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All* areas** in Project Eternity should have more than*** one entrance****.

 

* = Obviously, we can tolerate a minority of areas having only one entrance

** = City, castle, forest, building, level, room. From macro to micro.

*** = Two is minimum. Three or more is even better.

**** = Entrance can be literal or figurative. An entrance can be a second door, or a sewer you can crawl through to get underneath a building, or using a roof, or using magic to teleport into an area, or using dialogue or a disguise or other unique thing to gain access into an area.

 

Sure, having 100 entrances to one room would cease to make that room a room (maybe swiss cheese), so perhaps not all entrances should be "literal" holes in a wall, and perhaps we should limit the number of ways into an area, so that strategy is required. But having multiple ways to approach entering a part of the game, the more complex that game is by nature.

 

Of course, this can extent to exits as well, but I think "how you got there" is slightly more important than "how you left".

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I made a 2 hour rant video about dragon age 2. It's not the greatest... but if you want to watch it, here ya go:

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Red guard: "My two brothers and I guard the three exits of this room. One of us speaks the truth, one of us lies and one of us speaks truth sometimes and lies at others."

 

Blue guard: "You may ask three questions of us to find out who is who."

 

Green guard: "The one who tells the truth guards the exit that leads to safety, the one who lies guards the exit that leads to death."

 

PC: "And the one who tells truth half the time?"

 

Red guard: "He guards the exit that leads you astray. You have two questions left."

 

Player: "Wait, that counted as one of the questions? You bloody cheaters!"

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To defeat linearity...

 

Plot branching and dialogue/actions plus choice/consequence which result in different outcomes and effect both short term and long term. Multiple endings based on choices made and multiple ways to begin the adventure. Player freedom, exploration and places not all linked to main plot progression, more optional less mandatory. Bigger locations and maps, many routes to destinations and differences based on which route take. Customisation skills/spells/character/items and equipment, many methods to complete tasks/quests and goals. Tactical/strategic evolving combat. Reactive companions with personal histories/goals and effect in party both combat and evolving relationships/friendships.

 

Not exactly one sentence though. :aiee:

Edited by Dragoonlordz
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Narration plays a big role, and I'm wondering how much can be in text versus on the screen. Can we interact with the big chunk of text (Narration) somehow mid-Narration?

 

Can a situation play in text, in essence "You are running across the roofs, which direction do you want to go?" but better/vivid wording. But there is no physical or visual running, merely choices in text and the use of isometric camera panning depending on your choices in the text.

 

Basically could the Camera+Text suffice for some sort of Only-Text-Based Adventures? I think that would help in the process of creating non-linearity.

 

Here are some other thoughts, related to Narration and some thoughts on Replayability.

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While I do agree that branching paths or narration and choice and text and all that matters to beating linear game design. But, my main point is, you can almost crush it in one move: If you endeavor to make every room have more than one entrance to it, by that nature, it means things cannot possibly be linear, because there is always one other way to approach a situation. There is more than one way to do something. By committing to that basic design: more than one entrance, we can keep a development team on task with cohesion.

 

If we think about games that are really powerful with player agency... they don't have many branching paths at all. Sure, VTMB and Deus Ex would have been better with more branching paths and varying story lines that diverge, the very minimum required to having a game that invites player agency is always having more than one way to enter a room, because by that very nature, we have more than one way to solve a problem.

I made a 2 hour rant video about dragon age 2. It's not the greatest... but if you want to watch it, here ya go:

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While I do agree that branching paths or narration and choice and text and all that matters to beating linear game design. But, my main point is, you can almost crush it in one move: If you endeavor to make every room have more than one entrance to it, by that nature, it means things cannot possibly be linear, because there is always one other way to approach a situation. There is more than one way to do something. By committing to that basic design: more than one entrance, we can keep a development team on task with cohesion.

 

If we think about games that are really powerful with player agency... they don't have many branching paths at all. Sure, VTMB and Deus Ex would have been better with more branching paths and varying story lines that diverge, the very minimum required to having a game that invites player agency is always having more than one way to enter a room, because by that very nature, we have more than one way to solve a problem.

 

Bioware tried that method with DA2 and it backfired in a big way. Same places but could enter from different directions.

 

Just because could enter from different directions did not make it change the fact you were visiting the same location over and over, people were not fooled by this attempt at difference. The system has to do much more than which way you enter places in order for such blatent misdirection which uses such poor way to pretend is any variation in playthroughs or places visit to work. Entering same place from a different door simply does not work for players. They are not fooled by something so inadequate all it does is annoy them that so little effort went into providing them with differences and variation in the game.

 

Which is why I did not restrict my first post on linearity to one sentence, because no one sentence is adequate for me to make the illusions of freedom and choice work. The only way to in reality beat linearity is to apply multiple solutions to many elements within the game. The more solutions to the more elements the more successful that illusion becomes. Players/gamers more often than not are the most fickle of audiences but they are not the most nieve or stupid.

 

50755.jpg

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Not really. Deus Ex and VTMB are not isometric, but the "action of crawling through a vent" is what's important, not whether you do it yourself or if the game just rabbit holes you into a new part of the level as a result.

 

Bioware tried that method with DA2 and it backfired in a big way. Same places but could enter from different directions.

 

Just because could enter from different directions did not make it change the fact you were visiting the same location over and over, people were not fooled by this attampt at difference. The system has to do much more than which way you enter places in order for such blatent misdirection which uses such poor way to pretend is any variation in playthroughs or places visit to work. Entering same place from a different door simply does not work for players. They are not fooled by something so inadequate all it does is annoy them that so little effort went into providing them with differences and variation in the game.

 

You're completely absolutely wrong. DA2 has you entering the same place from one entrance. Each entrance just recycles a different part of the same cave. This is not what I'm describing at all in my first post. DA2 is abhorrent and how you do not design levels. I am not describing at all. What DA2 is what we call "lazy" - what I describe in my first post is... argh let me get a video.

Edited by anubite

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Not really. Deus Ex and VTMB are not isometric, but the "action of crawling through a vent" is what's important, not whether you do it yourself or if the game just rabbit holes you into a new part of the level as a result.

 

You're completely absolutely wrong. DA2 has you entering the same place from one entrance. Each entrance just recycles a different part of the same cave. This is not what I'm describing at all in my first post. DA2 is abhorrent and how you do not design levels. I am not describing at all. What DA2 is what we call "lazy" - what I describe in my first post is... argh let me get a video.

 

It does not matter how you enter if the only difference is method whether door, vent or teleported into it. Also in DA2 you entered the same place from multiple directions and enterance points where it pretended because entered from cave on beach vs cave on sundermount that somehow just because entered same cave from somewhere else that it was an adequate illusion of different place.

 

The thing that matters is that must use multiple elements and methods to provide that variation and difference in what happens and appears like inside, impact of multiple factors and results not just how you got inside or where entered from. You crawl through vent into place and guard stands in front and says why are you here to which given three set choices to respond or you open door and walk into place and a guard stands in front and asks why are you here of which given same three set choices to respond...both are the same result and same location. Your principle is because entered in two different ways that it is enough to get around linearity, while mechanically you can argue that did two different things, the player and gamers are not okay with such mediocre methods to make up for lack or difference/divergence.

 

People are not fooled by this, they actually generally dislike it as the illusion is inadequate with DA2 example I gave you had same locations and routes through them were unlocked or locked which gave you different doors to go through, different places could enter from ended up same place. Which is why i said you cannot simply rely on such as you suggested. You must use many difference solutions and principles to multiple results and effects of player actions, gameplay mechanics, locations, choice and story differences to pull such illusion off successfully which mentioned in my first post.

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I don't think OP is talking about entering 1 area several times with a different plot each time and lore-wise being somewhere else in the world (But visually being copy+paste). Like DA2.

 

I think OP is merely stating that "Leaving the West side on Temple and entering Beregost you enter on the East side". Beregost is still Beregost and not a different area. Basically having 3 pre-made options to enter 1 area.

 

Basically, you go from point A to C, but first you need to tackle either B1, B2 or B3.

 

A: In Jail

B1: Break Door

B2: Trick guard, snap neck, take keys

B3: Wait

C: Out

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Linearity doesn't really have much to do with how or where you enter an area. Linearity should be avoided by giving the player many options of which area to visit first, second, third etc and many quests to do in different order.

 

Look at BG1, you come out of Candlekeep and can go anywhere. The story is very linear; Friendly Arm, Nashkell, Cloakwood, BG City but because there are many other areas to go to the world feels large and free roaming and you can explore in between any part of the main story.

 

BG2 is more restrictive but has such a wide variety of quests in Athkatla that you can get a very non-linear feeling just by doing big questlines in a different order each time you play. So it is kind of like BG1 except they chose quests as options instead of areas.

 

I don't think changing a door with roof top or sewer will make much difference, players aren't stupid. Getting to a place takes very little time, it is the options available before you start travelling that breaks up the game into a different experience each time not how you get into the same place each time.

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I don't think OP is talking about entering 1 area several times with a different plot each time and lore-wise being somewhere else in the world (But visually being copy+paste). Like DA2.

 

I think OP is merely stating that "Leaving the West side on Temple and entering Beregost you enter on the East side". Beregost is still Beregost and not a different area. Basically having 3 pre-made options to enter 1 area.

 

Basically, you go from point A to C, but first you need to tackle either B1, B2 or B3.

 

A: In Jail

B1: Break Door

B2: Trick guard, snap neck, take keys

B3: Wait

C: Out

 

I covered different routes leading to different outcomes in my first reply in this thread, it is just one of many elements that helps reduce linearity. However my point is that it alone cannot defeat linearity, that it takes many/multiple elements to do so in combination. Reliance on one element out of the many I mentioned is inadequate. I am not saying what he wants is bad, I am saying it is not enough.

 

Plot branching and dialogue/actions plus choice/consequence which result in different outcomes and effect both short term and long term. Multiple endings based on choices made and multiple ways to begin the adventure. Player freedom, exploration and places not all linked to main plot progression, more optional less mandatory. Bigger locations and maps, many routes to destinations and differences based on which route take. Customisation skills/spells/character/items and equipment, many methods to complete tasks/quests and goals. Tactical/strategic evolving combat. Reactive companions with personal histories/goals and effect in party both combat and evolving relationships/friendships.

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You're looking at it from a macro level.

 

 

 

56088__468x_final-fantasy-xiii-extreme-linearity.jpg

 

 

 

If a level looks like this, it's linear game design regardless of whether you were nice or hurtful to a mage which got you a bad or good ending.

 

If DA2's levels did not have linear design, they would have been much more tolerable even if they had grossly recycled assets.

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You're looking at it from a macro level.

 

-snip-

 

If a level looks like this, it's linear game design regardless of whether you were nice or hurtful to a mage which got you a bad or good ending.

 

If DA2's levels did not have linear design, they would have been much more tolerable even if they had grossly recycled assets.

 

You missed my point. Your one sentence solution is merely part of a solution. You did not solve linearity in one sentence you merely reduced it slightly as with each element I mentioned they all merely reduce it not remove it.

 

Without combination of all those other things I mentioned earlier then linearity persists, it is not defeated and it is not resolved. Not even in map design you proposed does it eliminate linearity, it just reduces it as your still entering the same place, the place still has same design and your merely skipping or locking out/opening up parts to the player dependant on route. Unless they make a sandbox game your still picking route (a) or route (b). It does not matter if take left path or right path, enter from front or back, jump off ledge or walk around if when get there you are in the same place and same things occur.

 

You might enjoy entering the same place from multiple angles and directions but most people would not enjoy it at all if nothing is different or changes when doing so. Unless choices and methods effect story, character or outcome then you wasted your time taking any alternative route. Your method without those outcomes would merely annoy people just like DA2 maps did. It is very much required to have multiple elements I mentioned in order to reduce the "percieved" linearity on top of the mere reduction of linearity your idea has which is not defeating linearity at all just reducing. Each and every single door or path you take would have to lead to a completley different new locations that is seporate and non repeating of any other doors, choices, paths or routes could of taken for the linearity of the levels to be gone.

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You missed my point. Your one sentence solution is merely part of a solution. You did not solve linearity in one sentence you merely reduced it slightly as with each element I mentioned they all merely reduce it not remove it.

 

Except what you speak of is basically what I would call fluff. Multiple endings aren't necessary. Deus Ex and VTMB have a pretty linear story, with only a few quests that can have radically different results on your choices. What makes their design so beloved and memorable is the fact that most rooms have more than one way of entry.

 

The other things you mentioned are covered in my first post. Re-read it.

Entrance can be literal or figurative.

 

The first sentence of my original post was an attempt to summarize neatly how to make a game non-linear. What makes it so is not the end result of a mission, but how you got there. It's very nice to have branching stories and results of our actions that carry on beyond a room, beyond a level, beyond a zone, and into the end-game, but chances are, we can't expect developers to follow through on such design. What we can ask them to follow through is in a simple sentence like: Make sure there's always more than one way to get into a room.

 

Now, an "entrance" to a room can be a dialogue, a disguise, a vent, a spell, a door, a sewer-cover, a window, et cetera - it doesn't need to be literal entryway, but the mere fact of having more than one way into said area is what's important. I think people would enjoy a game that gives them simply more angles of entry. Now, we can go one step and beyond, to say that entries into places should vary, or that our actions should carry on beyond a moment-to-moment basis -- but that isn't the essence -- that's a detail. You can't just have that and have a non-linear thing - you can have a setpiece game that varies how you walk into each setpiece, but the nature of having multiple entrances is what makes a game non-linear. You can have a "choose your own adventure" which gives you a plethora of choice but if each of those choices just branches off a linear roller-coaster, or if each of those choices bottlenecks into one, then I would say you don't have a game. For instance, The Walking Dead might be beloved by people for its dramatic scenes and characters, but it not designed how I would like a cRPG to be designed - none of your choices in the "choose your own adventure" of the first five episodes of TWD impact anything. Having different endings and having variety are not sufficient to introducing non-linear gameplay - they're good details to have, but I was trying to get down to the quintessence of it. Having multiple entrances is absolutely required to having a game that is non-linear. And non-linearity is important because PE is going to be a strategic/tactical game. Strategy and tactics have no meaning if the game is A to B. The following set of nodes is linear:

 

A is start node

A to B

B to C

B to D

B to E

D to G

G is end node

 

Non-linear is

 

A is start node

A to B

B to C

C to D

B to D

A to G

G is end node

 

If you can imagine these small node-based structures (where these graphs represent cause-effect chains, or, rooms connected to rooms, or even how character classes can develop), realize that in #1 there is a single direct path from A to G - start to finish. Despite there being choice in the first example, this nodal structure is deterministic. There is a single viable path to solve the graph.

 

The second set is non-determinisic because to get to G we can do A-G or A-B-D-G. What makes a game a game, are the -. If the - in A-G has a "high" or "unique" cost to it, it might deter us to get the less direct route, A-B-D-G, if each - between each node sums to be cheaper, or provides some other benefit. #2 can still be 'deterministic' - but only if both paths are not equal. If the cost of A-G = A-B-D-G, then a player has true free will. Neither solution is punishing him.

 

Now, we might want difficult paths to be chosen by players, these paths in a game might initially be more expensive, but they may have greater long-term consequences. This is also another aspect of a complex game, where players think in the long-term to solve a greater problem consisting of 1000's of decisions and "goal" nodes. This is where I'm coming from -- if we do not give players meaningful choice through options that manifest as "entries" - then we have a linear game.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTruYpxaqOA

 

Threw that together to hopefully more visualize my point. It's rather sloppy, but I hope it helps a little.

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It still does not eliminate linearity...*sigh*

 

You are still going from A to B, outside to inside, your still entering the same place and regardless of whether you enter from point A1 or A2 your still ending up in B. If a quest is go to cave (x) and you pick up the quest in village (y) your still going from (y) to (x) no matter whether you crawl on your belly or sprout wings and fly. Your idea does NOT defeat linearity. It is one method of many methods that reduce not defeat it. The more methods I described used the less linear the gameplay and the greater the enjoyment. All my methods described in my first post that you call "fluff" and not what you are looking for in an RPG are each a reduction in linearity, each provide more and more enjoyment for (most) gamers.

 

All of those things are what I want in an RPG regardless of whether you consider them fluff or not, they all reduce linearity and they all in combination make the game an RPG I want to buy (though I already bought my copy when backed the project) even if not what you want in an RPG. An FPS has what you want more than an RPG as far as genre goes, you want to smash a window to get in fine they have that, want to kick open a door they have that too, jump down from vent in ceillng they do that, enter building (a) or building (b) they do that. As a genre FPS has more what your looking for than an RPG. All RPGs strive to have as many of the elements I described as possible for good reason, it is what most people want in an RPG.

 

What you want is not bad, I explained earlier it is one of many things that can reduce linearity but it is not "the" solution, it is merely one partial solution out of many solutions that should be used in combination. Your idea does not defeat anything, it merely reduces the effect, as do all those other solutions and parts. If what you describe is the only thing that matters to you then the FPS genre has those in pretty much every single FPS game. If what I described initially is what you feel is fluff then I wonder why you even bother playing RPG's or backed this one... This one will try to do many of the things I described because to most RPG fans they are certainly not fluff and are why they play the genre.

 

I think I am just going to agree to disagree at this stage.

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I guess I just don't understand what you're getting at. Are you saying you want us to be able to visit several unique locations based on our choices in the game? Isn't that a bit excessive? I don't think Obsidian has the money to do that kind of thing. The best we can hope for is for the context and results of our choices to change how levels play out, rather than determine what levels/zones we even go to at all. And if because they spend so much time developing 12 unique caves, they have no time to make each experience inside each cave deep and varied, aren't you just asking for us to have the choice to pick one of 12 different linear experiences? Sure, you had the choice, and there's some 'non-linearity' to that. But... I think it's better to focus on the non-linearity of each scenario, rather than conflate the number of possible scenarois at a macro level.

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Yes I do want some mandatory and some optional places to visit, I want in fact everything I mentioned. I am honest in that what I want is for them to attempt to do as many of the things I mentioned as possible within timeframe and resources they have. I do not expect all, but the more of them they manage to do the less linear the game and more enjoyable it will be for a vast amount of players. The resource management, time allocation and what they can and cannot do, what they want to do or do not want to do I leave to Obsidian. I merely state what will make the experience more enjoyable for myself.

 

I do not want one location you can enter or exit a hundred or thousand different ways when that time and effort could go into making a dozen or more places with many things can do in each and of which have all those things you called fluff. I do not mind that you want what is described in this thread as far as methodology regarding one out of many ways to reduce linearity, I merely want a lot more methods used and implemented on top and hope they can deliver as many as possible. I would prefer they did not waste infinite amounts of time making vast amounts of ways to enter or leave places and instead take some of that time to implement the other methods of reducing linear gameplay I described here. These sort of things I described are reason why I play RPG's, they are sort of things I backed this project for because Obsidian has used many of ones I described in their previous games which they implied this new one is influenced by.

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Simply focusing on the entry is not all there is to making a game non-linear. If that was all there was to it I could say Dragon Age Origins was one of the most non-linear game ever. It has what? 5 ways to enter the “game”? That it does pretty much nothing with those entries literally 2 minutes after dropping you off at Ostagar is another story...

That is an extreme case yes, but it still highlight the problem of just focusing on the entry, it is not the entire game, with all likelihood it is a very little part of it.

It would not matter much either if teleporting to or sneaking into Ostagar as also an option if it still just said “welcome warden” when you got there and dropped you into the main plot. Neither would it mean much if I could take the scenic route to Lothering if that part was still pretty much identical no matter what route I took.

 

ABE, ACE, ADE, they all end in E, that part means it is still partly linear and no matter how much you focus on B, C and D, it will still be that. You are still on the plot railroad to point E you just take some detours be they minor or not.

Actually just focusing on the entry to each area could then easily be little better than the train taking track 1, 2 or 3 through each station and then claiming the next 40Km of track is “non-linear”. That is what DAO did.

 

To me it matters just as much what I can do inside a room/area as how I entered it, more actualyl considering I will probably spend more time on it that just entering.

If you just focus on the entry you are missing all the other parts.

You are not going to keep my interest in a second playthough by allowing me to get to somewhere in 3 different ways if it means nothing when I get there.

If you on top of that makes each scenario of the story disconnected from each other then I personally feel it as being little more than rubbing into my face how little it means if I pick B, C or D on my way to E.

I might try them all out, but if 90% of the game is still the same (or completely unaffected by my actions) I will just load savegames and try different options, not play though the game again and marvel at how I can pick which doors to enter the huge dread-fortress of the big bad (or which one of them I picked when I left again).

 

 

That is not to say the entry has no value, but if that is all you focus on you are getting a bit close to Mass effect 3 where apparently you had choices: Do I save the Geth, the Quaren or both? Do I cure the Genophage or not? etc. Those are chapter endings yes, but if it is the entry or exit that is slightly different is fairly irrelevant. What matters is that all the other parts in between is not. You cannot solve that just by having people crawl through the ducts, cut their way through the main door or go though the sewers. People will still notice that the majority of the game is identical to their first playthough.

 

 

So focus on the entries to the areas yes, but also the exit and everything in between. Allow me to have multiple ways to deal with the boss, the henchmen etc. Have the way I treat people in town have an effect on their lives other than “and they lived happily ever after” and allow me to decide which of these it is. Have what skills I have have an impact along the game.

Have my actions actually matter in the game-world and the central story being affected by it.

The entry to an area can do part of it, but not nearly all. Try and make all parts of the game as non-linear as possible.

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So in summary.

One of you wants to reduce linearity by giving options that ultimately lead to the same conclusion.

The other wants to reduce linearity by giving options that ultimately change the conclusion.

Why not a little of both?

So are the following examples a correct depiction of your respective approach?

Enter an abandoned mine to retrieve a map :) by ...

A : going through the front and retrieving it or going through a much faster but dangerous cave and retrieving the map. OR

B : going through the front, they destroy map thus eliminating the quest related to the map, or going through the cave retrieving the map and finishing the next quest.

I would personally like dynamic quests so that the game would have multiple playthroughs that are all unique, however I would still be happy if they went with route A. My rogue takes the cave, while the fighter goes through the front door.

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Wouldn't "multiple solutions to the same problem" have summed it up? :p But i see what your getting at in regards to the linear level design, and i have to say for "the spiritual successor to BG" DA is a guide on how not to make a cRPG lol.

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Simply focusing on the entry is not all there is to making a game non-linear. If that was all there was to it I could say Dragon Age Origins was one of the most non-linear game ever. It has what? 5 ways to enter the “game”?

 

Dragon Age Origins has more than five ways to enter the game, though, I would agree it's about five 'main' ways.

You can also tackle all of the game's missions in a non-linear way - you can do deep roads, then the forest, then the mage tower, or in reverse. Etc.

Granted, at the micro level, DAO has almost no "multiple entrance" design. As I mentioned I think in a previous post, DA:O's level design is pretty bad. There are maybe five non-linear areas contained within each "dungeon". The entire game consists of you walking forward through a dungeon, killing everyone in sight and never deviating from the strategy of, "Aggro monsters. Spam AOE spells. Loot monsters. Walk forward."

DA:O does not follow my sentence in my OP because a majority of game mechanics and level design do not give you multiple entrances. Some important ones do, and that's good, but they didn't go far enough.

 

That is not to say the entry has no value, but if that is all you focus on you are getting a bit close to Mass effect 3 where apparently you had choices: Do I save the Geth, the Quaren or both?

 

Mass Effect 1/2/3 are all very, very linear. Level design is hallway-room-hallway-room-hallway with no deviation in how you solve problems. The choices you make in the context of the story can be graphed very linearly. Although you are given the choice of geth, quarian and both, choosing any one of these choices has no meaning because A can go to B, C, or D, but B, C and D feed into one node, E, which carries on the story in a linear fashion, instead of offering another node which has more than one entrance, and another story node which has more than one entrance. So perhaps....

 

But I can see your points. I don't disagree to some extent, but I think my points are poorly worded now. I should probably elaborate on them, instead of trying to condense them into a single sentence. All rooms should have at least two entrances AND "bottlenecks" should be kept to a minimum. If you have multiple entrances to a room, but that room bottlenecks to a single hallway, then the choice was illusory to some extent.

 

Talking practically though, we need to accept "bottlenecking". Unless the game is going to randomly generate content, we cannot expect developers to actually create scenarios that don't bottleneck at some point. The Witcher 2 "bottlenecks" towards the beginning of the game and allows it to branch more smoothly after that, which isn't bad game design, though, I think they would have been better served giving us a more linear game at a macro level, with more choice at the micro level (missions have multiple outcomes that effect future missions).

 

A more accurately worded version of my first sentence:

 

All areas in Project Eternity should have more than one entrance and all areas in Project Eternity should have at least two paths.

 

If you have at least two entrances to each node and at least two nodes feeding off each entrance, then you cannot have a linear game.

Edited by anubite

I made a 2 hour rant video about dragon age 2. It's not the greatest... but if you want to watch it, here ya go:

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While I have said pretty much everything I wished to say in this thread I do think I should explain the DA2 reference a bit. The reason I referenced DA2 is because it matches some of the things you have described in here as your reasoning for using and method for solution.

 

You said you don't think is fair to expect developers to do all the sort of things I mentioned, maybe because it takes fair amount of time or resources I assume was your logic. Might be your taking the stance you rather they do one thing well than everything average, while my stance is I rather they do everything well and none average. Bioware probably had the same idiology as the former vs latter, they felt either did not have the time and resources or left it too late in the development to put enough effort into it so they reduced the quanity and variety of maps and locations. They then imposed their solution which was similar to yours on a basic level.

 

Meaning they thought as long as the player enters that cave from different locations (under kirkwall, from sundermount or wounded coast), exits into different locations, appears in a different part inside (where start at back or front of place), making sure some areas inside are blocked, unlocked and can go in different directions left or right path, plop different monsters in it then it would give the player less of a sense of dejavu and linearity. All it in reality did was annoy people. It is simply not enough which is why Obsidian need to focus reducing linearity across multiple areas of the game in equal measure.

 

There is no such thing as a non-linear game. Every game requires set amount of starting or endings variations, every game has routes through the game and plot points that must be hit in order to progress, a set amount of locations and set amount of ways through them, every one with quests must have a start and end to the quests. The only thing they can do is reduce the perception of it some of which do well and others not so well. The ones that do it well apply many solutions to reduce it bit by bit across many aspects of the game, the ones that focus on one element above all others tends to be worse because the rest of the entire game does not make up for it with lack of quality in those other areas.

 

Every choice in a game is illusionary, they are all predetermined and defined within a framework. The trick is to reduce that perception of illusion and limitation. Having multiple routes is good, having multiple methods for reaching a destination is good but they are but a single part out of many parts to a solution. My only problem to your thread is your trying to simplify something that should not be or could not be simplified into one sentence, two sentences or one idiology, there are too many variables and elements for such simplification to actually be adequate. It is that same simplification/idiology that Bioware attempted with level design in DA2 (imho). You may have gone into greater detail, applied it to a couple more elements in the game but the idiology is not actually that much different.

 

I hope Obsidian tries to not simplify into one method or idiology, one feature or function, I hope they handle it using multiple methods for many areas and aspects in the game in different ways fitting to the issue with each and each managed in greater detail than expressed here. All those things I mentioned in my first post in this thread, I hope Obsidian tries to accommodate, accomplish and implement in various ways but keep equal effort put in between them.

 

If they managed to tackle and implement everything I said in my first post in which each one plays a part in reducing linearity and improving player freedom then their game might be the best game I think have ever played. But they have to put equal effort into each to go from good game to great or amazing game. I have always thought if a game lacks quality in one area it must without fail make up for it in another, the lack of quality in any area is detrimental to the overall experience and while that however cannot be avoided it can be improved by having (multiple) other areas attempt to make up for it. In the end though it is only when all areas are of equal good quality do games go from good to amazing (imho).

 

No game I have played has managed to do everything well but I can live in hope someday one might.

 

I guess that makes me a optimist. I'll be just over here chasing rainbows. :)

Edited by Dragoonlordz
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