546 Optional Path Design

Recently, I’ve been playing an adventure game recently called Stories: The Path of Destinies, which I was introduced to at the PSX conference this past December. It’s a game with a unique system that asks the player to progress through the story multiple times making different decisions each time to eventually learn the true story.

It’s relatively minimal and simplistic design (comparatively, anyway) has led me to focus even more on some of the decisions the level designers made while developing the game. Something I’ve always been interested in is how designers direct players through levels that aren’t strictly linear. What I mean is, while the level may have only one ending point and one main path, there are branching paths off from it that contain secrets, upgrades, and environments to explore.

Choosing how do to direct players down these paths says a lot about the design of — and care put into — the game. Should it be obvious that something is a side path? Or should it be obvious which as the main path, and force the player to learn/assume that side paths are anything that isn’t the main path. Or should it be done with such precision and care that the player never thinks about?

Probably that last one.

[ Today I Was Playing: nothing… ]

June 29, 2016