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The Metrics of Space: Tactical Level Design
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The Metrics of Space: Tactical Level Design

September 4, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

Secondary Metric: The Ability to Move, and Possibilities for Movement

When dealing with the rational design of 3D spaces, the designer needs to be aware of how control interfaces can make movement in a 3D space more or less difficult.

Figure 9

When the player has a greater amount of space to operate in, they have increased opportunities for either enemy engagement or enemy evasion. Space also forms the basis of essential emotions of game play. Size variations in level geometry should be used in a way in which the player can observe contrasts in their environment.

The use of space needs to be analyzed with the addition of the primary metric, line of sight.

Even though a large space may offer the player greater amounts of opportunity, a limited line of sight will override any advantage that the space brings with it, and this is similar to the use of the flashlight in Doom 3. (Figure 9)

Alternatively, when the player's view frustum is sufficiently large enough in comparison to the virtual space, they will be the most empowered (Figure 10). A simple way of thinking about the combination of these two elements is to consider that the size of a game space is always filtered through the player's view frustum; hence, in terms of a hierarchy of difficulty metrics, virtual space will always be secondary, as the world is ultimately communicated to the player via the camera system.

Figure 10

Approach Vectors

Virtual space is a trade-off for the player between possibility for movement and possibility for ambush. The easiest way to understand this trade-off is by considering the relationship of line of sight, virtual space, and enemy approach vectors.

There are three ways of understanding how approach vectors affect the game's difficulty. Difficulty of approach vectors is dictated by whether an enemy occupies the players existing view frustum, whether they have to move view frustum, or if they have to move view frustum and change world position to engage.

  • Easiest Approach Vectors: Those which the player can see in their immediate view frustum without the need to adjust their position or view. (Figure 11)

Figure 11

  • Intermediate Approach Vectors are those where the player must change their view position of the 3D world, but not necessarily their world position. (Figure 12)

Figure 12

  • Most Difficult: Any approach vector that requires the player to shift their view the most from its current position.

Figure 13

When an enemy approach vector requires the player to change their view frustum and world position, we are creating the potential for the player to make mistakes. This added possibility for mistakes is what ramps our difficulty. However, in order to understand this metric further, we need to know a little more about player psychology.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

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