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.