Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dark Souls, Bicycles, and Level Design

This week on PopMatters, I ask: how well can you draw your favorite video game world?

The answer is probably not that well. Trust me. I tried. We actually have pretty shoddy memories, maybe especially so when it comes to design objects. You'd think since we traverse game worlds in 3D, and often in first-person, we'd have a better grasp of how things work. But honestly, even after writing about games consistently eight years (holy crap, that's a long time), dissecting level design is still a difficult process.

When I ride a bike, I don't think about the motion of the gears or the physics of the frame. I do pay attention to flat tires though, and if something is amiss I can feel it, even if I don't know what it is. So naturally when I think back on my favorite video game landscapes, the ones that work, I remember singular iconic moments. They might be vistas or crazy boss battles, or they might be a jump scare or some revelatory narrative moment.

These moments only work with a functioning frame, but they stand out because of they way that frame connects them to other singular moments and locations. We map our journeys in our mind with broad brush strokes. That might seem obvious, but remembering that, and visualising it with these crazy bike drawings, might help us appreciate designed spaces.

No comments:

Post a Comment