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Krayt Tion
04-28-2003, 07:43 PM
And you will notice that no where does this mean the levels themselves, from start to finish, won't be completely linear.

Unless I'm mistaken, that only refers to the order in which you can play the levels.

Please don't be fooled. Those expecting a Deus Ex-type of open-end approachability to the levels themselves are setting themselves up for a disappointment.

That is all. :thmbup1:

HertogJan
04-28-2003, 08:35 PM
Deus Ex was pretty linear too!! It had 3 ends, ok, and you could do a lot of submissions, ok, but still it was very linear... But that's not a bad thing!!

I don't expect JA to be linear either, but I don't care!

Blademaster_109
04-28-2003, 08:37 PM
what the heck is that stuff, linear, and non linear. and no lematos i'm not going to look it up.

StormHammer
04-28-2003, 09:47 PM
Originally posted by Blademaster_109
what the heck is that stuff, linear, and non linear. and no lematos i'm not going to look it up.

Well, really you should look it up. :rolleyes:

Just this once...Linear usually means you are confined to one set path through a level with little deviation allowed - so you basically follow a single line. Non-linear means you have more options to take one of perhaps several different pathways through a level, or solve puzzles in different ways. Obviously all levels have a start and end point, so there is still some linearity inherent in level design - but the more options the better.

Personally, I do think that each level will be less linear than those seen in JO. If they are opening up the terrain and introducing abilities that will enable you to basically run up a wall, that will open up some new pathways and combat decisions.

Sapaca
04-28-2003, 10:30 PM
Linear or not, I like the idea of being able to choose which missions to take.

I still have yet to see a "truly non-linear" game. I mean, just think if it wasn't linear, you'd constantly be getting lost. Or you would have so much mission information you'd

1.Not read it and be in the same boat.

or

2.Read all of it and know exactly what to do. "linear."

Emon
04-28-2003, 11:45 PM
I was not aware, oh wise one, that you had a secret hand in level design and knew that JA will non have non-linear levels! :rolleyes:

HertogJan
04-29-2003, 06:21 AM
Originally posted by StormHammer
Well, really you should look it up. :rolleyes:

Just this once...Linear usually means you are confined to one set path through a level with little deviation allowed - so you basically follow a single line. Non-linear means you have more options to take one of perhaps several different pathways through a level, or solve puzzles in different ways. Obviously all levels have a start and end point, so there is still some linearity inherent in level design - but the more options the better.

Wow you're a really patient guy!! I know forums where this guy would've been flamed to death :)


And yes, I doubt that there will be non-linear levels, as for the order you play the missions: I'm curious how they plan to do that!

Krayt Tion
04-29-2003, 12:56 PM
Meh. Of course I don't know how it will play in the end.

That said, Raven doesn't have either the desire, time, or talent to approach Deus Ex quality. Probably the last two masquerading as the first one.

If I'm wrong I will be... wrong. Oh the horror. :eek:

StormHammer
04-29-2003, 01:20 PM
Originally posted by Krayt Tion
That said, Raven doesn't have either the desire, time, or talent to approach Deus Ex quality. Probably the last two.


To be fair...Deus Ex levels were designed with a number of factors taken into consideration, not least of which was the ability to move stealthily through large portions of the game.

As stealth will not really be playing any part in JA, there is less of a need to ensure the player can bypass certain obstacles and enemies, so in those terms I do expect pathways to be more limited and less complex. However, they could still provide a choice of pathways in confined areas, and allow complete freedom of movement in large open areas of terrain if they desired.

I certainly hope we won't have the same situation of dropping down a hole, or falling a short way, and not having the option (as in a route) to get back up again. 'Game Over' screens due to some lack of foresight in design can get annoying, and that's one of the reasons why I like JK's level design more. In JK you usually had a way out, and didn't have to keep reloading. If they can make the levels more meandering and player friendly in JA, I think I'll enjoy it a whole lot more.

Pedro The Hutt
04-29-2003, 05:40 PM
I agree with Stormhammer, in terms of level design I also tend to like JK more, every situation you got yourself in, you could also get yourself out of again.(also, in terms of SW realism it had it's points where it towered above JKII) In JO I found myself dropping all too often down some hopelessly deep pit. And then having to wait ten seconds to get back into the level didn't help much either, in JK you just had to hit load game and boom , you're back in action.

HertogJan
04-29-2003, 07:03 PM
Oh eh... I found myself falling in bottomless pits more in JK than JO!!! Some parts in JK level design were so bad, I think the things you did in JO were way more realistic. JK felt like a maze to me at some points :( Although I allways knew where to go :)

Blademaster_109
04-29-2003, 07:27 PM
Originally posted by StormHammer
Well, really you should look it up. :rolleyes:

Just this once...Linear usually means you are confined to one set path through a level with little deviation allowed - so you basically follow a single line. Non-linear means you have more options to take one of perhaps several different pathways through a level, or solve puzzles in different ways. Obviously all levels have a start and end point, so there is still some linearity inherent in level design - but the more options the better.

Personally, I do think that each level will be less linear than those seen in JO. If they are opening up the terrain and introducing abilities that will enable you to basically run up a wall, that will open up some new pathways and combat decisions.

thanks storm hammer.

this game should be non-linear. it funner that way.

toms
04-30-2003, 04:42 PM
although the plot in deus ex had to be linear (but they did do a VERY good job of disguising it with little differences based on how you played (characters you saved appearing later etc...) and the dialogue reflecting your actions).

The levels however were very non-linear... with numerous ways through each level (take the sewers and go under, blast your way through, sneak into the air ducts and bypass everyone etc...)

While i agree that the lack of stealth will reduce the need for non-linearity to reach deus ex proportions, JO had the most linear, confined, contrived levels i have seen in an FPS for years... corridor... open door... corridor... (plus the terrible, tacked on puzzles).

It seems that this time they have decided they couldn't match the coolness of the environmental puzzles in JK, so they aren't even trying (probably a good thing). but JK still has the best level design of any game ever. period.

Emon
05-01-2003, 01:04 AM
JK, best level design ever? Eh, I have to disagree. It was fairly non-linear for the time, but just as linear as JO for today. The puzzles were cool, as was enemy placement. It can't hold up with more modern games, especially ones by God Warren Spector, like Deus Ex, System Shock 2 and the Thief series.

Rad Blackrose
05-01-2003, 01:31 AM
I still have yet to see a "truly non-linear" game.

Wing Commander: Privateer

Well, not until you start the true story, that is.

Emon
05-01-2003, 02:12 AM
Deus Ex: Invisible War is supposed to be the first truely, totally non-linear game. Mind you there is never going to be a game where a storyline can be made up on the fly, that is impossible. Instead all you have is a larger number of possibilities.

razorace
05-01-2003, 06:51 AM
It's not impossible, it's just the amount of content you'd have to create to allow such a thing.

HertogJan
05-01-2003, 07:07 AM
Yes... and in case of being a Jedi (like JA), it means you can fly to all systems and solve problems there :D Keep on dreaming. I don't mind linear games, as long as the gameplay is good.

txa1265
05-01-2003, 01:13 PM
Originally posted by toms
... JO had the most linear, confined, contrived levels i have seen in an FPS for years... corridor... open door... corridor... (plus the terrible, tacked on puzzles). ...

While I think that JKII was fairly linear - some levels more than others - it wasn't the most linear game last year, let alone 'ever'.

What was more linear?

Medal of Honor Allied Assault, for one. There was one snow level that had some possibility for non-linearity, but don't confuse open space for non-linearity. And, when in doubt just check the compass.

Worse yet was Soldier of Fortune II, which I think wins for 'most linear game of 2002'. They were so afraid of you getting lost in the already overly linear levels that if you stood still for a couple of seconds you'd be sure to have people firing at you - but only from the direction you should be travelling ...

The distinction between non-linear levels and non-linear missions and a non-linear plot are important.

Non-linear levels give you choices as to how best to accomplish a task. This is a challenge to the game engine and map size (i.e. load times)

Non-linear missions vary the way the plot develops, and are a challenge to game designers as you have to think about the interaction of plot and character development.

A non-linear plot is very difficult to implement, and needs a very strong structural backbone. That is, you need some basic thesis that can handle changes based on what a character does, when they do it and how they do it, and allows the entire 'course of history' to be altered based on your decisions.

An example of a non-linear plot? Imagine when you and Luke fight the reborn together on Cairn, that you could turn on him, kill him, take over the academy and rule the new republic! I know that killing Luke would never happen in a LEC game, but think abot the plot and gaming implications ... you could actually be approaching the mythic 'open ended game', where there are strong plot possibilities but no defined plotline, and that only by looking back can you see the plot.

Mike

razorace
05-01-2003, 06:54 PM
Sides, non-linear gameplay isn't that critical to the fun factor of the game. I've played a lot of games where the game is TOO non-linear and is basically a random mission generator without any plot. If the basic gameplay is "da bomb", you can play thru the game multiple times without getting bored.

Emon
05-01-2003, 10:50 PM
Non-linear levels are very critical to gameplay. Very.

razorace
05-02-2003, 01:11 AM
Nah, most of the best games of all time are linear. It's just a plus in my book.

txa1265
05-02-2003, 02:25 AM
Originally posted by razorace
Nah, most of the best games of all time are linear. It's just a plus in my book.

... there's a line somewhere between having linear levels and feeling like you're playing a FPS 'on rails'. I played RtCW and knew it was linear, but it wasn't bothersome. MoHAA got bothersome in places - way too linear. SoFII was obnoxiously linear - took away from the game. Paue, wait to be shot at, go that way, wait to be shot at, go that way ... and so on ...

Mike

razorace
05-02-2003, 02:27 AM
Very true.

Emon
05-02-2003, 02:45 AM
Most of the best games, eh? I have to disagree. Going by PC Gamer's recent top 50 of all time, Half-Life is number one, which is non-linear. The DF/JK series is number five, and they were non-linear by the standards and constraints of maps of their times. Other games like Fallout also weren't linear. Deus Ex is also number 10, which is very non-linear. System Shock 2 is on there too, which is extremely non-linear like Deus Ex.

razorace
05-02-2003, 04:24 AM
Woah, woah, woah. First off, PC Gamer is made up of a bunch of journalists that play games. Sure, they are on the mark most of the time, but they tend to sensationalism in their magazine, especially when it comes to certain titles like Half-Life. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the magazine; They just aren't the end all source of gaming knowledge.

Half-Life is VERY linear. The game was heavily scripted and linear. There was only one way to go in the maps and only one way to solve the individual puzzles. Very fun to play (that first/second time thru)? Yes. Non-linear? No.

DF/JK let you wander around a little bit, but the maps and puzzles only really had one way to beat them. Heck, the last battle in JK WAS one big fat puzzle with a single solution.

I think you might be confusing linearity with immersion. Half-Life, JK, SS2, etc all had a very high levels of player immersion, but they had linearity to varying degrees.

Like txa1265 mentioned, the key is to make the player feel like they are playing the game instead of the other way around. :)

txa1265
05-02-2003, 09:13 AM
Originally posted by razorace
<snip> Like txa1265 mentioned, the key is to make the player feel like they are playing the game instead of the other way around. :)

Exactly ... if only I had said it so succinctly ... :D

That is what takes levels in the games I always talk about that are of 'equivalent linearity' and make one feel open and non-linear, and the other feel frustratingly linear.

Mike

StormHammer
05-02-2003, 12:17 PM
As I said before, I don't think JA's levels will be anywhere near as linear as those in JO. I'm encouraged by what the Raven devs said in the recent PCGamer article...

Lead artist, Les Dorschield tells us more. "There will be a lot more saber use and Force use, and because Force jump is such a powerful thing, the levels are built around this vast movement. In a way they are similar to a Quake III Arena maps; you can get attacked from all sides and there is no linear path you have to go through. We will include some contained levels because we want variety, but where these made up about 40% of the levels in JK II, in this game it's about 10%".

If this is truly the case, then we should be able to move around quite freely in the terrain. There were a couple of levels in Unreal 2 where you could pretty much move around as you pleased to reach an objective - but once inside the bases, or whatever, you were confined to linear paths again.

The other problem that seems to dictate some kind of linearity in maps is that you do often have to fulfill a particular objective in a particular location, so in those terms, you have to visit particular locations, and undertake certain actions in order to complete a mission/level. There's not getting away from that, either, unless you simply create a freeform environment you can wander around at will, without any particular goal to fulfill - which would soon become intensely boring in the context of this kind of game. If they can produce fairly open terrain with an objective sort of in the centre, then it gives you a lot of choice about which way you choose to approach it. The problem with this kind of level design...which I could see in Unreal 2...was that there were not enough 'points of interest' dotted around the terrain itself. For example, if you choose route A...perhaps you could find an old wrecked speeder with some ammo or a weapon stashed inside. If you choose route B, you discover something else...and so on. Open terrain that is devoid of 'pickups' or other items of interest etc., can seem too sparse and unrewarding.

Although they are limiting the puzzle elements this time around, I hope that doesn't mean a reduction in the number of secret areas. I like to explore an area thoroughly for secrets, and I think it adds to the longevity of the gameplay - one of Unreal 2's shortcomings.

As for MP level design...if they can get close to the open-ended structure of UT's maps, it could be very good indeed.

Pedro The Hutt
05-02-2003, 11:43 PM
And besides, it's only ... natural to have places where you can't have "completely lineair movement" mainly indoor locations, the humanly made corridors leave you no choise but to follow them basically. ^^" so I won't mind it really if we only get one or two options to make our way to someplace, unless they suddenly give us a geomod engine and let us chop/blast/explode our way to a certain place hehe.

HertogJan
05-03-2003, 08:11 AM
The GeoMod engine wasn't all that much. At least in RF1 it wasn't used very much. I only played a little bit of RF2 and it sucked big time :D So I haven't explored more in the sequel...

I don't think it's bad to have imperial bases, which are pretty linear, but I'd like to see open areas too!! One good example in JO was the huge room with the platform you could 'ride', alongside the wall. Then the platform gets blown up and you have to jump from obstacle to obstacle. The design there was great and really gave me a SW feel :D

Large, open areas do the trick, where you can wander around or just look around :) Linearity isn't such a big thing then :D

StormHammer
05-03-2003, 05:24 PM
Originally posted by HertogJan
One good example in JO was the huge room with the platform you could 'ride', alongside the wall. Then the platform gets blown up and you have to jump from obstacle to obstacle. The design there was great and really gave me a SW feel :D

That still felt pretty linear to me. If they had allowed you the choice to go in the other direction, and straight through the middle...then it would have felt less linear. You were still constrained to one path, regardless of how open the level actually was.

razorace
05-03-2003, 06:37 PM
well, part of the problem is that the developers have to spend a large amount of time to create the maps. Meaning they have to have some way of MAKING you spend a fair amount of time on that map. IE puzzles, key hunts, etc. Otherwise, players would heat seek to the objective and beat the level in a very quick amount of time.

StormHammer
05-03-2003, 07:13 PM
Originally posted by razorace
well, part of the problem is that the developers have to spend a large amount of time to create the maps. Meaning they have to have some way of MAKING you spend a fair amount of time on that map. IE puzzles, key hunts, etc. Otherwise, players would heat seek to the objective and beat the level in a very quick amount of time.

But that can partly be alleviated by adding more 'points of interest', multiple objectives per map, more secrets to uncover, etc. I agree that it is pointless for a developer to spend X amount of hours designing a map if the player's only going to be in it for two minutes. This is one of the major shortcomings of Unreal 2, IMHO. The designs and graphics were very nice...but I didn't stop around to look at them, because there was nothing to do but fight enemies. That was it, basically. There needs to be more interaction with the environment to keep your interest.

If the player is given more to do in a level, they are likely to spend longer in it. Anyway, Raven haven't done away with puzzles completely, so there should still be puzzles to keep us occupied. But they basically have to give us good reasons to go exploring - and admire the map design along the way.

razorace
05-03-2003, 08:57 PM
...or add more interactivity with the maps to allow players to slow down and "smell the roses". Duke 3D was a great example of this. There was plenty of interesting things to touch and play with instead of just picking up cardkeys, throwing switches and killing baddies.

StormHammer
05-03-2003, 09:05 PM
Originally posted by razorace
...or add more interactivity with the maps to allow players to slow down and "smell the roses". Duke 3D was a great example of this. There was plenty of interesting things to touch and play with instead of just picking up cardkeys, throwing switches and killing baddies.

Yeah...messing around with the pool table was fun. :D

I hope they decide to include some more mini-games in JA. I still wouldn't mind sitting down in a cantina somewhere and having a game of Star Wars chess (from ANH), or Sabacc. :D Or just listen to a proper jizz band...

Solbe M'ko
05-04-2003, 08:55 PM
Why do need to bother with levels at all? Why not just make a game where you can go pretty much anywhere in the Star Wars universe? Lucasarts has probably been aproached a number of times with this question, but never acted on it. I think that the technology now exists to put together a complete Star Wars game, that builds itself as you go.

Emon
05-04-2003, 09:39 PM
Yeah man, stupid LEC! They should just make a game that creates a universe itself, despite the fact that technology to create something so complex and detailed won't be around for at least another thirty years! I can't believe they still have levels! :rolleyes:

Solbe M'ko
05-04-2003, 09:44 PM
I totally serious! It's not some huge undertaking like a dedicated RPG either! A few universal rules and let the player take it wherever they want to go. Sorta like ShadowRun for the genesis, but way more complex.
Games like Morrowind have toyed with the idea, but were hampered by RPG elements, I'm not suggesting that every detail need be considered by the developers, this could be randomized to a certain degree.
This is totally possible and your statement that it would take 30 years is absolutely out the window.
:horn:

StormHammer
05-04-2003, 10:08 PM
Originally posted by Solbe M'ko
I totally serious! It's not some huge undertaking like a dedicated RPG either! A few universal rules and let the player take it wherever they want to go. Sorta like ShadowRun for the genesis, but way more complex.
Games like Morrowind have toyed with the idea, but were hampered by RPG elements, I'm not suggesting that every detail need be considered by the developers, this could be randomized to a certain degree.
This is totally possible and your statement that it would take 30 years is absolutely out the window.
:horn:

While randomised levels can often add variety to gameplay, they rarely offer the same depth and attention to detail that predetermined levels can, IMHO. Just look at the random mission generator in Raven's SOF2 as an example. The objectives for those levels are usually quite basic, and the necessary use of prefabricated building models etc., can lead to many of those levels feeling the same.

As for Morrowind...they built all of the terrain, and placed every single item within that world, and then tested it all, which is one of the reasons it took a considerable amount of time to develop. That was for what is, to all intents and purposes, a single island.

It would take years of development to realise an entire galaxy. This is one of the reasons why Star Wars: Galaxies has focused on something like just 10 worlds...and AFAIK you don't even get to roam across the entire worlds, just playing zones on each planet.

That is simply in terms of level contruction. If you want a completely free-form and evolving storyline, then you have to populate that universe with characters based on incredible AI routines so they realistically go about their everyday lives, and it has to be robust and flexible enough to allow for a multitude of different actions from the player, and the consequences of those actions as they effect the locality, or the universe as a whole.

I think we are some way off from realising such a complex and evolving system.

I would be satisfied with open levels that are well-constructed, options in terms of paths and choices that can impact gameplay further on, and have a decent well-crafted story to gel it all together into something cohesive and enjoyable. :)

Emon
05-05-2003, 04:47 AM
No, Soleb ',miekwhatever, you proposed something totally random in your first post, which is impossible for how you want it.

razorace
05-05-2003, 05:46 AM
I wouldn't call it impossible. The technology is here it's just the content issue. Computers can only randomize stuff to a certain degree. The amount of content to be able to make a randomizable Star Wars "galaxy" would take decades and STILL not be that randomizable. A computer randomize the building order, streets, etc. but it doesn't understand human arcitexture, language, NPC, etc.

Randomizing works good for certain situations, like where the map needs to be different but where the actual map isn't the draw of the game (like X-Com).

Solbe M'ko
05-05-2003, 08:51 PM
I think it really depends on when a team will get together for that purpose. It takes some initiation to get these things going.
Furthermore, it wouldn't need to be randomized entirely (Shadowrun). The developers would set the stage and the computer could just maintain it by adding new missions etc. Also, upon further thought on the topic I have come to the conclusion that technology has little to do with it. "The Industry" just needs to get on board and encourage creativity. I don't know about you folks, but I find that nothing really innovative has happened to games since "Wolfenstein". This stagnation of the computer entertainment industry is one of my major concers on the issue.

razorace
05-05-2003, 11:02 PM
Again, the generated missions are only as good as the inputed creative data from the developers.

As for the stagnation comment, I'd have to partially agree, but that's the way it's been for a decade or so. When big business comes into the picture, stagnation occurs because the suits don't like "taking risks". However, there is still pretty of new blood that releases quality games. In fact, the overall average quality has gone up since the Great Console Migration of a few years ago.

Solbe M'ko
05-06-2003, 03:43 AM
Thats exactly what I'm thinking. IMO, what the industry really needs is a brand new project that would up the ante some. And I don't want to hear that something like that would be too expensive, people make games for free in the form of MODS. I for one would PAY to get my ideas in a game.

razorace
05-06-2003, 04:18 AM
Well, there are a lot of us modders that would LOVE to do our stuff professionally. However, a real game requires a lot of money to pay staff, get software/hardware, etc. I'd love to do it but I don't have the money for that sort of venture.

Solbe M'ko
05-06-2003, 04:24 AM
Yeah, I hear you. Im not in any position of higher knowledge or anything, but licensing game engines probably costs a bundle; maybe that's why mods are such a great source of good gameplay: the don't waste time with that BS (and they have half the works done already!).

razorace
05-06-2003, 05:30 AM
Well, it depends on the engine. Torque (Tribes series) only costs $100 per programmer for a commerical license. But the other more known systems cost hundreds of thousands.

As for coding load for mods, it really depends on the mod. I'm finding that I'm have to do a LOT of recoding for MotF to add features that Raven skipped over or broke.

HertogJan
05-06-2003, 06:30 AM
Damn, you guys are slowchatting over here, that's pretty annoying :mad: And you're getting way off topic too :mad:

razorace
05-06-2003, 07:06 AM
We were the only ones posting anyway. If you want to talk about something more on topic, feel free.

StormHammer
05-06-2003, 07:34 AM
Originally posted by razorace
I wouldn't call it impossible. The technology is here it's just the content issue. Computers can only randomize stuff to a certain degree. The amount of content to be able to make a randomizable Star Wars "galaxy" would take decades and STILL not be that randomizable. A computer randomize the building order, streets, etc. but it doesn't understand human arcitexture, language, NPC, etc.

Randomizing works good for certain situations, like where the map needs to be different but where the actual map isn't the draw of the game (like X-Com).

That was partly the point I was trying to make. Of course it depends on the game that is being developed...but in my view a randomly generated map can never be quite as good as a map that is specifically designed for a certain type of gameplay. For example, if you tried to randomly generate one of the maps used in Unreal Tournament...I think it would end up as a bit of a mess.

When it comes to more open terrain, then I agree that randomisation is okay, as long as the pre-fabricated buildings that are inserted into the map have already been designed for good gameplay by the developers.

Taking the Elder Scrolls series as an example again...in Daggerfall, Bethesda did use quite a high level of randomisation in terms of both buildings and characters...but the problem in the end was that a lot of the buildings and characters just looked very generic, and the characters had a lot of similar sounding names. Basically, the very randomisation that was supposed to give the game a lot more variety actually made much of the game feel very much the same. You'd go from one town to another...and they all looked very similar. This is one of the reasons why Bethesda decided to actually design everything individually in Morrowind, and get away from randomisation. In effect, it didn't really work.

So I think we have a very long way to go before a randomisation system can approach the kind of quality that a level-designer focusing on a certain type of gameplay can develop. While randomisation can help to provide a more non-linear type of gameplay, it doesn't necessarily equate to that experience being more enjoyable. And that would be the key factor for me...I want to play an enjoyable game, not simply one that offers me 10,000 options in terms of the environment and characters.

Of course, that's just IMHO. :)

BTW, id's Quake 3 engine costs about $250,000 to license, and the Unreal engine costs about $500,000 to license. I don't know about id, but Epic also takes a percentage in royalties for every unit sold. The Torque engine looks a lot more attractive at $100 a throw... :D

razorace
05-06-2003, 10:13 AM
iD has something like a 2% royality fee of net profits in addition to the $250,000 up front. Makes you wonder why so many people take that deal over say, Torque.

Right now, Torque seems to be the best for smaller companies or even larger companies. $250,000 and 2% is a lot of money. Sure, having a premade engine saves a LOT of time but when you can get a pretty good engine for $100 instead of $250,000...Heck, you could go with Torque and spend the extra $250,000 on a couple more months of actual development to make sure the game is actually FUN and interesting to play.

Anyway, back on subject, I think the X-Com series is a perfect example of how randomized maps can improve the game.

Fardreamer
05-06-2003, 11:48 AM
As has been mentioned, a distinction should be made between non-linear level design and non-linear gameplay. One is not necessarily the other. JK's, and for the most part JO's levels (meaning architecture and layout) were linearly designed, meaning you go down a corridor into a hall, that hall has a door leading into another corridor, then up an elevator, etc. 90% of the time you were following a single physical pathway throughout the level, occasionally having to backtrack a bit to flick that switch that activates another elevator that leads into yet another corridor.

On the other hand, take a look at a game like Metroid Prime (any Metroid game for that matter, or even Zelda games, but I'll focus on Prime because it's a FPS). There are no "levels" in the sense that you finish one amd move on to the next. The environment is comprised of a number of areas that are in no way linearly planned - there is no single path to take through any of the areas, and you can at all times go back and forth from one area to another. But the trick is that while the layout is not linear, the gameplay for the most part is linear - in other words, in order to progress you always need to get to a specific place in the map to collect a certain item, fight a boss, or solve a puzzle. The result is that the story unfolds linearly - compulsory when a prewritten storyline is to be conveyed - while there are no linear restrictions to physical movement throughout the game. New areas are discovered and accessed by completing an objective, and these new areas are added to the general accessible area of the map.

The obvious limitation to this approach is that you are confining the entire game to one "world map", meaning that seperate areas have to be logically connected to fit geographically. This might not work in a story that has the player travelling from planet to planet tracking down that ellusive bad guy, which is usually the case in the JK series.

So basically what I'm trying to say is that the type of level design - a sequence of changing scenarios that has you zipping through them down a predetermined path, or one large world map that has you going back and forth according to objectives - depends on the story goals of the developers. Each style should be used according to the story's requirements/

But keep in mind that in order to be playable the [b]story[b] is amost always going to be linear, because that's the nature of stories - they're written from beginning to end, and read that way too :) Naturally you can play around with certain parts of the story, if designed carefully - it might not matter what mission out of two possibilities is done first - but ultimately the story will have one conclusive ending.

If you want complete open endings and freedom to do whatever you want to do, go play a MMORPG.

txa1265
05-06-2003, 12:09 PM
Postal 2 is somewhat non-linear. I've been playing around with it a bit, and you are in a town, with daily chores. How you get places is somewhat up to you - there are limitations, of course. The order in which you accomplish them is your choice as well. What you do in between is also up to you. Your actions determine - to an extent- how others react to you. Some you can't help - the 'parents for decency' and 'book burner' groups will hate you no matter what, but if you keep your weapons away and don't kill while the police are looking you can roam pretty free.

Don't mistake that for me saying that it is a good game.

Just that it has a certain open-ness.

Mike

Solbe M'ko
05-06-2003, 12:56 PM
Hold on, folks. I never said the maps should be random (that would be ugly), just that new objectives and mini-quest style stuff should be, this way you never can really beat the game. Sorta like the Sims, but NOT.

razorace
05-06-2003, 06:28 PM
That's even worse. You can't really randomize the missions because the game isn't intellegent enough to be able to alter the basic mission concept (find the ___, take ____ to____, etc.)

Agen
05-06-2003, 09:06 PM
I would call GTA3 the most linear game.
If JA has it's SP "non-linear" system like JK1's then i will be reasonably happy, i just don't think that it will be that linear compared to what some people are expecting. The Force for one.. i belive we are getting to choose what we want which will bring some non-linearity to the game since they will have to cater for lots of people :) The storyline's are most likely to go 2 ways or just 2 sets that end up with the same end.
I just don't expect much but as long as it's a good game with good MP then i'll be sound as a pound :)

Solbe M'ko
05-06-2003, 10:42 PM
The game COULD be intelligent enough, though, with some real work done on the subject. Just because it hasn't BEEN done doesn't mean it wouldn't work. Anyway, I think that non-linear gameplay is important as a goal for the future of games. In fact, anything new is welcome.
On the GTA3 comment, I think that GTA3 is linear if you just play through it to the end. I can revisit that game a couple times a month just for the police chases. It gets boring if you play it alot in a short period, but small doses are quite enjoyable, as with any lighthearted game like that. That's sort of my whole issue with the SW universe (or any other fantasy franchise). It simply isn't lightghearted enough to just be "FUN", it has to explore deeper into the universe; keep adding more depth.
Maybe I'm asking for too much too soon...