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Why did the level design in both IPS get so so much fucking worse


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Video game level design in general is in the shitter. The last time I have seen anything on the level of old-school CRPGs and immersive sims with various sidepaths and alternate routes was probably Cruelty Squad and boomer shooters like Dusk weirdly enough.


Hot take:
Videogame player grew older, and despite the memes, the majority of them actually have to work and have IRL stuff to do on the side so they don't have as much time as they used to so they don't want to bother with complex levels. If you have less then one hour available, you need a quick feeling of progress, something more difficult to achieve if you have to navigate a complex although entertaining level map


That would be true if you were on console and mobile. However these IPS are almost exclusively played on pc by active players with like dozens to hundreds of hours in average. There’s no reason to want shitty badly designed levels with little depth of you know your gonna be playing a game requiring just a little more of your time


Is this a rethorical question


I think it's partly this and partly the way players and developers think about dungeons more generally. In something like WoW or other MMOs people rarely go into dungeons without foreknowledge of the layout, mechanics, and expected rewards, to the point where not already knowing the dungeon is considered poor etiquette. The developers reinforce this by making repeatedly running dungeons (regular or mythic+) a core part of the game, and in mythic+ you're expected to get it done as fast as possible to maximize rewards. If it's meant to be replayed over and over players expect to get through it reasonably quickly, as having to slog through an hour (or more) long dungeon gets old fast once you've already seen it. People aren't running the dungeons to explore them, they just want the reward at the end.

In open world games I think developers shy away from long dungeons and branching paths because they don't want players to be unprepared or have to make multiple trips back and forth to complete it. Bethesda games in particular focus on having one or two interesting things about a dungeon before wrapping up and handing the player their reward, rather than having them be balanced and well thought out challenges the player needs to overcome, since a player at any level with any combination of skills (no matter how useless or poorly built) is supposed to get through it. Also, that Morrowind comparison is unfair, as most of the dungeons in that game are straightforward and the end game dungeon is just a line. It'd be like comparing Blackreach in Skyrim to the cave outside Seyda Neen.




Intellectual Properties.


That would be IPs.




This is bullshit because games like Doom or Quake for example had large and branching level designs with many secret passages and sidepaths, yet you could beat them during a coffee break if you wanted to. Thing is that level design for your average AAA blockbuster is more than just drawing sectors or bashing a bunch of primitive brushes together in a easy to use mapping program and then putting low res textures over everything, but rather it is a process that involves convoluted pipelines of 3D modelling, texturing, physics and other tools that often do not play with each other well in case of middleware-ridden shit engines like Creation (by Azurah, the .nif format is a fucking mess to work with smh). My idea is that thus devs would need much more effort to create a map meeting the project's standards, and here is where complexity is often sacrificed in favor of graphical fidelity and detail due to deadlines, especially with how hard it is to radically revise them in a non-brush level-building framework.

Excuse me if the paragraph above reads obtuse I am really tired rn, but tl;dr is that graphics wanking and corporate bullshitery like deadlines limiting developer creativity is prime reason why games are so simplified overall nowadays rather than gamer demographic becoming wagies unable to fully appreciate level design more complex than Gears of War. That is just pure cope.


There's a degree of truth to this, but I wouldn't say it's people not having the time to play (given how many AAA 100+ hour open world games are get pumped out) than it is part developers being too terrified of a players getting stuck/lost and dumping the game along with >>26267. Santa Monica showed a clip from fucking DSP during a GDC about level design in the previous GoW game.


Lol no the only Skyrim dungeons that don’t suck complete ass in comparisons to morrowinds are all quest related dungeons. Everything else is shit


It is as if good AAA RPG dungeon design is a relic of a past long gone. The last times I seen such in a fantasy action-RPG were Daggerfall, Morrowind, Arkane games like Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah and, funniest of all, Skyrim mods i.e. Project AHO, and this pisses me off to no end. It is as if it is a symptom of how inefficent large-scale game development under capitalism is, with all the mismanagement, nepotism, understaffing and crunching it causes during the project's production span.


Not every game has to be a Metroidvania.


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OP is talking about RPGs in particular tho, especially TES and Souls which are hyped for being heavy on exploration.


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not even mentioning the alarming lack of verticality


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Yeah, but that means discovering new places and characters, not being stuck in a sewer level. Dungeons are enemy filled tunnels, they can be fun only if combat is fun. The only game I can thing of where I enjoyed dungeon crawling was Pillars of Eternity, because it was challenging, diverse in enemies and rewarding.


True but we still got the chalice dungeons in blood borne only to then have those levels nerfed in elden ring so there’s little reason to assume there shouldn’t be a standard for level design in games


Combat is fun when level design is built around it to express its strengths otherwise it’s always shit


Gameplay mechanics and level design act as bottlenecks to each other of sorts. If you make the combat complex but do not make levels accomodate for its nuances then the experience will end up being mediocre. Likewise, if the level design is complex but gameplay mechanics too simplistic you will get bored quickly also.


Nah even the most simplistic and boring gameplay mechanics regardless of genre can still be fun with clever level design take geometry dash, Celeste, Mario, or even blood borne to a lesser degree


I guess so. Complexity is not really the key per se, but cleverness is. Well thought out levels and gameplay mechanics make for great experiences no matter how complex they are, but if there is a lot of mechanics but they are underdeveloped afterthoughts, have no synergy with each others of level design philosophy then they are mostly going to be source of aggravation rather than enjoyment. And you can have a very long-winded and architecturally complex level that turns out to be not very captivating because it maybe lacks enemy variety, does not make full use of the game's mechanics and does not reward you much. Cleverness and synergy are key, and is something that many AAA games end up lacking in.


There are many different philosophies about game design. I'm of the mind that if movement is interesting, any kind of level would still be fun to play.
Take a look at Jak and Daxter. The levels aren't stellar as there isn't anything complex that really changes how you play one level from another. All that's really different are the visuals and the story telling.
What makes the game so great is the movement. There are 4 buttons that by themselves aren't that interesting, but you can string them all together to combo across the map of you so desired.


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Because of the rise of treating games like amusement park rides instead of challenges to face or worlds to explore, which is due to capitalism. Every part of the game you make takes labor. Branching paths means that some non-zero % of the game won't be seen by each player. This is inefficient production! Therefore we should make everything linear to make the most bang for our buck since that way the characters will all see everything (as long as they finish the game). You mainly see this kind of sprawling detailed layout in procedurally generated games these days, because in those the designers just make the pieces and the rules for how the pieces fit together, not the entire level.

One of the big moments that really pushed the industry in this direction was when BioWare revealed that only about 5% of players chose the bad guy dialogue options in Mass Effect, which signaled to the publishers that alternative options are a waste of money.


Bioware has completely given up on trying to make Renegade options appealing after the first game. Virtually all the choices in Mass Effect 2&3 were "would you like to be nice and good and get best outcome or screw yourself over being a dick?"

Unique IPs: 15

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