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Friday, February 16, 2001 10:49 AM | Michael Eilers
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Linebreaks work now
Jason Sims (IMG) February 19 - 12:22 PM

Hey guys, I've fixed the problem with the linebreaks now. Fortunately the linebreak characters themselves have been recorded since we first added the news comments feature. HTML tags (which I never wanted used in the comments in the first place) are now automatically stripped out when you submit a comment.

Oni compass system
DBD February 18 - 5:47 AM

I read the interesting article pointed and would like to react about two minors points.

The writer aplaude to two features on Oni I disagree with.

Firstly the compass system. For me it's just a sign of poor level progression design. Ok it's not easy to help a player progress through a free 3D level but that doesn't mean that it's not possible.

In the article, about game progression, there's a mix bag of very different stuff. There's a confusion between pure puzzle stuff and very special puzzle stuff of the progression though a 3D level.

I think that the writer should analyse better these gaming aspect, in particular the level progression aspect that apears somehow recently firstly in false 3D games as Doom and later even more major for 3D games as Quake where no good map system has been found. Then he could analyse better story in game, merge of story to the game, story as a gaming value, story and game progression. (ok, ok just my opinion)

Firstly, let forget puzzles stuff, as Myst and other games, about that I saw a new version of Myst with hints included in the game but that's not my subject.

So about level progression design in 3D games, I feel Oni Compass choice boring as a systematic choice. Could be a cheat code or an option in order to help the weaker players but it should not be as it is in Oni.

Myself through demo, when lost in a level and dunno where to go, I just stupidly watch the compass and follow, no fun of level progression there.

So in my opinion, ok it removes the problem of being stuck by level progression but it also removes most of the fun of level progression.

Just curently, I play Rune (not finished yet) and it's an awesome level progression design. In fact for me the major fun in this game as I don't find fights so cool but just bringing the necessary (in this game) danger element.

Ok Rune abuse of false free 3D progression giving in fact to the player only mostly linear path so making progression much more easy for him.

But that's a possible (major) solution and anyway you mostly never feel it like that and still feel as exploring a free 3D level.

Anyway, Runes do it in an examplar way. The player is logically stuck in a limited free area, for example it jump down to a place and con't climb up again which limits the area to explore. Or a door is closed to the previous area when another is opened to the next one letting the player where he must limits his next search, and so on.

But Rune use also many other tricks. The second trick mostly used is giving visual goal to the player. The player see a place where it could go but he can't, a bridge above lava not raised, a corridor beside a door bars, a far place he can't reach yet but having an overview of the place he can already have some idea on how he will later. He see a special little movie sequence that catch the player attention on a place and gives him a hint on what to do next, and so on.

The third most used trick in Rune in order to build clever level progression is based on player curiosity to discover mostly all places.

For these 3 tricks there's a major aspect in level design, it's that the player should know where it is and in worse case if it has already been there. It's a hard stuff to achieve but Rune succeed mostly always.

It succeed that by having each area very distinct to all the other in the current free 3D area. This is succeed through architecture that hit the mind, through textures choices very different, through a unique element that catch player attention making the area unique, and so on.

Rune also sometimes use of overview where the player has a more global idea of an area but obviously it's hard to implement often.

Well when I compare Rune to the level progression of the Oni Demo, no there's nothing to be proud of and to follow for next games.

It's even more true when you summarize past experience of 3D level progression design and that Runes has limited the category of tricks used to build great level progression with a great (if not awesome) feeling of diversity in this area. But there are also many other kind tricks not used in Rune but saw in previous games.

In Oni, there are plenty identical places, the hints about what to do next are so similar and repetitive that they becomes just ridiculous, particulary when they just show a door as they are ten other totally identical in the level! The single aspect sometimes well done is some good overview of area.

Well for mention take care that I'm desperate to not be able to put my hand on Oni full package. I definitly not enjoy Oni for its level progression nor its story, but I still guess on it as my next favorite, waiting anxiously the next add-on or the second edition.

About the special compass, firstly it should be just an option and not the default or even a cheat option. Except that it could be an interesting system to use in few levels but not in order to build a stupid uninteresting level progression but in order to be an aditional element of a level progression through a particular level.

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News Headlines for Friday, February 16, 2001

Myst III: Exile Collector's Edition Details 11:37 AM
Deep Space Nine: The Fallen Preorders 11:31 AM
FEED on Oni's Story 10:49 AM
Inside Mac Games Acquires Game Doctor 10:33 AM
Ambrosia Declares Amnesty 9:49 AM
Targetware Tech Interview 9:27 AM
Alice and OS X? 9:21 AM
Team Arena Map Pack Q&A 9:12 AM
Combat Mission Back in Stock 8:39 AM
Preview of Summoner 6:00 AM
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