138

Just some quick additional suggestions, that sometimes complement what others have already said. 1) water solution: I never understood why killing the player with a shark or something. Just let him/her swim infinitely (like with a proceduraly generated infinite ocean). That alone would closer resemble the idea of how distant it would be in real life to ...


100

Level designers I've spoken with often lament how difficult it is to create interesting challenges & spaces in open areas, so you've definitely set a hard problem for yourself. That said, the core structure of something like a Zelda dungeon is often about finding a number of MacGuffins (items required to progress) or switches (locations where you modify ...


69

To summarize and elaborate upon what has been said in other answers and in comments, triangles, squares and hexagons are the only mathematically possible regular tilings aka regular tessellations of the Euclidean plane. So yeah, this sucks. Triangles are completely useless here, squares suck because you can't move diagonally without having a somewhat ...


69

Different games have different requirements in how realistic they are to their genre, e.g. FPS games can constrain to a building, whereas RPG games like Rust / DayZ / Skyrim have larger and more open world maps to suit their style. Some common ones across games (and examples) include: Constrain to an Island and: Ruin the only bridge out (GTA 3, Vice City, ...


56

I am a bit hesitant to add this option, but it could work. Torus. When seen in 2D (neglect height for a moment) the inside AND the outside of a torus are endless. They simply wrap around on both axes. Placing your characters on a shape like that could be tricky. You could always go easy on yourself and get a less exact torus. (source) Now we're talking ...


49

Basically, you just need to put something at the edge of the world that the player can't move past for some reason. Anything will work, as long as it stops the player from going any further in a particular direction while using the actions allowed by your game. You seem to be looking for a comprehensive list, so here you go; I think this covers all the ...


42

A very simple method to add an unique look and feel to an area without spending a lot of development effort on asset creation is to use a different color palette for each area of the game. In a 2d game, you can achieve that effect by doing a palette swap of your graphic assets. Just slightly change the colors in your preferred image editor. Or if you want ...


40

Players will mentally filter out any information which doesn't seem to be relevant for reaching the objective of the game. In an MMORPG, the objective is to level up and acquire equipment. All elements of the game are judged by how useful they are for achieving those objectives. When following the game's narrative doesn't help to achieve these goals, then ...


37

Most games place the map origin in a corner. The main reason for this is that tilemaps are often internally stored in two-dimensional arrays, and most programming languages don't allow negative array indexes. There are a lot of discussions about which corner should be the origin, but I don't consider any of the arguments particularly strong. In the end it's ...


37

That's the trade-off to this kind of game play design, the player is expected to die many times to learn mechanics and Boss abilities. To make those deaths palatable to the player I have a few ideas: 1) nothing can be random, everything must have a pattern that can be learned. There is nothing more unfair than dying to an attack you've never seen before ...


36

I'm not sure about your assertion of "most" - many games like GT, DriveClub, etc, have many point-to-point races... But there are two reasons to this: Firstly, many real-life races are lap-based on closed circuits (Formula 1, Nascar, etc), so gameplayers might expect this as a standard. Secondly, and from a game design point of view, putting multiple laps ...


31

Flat Earth The Earth is flat, so why not border the world realistically; A cliff that falls into space.


29

The author of HyperRogue here. HyperRogue actually uses a tesselation made of hexagons and heptagons, here is the reason why this particular tesselation has been chosen, instead of only octagons or heptagons, for example: Hyperbolic geometry in Hyperbolic Rogue Basically, the octagons are too big. Also some consequences of using hyperbolic geometry in a ...


28

One thing I liked about the backtracking in Super Metroid is how your new powers allowed you to get through the areas faster, but in a more challenging way. Another way is to place items such as health upgrades (or obvious switches/breakable blocks) in plain sight but out of reach until you come back in possession of another item. The best example of this ...


27

Caves. No start, no end, no invisible walls. There will be no obvious 'walls designed to keep the player from leaving the playing area', since you're in a cave. All walls are the same.


27

Let the players pick their start locations themselves. At the beginning of the game, spawn all players in the center of the map, but without any means of harming the other players. They will then have to swarm out and acquire the means to engage each other (build a base, pick up a weapon, gather resources, etc.) There is either a bit of luck or map ...


26

From a design point of view, it's advantageous for new players to learn the placement of powerups, dangers and other landmarks on the track in the first lap so they can focus more on gameplay for the remainder of the game. The sooner the player can get through the learning phase of the game, the sooner they can start mastering the other aspects of the game....


25

While the other answers give you good advice how to achieve your stated goal, I'd like you to consider a different angle. Experience vs. Test of Skill Games can be put on an axis that goes from "experience" to "test of skill". All the old arcade games are almost completely on the "test of skill" side. Understandable, if the player being upset is not as ...


22

In addition to Patrick's answer: Time it takes to retry needs to be short, borderline instantaneous. Take Super Meat Boy as an example. Compare with Teslagrad's 4 second death animation. Time it takes to regain your progress should also be relatively quick. This goes along with Patrick's comments regarding checkpoints. Taslagrad is pretty good here, as you ...


21

A very interesting example is in the first scene of Fallout 4 : You are in your normal house during a normal day and suddenly there are news reports and alerts of nuclear bombs (the beginning of the nuclear war of 2077). You are then tasked to go to the nearby vault as soon as possible. But you can take a long time to do so if you wish. The relevant part is ...


21

The simple answer is: you can't. Some players enjoy lore, reading non-stop about a fantasy adventure and weird scenarios that unfold in front of them. Other players enjoy a hard puzzle that makes them think, without caring why they have to solve it. Others want to kill weak monsters and become stronger, so they can take down that one dragon that looked ...


21

Aside from Philipp's suggestions, you can also push your environments in different conceptual directions, and maybe imply a bit of history too. Lifeless, Rocky Landscape/Caves: Dusty rocks can make one area, sure, but you can also have crystal caves, areas with lots of geysers and islands floating precariously on alkaline lakes, areas that have already been ...


16

This system with all these triggers sounds a bit too complicated and error prone. You could wrap the position of the player using modulo with something like playerPositionX = playerPositionX % mapWidth This way when your player reaches playerPosition == mapWidth the playerPosition will reset back to 0. This solution could be extended with the whole ...


16

The game takes place on a barren, lifeless planet that's being harvested for resources by a sprawling autonomous mining/factory complex. Every building has a background and a history that should be reflected in the design of your environment. Think about castles in video games. Good castles don't look like a generic video game castle and stick in players' ...


14

You said that modifying the level beyond recognition is out of the question, but what about only small, randomized modifications to levels? This can be in form of events which only have a certain chance of happening whenever the player traverses the area. When there are multiple such events which also interact with each other, it will result in a slightly ...


14

Include leaving the game area in your story. Perhaps those pesky guards wont let you leave the city. Perhaps the front door or gate is blocked/locked. It might not all be impossible, but still hard to leave the game area. What happens when the player does leave? You win the game! (but perhaps there is another better ending?) The point is the player need ...


14

Let them choose how much they see Yes, they should be able to skip any dialogue, for those who want that, but that's pretty black and white - it tends to be either skip everything or skip nothing - it's hard or impossible to tell beforehand what would be actual useful or interesting information. If you instead separate your dialogue into tiers, that could ...


13

The canonical solution is to use portals. In your example, there is only one level, except there is a portal connecting the left and right ends. Anything moving across that portal will have its coordinates translated to the other end of the portal, so that if something is moving left through the portal, it will reappear on the right side of the level and ...


13

This is a very tricky concept to measure for many reasons. DMGregory suggests very common metrics in modern games. I would suggest that these metrics, again very common in the industry, do not accurately measure "player engagement" as much as they do "player use". To put that more accurately, these metrics measure both player engagement AND unengaged ...


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