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My game has a 2-tier hierarchy of levels, it is composed of 6 or more "outer levels" that consist of 8 or more "inner levels". Reaching an inner level unlocks the next inner level. Reaching the top inner level of an outer level unlocks the next outer level. The first inner levels of an outer level resemble the inner levels of the previous outer level, but each outer level has more inner levels than its predecessor.

What terms are common to refer to "outer levels" and "inner levels" in such a situation? The game is very abstract, so something like "world" for the outer level would be inappropriate.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This type of terminology is often tied to the game's specific style & brand. Can you tell us anything about how your game looks, or what kinds of terms you use elsewhere in the game? \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Dec 1 '18 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DMGregory It is an abstract puzzle, like Sudoku, 2048, or Rubik's cube. I try to downplay its mathematical aspects by using physical analogies where possible, and focus on aesthetics rather than terminology. I don't think I can minimize text to nothing, as radically as logi., but I want a simple terminology that everybody understands. \$\endgroup\$ – pommy Dec 2 '18 at 16:13
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Some options for an "outer" level:

  • Group
  • Set
  • Stage
  • Phase
  • Tier (also suggests escalating value/difficulty)
  • Folder (like a file system)
  • Book

Some options for an "inner" level:

  • Puzzle
  • Entry
  • Challenge
  • Node

So a player could say "I'm on the second puzzle of group three" or "Those tier-5 challenges are really hard!"

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that gives me a choice. I had considered tier, but I know this word only as a synonym for level in some specific contexts, like organisations (f.i. help desks) or architecture (including systems architecture). English is not my first language, I did not consider this a common word. Would it be tiers of levels or levels of tiers? \$\endgroup\$ – pommy Dec 3 '18 at 9:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Tiers of levels. A tier is a grouping of stuff of a similar importance/quality/elevation etc. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Dec 3 '18 at 12:40
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"Levels" and "sub-levels" are the first thing that come to mind.

The actual terminology you use, "outer" and "inner," also seems viable if a little technical. Other options might be "overworld" and "world," or "major" and "minor" levels. Older games sometimes used "world" and "stage" (or the reverse, in a few cases if I remember correctly).

Ultimately you can probably call them whatever you want, there isn't a lot of standardization. It's possible (as noted in the comments) that more thematic or contextual options might exist if you provided more information about the setting of your game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ World would be to concrete for my abstract game, and all variants of level preceded by an adjective sound too technical. Stage might be an option. Would it be stages of levels or levels of stages? \$\endgroup\$ – pommy Dec 3 '18 at 9:14

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