Today I started the Morning Pages thing, there seems to be an online equivalent called 750words.
Giving it a try, will post with any updates as I feel them.
More importantly, I would like to share a quote that I really stuck with me from these past few days of reading and learning.
The convincing, immersive game world needs to be indifferent to the player and the player needs to feel like an intruder.
That was from this amazing blog full of interesting articles and even more interesting links that I will be reading quite often from now on.
As a design philosophy, it really feels like the complete opposite of the much praised Valve kind of design, where every player reaction is playtested and the flow of a level is almost perfected. It is interesting to hear a, quite convincing, argument from the other side.
A stark example of these two different approaches to design that come to my mind is the Thief series.
Here the intruder aspect is part of the story and package in both Thief 2 and Thief 4.
In Thief 4 though, the levels feel so heavily designed around the player that they make the player consciously or not feel like the protagonist. Windows that I was supposed to climb in where always lit in some way, there were bright patches of paint in climbable walls and the rooftops felt much more of a “place to be” than the streets below did. That ended up undermining the “I am not supposed to be here cause, well I am a Thief” narrative with their “higher quality” level design.
In Thief 2, by contrast, I remember often getting lost, not knowing where to go next and where my objectives where. My map did not have any indicators of my location and that gave me a very real sense of “I am not supposed to be here”, you know… like a thief!
Another example cited was GoldenEye for N64, (I have not played the game though) where some rooms did not have any gameplay purpose, they just seemed to “be there”. The reason for this was that in contrast to modern level design, the levels in Goldeneye were first designed as areas, without any thought on where the player was going to start or have to go, they just made a “place” that made sense on its own. Then they would design the “level” on top of that.
The whole thing got me thinking about design, and how there is no right or wrong way to design, only design that serves the purposes of whatever narrative/feeling you are trying to convey and design that undermines it.
Anyway,check the Astronauts blog out if you are interested, it has some amazing stuff.