Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Game Environment Research (Part 5)

This will be the final addition to my in depth look at the world of Environment design and finalised levels, this time I'll be focusing on complete levels only as I felt I've looked at enough pieces of concept art and that it's time to design my own soon.

The first Game Environment I'll be looking at is a level from 2007's "Super Mario Galaxy". The first noticeable thing about this game level is that it's bright colourful and eye catching. When looking at the textures, they're very simple but in this type of game it's very advantageous as the main objective is to traverse the various platforms to reach a goal, by using simple textures and bright colours players can easily distinguish their character from the environment and different sections of the environment so that when it comes to making a jump they know exactly where they're aiming their character. The Super Mario series of video games has been known for it's broad appeal range and this colour scheme helps make it accessible to a wide range of people.

The level also features moving platforms and enemies all of which are presented in this same colourful manner, there are also various objects that the player interacts with such a switches and valves. Whats very impressive about this level is that it's all based around a cylinder and if the player is knocked off they fall into the water below, it's this type of presentation that shows the designers were thinking of many different ways that they could present the player with new challenges, another thing that should be noted is the quality of the water effects, whilst it isn't realistic it mimics the qualities of real water very well and fits in perfectly in the colourful word of Super Mario.

The next game level I looked at was one from 2007's "Halo 3". This Multiplayer level is designed for up to 16 players to fight it out either against each other or complete objectives in opposing teams. The level itself is design in a 'U' shape fashion and each team starts at opposite ends of the level. The texturing here is quite impressive and a clearly amount of effort has gone into making the snow effects seem fairly realistic as well as the texturing in the rocks and machinery.

Contrasting with Super Mario Galaxy, Halo 3 has clearly decided to go down the route of a more realistic style of texturing, this creates a weird pseudo sense of the hyper real as the game shows realistic environments with unrealistic objects in it (Such as hover cars and mini helicopters).The question is does this work in favour for the game? In most parts yes as it gives a sense of immersion to it, blurring the line of reality, often though players could be too preoccupied with not dying or trying to achieve their objective to notice the environment. The overall largeness of the level also gives a sense of starkness and overall when looking at it in detail it's quite a simple map and not really all that interesting, theres nothing in the environment to interact with but there are veichles and other players to interact with with. That said this isn't a bad level design as it's just more suited to a FPS genre game and for the purpose its supposed to serve it does that well.

This game level below comes from 2009's "The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks". The level shows the player character traversing through a dungeon tackling various puzzles in order to proceed forwards. This game level is just full of player - environment interaction and shows what ways a player can solve puzzles and obstacles using their equipment/powers. The layout of the level is very unique with twisting corridors and pit holes to fall into. The textures aren't particularly complex due to the system's hardware but it gets across the point of the environment such as that you're in a stone dungeon, theres flames, you're character's clothes are made of fabric, the colours are nice and bright which as stated earlier makes it easier for players to co-ordinate with the screen.

The main attraction of this level though is the interaction, theres so much more the player to do that it's likely the gameplay is very compelling. With keys to collect, switches that require turning using special powers and unique puzzles where the character has to use their side-kick to complete them, it makes this a very interactive level. This element of interactiveness should be considered heavily when creating my own level.

With that I feel I've completed enough research to step into the conceptualising stage, I've already started to collect brushes to use in photoshop, and I have many things to consider such am I creating a realistic level of a more imaginative one? How many objects should players be able to interact with? What should the layout be like? how can I make it more interesting/appealing? What should I do to keep everything in style with each other?

With these questions in mind I feel I should be able to create a fairly competent game level.

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