View Full Version : How to make levels not feel empty but with keeping open spaces?
So i decided that for now the Total Infection project is a bit too much for me and decided to scale down a little and make a 3D platformer. So far i've got this:
Screenshots and downloads here (http://runtimelegend.com/games/robgetout/screenshots.html).
If you download the game and play it, however (please do!), you'll notice that the areas feel a bit empty. On the other hand, you'll also (hopefully :-P) notice that it is fun to run around with the bot, so empty spaces are needed (so you can run around). To me these two seem to contradict a bit. Visually the game feels empty (a part of it is the texture work - i'll probably change that, i already had someone whom i respect tell me that the style feels amateurish because of the style), but to have space to run around needs empty areas.
Or does it? I'm not sure. How would you design the areas so that you can run around but still not feel empty?
A solution that came to my mind is to place blowable stuff on the floor that simply explode or "do eye candy things". They'll exist mostly as junk that fills the world so that the player will have something to interact with but without really affecting the gameplay in a significant way.
But i'm not sure i'm satisfied with this. Any other ideas? Thoughts?
I played your game and though i like the gameplay, it somehow rly fells empty.
-try adding some holes with pipes in it and latticework on top and some colorfull (i like red) lighting
-lamps in the floor or the angled ramps (those small ones)
-lamps hanging form the ceiling
-broken lamps, flickering
-pipes or wires on floor or hanging around
-signs on floor, like "attention" or "no smoking" or just arrows
-vestiges that props, that are already gone, left
-props at walls
-volumetric lights or holograms
-make the ceiling more interesting (structure or props)
-overall more contrast and variation in textures and lighting (its all lighted)
Thats everything i could imagine :P
Thanks for the bullet list suggestions :-). I've got the part about more variations in lighting and colors from reddit's /r/gamedev too (with a nice paintover too (http://imgur.com/a/AQHSA#0) :-P). I think i'm a bit too afraid to mess with colors and i need to change that :-P.
Also i tried to create a different style for the textures using Blender and GIMP. Since this method took me ~20x more time than the sketchy method i used in the textures above, i only replaced the floor for now:
I'll try to change the other textures tomorrow and see how (and if) there is any improvement.
Played a bit with colors and added some contrast in the pixel shader for more vivid results.
White Paper Games
I've enjoyed checking out your custom engine WiP thread and you've done some amazing things. I really like the way your engine lights things too..looks great!
I think to add more interesting environments try not to make them so open and have lots of different things to do. Like, you've got that little ramp thing in the centre of your map which creates an interesting element, but they'res just not enough of it. Try to check out architecture books/references to give you some inspiration on cool environments.
How about moving things? I presume you could do simple movements on some things in the environment to make it more interesting too? Thats always a sure fire way to ad some interest in gameplay.
A couple of new textures:
It takes ages to make these for me. I need at least ~3h for each :-/.
@White Paper Games:
The problem with making closer areas is that the character runs fast and it feels nice to run around the areas. The point about moving stuff is good though, i'll see what i can come up with. I'll probably need to make the lightmapper bake vertex colors first, though, since if i add meshes in the world now they won't mix well with the rest of the geometry.
(More info on Gestalt psychology:)
Basically, consider the entire room at a whole, then consider the smaller parts. What is that room used for, what would you often find in that room? Finally, How can I make that look good as a whole?
Start with a silhouette if it helps, you want to make a forest? arrange the trees in a way that would both guide the player and fit well together As such:
Then just go from there with the artistic direction and you can more or less apply that theme throughout the level, with variations of course.
White Paper Games
Pretty interesting theory there Aldighieri! Nice!
Thanks for the links :-)
The "consider the whole room" puzzles me a bit though, because while the theme is a robot/electronics factory, the actual purpose of each room/area is to provide puzzles. How do you find a purpose for a puzzle centric area?
Valve solved this in Portal by making the whole world explicitly designed to be puzzles (that is, the purpose was the puzzles themselves and they were part of the narrative). But this doesn't fit well with what i have in mind (robot of high intelligence tries to escape from a robot factory of people who want to disassemble it in order to learn how to create smart military bots).
It's all about the Deigesis - the game world. You really have to consider how the puzzle could fit into the environment. Basically, consider the purpose of the room, then consider the goal that you want to achieve. Is it to open a path way, collect an item, or unlock story? Keeping the goal in mind, you can then consider the possibilities of how you can achieve that goal.
For instance, if your are in a boiler room, you can have a steam jet blocking your path. By twisting certain dials in a certain order, you can shut off the steam.
For case studies, you can look at Machinarium(Free demo here: http://machinarium.net/demo/ ) Amnesia, Penumbra, etc.
Make the puzzles believable within the context of Deigesis, the player really shouldn't question why they are doing what they are doing.
I uploaded a new version (http://runtimelegend.com/games/robgetout/screenshots.html) with the new textures and level tweaks.
Thanks for the game examples. I actually have Machinarium from some bundle but never went around playing it (i suck at point and click adventure games :-P).
Hey BadSector, cool stuff as usual.
To answer your question, make sure you have a background story for your level. The pieces (functional or not) should always synergize with the story. These objects will fill the level and the connotations will fill the player's mind. Hope this helps!
I find it very difficult to navigate the robot.
Also, Nice lighting.
It helps. As i flesh out more and more of the "story" i start to come up with ideas for the environments :-)
Yeah, turning the robot is too fast because it goes from zero speed to max speed instantly. I need to make build up speed over time like when you're going forward/backward.
Btw i made a special thread for RobGetOut (http://www.worldofleveldesign.net/forums/showthread.php?2223-RobGetOut-3D-environmental-puzzle-platformer) in "Work in progress" since i think it fits better there and this thread is about a specific question.
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