Level Combinations

4th November 2006

Introduction

I was watching television a few days ago, which is very unusual for me, and I was fortunate to see a short clip about Alfred Hitchcock. I started watching in the middle of the clip but he was explaining how mixing different shots produced different results.

The first clip (which I missed) showed Hitchcock staring into the camera with no expression. Then the shot changed to a young women sitting on the grass holding a baby. Once again the shot changed to Hitchcock who this time was smiling.

Hitchcock explained that we see the man smiling and think of him as a kind and gentle person.

Now the same clip of Hitchcock staring at the camera again. This time the next clip is of a young women in a bikini sitting on the same piece of grass. (Actually it could have been exactly the same women!). Now back to the clip of Hitchcock smiling.

This time we have different emotions. Instead of thinking of the man as kind and gentle we suddenly think of him as a pervert or some other negative emotions. The two clips of Hitchcock were supposedly the same (Staring and smiling) the only difference is the clip in the middle.

“What has this got to doing with gaming?” You ask. Well read on and I will explain.

The Lesson

It’s clear to me what the lesson is here: It’s not just the individual things that count but the combination of those things.

So What!

This could make an fascinating project for somebody very interested in game design. Here’s how it could work.

  • Firstly find a large group of players of varying standards willing to help with the project. Shouldn’t be too hard people are always interested in playing maps etc.
  • Next collect varying maps from one SP game, preferably ones that have never been played by the general public before. These maps will need to be adapted slightly to have a uniform starting and finishing area. You’ll understand why a little later.
  • Split the group of players into at least four smaller groups. These smaller groups should have a minimum of five players.
  • Group One plays the maps individually with at least one day’s rest between each map.
  • Group Two plays the maps in one sitting (Without stopping). The order of the maps is random and the same for each player.
  • Group Three plays all the maps in one sitting but the order has been set by the mappers. The order is supposed to build up the tension and action until it reaches a climax at the last map.
  • Group Four plays all the maps in one sitting and in the exact opposite order of Group Three.
  • If you had a Group Five they would play the maps in random order and in one sitting.
The Details

After each map has been played the players complete a quick questionnaire regarding the levels. Question like “What was the tension level?” The answer would be quantitative i.e 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. There would be a section for comments at the end. The questionnaire would take less than 5 minutes to complete.

The project would attempt to see how the previous level affects the player’s opinion of the next level.

Of course, to be accurate then you would probably have to have a very large group of people (Over a hundred) who play set sequences of maps.

Also

I would love to see a group of designers with maybe 10 maps and get them to play them and them put them in order and see the differences. It would make an interesting discussion

Another PlanetPhillip Project!?

I have a small project I am working that discusses this point from a different direction and hope to have it finished during the Christmas Break.

You Thoughts

What do you think? How important is the order of maps? Besides the obvious concept of telling a story! I think this concept holds true for game even, don’t you?

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