (or level) causing a sense of disorientation and instability. This has to be tempered of course, but there are a lot of different ways to play with the expectations a user might have when navigating a linear environment that are really fun and exciting! Rather than moving from left to right, from point A to point B, the game’s progression is artistically more abstract.

I’ll snap up pictures of some sketches on the whiteboard in the TAG lab and add them to a later post. It will make more sense with real examples.


2 Responses to “Non-Linear Level Progression”

  1. J-F_bourbeau says:

    I think that’s great! Anyway, I’m pretty that when we die, our memories are not a long tunnel of linear and predictable stuff going on (but who knows :p)

    Other ideas to mess with the traditional linearity of games and players’ expectations :

    – Change the room layout when the players go back to a room they’ve already been to, thus combining a sense of progression, familiarity and disorientation
    – Make the player revisit a room he just passed by, even though it was clear that he was moving away from it
    – Play with paradoxal spaces. Let’s say you’re somewhere and you go right 1 screen, down 1 screen, left 1 screen and up 1 screen. You expect to come back to where you where, but it’s a completely different space.
    -I’d like to play with very open spaces with multiple paths. They would probably all lead to the same puzzle/situation (maybe at different camera angles), which would give to there “freedom” a taste of fatality.
    – If you have time, go watch this video

    It’s about Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining””s impossible architecture. I think it could inspire us to do some awesome and unsettling level designs.

  2. Ian Arawjo says:

    Why? Why should I care about this abstract space at all? What am I moving towards?

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